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Topic: Hardware sample libraries - what does everyone/anyone think?

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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Hardware sample libraries - what does everyone/anyone think?

    Not sure if this has been brought up before, so apologies if it has.

    I was wondering something. Prior to me owning any sw sample libs (EWQL, and GOS), I had used hw outboard synths, including Roland and Alesis models. While they were great for their day, they of course do not compare to today's sample libs currently available - and for more than one reason.

    What if someone were to develop a hw version of EWQL meets Garritan meets VSL? Would anyone be interested in something of this nature? Of course, the unit would need to be as good/better than anything out there. Not sure if something like this is possible, but...

    If:

    1. The sounds/articulations rivaled that of the aforementioned libs
    2. The functionality and editing options rivaled that of the aforementioned libs (editing would not be done in the unit itself, but with sw on the desktop
    3. Pricing was well within reason
    4. The unit was capable of interfacing with any MIDI interface on the market
    5. The unit was capable of receiving/installing updates to internal software/firmware (as new articulations are created; owners can receive an update which can be installed to the current unit)
    6. The unit was capable of handling multiple banks of 16 MIDI channels simul, with a huge amount of polyphony per bank

    Am I am wrong in thinking that this is a good idea?

    Of course there would be down sides, such as real estate, cables (I know alot of people hate cables, lol), and maybe a few more (feel free to enlighten me). But there are upsides as well. No long loading times, entire banks can be user-configured in template-fashion to house any array of sounds/articulations so that everything is at the user's fingertips...and of course the biggie - no use of computer resources. CPU/RAM/HD space is of no concern.

    What does everyone think about this?

  2. #2

    Re: Hardware sample libraries - what does everyone/anyone think?

    Quote Originally Posted by RiffWraith
    3. Pricing was well within reason
    And there's the rub......;-)

    You can't really have a discussion like this, without first stating how much you're willing to pay. :-)

  3. #3

    Re: Hardware sample libraries - what does everyone/anyone think?

    Quote Originally Posted by RiffWraith
    3. Pricing was well within reason
    And there's the rub......;-)

    You can't really have a discussion like this, without first stating how much you're willing to pay. :-)

  4. #4
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    Re: Hardware sample libraries - what does everyone/anyone think?

    Eh, of course money is a factor. Say the price rivaled the current libs. Say you have the 5 sections. Say each section individually was $1000 USD, and all 5 together was $4400 USD. For example.....

  5. #5

    Re: Hardware sample libraries - what does everyone/anyone think?

    I'd be interested but I know that it would be a lot more expensive (for the developer and for the consumer) to do it that way as opposed to how they're doing things now. I know that in the day (Korg M-1, Emu Virtuoso 2000 etc...) that the equipment was very expensive. I'm not sure if it would make sense to pursue hardware sample libraries. It may have a few advantages, but I'm not sure if the advantages would outweigh the cost. I imagine that it would retail for at least $2,000.00 and I'm being optimistic

  6. #6
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    Re: Hardware sample libraries - what does everyone/anyone think?

    I think in theory it's not a bad idea, but there must be a very good reason why keyboard manufacturers haven't done this up to this point, and i think that reason is cost.

    Consider the digital piano market. For around 7 years now, sample libraries have existed that trump the realism found in most ROM-based sample-sets in hardware digital pianos, and while both have increased in realism respectively, that gap has remained. My presumption is that there must be something prohibitive about just putting enough fast-page ROM and horsepower into the hardware boards to close that gap, and my best guess is that it relates to cost/price competitiveness. You basically have to resconstitute a computer (albeit specialized,) adequate to handle your sample lib within the board, and perhaps most people in the market for hardware boards wouldn't be willing to pay that much more for the added realism. In general, people who are interested in DAWs are interested in outputting recordings that are listenable under close inspection and have made an investment in a good computer to do so and are going to leverage that investment as best they can; neither may be true of most people in the market for self-contained synths.

  7. #7

    Re: Hardware sample libraries - what does everyone/anyone think?

    Quote Originally Posted by RiffWraith
    Eh, of course money is a factor. Say the price rivaled the current libs. Say you have the 5 sections. Say each section individually was $1000 USD, and all 5 together was $4400 USD. For example.....
    So if a "soft" version costs a certain amount to produce, with low manufacturing costs (just the discs and the book/box, etc)....why would the "hard" price be the same if the developer's manufacturing costs were 10x-50x more?

    It's all about cost/profit at that point.

    For this type of product, the market for software easily eclipses the MIDI hardware market.

  8. #8

    Re: Hardware sample libraries - what does everyone/anyone think?

    Don't they have this already? I'm thinking of Receptor (you can look it up on sounds online, I can't link to it here).

    This might be basically what you're talking about, I'm not 100% sure how it works though so I could be wrong.
    Wilbert Roget, II
    Composer
    Rogetmusic.com

  9. #9

    Re: Hardware sample libraries - what does everyone/anyone think?

    I'd like to have 1-rack-unit sample players that each specialize in some sound. They'd all have an identical interface but the ROMs in each would be different. This way you get identical but discrete, physical controls for each.

    The first one you buy would be feature-complete. It would offer a ton of RAM for sampling and would be the one that all the others connect to. They'd connect together so the audio could be bundled into a few ADAT-type outputs. This main unit would also have effects and a mixer, with an available external mixing surface or a software controller. All sound editing, bank arranging, etc, could also be done via external software.

    The subsequent units would be less expensive because they'd be simple. They wouldn't have audio or sampling or effects. Each one would just add a harware interface, ROM and processing capability to the main unit.

    The main unit would have the sampler and, say, a few killer pianos. Then you add a bass module, a guitar module, an analog module, a strings module, etc.

    Alternatively, if a software interface is desirable and cheaper and more marketable, just make one unit with expansion slots. Kinda like Roland has been doing forever. But make additional, cheaper units daisy-chain for increased processing. They'd just offer a place to plug in more boards. The important feature is to have all the audio bundled for mixing and effects in one unit. That, and a consistent interface for all your sounds.

    Okay, I gave that about enough thought as the time it took to type it. There's probably room for improvement. But I've wanted a 1U piano for a long time. I used to have a Yamaha TX-1P and loved the format. I'd like someone to do a modern version that'd compete with the software libraries.

    Amy

  10. #10
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    Re: Hardware sample libraries - what does everyone/anyone think?

    What we are beginning to see is the hardware market embracing VSTis so you can have the best of both worlds.

    Muse Receptor makes a rackmounted VSTi host does many of the things on your wish list.

    Open Labs demonstrated NEKO at NAMM an open platform musical keyboard workstation that can host VSTis.

    Eric hit the nail on the head. It's about cost/profit. Hardware is expensive to produce and to support and will be more expensive.

    Gary Garritan

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