A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

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A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by blakeAlbion » Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:11 pm

Electronic music gear has changed. In so many ways the new tech is lightyears ahead, and yet some of the best ideas from the old days have been forgotten.

Multitimbral synthesizers. This used to be an asked-for feature, now it's only for the pro market. What's strange to me is this notion that if a synth is multitimbral but lacks audio outputs for each voice, it's no good. That's actually not what I want! I want a multitimbral instrument that doesn't need a wall of outboard gear! The Blofeld comes to mind as a multitimbral instrument I can use without needing a mixer channel for each voice. I like that!

Sequencers. Oh man, don't get me started. Uh oh, too late. Sequencers have devolved, and as they have devolved, their price has gone up. You can go online to a boutique synthesizer outlet like Perfect Circuit (and I like Perfect Circuit) and see... 16 Step analog sequencers for $800! When did having an analog knob for your sequencer's notes become hip? That seems more like a weekend project than something to spend money on. Worse yet is the feature list. The Novation Circuit (I have one and I do enjoy it) is considered to be an "award-winning breakthrough" product for its sequencer. It is not. I have an Alesis MMT8 and a Yamaha QY70. One is from the 1980s and the other is from the 1990s. Both of those sequencers can do way more than any expensive sequencer products today. It has become an accepted fact that if you want to compose whole songs or re-use your sequences for different tracks, you must use a PC-based DAW, because "you need the full power of a desktop computer". That's baloney. Tell that to my MMT8.
The problem is the state of product management in 2020. Nobody has the courage to make a stand-alone sequencer in 2020 with what we now call "song mode" (a feature we just took for granted 20 years ago and did not have a name for it because if a sequencer didn't have it, it wasn't a sequencer). Hardware sequencers in 2020 must be a feature bundled with a sampler, in the form of a "workstation". So basically, don't bother making a sequencer unless it helps us sell this sampler. Pioneer released the Toraiz Squid hardware sequencer, but, just like my Circuit, it's only good for making a 19-minute long looping trance track. You can pay all that money and still not be able to make an innocent 3-minute pop tune, because the Squid doesn't know what a verse or a chorus are.

Very frustrating. Ultimately I will aim to get a Polyend Tracker and use its sequencer much more than I use its sampler. It's as if the product managers in this generation have no knowledge of what technology ever existed before their time.

I suppose the good news is there has never been a better time to build your own musical gear, both hardware and software.

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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by Red Electric Rainbow » Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:15 pm

mmt8 and qy70 cant touch a cirklon buddy
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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by Flounderguts » Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:33 pm

On sequencers...well, I like the multitude of takes on what sequencing *is.* I'm dawless (by choice, since I spend too much time in front of a computer already) and I have more than one sequencer...way more. Sequencer slut, really.

One of the issues, as I see it, is that analog sequencers are simply harder to make these days. There are a number of discrete components and knobs and pots and logic ICs. And labor.

OTOH multiprocessor sequencers based on Arduino or RaspberryPi or FPGA have less in the way of parts and more in the way of code. The issue is that the coders (and the users) keep thinking up new modes and codes and uses...and the whole thing devolves into a multi-use unit with extreme menu-diving or combination inputs. I appreciate the utility of a module like Ornament and Crime, or a standalone Axloti, but for me the whole idea of modular is to have each module do the thing it does.

Adding functionality (complexity) simply leads to me shelving stuff until I have time to learn it...and there it tends to sit.

Another part of the issue is covering the (very wide) spectrum of how buyers *want* to use these types of things. It would be nice if makers weren't trying to please everyone with one module, but in this boutique market swiss-army-knife modules *sell* and you gotta make some money.

I guess for me, that's the true dividing line between eurorack and some of the other formats such as 5u.

My go-to sequencer is *still* a MFOS 16 step (that has been extensively modded and upgraded)
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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by baboo » Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:43 pm

I generally agree with what you're saying

Having serious gear lust for the Polyend Tracker too. But it is frustrating that there are so few hardware boxes that allow you to do a whole song. It also grinds my gears ( :goo: ) that it's so hard to combine long samples (like drones, live pefrormances, solos etc.) with shorter patterns. I don't want to be limited to creating songs from short patterns, it might work for techno but not much else.

And the thing about multitimbrial instruments. I simply can't understand why most synths lack a simple feture that is present on the mellotrons/memotron - a simple knob to mix between 2 or 3 different instrumet tones, instead you have to menu-dive :bang:

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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by synth.void » Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:35 pm

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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by muleskinner » Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:40 pm

Synthstrom Deluge has a great song arranger. Yeah, I know it's also a sampler (and a multitimbral synth, and a looper). Just sayin'...
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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by starthief » Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:55 pm

I honestly never liked the idea of multitimbral synthesizers -- it seemed like kind of a hack. In the mid/late 80s I was always going to multitrack to tape anyway. In the DAW era they were pretty well obsoleted by much easier bouncing/multitracking and/or plugins where you could run as many instances as you like.


On sequencers, I used to have a QX21 and thank gods I don't have to deal with that kind of crap anymore.

Every once in a while I will use a simple MIDI sequence in a piano roll -- and it is extremely easy and painless to work with. But mostly my DAW acts as a mixer, effects plugin host and recorder, and I work with manually played parts, drones, switches for transposition, unquantized analog sequencers and algorithmic stuff. "Song mode" is me deciding when to unmute a trigger stream or fade in a part.

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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by flashheart » Fri Sep 04, 2020 5:20 pm

We never really had multimtimbral 'synthesisers' in the 80s/90s, we had workstations many of which could be used for synthesis, but mostly weren't. We needed them then to do full arangements without having to buy a multitrack. Now we have the computer, they're not really needed. Not sure what you mean by the 'Pro' market anyway, even the top end workstations sell for less now in real terms than they ever have. Amateurs are often posting $3000 Eurorack starter systems yet a $3000 workstation is only for Pros?

Why no sequencers like the MMT8 or QY70? - there's little to no market, don't confuse the number of people posting on forums like this with actual demand. Given the choice between sequencing and arranging on a DAW or peering at a 2 line LCD I know which I prefer - along with 99% of the market. Analogue sequencers are popular because they're hands on and interactive.

It's the same as the constant thread on Gearslutz re 'why no rack samplers?' A few people got really fast working with rack samplers and insist there's huge latent demand to bring these back. No there isn't, most people were glad to see the back of them.

We're in a tiny market of enthusiasts, the amounts most of these devices sell in is miniscule. The only people likely to buy the type of sequencer you would like are a few enthusiasts (all of who would probably ask for completely different feature sets...). If someone did make one it's most likely they'd be an enthusiast too, it would probably sell via Kickstarter and they'll sell them in small batches as they have no real idea of demand.

Whether we like it or not bigger companies do have to play safe as they employ lots of staff that rely on them to pay their wages... The state of Tech has never been better, it's just doesn't fit what you want, sorry. :despair:
I'm not buying a maths though, not my idea of fun...

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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by gruebleengourd » Fri Sep 04, 2020 5:38 pm

flashheart wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 5:20 pm

It's the same as the constant thread on Gearslutz re 'why no rack samplers?' A few people got really fast working with rack samplers and insist there's huge latent demand to bring these back. No there isn't, most people were glad to see the back of them.
It really is a very similar phenomenon. The second part of the equation is also the same -- there are still many of these older hardware sequencers that did the job back then and still do the job now, in good condition and readily available used at prices that make putting a new one out not competitive. especially when you look at something like the mpc one is $700. What are you you looking for, a full feature sequencer that is better than what you can buy used for $300, but does less than what a mpc one can do for $700? When most people will want to use a computer anyway?

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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by Tofupancho » Fri Sep 04, 2020 5:44 pm

The Synthstrom Deluge has a lot of power, imposes no workflow, session format, or artificial limits. And then seemingly every 6-8 months that mad scientist is like hey I’m adding what could be considered a single killer feature on any other product.

It’s not perfect, it’s not everything to everyone, but there should be a section in the Geneva Convention that mandates it be mentioned in every thread talking about power/feature limitations in sequencers.

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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by Angroc » Fri Sep 04, 2020 5:49 pm

I mostly agree with you on your points about multi-timbral synths, but they do need multiple outs to match though! I have an Elektron A4, love the thing, but sometimes I really miss individual outs (and no, the MkII is not an option due to aesthetics and rackmountability!). Same thing goes for my SQ-80, it has the most elegant implementation of multimode ever imo, but sometimes I would really like to have one of the voices on a seperate bus. You see, it's not about HAVING to have a ton of outboard gear to process it, but rather the option.


BTW Don't get the peeps who disagree why multitmbrality is useful. It's no fun bouncing tracks to a daw. That process is so un-inspiring and disjointed. When you can play all parts at the same time, you can jam with it, experiment with it, hook parameters up to MIDI CC and tweak them all at the same time.

Now when it comes to sequencers, I kind of agree. There are so many options here, both as standalone products and as modules, something is bound to tick your boxes.

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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by Xomrys » Fri Sep 04, 2020 7:38 pm

I like modular sequencing, breaking down complex sequences into small components. I.e. several analog-style sequencers that interact through logic, switching and so on. In fact the modular part of composition interests me more than sound design. Yeah if you have just one component you'll get a simple repeating loop but that's not what people are doing. There's also a lot in specifying relationships between voices and adjusting this relationship on the fly.

The 'song' style -- I have no interest in going back to that. It's not what I make and not much what I listen to these days. Maybe we're in a moment where others feel similarly, more minimal/ambient/classical styles are taking over and so there's less of an emphasis.

Multitimbral is great though. Even simple split/layer adds so much. I think I learned some techniques I now carry over into modular simply by layering voices out separate outputs, delaying one with respect to another, or processing each with different FX chains. I never got the hang of multitracking as things only sound good when I can tweak everything live and adjust the sound design so everything fits in the mix.

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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by Voltcontrol » Fri Sep 04, 2020 7:53 pm

flashheart wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 5:20 pm
We never really had multimtimbral 'synthesisers' in the 80s/90s, we had workstations many of which could be used for synthesis, but mostly weren't. We needed them then to do full arangements without having to buy a multitrack. Now we have the computer, they're not really needed. Not sure what you mean by the 'Pro' market anyway, even the top end workstations sell for less now in real terms than they ever have. Amateurs are often posting $3000 Eurorack starter systems yet a $3000 workstation is only for Pros?

Why no sequencers like the MMT8 or QY70? - there's little to no market, don't confuse the number of people posting on forums like this with actual demand. Given the choice between sequencing and arranging on a DAW or peering at a 2 line LCD I know which I prefer - along with 99% of the market. Analogue sequencers are popular because they're hands on and interactive.

It's the same as the constant thread on Gearslutz re 'why no rack samplers?' A few people got really fast working with rack samplers and insist there's huge latent demand to bring these back. No there isn't, most people were glad to see the back of them.

We're in a tiny market of enthusiasts, the amounts most of these devices sell in is miniscule. The only people likely to buy the type of sequencer you would like are a few enthusiasts (all of who would probably ask for completely different feature sets...). If someone did make one it's most likely they'd be an enthusiast too, it would probably sell via Kickstarter and they'll sell them in small batches as they have no real idea of demand.

Whether we like it or not bigger companies do have to play safe as they employ lots of staff that rely on them to pay their wages... The state of Tech has never been better, it's just doesn't fit what you want, sorry. :despair:
Amen.

P.s. Next to the Deluge, the Squarp Pyramid should get a mention.
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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by onthebandwagon » Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:13 pm

A lot of excuses for why people can’t just make interesting music these days.
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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by Voltcontrol » Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:33 pm

onthebandwagon wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:13 pm
A lot of excuses for why people can’t just make interesting music these days.
There's a ton of inspirational value to many and workflow/productivity advantages to some in the type of sequencers this thread is about.

Or were you taking a lame stab at trolling/contrarianism?
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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by onthebandwagon » Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:10 pm

Voltcontrol wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:33 pm
onthebandwagon wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:13 pm
A lot of excuses for why people can’t just make interesting music these days.
There's a ton of inspirational value to many and workflow/productivity advantages to some in the type of sequencers this thread is about.

Or were you taking a lame stab at trolling/contrarianism?
Sure and nah.
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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by Arneb » Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:17 pm

blakeAlbion wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:11 pm
Sequencers. [snip]
Blame the Cirklon. Basically vaporware, except it's just available enough to discourage everyone else from stand-alone sequencer R&D.

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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by JankySwitch » Sat Sep 05, 2020 2:18 am

The Squarp Pyramid is supposed to be the spiritual successor to the MMT8, but I've only used a pyramid, so can't comment on the similarities. The pyramid has a song mode.

I've been on the Cirklon waiting list for over a year, and expect to be for at least another year... Maybe...

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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by oscilloscope » Sat Sep 05, 2020 2:29 am

blakeAlbion wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:11 pm
Nobody has the courage to make a stand-alone sequencer in 2020 with what we now call "song mode" (a feature we just took for granted 20 years ago and did not have a name for it because if a sequencer didn't have it, it wasn't a sequencer). Hardware sequencers in 2020 must be a feature bundled with a sampler, in the form of a "workstation". So basically, don't bother making a sequencer unless it helps us sell this sampler. Pioneer released the Toraiz Squid hardware sequencer, but, just like my Circuit, it's only good for making a 19-minute long looping trance track. You can pay all that money and still not be able to make an innocent 3-minute pop tune, because the Squid doesn't know what a verse or a chorus are.
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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by Rex Coil 7 » Sat Sep 05, 2020 2:39 am

onthebandwagon wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:13 pm
A lot of excuses for why people can’t just make interesting music these days.
There's little else to say. :tu:
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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by forestcaver » Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:10 am

Have you looked at the Westlicht Performer with a launchpad mini attached? It seems to answer all your sequencer requirements. (The designer has previously thought about a commercial release but not sure what his plans are currently, but it’s not a hugely difficult diy build if someone has a bit of experience with smt)

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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by muleskinner » Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:14 am

The only two things that really bug me about the Deluge...

1) No way to loop screen and/or a section in the arranger

2) No way to turn off the 'psychedelic rainbow' effect and just apply a single colour to an instrument
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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by flashheart » Sat Sep 05, 2020 4:15 am

forestcaver wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:10 am
Have you looked at the Westlicht Performer with a launchpad mini attached? It seems to answer all your sequencer requirements. (The designer has previously thought about a commercial release but not sure what his plans are currently, but it’s not a hugely difficult diy build if someone has a bit of experience with smt)
Not a lot of use if you don't use Eurorack and don't DIY SMT... Don't think the OP was actually looking for a sequencer either :)
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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by Carrousel » Sat Sep 05, 2020 4:42 am

Arneb wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:17 pm
blakeAlbion wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:11 pm
Sequencers. [snip]
Blame the Cirklon. Basically vaporware, except it's just available enough to discourage everyone else from stand-alone sequencer R&D.
This doesn’t make any logical sense - either it’s available enough that most of the people who want one can get one, or it’s not available enough and that makes competitors want to develop competing products to snap up the available market-share. It doesn’t make sense to say it’s ‘just available enough to put other developers off’. The reality is it’s much harder to make a ‘flawless’ standalone sequencer than you’re making out.
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Re: A bit of a rant. State of tech in 2020.

Post by Red Electric Rainbow » Sat Sep 05, 2020 5:52 am

the nord lead series has the best multitimberal set-up and workflow imo. 4 is just right. virus TI series too.

getting back to sequencers though, the last five years or so have brought a ton of rad sequencers to the market imo.
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