why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by gs » Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:38 pm

I'll take Dave Smith at his word on this. If he believes using today's digital technology and processing power (in contrast to the digital technology and processing power of, say, 1986) that he can make great sounding DCOs that stomp all over the ones from the past, then he must be on to something. Most importantly, using the DCOs he's able to push the P08 out the door at a much cheaper price and with much lower tech support overhead. This is a smart business move for somebody who wants to be in business nowadays producing analog polyphonic synths.
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by theglyph » Sun Sep 28, 2008 12:14 am

please don't forget about all the modular manufacturers out there!

Of course Roland seems to be, and rightfully so, the pick of question under this topic. I'd s**t a brick, as would many others, if Roland reissued an exact analog recreation of some of their greatest hits. I won't hold my breath :sad3:
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by cornutt » Sun Sep 28, 2008 1:59 am

theglyph wrote:please don't forget about all the modular manufacturers out there!

Of course Roland seems to be, and rightfully so, the pick of question under this topic. I'd s**t a brick, as would many others, if Roland reissued an exact analog recreation of some of their greatest hits. I won't hold my breath :sad3:
Exact re-creations of most of the legendary Roland analogs aren't possible because they used the IR3109 OTA in their filters, and that was a big part of the Roland sound circa Jup8, Juno6, and J106. From what I understand, the 3109's characteristics were quite a bit different from any OTA avaialble today. And of course the 3109 has been out of production for decades.
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by Big Gnome » Sun Sep 28, 2008 3:17 am

theglyph wrote:I'd s**t a brick, as would many others, if Roland reissued an exact analog recreation of some of their greatest hits.
People certainly would, and then proceed to b***h that the reissues aren't as "phat" or "warm" as the originals--largely based on factory presets and/or Youtube demos. If for no other reason than that, manufacturers are probably better off just leaving well enough alone.
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by Johnny Lenin » Sun Sep 28, 2008 3:22 am

Just a question... assuming that such a beast would cost several thousands of dollars, how many Jupiter 8s do you think Roland could sell if they resurrected the classic?

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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by xpander » Sun Sep 28, 2008 6:01 am

cornutt wrote:Exact re-creations of most of the legendary Roland analogs aren't possible because they used the IR3109 OTA in their filters, and that was a big part of the Roland sound circa Jup8, Juno6, and J106. From what I understand, the 3109's characteristics were quite a bit different from any OTA avaialble today. And of course the 3109 has been out of production for decades.
ICs can be re-manufactured. it would make sense if they planned maybe 3 products that utilize the chip.
Johnny Lenin wrote:Just a question... assuming that such a beast would cost several thousands of dollars, how many Jupiter 8s do you think Roland could sell if they resurrected the classic?
the Jupiter-8 is the iconic Roland synth; hard to say, but i'd bet it would easily outsell the Oasys.

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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by Johnny Lenin » Sun Sep 28, 2008 2:05 pm

xpander wrote:ICs can be re-manufactured. it would make sense if they planned maybe 3 products that utilize the chip.
That's where the problem would be, I imagine. Re-manufacturing long out-of-production ICs would necessitate the construction of a new manufacturing facility, training staff that has no experience with this technology and sourcing materials. The costs involved in that would be astronomical. [It costs Intel more than a billion dollars to build a chip fab.]

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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by otto » Sun Sep 28, 2008 4:51 pm

Johnny Lenin wrote:
xpander wrote:ICs can be re-manufactured. it would make sense if they planned maybe 3 products that utilize the chip.
That's where the problem would be, I imagine. Re-manufacturing long out-of-production ICs would necessitate the construction of a new manufacturing facility, training staff that has no experience with this technology and sourcing materials. The costs involved in that would be astronomical. [It costs Intel more than a billion dollars to build a chip fab.]
I am doubtful about the intel chip figure but if it is true, the primary reason is R&D. They are designing chips that do things that have never been done before and generally process a ton of information with a very small footprint. The majority of their costs are undoubtedly engineering related costs.

You wouldn't have to build a new damn facility to remanufacture OOP ICs, its called re-tooling and I would be surprised if the original manufacturers or someone else already owns the orginal tooling. A chip is a chip, most chip manufacture is done with computers and machines. It is possible, but I doubt any chips from the 80's or 70's for that matter were made from unobtanium. I'm sure the same or similar plastics and metals are still available.

The primary source of failure I see is making it worthwhile for a company to remanufacture the chips. You would have to have a fairly large chip buy.

Again if undergdog Dave Smith can do it with curtis ships I'm sure roland, korg, whomever would have no problem.
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by xpander » Sun Sep 28, 2008 6:47 pm

Johnny Lenin wrote:Re-manufacturing long out-of-production ICs would necessitate the construction of a new manufacturing facility, training staff that has no experience with this technology and sourcing materials. The costs involved in that would be astronomical. [It costs Intel more than a billion dollars to build a chip fab.]
yeah, the intel chip comparison is irrelevant- those chips are probably billions of times more complex. Roland is not going to fabricate the ICs, they sub the work out to a chip manufacturer. the chips have already been designed so there's no R&D cost.
Last edited by xpander on Sun Sep 28, 2008 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sun Sep 28, 2008 6:55 pm

Ick. Chips? You guys really want them to start with the aspect that was cost-cutting and quality diminishing in the first place? :wink:
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by xpander » Sun Sep 28, 2008 7:06 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote:Ick. Chips? You guys really want them to start with the aspect that was cost-cutting and quality diminishing in the first place? :wink:
this thread is about remaking the Golden Oldies- so remaking old chips is potentially a big factor in doing another run of many synths.

plus, using IC versions of critical voice circuits in polyphonic synthesizers really helps voice-to-voice consistency, its one of the great benefits of ICs- better circuit performance.

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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by otto » Sun Sep 28, 2008 8:06 pm

xpander wrote:
Automatic Gainsay wrote:Ick. Chips? You guys really want them to start with the aspect that was cost-cutting and quality diminishing in the first place? :wink:
this thread is about remaking the Golden Oldies- so remaking old chips is potentially a big factor in doing another run of many synths.

plus, using IC versions of critical voice circuits in polyphonic synthesizers really helps voice-to-voice consistency, its one of the great benefits of ICs- better circuit performance.
I think Gainsay was getting at reproductions of more discreet synth designs of the 70's and earlier. Maybe the semblence is a good example of one that already exists??? Of course these designs would be pricey to manufacture just because of the amount of individual componenets. That's the great thing about chip related synths - they should be fairly cheap to manufacture.
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by aredj » Sun Sep 28, 2008 8:30 pm

Meh.. I suppose I can understand why someone may want a replica of these old legendary synths... due to the lack of modern options...

I also agree that they'd probably be fairly expensive... Not unlike any NEW discrete analog polysynths of today...

Which there are too few of.... Shame really... There's lots of people doing high quality modular stuff.... but no discrete circut polysynths... What's out there right now... ?

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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by kuroichi » Sun Sep 28, 2008 8:59 pm

To be honest I would love for Roland and the likes to make analog again, but the last thing I want is a reissue.

I would prefer it if they made new analog machines with they're own sound rather than reproductions (which could harm they're reputation as if the old synths remain rare, then the reputation will be much harder to dispute, not that anyone would but anyway)...

Also covering old ground would be a bit boring because, as much as we like some of the classics, the sound has been done to death. I would much rather have a new drum machine from Roland with a new sound that has the potential to last the next twenty years, than have more 808's which mean another 20 years of abuse from the pop charts.

Thats the thing with all these clones that I don't get... the scene is screaming out for a new drum machine in particular (hey there have been a few analog synths now...), one that is built to be a drum machine, but few people have taken an original approach to their sound design, and instead opt to stick to replicating old roland boxes or using standard synth circuits that don't have tight enough envelopes etc.

Not to get off topic, what I'm getting at is that there are few original ideas at the moment. A lot of the companies are being very cautious with analog, and are always making new products that refer back to old equipment, even Roland, who wont make an analog synth but are happy pumping out cheap digital imitations like theres no tomorrow.
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by Johnny Lenin » Sun Sep 28, 2008 10:02 pm

On the subject of the cost of a chip fab... AMD is spending $3 billion to build a facility in New York state. I don't imagine that a facility to build synth ICs would cost that much. However, even if it cost one tenth as much as a fab for modern chips, you're still looking at a capital investment of $300 million, which is not insignificant. A new facility would probably be necessary since there are few companies out there that would be willing, or able, to divert capacity from existing operations. Chip production is a one-product-per-line operation; production of one product has to cease for production of a new product to begin.

Certainly, the tooling still exists, though I wonder of the equipment for it still does with any significant avaibility. And there's always the problem of having to train staff to manage and run processes that are 25 years out of date. And all of this to build and sell a thousand Jupiter 8 reissues?

One of the main innovations of the Japanese synths of the 1980s was that they used a lot of off-the-shelf technology that is either unavailable now or in very short supply.

I suppose Roland, or whoever, could do it. But the size of the potential market and the expense of the resulting product wouldn't justify the costs. A better bet would be for an entrepreneur to license the JP8 design, build a few hundred reissues/replicas from short-run parts and sell them for $15,000-$20,000 each.

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