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The future of the pro audio industry?

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The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby zingerzingz » Thu Jun 03, 2021 2:10 pm

:wave:

I am interested in your predictions of the future of the pro-audio industry,

1. What developments are you most excited about? and why?
2. What technologies do you think will be the biggest disruptors ? Why?

I have recently been looking to "upgrade" my condenser microphone and was struck by the range of brands, some with a rich heritage spanning centuries and some newer entrants. The quality difference between mid range microphones and high end microphones was really hard to hear. ​It's seemed to me the law of diminished returns kicked in at quite a low price point.

Interested to hear your thoughts!
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Re: The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Thu Jun 03, 2021 2:30 pm

zingerzingz wrote:1. What developments are you most excited about? and why?
2. What technologies do you think will be the biggest disruptors ? Why?

Sounds a bit like an assignment to me ;)

What are your thoughts so far?
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Re: The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jun 03, 2021 3:02 pm

zingerzingz wrote:... the range of brands, some with a rich heritage spanning centuries...

I think you mean 'spanning a century' -- singular. The very first electrostatic microphone (and associated impedance converter electronics) was invented in 1916 by Edward Wente, a physicist working for Western Electric in the USA -- although that was intended for laboratory sound intensity measurements. The first capacitor mics intended for sound broadcast and recording applications came out in the early 1920s -- just 100 years ago!

The quality difference between mid range microphones and high end microphones was really hard to hear. ​It's seemed to me the law of diminished returns kicked in at quite a low price point.

Yes, I think that's a fair comment.
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Re: The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby zingerzingz » Thu Jun 03, 2021 3:28 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:
zingerzingz wrote:1. What developments are you most excited about? and why?
2. What technologies do you think will be the biggest disruptors ? Why?

Sounds a bit like an assignment to me ;)

What are your thoughts so far?

In my subjective experience, I have been highly impressed by the last 10 years of deeply integrated midi controllers such as Push 2, Maschine Mk3 and the Native Instruments eco-system, I think it pushed the standalone manufacturers to introduce further innovation with Akai MPC Live, Elektron products, Polyend etc with impressive offerings. I think I'm sorted for a long while when it comes to the song writing /idea generation process . I suspect we will see a lot more incremental software innovation as apposed to any monumental shifts in the controller space and I'm perfectly Ok with this.

As for the future, I'm excited to see what manufactures do with expressive/gesture based controllers l similar to the Roli or Touche products, something different, interactive and fun.

I have never really owned top of the range outboard gear outside of my ISA one and probably don't need to for my purposes, I'm sure SOS is filled with highly skilled engineers who can easily blind pick out a neve from a Manley to a focusrite but I'm not one of them and my Audient and plugins provide all the quality I need. I am still interested to learn about any exciting innovation in this space as I develop.
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Re: The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby uselessoldman » Thu Jun 03, 2021 11:01 pm

Considering the current shortage of microprocessors and I am told this will continue for the next 2 years, maybe we will all have to go back to analogue !! Not only that but the shortage will get worse yet before it improves with stocks being low to none existent and prices set to rise considerably - like computer graphics cards.
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Re: The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby merlyn » Thu Jun 03, 2021 11:39 pm

I think AVB looks interesting. I like the idea of using a network cable for multichannel audio. The idea of sending audio over a network has been around for a while with proprietary systems like Dante but AVB is an open standard requiring only a compatible network card (Intel i210). There are interfaces like the MOTU Ultralite AVB which aren't crazy expensive and an AVB router is about £300 IIRC.

Computers have become ubiquitous in music and audio so using a computer standard makes sense.

I think the disruption happened many years ago when computers started coming in, replacing racks of gear, ADAT machines, synths ...

What could be good is the recognition that a music computer is a different thing from a general purpose surf the web/spam Facebook/use Excel type of machine. The Fairlight was described as a music computer and it only did one thing -- music. Hardware recorders and digital mixing desks are also computers that only do one thing and they rarely crash or update at an inconvenient moment. I think it's possible -- it's just that general purpose machines are cheap and widely available.

How then does one interact with a music computer? I think you're right about the developments in different ways of interacting with a computer like Push and Maschine and this is an area for more development. At the moment there is a division between computer hardware and music hardware and that could close producing an integrated interface that combines computer keyboard, music keyboard, mouse, faders, pads, knobs ...
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Re: The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby RichardT » Fri Jun 04, 2021 8:05 am

There are three main things I’m looking forward to.

The first is software that understands complex spoken instructions - what a time-saver that will be.

The second is software that really understands music - so for example, sampled instruments that play back phrases as a real musician would, a DAW that can add decent backings automatically, or automatically correct a poor performance.

The third is direct neural stimulation of the brain by playback systems - that way people will be able to hear high quality music wherever they are.
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Re: The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby OneWorld » Fri Jun 04, 2021 12:52 pm

merlyn wrote:............................... At the moment there is a division between computer hardware and music hardware and that could close producing an integrated interface that combines computer keyboard, music keyboard, mouse, faders, pads, knobs ...

These hybrids have come and gone. TheOpenlabs Meko, is one that springs to mind and I suppose the Alesis Fusion Keyboards could possibly be included in the description - that is a computer based machine dedicated to music creation and production. But for some reason these products never caught on
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Re: The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby merlyn » Fri Jun 04, 2021 1:12 pm

OneWorld wrote:These hybrids have come and gone. TheOpenlabs Meko, is one that springs to mind and I suppose the Alesis Fusion Keyboards could possibly be included in the description - that is a computer based machine dedicated to music creation and production. But for some reason these products never caught on

Yes, interesting. In my idea the interface wouldn't have to all be in one box. It could be modular. Putting everything in one box means all the elements have to be right. One person might like the faders but not the keyboard, another person might like the keyboard but not the screen.

I've had a go on a Push and the vibe I get from it is that it replaces the keyboard and mouse. I was amazed that it's possible to browse the computer's hard drive from the Push. The Push seemed to me to be going for "Don't like keyboards and mice? Use this." In a modular system it would be possible to put together whatever elements you want.
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Re: The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby OneWorld » Fri Jun 04, 2021 1:38 pm

RichardT wrote:There are three main things I’m looking forward to.

The first is software that understands complex spoken instructions - what a time-saver that will be.

The second is software that really understands music - so for example, sampled instruments that play back phrases as a real musician would, a DAW that can add decent backings automatically, or automatically correct a poor performance.

The third is direct neural stimulation of the brain by playback systems - that way people will be able to hear high quality music wherever they are.

Not wanting to rain on your parade, but those 3 are a big ask

"The first is software that understands complex spoken instructions - what a time-saver that will be"
The issue here is the ambiguity of natural language. Natural language is by definition objective. And ambiguity is part of it's attraction, What yo have to do first is decide what is 'complex' ? - any utterance that is more than a single word/phrase? But i linguistics, something that is complex might include ambiguity (Time flies like an arrow but fruitflies like a banana), adjectival phrases are difficult too - consider the word 'big' what exactly is 'big' a big mouse will never be as big as a small elephant, a lot of language is contextually dependent. Natural language is dynamic - today is nice and sunny, and in days of yore, one might say "Oh what a gay day" but in today's world one might get a queer look if you said that. I am not saying all attempts at natural language processing be abandoned, but making the point that at first glance some of these language conundrums might seem trivial, but a little further consideration will show that natural language processing is a very perplexing endeavour. That said, there have been quite impressive developments shown with products like Alexa, which essentially does complex pattern matching with ever more sophisticated machine learning. If you ever find yourself out of collar, learn computational linguistics, the demand for people with those skills increases day by day.

"The second is software that really understands music - so for example, sampled instruments that play back phrases as a real musician would, a DAW that can add decent backings automatically, or automatically correct a poor performance"

Again, there is the issue of ambiguity. Although music is an artificial language, there is no ambiguity - Middle C is Middle C, whether is is played on a penny whistle or a cathedral organ. However, there is of course a large degree of nuance, interpretation etc So how do we decide what is a poor performance. OK if something for example is written in the key of C Major and is written in such a way that the performer will not stray off the path, then how do we deal with 'accidentals', 'dissonance', 'passing notes' music that might change time signature, or speed up/slow down - Schoenberg wouldn't even get out the traps. Again I am not denying the desireability of correction software, goodness me, Melodyne is my best friend but that said, by the time I have finished faffing about, I would have been better learning to sing. Additionally thee are quite a lot of 'chorders' that look at a piece of music, examine the chord and melody and then suggest or even substitute a triad with a second inversion 7th+9th chord. But I am reminded of how much of the world's most memorable music comes about by happy accident, if music were formulaic, then it might become predictable and mundane. That said, yes there are times when we want the predictability, the 'drop' in EDM, a catchy chorus etc

"The third is direct neural stimulation of the brain by playback systems - that way people will be able to hear high quality music wherever they are"

Don't we have that already? The neural stimulation of the brain comes by way of the ears, doesn't it? Or do you mean, one hears some music, played on whatever machine, but the brain enhances the audio to the extent that even if listening on a cheap pair of cans/speakers, the brain emulates the best hifi ever. I am minded to think that will come eventually. After all, any experience we have comes by way of the 5 senses. So in theory, if we could artificially stimulate those parts of the brain that process the data delivered by each of those senses, then for example we could sit on the sofa, close our eyes and for all intents and purpose feel we are loafing about on some exotic beach, sipping at a rum baba while serenaded by the sensuous sound of a distant samba carried on the gentle breeze scented with the fragrance of the frangipanni. After all, when we are dreaming, we do experience the most bizarre and fabulous events, so it is clear the brain can 'take us where ever' so it is not beyond all reason that at some point in the future these things will be possible. If I am about then I want some software that will turn me (in a musical sense) into someone as prolific as Bach, catchy as Mozart, quirky as the Bonzo Dog DooDah Band, cool as the Rolling Stones, barmy as Rip Rig and Panic, as revered as Pink Floyd, poetic as Bob Dylan, adored as Take That and as influential as Jimi Hendrix and....well that'll do for now!
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Re: The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby OneWorld » Fri Jun 04, 2021 1:52 pm

I think what I would like to is an 'intelligent' microphone, one that would 'listen' to a room before singing then adjust parameters when singing began. I have for example recorded acoustic guitar in one room and it sounds just right, I record it in another room, same mic, and it sounds rubbish. Be handy if it had a recorder built in too.

This isn't futuristic but thought I would throw it in for good measure, a gizmo, that had a rubber sucker so it could be 'clamped' to the body of an acoustic(so you carry around like a pictrum), tap a button and it records, tap it again and it stops, something where yo can noodle away then catch the moment instead of having one of the many excellent small digital recorders, that are fine but, the battery runs out too quick, they will tumble over just after you have positioned it well and you start playing, before you record you have to go through a tedious routine of 1. New Project 2. Line/Mic 3. Press Record

I suppose an Alexa that recorded would be good, especially if attachable and portable "Alexa, record - Alexa Stop Recording) can't be that hard.

Possibly a more fanciful notion is a recording device that will upload to all the nominated streaming sites at the press of a button, one can upload a TikTok in a jiffy, surely a wav/mp3 can be streamed just as fast?
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Re: The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby OneWorld » Fri Jun 04, 2021 1:57 pm

merlyn wrote:
OneWorld wrote:These hybrids have come and gone. TheOpenlabs Meko, is one that springs to mind and I suppose the Alesis Fusion Keyboards could possibly be included in the description - that is a computer based machine dedicated to music creation and production. But for some reason these products never caught on

Yes, interesting. In my idea the interface wouldn't have to all be in one box. It could be modular. Putting everything in one box means all the elements have to be right. One person might like the faders but not the keyboard, another person might like the keyboard but not the screen.

I've had a go on a Push and the vibe I get from it is that it replaces the keyboard and mouse. I was amazed that it's possible to browse the computer's hard drive from the Push. The Push seemed to me to be going for "Don't like keyboards and mice? Use this." In a modular system it would be possible to put together whatever elements you want.

The OpenLabs Meko/Neko was all in one box.

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/op ... th-neko-64

I would have thought they were just what many musicians were looking for, but as mentioned, they flopped
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Re: The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby RichardT » Fri Jun 04, 2021 2:04 pm

Hi Oneworld,

Yes, those things are a big ask! Thanks for your comments.

On software that is ‘musical’ - yes there is a risk of a lack of individuality. But personally, I would use anything machine-generated as a starting point and refine it to be more idiosyncratic. I do that very occasionally now using Cubase’s chord generator.

On direct-to-brain connections - The ideal would be not to have speakers or headphones at all, but to interface directly with the neural circuitry that passes sound data to the brain.

I would be interested in the ‘Joe 90’ software that you mention too!
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Re: The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jun 04, 2021 2:17 pm

I think the future of the pro audio industry is one of increasing polarisation. Home recording hardware and software will get better and better, as will room correction processes like Izotope's de-reverb and virtual band mates like Toontrack's EZKeys, but they won't replace completely a good studio and professional musicians.
But 'completely' is a very loose word in this context, I think we will see an increasing number of breakthrough acts who've never set foot in a studio, and the hallowed grounds of our youth will increasingly be limited to established acts who can personally afford it.
But that will take a while.

In the meantime a bit of voice control would be nice. Being able to say, "Computer, open a new Reaper project. Load main vocal template. Load drums template. Set channel one to mic 2." etc whilst doing the physical stuff of setting up mics and sorting out the hardware side.

Also I reckon we're going to see more and better automated mixing/mastering tools. I think we'll see a lot of progress on this in a short time.
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Re: The future of the pro audio industry?

Postby The Red Bladder » Fri Jun 04, 2021 3:19 pm

1. What developments are you most excited about? and why?

None. Every technical advance made in the past few years has added nothing to the quality of music. If anything, most popular, jazz and even classical music today is formulaic and boring.

2. What technologies do you think will be the biggest disruptors? Why?

The biggest disrupter was the advent of digital. Not much has happened since, except a little fine-tuning and a massive reduction in prices, sizes and costs. Getting rid of wires would be a major innovation - but there really does not seem to be much movement in that direction.

your predictions of the future of the pro-audio industry

The future of audio is video. The major advances are being made in the implementation of AI in video. There was have seen enormous changes in the past few years, such as 6K digital cine cameras like the Arri Alexa LF-Mini, LED lighting that works on film and self-steering gimbals.

The average cost of a movie project runs into seven or eight figures. The average album costs are seldom five figures and often just four - not counting all the daft plinky-plonk noises coming from bedrooms everywhere! Technical advances cost money!
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