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Reference Points

This month sees the start of a short series devoted to the New England Digital Synclavier digital audio system. If you're wondering why on earth we are looking at such an expensive product in this magazine, when many of our readers would never be able to afford to buy one, I'll tell you... The reason is because it provides a much needed reference point to enable you to better judge the flood of 'low cost' hard disk-based digital audio devices that are coming onto the market.

There have been numerous claims from manufacturers in the past that their latest wonder toy is as good as a Fairlight or more flexible than a Synclavier, etc. But how do you know whether such claims are true or not if you have no personal knowledge of those products that represent the absolute pinnacle of their class. Do you, for instance, know precisely how fast Don Johnson's Ferrari Testarossa will go, or even how much it costs? Be honest, you don't do you? Yet there are probably loads of people reading this who dream of owning a Ferrari, and would buy one if they had the money.

Imagine you had bought a Ferrari, only to discover that it was a veritable pig to drive and that any boy racer in a 'hot hatch' could leave you standing at every set of traffic lights? You'd never want to see another Ferrari salesman in your life again, that's for sure.

Without apriori knowledge of other vehicles, and a feel for roughly what represented the state of the art, you could quite easily fool yourself into believing that a car capable of accelerating from 0-60mph in 10 seconds was worth paying eighty grand for. But what if you could obtain the same level of performance from a car costing only £9,000?

Obviously this analogy is a bit of an exaggeration, but it serves to put over my argument. You see, without a reference point it is nigh on impossible to make realistic comparisons between two machines that both appear to offer exactly the same facilities. I have always felt that it is this magazine's duty to keep readers informed of the current state of the musical instrument art, and that's why you'll find the Synclavier story in this edition. Follow the series and it will give you a better perspective on where things are heading in the hi-tech music recording field, and make you aware of how wide the gap is between top-end audio equipment and the run-of-the-mill products most of us can afford. Even if it does not, at least you will have found out how much a Synclavier costs. What other magazine tells you such interesting information?

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Sound On Sound - Copyright: SOS Publications Ltd.
The contents of this magazine are re-published here with the kind permission of SOS Publications Ltd.


Sound On Sound - Jun 1989

Donated by: Rob Hodder

Editorial by Ian Gilby

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