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 Forum index » Clavia Nord Modular » Wish List
Digital audio I/O
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ffransis



Joined: Jun 24, 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 11:51 am    Post subject: Digital audio I/O Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

This has been mentioned in the discussion section, w.r.t. USB, Firewire, SPDIF, blah. I myself would prefer to have digital input/output via SPDIF and/or ADAT, with coaxial and optical options for the SPDIF. It would help with interfacing my G2 Engine with a MOTU828mkII, and not have unnecessary digital<-->analogue conversions in the signal path.

For the four G2 inputs and outputs, ADAT would make sense, but only in addition to SPDIF, given the latter's ubiquity in the pro-audio world.
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Fozzie



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I agree to some extend that this would be nice, but I don't think this will happen before G3. Don't think a G2.2 will be made, and I don't want to sound pessimistic, but it probably won't be included in the G2 editor V2.x either Wink
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jksuperstar



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

This is in reference to the following conversation:

http://electro-music.com/forum/topic-4108.html&highlight=
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Rob



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 12:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Digital audio I/O Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

My two cents:

Imho there does not seem a need to discuss this much further, as the G2 hardware is fixed. I guess Clavia decided not to include digital IO mainly for cost reasons. A 'full' digital IO spec would probably have to include SPDIF, ADAT and TDIF plus a wordclock connection. It would have been necessary to support several sample rates plus samplerate conversion to e.g. 44.1kHz. This all would have cost extra money and the G2 would have been more expensive for everyone.

Instead, the choice for 24 bit AD and DA at 96kHz is just simply convenient for most of us. It is compatible with all other audio gear in the simplest 'plug and go' manner. Anyway, it would have made the G2 more expensive for those that do not need or want digital IO. Digital IO could have been an optionboard, but in general these option boards sell very low volume.
Note that if a digital mixing desk has problems with the G2 analog IO, this desk should have that problem with all other analog IO gear. Meaning that there is something terribly wrong with that mixing desk.

Advantage of analog IO is that there is hardly any latency issues. The minisimal input to output delay is caused by the oversampling in the converters and not by the DSP code, and is comparable to any high end audio FX gear. And it is never a problem as one would never mix the input signal with a dry copy of the input signal on the output. One either only passes audio through a device and use a dry/wet mix in the device, or one would mix between the input and a signal that is faded between wet and fully muted. Which goes for any FX device.

USB was meant for the editor only from day one. The USB1.1 makes it possible to edit the G2 from older and cheapo computers. USB1.1 is too slow to also pass on audio at 24bit/96kHz. USB2.0 could have been used, but still the latency by using USB is uncontrollable and probably cause many complaints. It all looks nice on paper, but e.g. the new Virus must still prove if it indeed works reliably in practice. I guess a PCI board with a dedicated control unit would have been a better choice. Future will tell. Anyway it looks like Clavia specifically did choose for reasons not to go the way that Virus just did.

Maybe in a couple of years analog cables have become totally obsolete and if Clavia would ever decide to design a 'G3' digital IO could be a different matter.

Still, I'm glad that the G2 is the way it is now. It works very well over here with all my other gear. I started to use the G2 together with some more outboard FX, where I use the G2 for crossover filters to split audio in separate frequency bands, midi-clocked delays, loopers, etc. and use the G2 IO to route the audio between much of the analog and digital gear. I stacked two unexpanded Engines for this purpose and it is like a quantum leap forward in what I can do. Whatever I missed on the other gear I have on the G2 and vice versa.

The G2 AD/DA sounds very transparent and the ease of plugging in all the other gear by plain jacks is just great. The sound is perfect to my ears. If the G2 would have had digital IO and I would have wanted to use it, the setup would actually have become more complex with extra ADAT AD/DA, wordclock, etc. And more time needed to operate the more complex setup and troubleshoot the digital connections. I've got eight channels of ADAT going in and out of my recording computer and that is already troublesome enough...

But as said, these are just my two cents. Smile

/Rob
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ffransis



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 1:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Digital audio I/O Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Rob wrote:
Imho there does not seem a need to discuss this much further, as the G2 hardware is fixed.


You're probably right, but a discussion of possible "G3" features is in order, although maybe better in a dedicated forum.

As for cost issues, I think we need some figures, because I'm not convinced that the cost overhead of including SPDIF, ADAT and Wordclock is that great. The G2 is a relatively expensive piece of hardware as it is, and its market is principally among serious synthesists who're prepared to pay for serious hardware. What we need is an indication of the relative usefulness of digital I/O among Nord Modular users, and some cost estimates. As for USB, this is definitely out of the question for digital audio I/O. Firewire's a possibility, but still I'd rather it be SPDIF and/or ADAT.
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Firewire is the best option for computer/synth integration. Adding spdif/adat etc. really opens up for other types connectivity. The cool thing here would be having a kind of routing/patch section.. so analog ins and outs/spdif/ADAT /firewire can be used at will.

I dunno if you guys have read the developer info regarding Firewire at Apple´s developer site? This is very informative. It is true that Firewire is a great protocol and this is the reason why it has become popular. USB2 is not bad, but it is not really comparable. It does much of the same people are using Firewire for.. but the protocol is different in many ways. It is quite possible that USB will evolve into a Firewire clone.. but that is really unlikely. USB2 is not bad, but it is not Firewire and it does not really solve the same "problems".

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ffransis



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
Firewire is the best option for computer/synth integration.


Maybe, but certainly not for synth/fx/dynamics/etc integration. Personally, since getting my G2 Engine and somewhat neglecting Csound, I've kept the computer for synth editing, mix-control and HD recording, and with the latter there can be annoying latency issues, and these leave me highly reluctant to use DAW-based effects in real-time situations. How many others who have Firewire DAW interfaces have experienced such problems? Quite a few, I'm sure.

Firewire's OK for many things, but for connecting bits of pro-audio equipment, I'd rather use SPDIF and ADAT. As for Apple, Firewire works with very few if any problems, but I've heard of Windoze users having all sorts of trouble! Whatever, the best technical solutions should be simple and transparent, and not detract from the process of making music.
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

My point is that DAW integration using Firewire is a solution of a different problem really... and it is different from using spdif/ADAT etc for piping digital audio. As for DAW integration, there are of course latency issues and using something like Firewire allows for a tighter integration and better latency compensation.

Costwise, adding all this is not a big deal at all. The parts are getting less expensive all the time. The real cost lies in product design and software development.

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Rob



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
The real cost lies in product design and software development.


That is exactly the crux of the matter. To make a low latency digital connection the interface can be connected directly to a DSP. Which means that the DSP would have to handle the interface protocol, handle and buffer the Firewire communication protocol. This could perhaps eat a full DSP.
ADAT, SPDIF, etc. are much friendlier in this respect, but there is the issue of syncing all equipment to that one sample clock and converting all the possible digital IO sample rates and bit widths to the 24-bit G2 running at the 96kHz clock. That again would put quite a burden on the DSPs to get it all right.

My guess is that if Clavia would have chosen for digital IO options right now, we possibly would not yet have the G2. And the extra development time would definitely have made it much more expensive.

Also, the price of hardware is perhaps for 80% the costs after it left the factory. I mean transport, storage at a distributor, distributor personnel costs, the shopkeeper and his costs, overall marketing costs and the tax offices that will put the VAT on the final costs. Which makes you pay at least five dollars in the shop for a part that costs one dollar in bulk.

Aah well, whenever the development of a G3 would be actual, FireWire is undoubtedly totally outperformed by something named LightningPipe or the X-Ray protocol or whatever hype that future time will have. Wink

But from meetings with Clavia people at e.g. the Frankfurter Messe I have understood one thing about their development strategy and that is that they want their instruments to be as 'musician friendly' as possible. They do not develop for computer geeks but instead for musicians that basically want to 'plug in and play'. And make this as easy as possible for any musician. Maybe you remember that little video interview with Hans Nordelius that was made one and a half years ago at the Frankfurter Messe, where he says that the Modulars are basically a niche product for them. It is the Nordleads, the DDrum and the Electro that are Clavia's main products. Their idea behind the Modular is that they could finally come up with the G2X, in essence a performance keyboard that fits the Nordlead range, and that just happens to have an Editor program to go way beyond the Nordleads. Imho they created something that is quite a bit more than just that, but maybe for Clavia that is just a side effect that is just very nice for us, who want to go a little further than the average keyboard can go. Especially the G2 Engine seems to be a bit underestimated, as in use I find the Engines to be dynamite.

Ok, I shut up. Back to making music now. Very Happy
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Sure, a G3 with DAW integration does involve a full redesign of the lot. That said, it is a lot of new CPUs and stuff designed for embedded systems out there and prices are really dropping. Doing this does not seem to be that hard really, and obviously Clavia must do something new "soon".
My guess is still that the Electro will get DAW integration "soon". The instrument is very musical, quite impressive really. I am of course comparing it to gear that were supposed to do the same 25 years back. Very Happy
DAW integration and some small added features will make it an indispensable device in most studios .. something like a standard piece of kit like the Fender Rhodes used to be.
It might be werid that I believe in instrument hardware integration with DAWs, when software only instruments seem to be the current trend. However, this makes a whole lot of sense and this is easy to communicate to muscians. A software instruments meant for a DAW is something you cannot take with you on a tour. A hardware instrument with DAW integration gives you both options and more.

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

In the case of the Electro:

1. It would become an integrated part of a DAW. Similar to gear like the Powercore and the UAD-1.. and you could play it from the DAW as well directly on using the instrument hardware interface. The output would be all digital and routed directly into the DAW. -Same with midi.


2.The Electro is basically a sample player. There are several different schemes possible for directly accessing new sample sets using firewire. It could be as simple as attaching a "blessed" Clavia HD volume using firewire. Another option is like creating your own personal Electro settings file.. as an apple .dmg or similar. Attach any computer ( hehe. Apple Mac of course ) using firewire.. mount the .dmg on the computer.. and drivers will automatically start up. The settings volume will then actively identify all of your Clavia gear on the firewire busses. Imagine "bundled programs for several different Clavia products". It could be as simple as if you have a laptop attached.. and the Electro and other Clavia gear attached.. you can set up global contextual programs for all instruments. This is saved into a "volume" on the laptop. When this volume is again mounted on the firewire buss, everything is accessible from any of the Clavia gear.

3. The obvious thing is to also incorporate mLan. If you have an mLan Yamaha mixer, changing programs on the Clavia gear will change accompanying programs on the yamaha mixer.. compressor settings etc.

If this is helpful would of course depend on how you are used to perform. All this is incredibly cool for mainstream pop and rock acts.. and also for studio use.

As for sound presets, imagine a sound on the Electro can incorporate related sounds on some Nord Lead synth. such sounds could just as well contain algorithmic rules. If you play more than 5 notes at the same time on the Electro, the Nord Lead will play a its sound on the second lowest note of the Electro. A preset could also allow of triggering from some sequencer clock on the bus. _If a sequencer called "Bob" is present on the firewire buss AND is delivering a clock AND the clock stream has the right name for the patch.. the Nord Lead will then sync to this and play some arpeggio thngie.. based on some set of rules.



You can of course do much of this using midi already, but this is at best messy and crude.

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Afro88



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
OK, maybe I'm beating a dead horse. Except for using only one cable, what would a firewire interface on a synth give me that I don't already have.

I can see that there is one less stage of D/A/D conversions, but that's not very significant.

What am I missing?


In regards to the G2, nothing besides what you have already stated. The whole integration into the DAW is a non issue IMO. So you would have the whole thing sitting in a VST instrument slot... big deal. A VST Instrument is simply an audio track anyway - just plug your G2 into the sound card and activate the audio track's input. You won't have a pretty interface on screen, but that's why you have a synth full of physical knobs sitting next to you. I much prefer to tweak patches with real knobs than with a mouse, and I know I wouldn't want to be patching inside a vst window...

In the case of a G3, it could be useful to replace midi/audio with firewire as it would allow many midi streams and many audio streams to and from the synth. That would make the G3 much more computer reliant however, and what I like about the G2 is that I can play it like a normal synth without a computer.

I like my G2 the way it is. At first I was a bit dissapointed that there were no digital outs, but I've never had any jitter or other nasties when recording into my mbox, so I no longer miss the digital outs. What I like about my engine is that I can program it and then hook it up on stage and use it as a dedicated effects box, with a synth or 2 for good measure - minus the computer.
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Blue Hell
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Afrokid wrote:
You won't have a pretty interface on screen, but that's why you have a synth full of physical knobs sitting next to you.


And for the no knobs version the editor is only a few ALT+TAB's away :-)

But in a laptop situation it would be nice to be able to record the connected synths without any external devices and it would be nice tas well to be able to send 'm MIDI without external devices.

Not that it has a high priority for me, but it would be nice.

Jan.
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 4:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Afrokid wrote:
The whole integration into the DAW is a non issue IMO. So you would have the whole thing sitting in a VST instrument slot... big deal. A VST Instrument is simply an audio track anyway - just plug your G2 into the sound card and activate the audio track's input. You won't have a pretty interface on screen, but that's why you have a synth full of physical knobs sitting next to you. I much prefer to tweak patches with real knobs than with a mouse, and I know I wouldn't want to be patching inside a vst window.


The G2 is pretty perfect already. The is no thing as a lack of DAW integration, but we obviously have a period of converging products right now.
DAW integration would in this case mean free access from the DAW to the various instrument audio inputs and outputs and you could use the Gx as an audio interface a well as a controller surface.
I guess many vendros will slowly start to develop gear like the new Virus Access. Give this trend like 2 years, and we will see low end digital synths having DAW integration. Sound modules like the polka bricks from Roland and others will probably get this "feature" added. Imagine an Edirol orchestral module of some sort with x number of stereo outputs available over Firewire.

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