Re: [linux-audio-user] Opening up the discussion

From: Dave Phillips <dlphillips@email-addr-hidden>
Date: Mon Jul 25 2005 - 15:22:43 EEST

Phil Mendelsohn wrote:

>Audio predates MIDI by about 30 years. Being out of reach I'll agree
>with, for sure!, but there were tube D/A converters being built in the
>late 50's at MIT (meaning the resistor ladder type guts, not any
>"audiophile" type of thing). Tom Stockham and the Soundstream were
>pre-MIDI, there were various things going on in Europe, and the Synclavier
>was doing sampling and resynthesis (not sampling playback as we know it)
>before MIDI.
Again, just as a pointer, I recommend Curtis Roads' "Computer Music
Tutorial" for a wonderful overview of Ye Olden Tymes. Also look for
reminiscinces from the pioneer electronic composers of the day, e.g.,
Lejaren Hiller, Milton Babbitt, Paul Lansky, Charles Dodge, and so forth.

Btw, who are the leading European lights in the early days of computer
music on that side of the pond ? I know many of the names associated
with electronic and tape music, but I'm woefully ignorant of what went
on in the computer corner.

>MIDI was '84-ish, and coincides roughly with the release of the Ensoniq
>Mirage -- the first sampler for under $10,000, but there were a lot of
>expensive computer systems (standalone or general purpose) that knew
>something about audio.
I think the DX7 is more often referred to as the "breaking point", but
your date is correct anyway.

I owned a Mirage for a while when they were selling on the cheap (12-bit
& 16-bit samplers had hit the market). What an incredibly obtuse
machine, one that truly defied the "it just works" model. Its display
was in hex, IIRC, and its operation was not exactly clear as glass. More
like "clear as mud"... ;) But I got some good use from it anyway,
especially with an alternate OS. Curiously the Mirage was something of a
hacker's favorite. Does anyone know if Ensoniq was distributing specs
for free then ?

Btw, the only other sampler I owned was a Yamaha TX16w, which did make
the Ensoniq seem much simpler. ;-)


Received on Mon Jul 25 16:15:12 2005

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