[FoRK] Take a step back...

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at jarbox.org
Tue Sep 27 11:36:58 PDT 2011


On Sep 27, 2011, at 10:30 AM, Gregory Alan Bolcer wrote:
> I've heard the exact same argument made about the digital music sound qualities of a a Commodore Amiga computer.  At one point they were going for 20x their initial cost for their unique sound mixing qualities.


There was a company that made synthesizers a few years back by recycling old chips from those computers. The sound was not good by any means, just somewhat distinctive and quirky. It probably would have been cheaper to model the circuitry.

We have the cheap DSP horsepower to recreate the transfer functions, phase, noise characteristics, etc of exotic old electronic hardware so well that there is not much of an engineering case for using crusty old electronic hardware. There have been several well-documented cases, back when doing this was more novel, where blinded A/B tests of exotic audio electronic hardware proved to be indistinguishable from a well-constructed virtual model. 15 years ago this was at the edge of what was practical with the DSPs of the time but today... This created the interesting intellectual property problem for the companies in that expensive hardware designs started to be knocked off by software modeling that could achieve the same sound quality. It made it difficult for the hardware guys to get a return on their engineering effort as software clones proliferated, so most things go straight to software these days.


There may be many unique characteristics of acoustic instruments due to variations in the materials used over time but electronic audio circuits lend themselves to software virtualization very well.


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