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 xpander » Sun Sep 28, 2008 11:11 pm

Johnny Lenin wrote: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 And there's always the problem of having to train staff to manage and run processes that are 25 years out of date.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?
you are comparing apples to skyscrapers. an AMD CPU is totally different than a simple IC for a linear circuit. it would not require its own Roland chip production facility or any giant investment. Roland is not a chip maker and would never think to build their own facilities for something much, much better contracted out. if Roland wanted to finance another run of proprietary filter chips, this would definitely not break the bank and i don't think it factors into their decision to not start making analog filter chips. i think the answer came earlier- they don't have interest in making analog instruments.

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

Post by otto » Sun Sep 28, 2008 11:26 pm

Johnny Lenin wrote: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.
Look you keep ignoring the fact that DSI, a company with 3 employees that has relative low prices was able to have curtis chips remanufactured (and possibly even redesigned). I think your way off base comparing AMD computer processing chips to basic analog chips of the 80's. Your comparisons are completely irrelevant. I doubt Dave Smith had a whole manufacturing facility built from the ground up just to remanufacture curtis chips. I'd dare bet he just paid Curtis a certain amount for the designs and had them remanufactured by a business that was more or less set up to do it and had a minimum buy.

I agree that if someone wanted to remanufacture an exacting replica of a JP8 it would be very expensive and perhaps near impossible, depending on how exacting they were. However I don't think it would be too expensive to build a synth in the spirit of a JP8 (or whatever) and have the primary sound creating and sculpting chips and circuits recreated.
Last edited by otto on Sun Sep 28, 2008 11:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by 23 » Sun Sep 28, 2008 11:27 pm

1. The engineer that wants to live in a time warp and not press forward is not an engineer I'm all that interested in.

2. If someone wants to go analog, I have nothing against it, but if it ends up falling into statement #1, where they are essentially just re-visiting the past for the sake of it, I doubt I'd be interested in it, and i doubt many others would be interested in it.

3. No matter how much engineers push forward, push the limits, and generally push capability, there will always be those that complain.
Oscillators and such are unstable...
HERE HAVE SOME DCOS.
The DCOs sound thin (because they are stable), and it'd be nice to have more waveforms.
HERE HAVE SOME SAMPLE BASED OSC (available waveforms shoot to previously unimaginable heights)....
we could go on and on in this regard.

I thought on note number 3, it was interesting, as I figured a day would come where some people would start complaining about the lack of aliasing in digital Osc.
Korg was the first I know of to apparently latch on to that idea, and while eliminating alias issues, also gave users the ability to force the VA engine into aliasing if they wanted.
Roland was the next company I know of that took the bite, and offered up both aliasing and non-aliasing VA type osc in their V-Synths.
Maybe some other companies have jumped into that as well (I don't know).
In any regard, my point being is that once again it's a case of apparently somewhere along the way enough of a whisper was being made about what would come of the lack of aliasing that companies decided they better make it an option.
What was hated, scorned, and looked to be avoided suddenly becomes en vogue.

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

Post by xpander » Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:07 am

could you imagine 30 year old instrument designs still being made today?

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

Post by aredj » Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:30 am

I love this forum...

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

Post by Johnny Lenin » Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:32 am

I don't think you can compare antique synthesizers to pianos. The piano is situated in a very long and rich cultural narrative. The repertoire of music for the piano is vast and it is the dominant instrument in music instruction and education. Besides, for most people, they make good furniture and, thanks to the cultural associations, they confer a kind of status on the owner [if not the player].

The question "why doesn't a company based on volume sales to the mass market invest a considerable amount of capital into reissuing an instrument that will appeal to a very limited market" sort of answers itself. And it's closely related to the question "why aren't there more companies out there making affordable analog polysynths?"

How many analog synth companies do you think we [the market for analog synths] can support? How many new analog synths of any type do you really think can actually be sold when Yamakorgland can sell a 64-voice ROMpler with 800+ patches, including realistic pianos and organs, for $600 and make a tidy profit?

The bottom line is that the vast majority of people who play synthesizers of any kind aren't us, and you can't blame a company like Yamakorgland for being in the business of making a profit.

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

Post by 23 » Mon Sep 29, 2008 6:31 am

Johnny Lenin wrote:I don't think you can compare antique synthesizers to pianos. The piano is situated in a very long and rich cultural narrative. The repertoire of music for the piano is vast and it is the dominant instrument in music instruction and education. Besides, for most people, they make good furniture and, thanks to the cultural associations, they confer a kind of status on the owner [if not the player].

The question "why doesn't a company based on volume sales to the mass market invest a considerable amount of capital into reissuing an instrument that will appeal to a very limited market" sort of answers itself. And it's closely related to the question "why aren't there more companies out there making affordable analog polysynths?"

How many analog synth companies do you think we [the market for analog synths] can support? How many new analog synths of any type do you really think can actually be sold when Yamakorgland can sell a 64-voice ROMpler with 800+ patches, including realistic pianos and organs, for $600 and make a tidy profit?

The bottom line is that the vast majority of people who play synthesizers of any kind aren't us, and you can't blame a company like Yamakorgland for being in the business of making a profit.

DING! :idea:

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

Post by kuroichi » Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:39 am

Ha ha ha Yamakorgland.

I don't ever see the big 3 making synths for the specialist market. but I do think the smaller companies should focus less on producing clones and work towards new designs.

However, one thing that has to be understood and accepted (unfortunately) is that we cant expect these small companies to experiment with new designs all the time, as this could involve major financial risks.

I think there are enough companies at the moment producing new synthesizers that touch on the old sounds enough (there are definately enough drum machines like that) and although it would be nice to be able to go and get a 303 or whatever if I wanted one, it would also be a curse cause as I said earlier I'm getting a bit tired of hearing them all the time.

I guess a good medium would be for companies to use old parts for new products in a similar vein to DSI, but that has just been discussed for the past 3 or 4 pages....

I could imagine the email to roland now.......



(Me): Hey Roland, hows about you make some more 808s.

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

Post by Syn303 » Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:11 pm

Someone should email the entire contents of this thread to YamaKorgland :lol:
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by 23 » Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:15 pm

kuroichi wrote: I don't ever see the big 3 making synths for the specialist market. but I do think the smaller companies should focus less on producing clones and work towards new designs.
I don't know that I can agree with that at all.
V-Synth = Pretty darn specialized if you ask me
I don't know exact numbers on the original V, but appearently sales numbers were fairly low. Despite this, Roland then updated the beast....at about a year after it hitting market, my GT wasn't even at the 1500 mark of manufacture....That's a DAMN small number again.
Exactly how small?
Put it this way, it was explained to mine when I hit in for one that they needed to wait on one to be shipped over from Japan (they apparently were being made to order).

It's of a different breed, but you then again have Korg with their Oasys; one could argue that it's a highly specialized jack of all trades. (One might argue the most indepth jack of all trades ever manufactured)

Yamaha seemed to bail out after the FS1R.....but who knows, maybe they'll jump in again at some point.

I think what has happened was Roland jumped in to crafting a serious sound design type synth, and the thing came in at a price tag that many shied away from, further, many didn't understand what it even was. End result was that many of these same people practically discount the things existence.
The same goes with Korg and their Oasys....you'll hear people talk Wavestations, and about various VAs, the occassional FM synth, but many of those same people are completely oblivious to the fact that the Wavestation underwent a MAJOR update (that finally allowed user waves amongst many other things), that Korg rolled out an FM engine that without question stands as one of the most indepth ever created, and similarly a VA engine that ranks up there with the top.....it's all one synth of course...but many again, simply seemed to consider it out of price range, and thus not worth paying any serious attention to, and thus Korgs actions don't exist.

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

Post by CS_TBL » Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:47 pm

Here's how I think the future will be:

Software, supported by controllers that ape the interface of old synths. And I mean something specific, like some company aping the control surface of a -say- CS80, JP8 etc. to control softsynths (preferably the ones matching the control surface).
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by 23 » Mon Sep 29, 2008 3:02 pm

there's already pretty hefty controllers out there. The issue is getting a hefty control surface to be logical.
When you keep shifting the arch around that a controller pertains to, that can get pretty difficult.

But yeah, I've seen some high end controllers that sported knob amounts and such that were far beyond the norm (coupled with keys no less).

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

Post by Cerebral Infect » Mon Sep 29, 2008 6:18 pm

I think a good platform development for synth is the Prophet 08. The user interface is good and neat. The digital control of the synth (patch storage, midi controllers, lfo and env and mod matrix) is also well designed.

Knowing that the analogue Oscillators and filters are based on Curtis Chips, it is then possible to know what pin of the chip does what.

Ultimately, my point is that a good electrical engineer could design voice cards with moog filters, ARP filter, multimode filter or a dryer filter and replace the original CEM chip filter. Same thing with the Oscillator. While keeping the patch storage ability.

It would be really nice that the next evolution of the Prophet results in a more open architecture, permitting to have different filter cards. It would also be rather nice that Dave Smith would produce a filter design different from the Curtis Filter.
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by kuroichi » Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:57 pm

23 wrote:
kuroichi wrote: I don't ever see the big 3 making synths for the specialist market. but I do think the smaller companies should focus less on producing clones and work towards new designs.
I don't know that I can agree with that at all.
V-Synth = Pretty darn specialized if you ask me

My mistake, I should have made that clearer.

I guess should have said 'analogue synths'.

Yes I agree the V synth is quite specialised, but it isn't a rehash of old ideas or a remake. For example I don't think they would make a new Jupiter 8 unless they could make one really cheap and charge ebay prices.

I think the cries of 'we want a new analog poly' are falling on deaf ears at the Roland Factory.
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by 23 » Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:10 pm

kuroichi wrote: I think the cries of 'we want a new analog poly' are falling on deaf ears at the Roland Factory.
Roland I think is an interesting case, as where one might argue that in various cases Korg and Yamaha actually scaled back on synth depth, Roland has been pretty consistent about either increasing depth and/or exploring new areas. Even when one might argue that they really didn't look to make much from it.
I actually take the Roland cats at their word when they state (in the V manual) that they just wanted to make something that got back to idea of "it's fun to create sound".
To that same end, I also take them at their word when they state that some of their engineering team actually was frustrated/annoyed at the idea of not just recreating the D-50, but getting the emulation down to such a tee that it would even emulate the poorer quality DACs the original D-50 had.

I'm all for this kind of thinking really....take and learn from your past, but forever push to the future.
That seems to be their kind of thinking from what I can gather.

So I don't think it's that the cries fall on deaf ears, as much as I think that in general, the Roland team doesn't have any sincere interest (at least in mass) and don't see a big market for it.
I have this strange feeling that if some of the top brass engineers at Roland felt that they could spin analog in a new interesting fashion that hadn't been highly explored, they very well might shoot for it just to do it. I don't know for a fact, but I think that plays a big part of the reason as to why they haven't bothered as well....no one there has come up with a new/unique idea to put on it.

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