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Plexes and instruments: a Sunday evening essay

At 11:57 PM -0800 1/20/00, Robert van der Kamp wrote:

>> >Ouch. 16 bit AD/DA is..., well, dated. Soundwise, I mean.

happened to see this comment on the list a while back, but didn't have any
time then. I don't have any time now either, but what the hell....

The sound chip technology might be a few years old, 'tis true, but then
so's a tube amp and a microphone and a tb-303. In the niche musical
instrument world, there is simply not enough money from the tiny sales
volumes to be able to update products as quickly as the PC industry. that's
life - you take what you can get. These type of products usually require at
least three years in the market before anybody even starts to notice them
and a demand for it begins to develop. Nobody doing these sorts of
instruments has the resources to churn out new products every 6-12 months,
before the last one even got a solid footing!

You also expect musical instruments to be around for a while; they need to
be so people can become familiar enough with it to make it a part of their
music! Otherwise, you'll be spending all of your time learning the features
of the latest toy and no time creating with something you know as well as
your own voice. Why does everything need to be updated all the time when it
is fine as it is and people love it that way? And why would you want it to
be? That's PC industry thinking. A musical instrument should be there for
your life, not a few months. There should be time for traditions to
develop, for skills and techniques to grow, for music to be created and
performed, for masters to appear and show the way for new generations of
players.  In fact this is serious for computer based music, compositions
and instruments made on computers 10 years ago are mostly lost forever. The
software doesn't work anymore, the file formats are unreadable, the old
computers are gone! Computer music created now, where will it be in 10, 20,
50 years?  A tragedy in the making....

It's also a problem for development, the hardware components are changing
too quickly right now to support serious electronic musical instrument
creation. That is a primary reason so many classic instruments are gone,
the parts are obsolete because the computer industry doesn't use them
anymore. We need confidence that the parts we choose will be available for
at least the 5-10 years or more you expect for the product's life. We had
that kind of stability when we created the Echoplex, and all of the parts
in it are still available now, 5 years later. We don't have this stability
currently with the latest audio components, it is chaos. It will come again
though, and there will eventually be another generation of echoplex
hardware. But for now, we focus on making what we have better, with new
features and functions and innovations for the same hardware, since it
still has plenty of room to grow! And really, how many have really mastered
the instrument as it is? There is still so much more creativity and music
for the future with the things we already have!

But regardless of the sound chip's up-to-datedness, the looping
functionality of the echoplex is by far the state of the art. There is
nothing out there even close. By that metric, the echoplex leads the world
by a good 5-10 years of development time!

So your choice: 24bit/96KHz of looping functions from 1982, or
16bit/41.4KHz of the most radically innovative loop instrument there is! 

my totally biased opinion, of course. :-)


Kim Flint                   | Looper's Delight
kflint@annihilist.com       | http://www.annihilist.com/loop/loop.html
http://www.annihilist.com/  |