Doing It All Wrong - Your New Electronic Instrument Isn't All That New (and it kinda sucks)

Posted: 3/15/2018 3:53:04 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

Something about this sort of thing drives me to distraction, and I'm trying to put my finger on exactly what that is:

It may have fancy "machine learning" under the hood, but I can't get past the hood (user interface) which is just another box with a touch screen and some knobs.  I suppose people are drawn to touch screens like they are to Theremins, capacitance sensing seems like magic in a way. But come on, everyone's got a tablet or phone by now so that can't be the main attraction.  And the sounds: the flute / snare sounds like a random 8 bit sample, nothing I'd put in a promo video.  And the promo video: who makes these things? The intro is way too long and flowery, and the audio is so tarted up it has almost nothing to do with what we're watching - which is incredibly ironic for a synth demo.  And the web site: I will breathe a huge sigh of relief when those drop-down thingies at the top (which drop down and obscure the very text I'm trying to scroll back to see) go out of vogue.*

(Not claiming I am or have done so, but) unless you're a near master at many things and to some extent lucky, making a new controller / synth that actually moves the field of musical instruments forward even a skosh is a huge, extremely difficult undertaking, so I get the failure here.  I suppose I expect more from a tech company this large.  Something about the whole corporate thing that is absolute death to any real innovation (and I'm not just talking about musical instruments).

I blame much of this nonsense on keyboard controllers and MIDI, both of which are highly useful, but together they create a box that is very hard to think outside of.


* Until that day arrives (what are web designers smoking?) I'm using this script which kills drop-downs (along with other more useful things, unfortunately) - in the form of a bookmark bar link in both Chrome and Firefox:

javascriptfunction()%7B(function () %7Bvar i%2C elements %3D document.querySelectorAll('body *')%3Bfor (i %3D 0%3B i < elements.length%3B i%2B%2B) %7Bif (getComputedStyle(elements%5Bi%5D).position %3D%3D%3D 'fixed') %7Belements%5Bi%5D.parentNode.removeChild(elements%5Bi%5D)%3B%7D%7D%7D)()%7D)() 

Posted: 11/27/2018 3:44:13 PM

From: Tampa, Florida

Joined: 11/27/2018

Definitely learned a lot from this. Thanks for sharing!

Posted: 11/27/2018 9:29:40 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

I get why they use touch screens - it's a flexible way of packing a lot of functionality into a small area. Also - they're programmers, they're going to use a computer screen for their computing device. Downside is, when I see touch screens I think "I'll wait for the app. It's coming." I don't think it's a selling point.

Neural nets are undeniably nifty. Thing I like about them is when they get it weirdly and often hilariously wrong. If I had one I'd probably spend most of my time trying to blend samples of ducks and cymbals.

As for the video, musicians at work looking for the right sounds tells me that using it is not that much different from any other synth. Some samples of a selection of finished pieces, showing its range and quality would be good.

Agree re MIDI. It's too keyboard-centric. More stuff could support Open Sound Control.

Posted: 11/29/2018 1:38:40 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

Lord I was cranky that day!  (I'm off caffeine and other daily recreations and my inner mood is now a flat line.)

"Downside is, when I see touch screens I think "I'll wait for the app. It's coming." I don't think it's a selling point."  - GordonC

Yes, they seem to be reinventing the tablet, but with knobs and I/O.  Why not make an I/O expander box for an existing tablet + app?

There are a million ways to do this, but for musical instruments I'm highly partial to no OS (bare metal) to get rid of the time consuming boot phase.  Any time lag between wanting to play it and actually playing it is deadly to inspiration, and to the kind of "practice" I tend to get in (~1 minute of guitar while the oatmeal comes up to a boil).  But I imagine the presence of a touch screen pretty much demands an OS. They're super flexible, but touchscreens/pads are just a bit too laggy for a lot of real-time musical input.  And I've found few DAW / plugin type software products that have easy to twiddle knobs, even with a mouse.

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