Hi folks! It's showtime once more! If you've already flicked through this issue you can't have failed to notice the numerous references to the up-coming British Music Fair. This year's event will undoubtedly be the biggest ever staged and everybody is hoping it will attract a record number of visitors. Judging by the stunning new products reported in our extended 'Shape Of Things To Come' feature this month, most of which will be displayed at the BMF, there are certainly plenty of reasons to pay the capital a visit in late July. To make the trip even more worthwhile, we are offering visitors to our stand the chance to win daily prizes and have organised a major competition with Ensoniq UK to win an ESQ-1 synthesizer. Full details on pages 12 and 42. See you there!
In his NAMM report this issue, Craig Anderton remarks on the increased numbers of IBM PCs and compatibles in use at the show. Newly-introduced budget models are really giving the PC a well-deserved new lease of life and some interesting news I gleaned from Craig's own magazine (he's editor of Electronic Musician in the USA) looks like making the PC a real musical force to reckon with. IBM, it seems, have set their corporate sights on the music market for they are about to release (in America first) the IBM MIDI card.
This plug-in card and MIDI box have been developed to mate with their new Personal Systems computers but will, apparently, work with existing PCs. The card is not Roland MPU-401 compatible but performs the same functions and includes as standard an 8-voice multitimbral synthesizer (expandable to 16-voice) with 240 presets, 96 programmable memories and stereo outputs. Yamaha were involved in heavy consultations with IBM during the design stages of the card and the synth section looks remarkably like an FB01. Several major music software companies have been signed up and are already working on software for the card, which is predicted to sell for 495 dollars in the USA. I rang IBM UK to find out when (if?) it'll be available here but nobody seemed to know anything about it! As soon as I learn more, you'll be the first to know, OK?
As the surge toward 16-bit samplers continues and the competition in the 12-bit sector hots up, it appears that some manufacturers are 'coming clean' about their 'old' machines. The following is an extract from a letter by Sequential employee Stanley Junglieb in reply to a reader's query which appeared in a recent issue of Electronic Musician magazine in the States. It makes for very interesting reading. See what you think.
"...Bolman says that he has tried 42kHz sampling rates and drastic EQ when sampling with the Prophet 2000, but has still not obtained the kind of high frequency sound quality he wants. Therefore what must be frustrating him is not the number of bits, as you speculated in your response, but probably the fact that when the Prophet 2000 is sampling at 42kHz, there is a rather steep 16kHz anti-aliasing filter sitting in front of the ADC. At the 31 kHz sampling rate, the filter is set to 12kHz. So there is quite a difference between nominal sampling rate and frequency response (bandwidth). This must be more or less true for many samplers."
"I think there may be a widespread misconception (which manufacturers are not anxious to refute) that the frequency response is automatically just half of the sampling rate. Digital 'brick wall' filters are still too expensive and analogue attempts mutate the sound. For sampling to approach the real-world fidelity that Mr Bolman expects, he will need a 60kHz machine, so that affordable filters can be moved up to about 22 or 25kHz."... "As I understand it, the number of bits has only a marginal effect on frequency response. Most of the fidelity benefits of 16 bits comes from the increased dynamic resolution, as well as a reduction of the omnipresent quantisation noise which reduces sonic details to stairsteps. After all, all 12-bit samplers have a maximum dynamic range of only 72dB - I have a cassette deck with dbx that can beat that!" (Stanley Jungleib, Sequential)
Enlightened? I think it's time for a lengthy investigation into sampler specs, don't you? Stay tuned.
Editorial by Ian Gilby
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