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Re: Smaller Speakers

At 03:49 PM 3/12/98 -0500, Sean T Barrett wrote:
>>And forget about putting anything other than guitar sounds
>>through it, the amp colors it too much.
>Umm... so why do people put up with this for guitar?
>I don't understand the amp obsession.  Why not learn
>to love the sound of something other than the strange
>coloring traditional guitar amps provide?  Is there
>really something inherently "good" about them, some
>deficiency in the tone of the guitar the amp makes
>up for, or such?  Or are guitarists just used to how
>guitars sound on other people's records?

I guess you're not a guitar player, right? An electric guitar by itself is
only half the instrument. The other half is the amplifier. You play that as
much as you do the guitar, and a good amp is carefully designed with that 
mind. That is why guitar players will generally spend more time obsessing
about their amplifiers than their guitars, and why everything other than a
guitar will sound crappy through it. That is also why a guitar through a
flat PA system will sound very bad, and to the player, it will feel
lifeless. The amplifier itself is not reacting to the playing, and it feels
flat and unispiring. This reactive aspect of tube guitar amps is a big part
of the reason people like them.

>The music industry's obsession with recreating and
>refining "flawed-but-familiar" technology (an obsession
>shared throughout much of the worlds technology
>research) feels to me like an inevitable consequence
>of commerce:

That's a player obsession, not an industry obsession. Players demand it, so
manufacturers provide it. Some manufacturers try to innovate and make
"classic" sounds cheaply by designing simulations. For example, the sound
made by old TB-303's is very popular in some music. As a result, real
TB-303's are impossible to find and extremely expensive, which cuts most
people out of the scene. So several companies have come up with various
inexpensive recreations of that sound to meet the huge demand. Many
companies have been very successful with that.

The guitar amp industry is totally insane. If you were to perfectly 
a tube amp in a digital processor (which I think is technically impossible,
actually, but anyway...), and place it down next to the original for guitar
players to compare, the guitar players will always want to buy the one with
real tubes in it. They might actually buy the simulation, but only because
they couldn't afford the real thing. 

No manufacturer in their right mind would want to manufacture tube amps and
analog synthesizers. Those are expensive and difficult things to do, much
more so than modern stuff. Recreating those sounds with simulations is also
very difficult, and subject to numerous reactionary responses from very,
very finicky customers. But that's what people want.....

>old thing--e.g. animated watercolors--but the odd thing is
>the amount of attention that goes into precisely replicating
>-unintentional artifacts- of the medium.  Virtual brush strokes
>produce various sorts of splotches and drips, and the programs go
>to great lengths to reproduce these, so it will look "just like"
>the real thing.

Usually those imperfections are what made it unique and desireable in the
first place. Watercolor paintings look very different than other types of
images. They also require special approaches and techniques. If you truly
want to recreate that digitally, you need to replicate all of the
characteristics that make it that way. Also, those imperfections cause the
artist to create in a way they might not otherwise. So if you want a
watercolor artist to be able to use digital equipment and have it feel the
same in all respects, you need to recreate all of the imperfections.
Otherwise, the artist's creative process will be disrupted and they won't
feel comfortable with the medium. If you are not a watercolor artist, you
almost certainly won't get it. Same with all the sounds people want.

>I understand the commerce motivation to sound/look "just like"
>the real thing, but I find the end result to be such a waste
>of energy--imagine if all that effort were to be put into
>creating new sounds/looks! [*]

I can tell you from experience that trying to do new things is what often
turns into a huge waste of energy, or money mostly. It takes a long, long
time for people to adopt it and start to use it. The inventor typically 
bankrupt during that period, and only on the off chance that some retro
movement comes along later and requires his invention does he have a chance
to get anything out of it. In most cases, nothing ever happens at all. 
are many, many people creating interesting new things all of the time, but
they will mostly fail to ever be noticed since the vast majority of people
are not interested in new things. 

The smart business plan is to do something that people want now, and are
willing to pay for roughly around the time your bills are due....

>I guess the VG-8 attempts to balance this line--allowing
>precise emulation of all sorts of guitars and amps while
>also allowing new, never-before-heard things to be done
>to it... 

I always thought the VG-8 was terrible for emulating anything, but great 
making new sounds. That's probably why nobody bought them and roland 
making them.

>but in general the process bugs the heck out of me.

well, if you actively support and buy new things, so that the people taking
all of the risk to do them can survive at it, maybe it will change.

Kim Flint                       408-752-9284
Mpact Systems Engineering       kflint@chromatic.com
Chromatic Research              http://www.chromatic.com