Weirdest research ever.

2003-12-08 21:15

So, I’m going to be writing the user’s manual for a guitar. So, as part of my research for this job, I, uhm, I moved a bunch of synthesizers upstairs and hooked them up.

I’m not actually billing for that time, mind you. But it’s sort of weird to think about it. It all makes perfect sense. I want to experiment with a prototype of the new guitar when it’s available, so I want to practice guitar a bit, so I moved some of my music stuff back up from the basement so I can play with it. This all makes perfectly good sense. Of course, that highlights that the only thing I’m still doing on my old powermac is music, so I’ve mailordered some stuff to let me do it on my regular mac. I’ve ordered two things which are out of stock everywhere so far; luckily, I found workarounds for both of them. It’s still a bit weird to me.

This tragically means that my Mac is gonna have to find a new home. Most annoyingly, I’ve been too busy to do much with the very interesting hard disk recording card I got for it – which was discontinued just in time to never acquire OS X drivers, so I can’t put it in my new mac. (Any Windows folks want a Yamaha DSP Factory card, with an ADAT interface and an 8 channel A/D/A converter?) So, if I find that the new Mac’s built-in sound isn’t quite up to snuff (this is probably a given), I’ll need to buy some kind of Mac sound card which is compatible with my music software, eventually. Ugh.

Music hardware is fun, but it’s very frustrating being a hobbyist in a field designed to convince people to buy the biggest and best of everything. These are tools for professionals, and they don’t really make usable toys for hobbyists. Upgrading from version 4.7.3 of my MIDI sequencing package (Logic Audio) to version 6.x would cost $500, because, way back when, they ended up deciding that the used copy of some early version I picked up was in the “professional” line, so I can only upgrade to the really expensive version. I’m not gonna bother; I’m buying the lightweight “entry level” version, and if it’s missing a bit of stuff, well, so what? A full-price copy of the entry level version costs well under half what the full price version costs.

Still… There’s something soothing about the blinking lights on a half-dozen cheap old boxes. I am a great fan of the “cheap synthesizers from a decade ago” approach to musical instruments. I still love my Korg 03R/W, despite the fact that it’s got a fraction of the feature set of the newer synths. But hey; it works. It makes noises, and they sound cool.

If I ever get around to producing anything decent, I’ll have to put up MP3s.

Last week, I was reading the POSIX thread API. This week, I’m trying to debug 1990-era synthesizers. I love my job.

Peter Seebach

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