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Re: Looper development and production costs?

At 07:19 AM 10/11/2001, Dennis Leas wrote:
>If we're brainstorming, here's some thoughts...
>Why design all custom hardware?  Why not use the Alesis ADAT model (i.e.,
>their use of stock VCR tape transports) and use as much off-the-shelf
>hardware as possible ?

It's not like they bought VCRs at BestBuy and stuck a different ROM in it. 
They just use commonly available off the shelf components and designed 
into their fully custom system level hardware, which is what everybody 
in just about all electronic products. Whether it is a VCR transport or an 
audio IC it is the same concept. Nobody is designing their own custom 
or anything like that.

>(I realize Alesis is *probably* a bad example to
>use...)  Use a commonly available PC motherboard but *don't* use the
>"standard" software.  It boots only looper-ware.

that would mean re-writing all software for a different processor and 
system, which would be far more complicated and expensive than designing 
new hardware to   match the 10 years worth of software development we've 
already done.

>Sure the motherboard
>would have far too much hardware than you need but it might be cheaper in
>production and certainly would not require as much R&D.  The problem with
>looping on a stock PC is not the hardware so much as the non-real-time
>(bloated) OS.

and hardware not designed for real-time either. Or designed for pro music 
applications and extended environmental conditions. So it wouldn't fit the 
application hardly at all, and performance would be lousy. Then there 
be all sorts of useless stuff on there taking up space, using power, and 
generating heat.

>Some custom hardware would be probably required.  But probably not too 

no, it would take a lot. the user interface is what makes the whole thing. 
That is a big part of the hardware. Plus a lot of special audio circuits 
for specific routing needs of looping, designed to pro-audio standards. 
Special sync circuits, etc. Very quickly you would be wondering, "why are 
we spending such tremendous effor to customize this existing board that 
hardly does anything we need to begin with? It would just be easier to 
build our own hardware from scratch." and you would be 100% correct.

>You could probably get by with all off-the-shelf hardware except for the
>user interface.  I'm just not sure if complete off-the-shelf hardware is
>cost effective.

it would actually cost you far more. you would be into several hundred 
dollars just on these off the shelf pc parts, before you even got to the 
custom electronics, custom chassis, controls etc. A lot of that money 
be spent on stuff that would be completely useless in the application. 
remember, you can't use the cheap stuff because people demand better 
quality standards than what most PC hardware is designed to.

>After all, it's the software that primarily makes a looper.

yes and no. It is the software plus the user interface. In the case of a 
musical instrument that you play, much of the user interface is hardware. 
The better this interface matches the way the user wants to control the 
specific application and the environment they use it in, the better the 
experience. General purpose hardware interfaces can never be as usable for 
a given application as a custom designed one. Would you rather control 
sounds in a performance with an actual drum-like device as the interface, 
or by tapping keys on a notebook?


Kim Flint                     | Looper's Delight
kflint@loopers-delight.com    | http://www.loopers-delight.com