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Re: JamMan Rumors (attempt 2!)

Jon Durant wrote: 
> The big issue is: is there a market out there? So far the returns on 
> etc have indicated not. If someone asked me if I'd be involved in a 
>company that 
> made *only* looping devices, I'd say no. Too risky. But a new 
> company with a little bit of creative vision *is* a real option. 
>Consider how
> many people hate Digitech/Alesis/etc but still buy the stuff anyway. 
>Well, what 
> if someone new came in and answered the issues, made the right products 
>at the 
> right prices. Thought about the user for a change. Hmmm....

I have to agree with Mr. Durant here.  I think the market for a
dedicated looping device is rather small, but a truly interesting and
flexible effects device could be a different story entirely.

Off and on for the past several weeks I've been looking at products
such as SuperCollider and Kyma for creative sound maipulation.  Both
of these products allow one virtually unlimited creativity in sound
production.  How about a Vortex Fractal B patch with four dual delay
paths, each delay adjustable from a few millisecs to several seconds,
with various lfo's to control panning, and perhaps some FM thrown in
for good measure?

SuperCollider is a relatively inexpensive ($300) program for power
macintoshes that uses the CPU for signal processing. It can input
straight from the mac's sound in ports, and send the sound right back
out.  The bad part is that thanks to various output buffers, there is
a minimum delay from signal input to signal output, which in the few
tests I've been able to do with the demo program, is a minimum of
around 0.4 seconds.  That is workable for doing loops, but very
frustrating otherwise, particularly given its ability for tonal
modifications.  Another issue with SuperCollider is that it's patches
are written in a relatively terse lisp dialect.  This is great if
you're a programmer, anything can be modifed sample by sample, but
would suck if all you want to do is modify a few obvious parameters.
SuperCollider does have the ability to build simple dialogs to control
parameters, though.

The Kyma system is just about opposite in all ways.  It is *VERY*
expensive, at $4500, does not have a large minimum delay (reportedly
10ms for most operations), and does have a graphic patch editor.  Kyma
comes with a DSP mainframe that holds 8 cards, each with a 66MHz 56K
DSP chip and 3MB ram for samples.  The base unit (included in the
price) comes with two cards.  Add a couple more cards ($600 each) and
you can do some truly outrageous stuff, such as a detailed FFT
analysis of the signal, modify the analysis data in the frequency
domain, then resynthesize it, all in real time (but with a 0.5 sec or
so delay).  I doubt that even Eventide can do pitch shifting that
accurately. So, Kyma is very nice, but proprietary hardware makes me
nervous, what with dual CPU 250 MHz Macs coming on the scene, and,
well, gosh, that price is a bit steep.  Though, giving them credit,
it's not that bad compared to say an Eventide 4000, and there really
isn't any competition for it.

The approach I'd like to take is to build a simple PCI card to provide
high quality analog ins and outs with very little delay, modify
SuperCollider to use that card for i/o, and build a gui patch editor
for it.  The selling price could easily be kept under $1000 (or
less?). That doesn't include the computer, but then many folks have
them anyway, and the software/audio-io card solution avoids investing
in proprietary hardware. In return, you get a sound
creation/manipulation platform that is utterly flexible.  Someone
could program it to be the ultimate analog synth, or try physical
modeling, or build a guitar synth that merges the two, have bizzare
arpeggiators track audio signals without midi conversion delays.  And
then add a second i/o card for quadraphonic sound...with quadraphonic
delays, of course!