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'Allo John, Got A New Synth?

Article from Sound On Sound, March 1993

Let's imagine, just for a moment, that buying a new car was like buying a piece of cutting edge hi-tech music gear... You've read a lot about Ford's newest model; it sounds just what you want, so you place an order in advance, and one fine day (probably a couple of months later than you'd hoped) you make your way down to your dealer to pick it up. It looks great — good lines, the colour's perfect. So you drive away in your new pride and joy — and then things start to go wrong.

Changing from first into second gear produces a stomach-churning crunch of gears, as does the change from second to third. "Don't worry about it sir," calls the salesman. "It's just that we haven't implemented syncromesh yet. It'll be available on version 1.1."

"Ah," you reply — let's just say you happen to have a megaphone with you — "You mean the version that has almost everything that this was supposed to have in the first place?" The salesman's retort, however, is drowned out by the noise of gear teeth being ground into iron filings.

Next problem: the car displays a strange reluctance to turn right. Left is fine, but right appears to be a no-no. A quick call to the dealer on the earphone establishes that an update to fix this small problem is "on the way". Of course, you could always turn left and then pull a quick handbrake turn. "The handbrake works?"

"Oh yes."

"Actually, that was something else I wanted to ask — the brake pedal doesn't seem to have much effect."

"Have you had the brake option installed, sir?"

"It's an option?!"

You get the picture. Things aren't really that bad, of course, because most companies deliver on time products that do what they're supposed to, and what they're supposed to do is pretty damned impressive. Although not everyone is keen to embrace the latest spinoffs of advanced electronics and computer industries, most musicians and producers of 10 or 15 years ago would have been quite staggered had they looked into a crystal ball and seen 32 and 64-voice polyphonic digital synths, 16-bit stereo samplers, affordable 8-track digital tape recorders, multi-track hard disk recorders, all controlled by or working with sequencers that offer unlimited tracks of recording.

Nevertheless, some products are still released in a state of semi-completion; given that we are now entitled to expect high standards of both design and reliability in our equipment, it's just not good enough. If a manufacturer cannot get a product right, then they are wasting their time producing it in the first place.

Next article in this issue

Shape Of Things To Come

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

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
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Sound On Sound - Mar 1993

Editorial by Paul Ireson

Next article in this issue:

> Shape Of Things To Come

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