During the course of answering my daily mail, I've noticed an expressed concern with obsolescence by owners of older synthesizer modules as new designs are released. For instance, those who were excited about the development of the 2720-2A are disappointed that they didn't know about the new 4720 super VCO; traveling musicians who own 2720-8 cases and now want to transfer to the 4761/4762 Road Cases. Now, wait a minute! Let's take a closer look, is there really a problem?
Foremost in our minds when designing new kits are (1) Providing advanced, state-of-the-art circuitry to do more things better for less and (2) making sure that the resulting new products are compatible with ALL that has gone before so that our previous customers aren't left behind. Number two is what we are directly concerned with in this discussion. Most of you are aware of the things we do to insure compatibility. For example; standard module size insuring interchangeability and using the same power supply lines for all modules. It seems silly to us, but there are some companies who purposely design products that are incompatible with previous models. This supposedly promotes sales of new products, but we feel that this type of policy alienates the consumer.
Even though we are constantly developing newer, more elaborate things we take special steps to insure that PAIA's older products don't become obsolete. One of the first retro-fits that we made available was the 2720-9 Glide. We could have incorporated this modification in the 2720-8 Sample/Hold circuit, called it "The new, improved 2720-8A" and anyone who wanted Glide would have had to buy whole new keyboard electronics. But we didn't. We made a retro-fit available at minimal cost. A more recent example of this philosophy is the availability of a retro-fit model of the Road Cases.
As for the circuitry, the older, simpler modules do not become obsolete. In creating a near infinite number of voices using one instrument (which is what synthesis is all about) these less complicated circuits are well suited to the less complex nature of the sounds most often generated. As an example, oscillators are most often used in the audio mid-range. Sure, bass is used, but an orchestra of bass sounds is muddy, heavy and overbearing. In the upper octaves of audibility (above 10 kHz.) the harmonic content of various waveforms is lost due to the limits of human hearing. Waveshaping cannot be heard and a concentration of voices in the upper octaves would sound like an orchestra of piccolos. Ouch! It hurts my ears to think of it! The point is that VCO's are primarily used in the audio mid-range and the time tested, less expensive 2720-2A VCO performs admirably in this area, serving 75% of the VCO applications of even the most advanced synthesizer. Don't get me wrong, the 4720 is good for those special super low and super high voicings, but there is no reason to replace all '-2A's with 4720's. In even the most bizarre, free form, purely electronic compositions and recordings most voicings are, by themselves, rather plain with more complex sounds added for frills, special effects or texture.
Now that we've bared our souls and shown you where our heads are at, I hope you understand that we see where your head is at! Many of us were customers before joining PAIA and moreover, many of us are musicians as well as technicians, designers, printers or whatever. We think that helps a lot and hope you do too.
On a closing note (E flat, I think) the response to the premier issue of POLYPHONY was outstanding, but don't slack off! There's always the next issue just waiting for neat goodies to be published. Don't sit around thinking that someone has already discovered your favorite patch or modification. Anything you have to say is welcomed here at PAIA, ANYTHING!