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YARW - Yet Another ROMpler Workstation
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Axiom



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:37 am    Post subject: YARW - Yet Another ROMpler Workstation
Subject description: A hot discussion against repackaged old technology
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Korg TR
Usually, I'm an open minded person. but I see that, on our beloved synth world, companies are moving ever more on abuse of samples instead of developing better synthesis chains and algorithms. I can understand that, today, the computer technology is big enough to let a user to put directly on RAM a huge amount of high quality samples. We can have wonderful orchestral sections, outstanding realistic pianos and so on. But I can't accept that manufacturers are showing, year after year, a lot of repackaged technology with only new and larger amount of samples.

Another thing that I can't understand is why they continue to make workstations. A lot of their features are used once or twice a year. There are very few musicians that really need to use those features. Almost all of these "workstation" features are available on every little DAW (computer-based Digital Audio Workstation) and are easier to manage.

I used to play ROMplers as well as synthesizers. I've owned two Kurzweil K2500 and I've been very satisfied by them (ever if their filters aren't warm at all). Actually I own a Korg Triton Rack and I don't like its (only two) filters. Now I've just seen a video demo of new Korg TR. "Wow. a new board.. let's see it.. dho, another ROMpler... dho is a Triton.. mmm it's black.. nice." It's main feature? The ROM is double the Triton.

Actually I can't wait to see more about the Oasys or to try it personally. Until today I've only seen some piano samples, organ samples, some analog emulation... a great touchscreen... but nothing new. I will be very happy to pass some hours programming this beautiful and costly machine to discover if it has real new sonic possibilities, or if it is the latest repackaged and overpriced old technology.

This is the same feeling most people had on Kurzweil K2600. It seemed like a repackaged and overpriced board. In fact there aren't crucial changes between a K2500 and a K2600. Let's see what Kurzweil will show on next winter NAMM. I've just quoted a couple of names by way of example, but this is the actual tend: giving people more samples and nothing else.

I say: NO WAY!

There is an important thing about synthesizers that those companies (and customers too) seems to forgot: the greatest thing that we have on a synthesizer is the total control over a new kind of sound. We can shape our tone from almost anything. Where is synthesis moving if we concentrate only on the use pre-recorded samples?

My 2 cents,
Luca

Last edited by Axiom on Sun Nov 20, 2005 7:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

in the eyes of manufacturers those thinking like you are a minority
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Axiom



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

that's sadly true. most buyers wants high quality pre-made sounds. But, imho, I can't understand some choices. From Kurzweil, as example, which released a K2661 that is a chopped down version of K2600 without any significant improvement. I know that their digital filters are characteristic, but how about add other DSP blocks for VA-like resonant filters? no way... you can use KDFX filters instead.. but you can't place them as you want but only after the vast algorithms. I'm not against romplers at all, but I think that they could be more than offer us old repackaged technologies Smile

Luca

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Axiom wrote:
I think that they could be more than offer us old repackaged technologies

you know that these are old repackaged technologies but many don't (and if they do they probably don't care as long as the synth sounds good) and will be happy to spend their money on something like those synths you mentioned.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Axiom wrote:
I'm not against romplers at all, but I think that they could be more than offer us old repackaged technologies Smile


That's a good point but it has two downsides. First of all; people like "familiar", to most people synthesis inherently means substractive synthesis and variations come down to the quality of "the" filter and the amount of ocilators, envelopes and so on. For those wild days when you want something "exotic" you can have FM and after that it basically stops. Very, very few hardware synths are based around something else. Secondary; there simply aren't that many new technologies; there have been some inventions since the golden days of the '60s like Karplus-Strong but even KS dates back to '83. Has anything of any real signifficance even been invented in the last 15 years?

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Axiom



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

You got the point, Kassen. There's no serius R&D for new synthesis technologies. Research is only done by academic researches, like Julius Smith of Stanford University and so on. I've only seen Hartmann doing something that seems new, with their Neural Synthesis, but I haven't had the pleasure to play on a Neuron.

What I claim hardly is not the lack of new technologies since new ideas can't be pre-programmed Wink What I "hate" is when a company shows a new product emphatizing it like something revolutionary while is identical to a previous one with only some beautifications like, as example, USB ports, more ROM and so on.

Otherwise, there are companies that launch new products without claiming a revolution. Moog overall. The Voyager was presented like a new model of MiniMoog using today technology so we can have more stable oscillators and patch memory. Is that repackaged old technology? Yes. But it wasn't claimed, by the manufacturer, to be something never seen before or revolutionary.

Even if isn't a crucial invention, I have to admin that Roland do a superb job with their Elastic Audio technology. The V-Synth is, actually, the first hardware synthesizer with this kind of feature. I don't know if, this technique, can solve most of the actual sampling issues (like aliasing), but this is one of few companies that tried to do something new instead to change the color of a previous machine and trying to sell it as a brand new product. Just today i've read about Roland Sideband filter and i've heard a sound generated by a noise source and this filter to make a great and realistic strings sound. Ok, this is even subtractive, another old technology, but the V-Synth is the only machine that have it. This is a fact like there are costly machines with tons of samples, two filters and a miserable modulation matrix.

I can accept something like that on an old monosynth made only with few circuits due to their implementig cost, over twenty years ago. I can't agree to see that today, when all the job is done on a DSP.

My 2 cents Smile
Luca

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Axiom wrote:
There's no serius R&D for new synthesis technologies. Research is only done by academic researches

Academic research is welcome: FM synthesis, for example, was introduced by John Chowning of Stanford University around 1973 then Yamaha bought the rights to use this technology implementing it very successfully in the DX7. I think that at the dawn of the MIDI era (more or less 20 years ago) there were more innovative instruments than there are today simply because manufacturers were not sure about what customers of this new market were looking for. Nowadays (after 20 years) they have the certainty that the "average customer" wants plenty of readymade ROM sounds and, for example, very few care for channel aftertouch, even less for polyphonic aftertouch, a feature disappeared from keyboards because deemed too expensive to implement and because many did not need it anyway.
do you remember the Ensoniq Fizmo?
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the Kawai K5000S
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the Korg Z1
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or the Yamaha FS1R?
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they all were excellent synths but were not successful because, I think, were too ahead of their time and went the way of the dodo.
The Nord Modular is also away from the middle of the "synth-road" but fortunately for Clavia it has a bunch of very strong supporters, actually I would like to see how many G2 have been manufactured sofar.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

As the owner of a Karma, I'd be much more inclined to use the sequencer if it was more useful for live use. I wish Korg would let you use 8 channels for sequencer parts and 8 channels for a Combi and be able to change Combis whilst the sequencer is playing. As it is you can only have one Combi per song in the sequencer which is pretty rubbish.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Seraph, you've mentioned a lot of synths that are on my wish list Smile K5000 and FS1R overall.

Luca

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

These ROMplers are what I call polkaboards. These products are in a class of their own. They aren´t quite what we would call real synthesizers. Take a look at the terminology. You EDIT the sounds. You don´t create sounds. You load soundsets and buy extra soundcards sporting titles like Latin or Military Marches. I wouldn´t say the polkaboards are bad instruments, but they are not intended to be performance synths and serious sound design tools. However, this is what the market wants. Even Clavia has figured out there is a market for this and they issued the Stage. Main difference between the standard polkamachines and the Stage is that the Clavia Stage is more oriented towards the 70s and it emulates pretty well a rig with a lead synth, a string machine, an organ, a mellotron and electric pianos. (The obvious problem with the Stage is of course that there is only ONE keyboard ).

No matter what companies like Roland and Yamaha will invent, all these new ideas will mainly be implemented polkaboard style in mass market products. Also keep in mind that most groove boxes are polkamachines too. Some of these have more performance oriented features than a Triton though.

Sure, there are retro VAs and modern analog synths on the market. Many of these are excellent. Still some are still plaugued with interfaces that simply aren´t quite what the doctor ordered. I love the Virus series, but I have never felt at ease with the interface. It is still polkaish in the sense that you will have to EDIT rather than create.

It also amazing that a lot of the really good stuff these days are merely copies of older instrument designs. Sure, the old Minimoog or Odysssey layout was OK. But why remaking the exact same thing for the Nth time? Why not go mad and make an Octave Cat2 copy with 5 VCOs ( and one of these can access a Wave/Waveterm wavetable thingie), 12 note polyphonic, 5 stereo sets of envelopes/VCAs, add in a section of complex envelopes, lotsa sick filters, 3 stereo reverbs and 3 stereo delays( that can be patched inside patches and not only strapped on the outputs)... and more.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
Why not go mad and make an Octave Cat2 copy with 5 VCOs ( and one of these can access a Wave/Waveterm wavetable thingie), 12 note polyphonic, 5 stereo sets of envelopes/VCAs, add in a section of complex envelopes, lotsa sick filters, 3 stereo reverbs and 3 stereo delays( that can be patched inside patches and not only strapped on the outputs)... and more.

Stein
you are a very bright guy so you should know the answer to your own question by now Wink there is no market for that thing Idea
btw do you know of any nice tangoboard expanded with extra cheese soundcard Question

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:
you are a very bright guy so you should know the answer to your own question by now Wink there is no market for that thing Idea


Of course there isn´t a market for such a thing. I am the only guy on the planet who would enjoy such an instrument.

seraph wrote:
btw do you know of any nice tangoboard expanded with extra cheese soundcard Question


Easy, that would be the Clavia Stage, from now on called "the swedish- made tangoboard w/ cheese" -. the SM-tbwc
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
I am the only guy on the planet who would enjoy such an instrument.

the "nutty professor" species is an endangered one Very Happy

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yo, Stein! I, erm, well, I'm working on a track based on samples of my collection of cheap toy keyboards and I was thinking about titeling it "3euro polkaboard", would that be ok with you?
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

make it 3.50 euro and then we are in business
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

It was cheap RAM that killed synthesis. Until that time, people were creating synthesis techniques because there was a desire to recreate sounds, but lack of sufficient calculation power or storage space to do so otherwise. Remember FM could recreate any sound imaginable? Now, you can run a model of something, but why bother? There's cheapo RAM that you can hear a sample of *the real thing*. I think there are still some advances to be made (like realizing a bit more of the potential of resynthesis and granular technology), but in terms of instruments, I think advances will mostly be in the user interface field. Connecting the interface up to the synthesis engine that makes things expressive in a new way is what should be happening. Why not have stress sensors on that guitar neck? Piezos on your keyboard's shell to detected tapping and scraping? Something to pitchbend a note everytime you squint your face like your "feel it"?
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I also think the V-Synth is onto some new territory. I believe some soft synths designs may make it into standalone hardware.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think there's a market for an over the top synthesiser out there. Say, 10 oscs, 4 filters (with as many models/modes as possible), 4 envs, 8 lfo's, with a thousand preset semi modular effects section including many many distortion types. I know of alot of people that use plugins based on how many of each thing they have. "Wow, 10 oscillators!!!11!!1!"

If you market it right, load the thing with lots of thick virusy presets, presets of as many sounds used in the latest underground dance tracks released in the last 6 months, then sort these into banks labelled as genres (and actually get the names correct), the thing would sell like mad.

The strong points of many dance synths these days is it's "hyper saw technology" or some such - DSP power is relatively cheap, so why not do away with cheap imitations and do the real thing: 10 oscs with hundreds of waveforms.

Colour the thing black/red/some other "cool" colour with heaps of leds that flash, put in a cheap tube with an led behind it to make it glow. Price it around the us$1000 or less mark, give it a cool name like "Destruktikon" and there you go - the must have synth for 14-18 year old bedroom producers.







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