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A Q&A Session with Dave Smith

A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« on: March 15, 2016, 03:05:04 PM »
Dear all,

Last week I had the pleasure to chat with Dave, who joined the Nashville Electronic Music & Synthesizer Group via Skype. Here's the video recording. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiEBRT9IZ3E

chysn

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Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2016, 06:31:43 PM »
Great introduction!

I only got about 20 minutes into it, but I'll watch the rest tomorrow.
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Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2016, 06:36:22 PM »
Thanks, chysn - much appreciated! I'm looking forward to a critical analysis tomorrow.  ;D

chysn

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Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2016, 07:29:06 AM »
I'm sort of live-posting this thing. I love the idea of an audio-rate sequencer at the beginning of the signal path.

Fact of the matter is, the Evolver pretty much already has a 128-step audio-rate sequencer in the form of custom waveform memory.
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chysn

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Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2016, 07:34:09 AM »
I like his business philosophy, in general. I'm not an MBA or anything, but there's a lot to be said for doing what you want to do.
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chysn

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Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2016, 07:47:21 AM »
I never considered the Prophet 6 as a contradiction of Dave Smith's desire to keep moving forward. He seems to have the same sort of duality that I do, oscillating between desire for hands-on simplicity and cerebral complexity. I keep around one instrument for each mode, so the Prophet 6 made a lot of sense as an instrument that moves forward.
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Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2016, 07:49:47 AM »
Contrary to what I said I would do, Paul, I stayed up late last night and listened to the entire interview.  It was excellent.  I liked that you asked Dave very specific and exacting questions.  I've heard enough interviews with Dave by now that I feel I could answer the questions for him.  They're often so general: "Tell us how you got into building synthesizers."  "Do you have a favorite instrument over the years?"  And so on.  But your questions were obviously prepared beforehand.  Plus, you also have a thorough knowledge of the Sequential Circuits and DSI histories.  This allowed Dave to give us information that I haven't heard him give before.  So, congratulations.  I'm sure this interview will be enjoyed by hundreds or even thousands for some time.

I do have a few favorite parts.  The best one-liner from Dave: 'I religiously avoid the forums.'  I loved that line and laughed out loud when he said it.  It makes perfect sense to me.  Some might think that an instrument builder has an obligation to carefully monitor the views of his customers about his products.  I say, avoid all the online blather and build your instruments as best you can.  A little isolation is necessary to the creative mind.  Besides, his staff can mention to him anything from the forums that might be worthwhile, such as maintenance issues. 

My ears perked up near the beginning when you discussed (oh so briefly) the issues of the Evolvers and their unique stereo design. My ego thought for a moment that you were going to say, "There's this nut on the DSI forum who carries on about stereo this and stereo that, and he's ready to buy his fifth Poly Evolver!  Dave, could you make him just a few more?".  But Dave didn't take the bait like I wished he had.  I guess he's not too sentimental.  I thought he might have gone on a bit about his first precious little DSI piece.  I would have enjoyed every word, since the Evolver has deeply influenced my whole approach to synthesis.

Perhaps the most newsworthy thing that Dave mentioned was that DSI is about to announce a new product in a month.  That's actually what a few of us were expecting.  If I remember correctly, this instrument will be another "surprising collaboration," but not with Tom Oberheim, and it sounded small-ish, rather than like a full-sized synthesizer.  Did I get that right?   In addition, they're working on another instrument for next year, but we all presume that much.

Now Paul, you had me scared stiff over Dave Smith retirement plans.  But from the interview, it sounds as if he has no immediate plans for that, as if he can maintain his current pace for quite some time.  I was relieved to hear it.

Thanks, again, Paul, for a unique interview and all the thought and preparation you obviously put into it.  It was a delight for a DSI fan.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2016, 09:02:44 AM by Sacred Synthesis »
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chysn

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Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2016, 08:23:37 AM »
I concur, it's an excellent piece of work all around.
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Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2016, 08:28:22 AM »
It really doesn't look good for dslsynth's hopes of seeing further low-cost instruments from DSI. It would have been untoward for Dave to just say, "Nope, never again." But he came about as close to saying that as decorum would allow.
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Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2016, 08:37:39 AM »
Right.  On the small module issue, Dave gave as polite a "no" as he could.  The only small inexpensive pieces that will likely come from DSI will be more Eurorack modules and hopefully effects devices.  The latter is good news.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2016, 08:42:12 AM by Sacred Synthesis »
The Musical Synthesizer YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChLGwGiRVs7rlZXnOG9_mUw

The Musical Synthesizer Blog: https://themusicalsynthesizer.wordpress.com

Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2016, 09:25:36 AM »
Thank you all for the very kind words! I'm glad that the interview is that well received - especially on here.

Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2016, 09:26:13 AM »
I'm sort of live-posting this thing. I love the idea of an audio-rate sequencer at the beginning of the signal path.

Fact of the matter is, the Evolver pretty much already has a 128-step audio-rate sequencer in the form of custom waveform memory.

We may have to found our own little synth company for that.

Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2016, 09:35:09 AM »
It really doesn't look good for dslsynth's hopes of seeing further low-cost instruments from DSI. It would have been untoward for Dave to just say, "Nope, never again." But he came about as close to saying that as decorum would allow.

Yeah, that was precisely my thought too. Economically, though, it makes sense for me. If you look around these days, most people get excited by affordable pure analog hardware. And there is no way DSI could compete with a company like Korg for example. Things have shifted since the early days of DSI. When the early desktop modules came out there were no volcas or whatsoever around yet. One might still argue that the DSI modules are way more powerful than all the rest but to me it seems like the majority of customers are not really after complex engines, but rather specialized (and in that regard limited) and easy to handle units that can be had at a price that doesn't make you think twice.

Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2016, 09:49:31 AM »
Contrary to what I said I would do, Paul, I stayed up late last night and listened to the entire interview.  It was excellent.  I liked that you asked Dave very specific and exacting questions.  I've heard enough interviews with Dave by now that I feel I could answer the questions for him.  They're often so general: "Tell us how you got into building synthesizers."  "Do you have a favorite instrument over the years?"  And so on.  But your questions were obviously prepared beforehand.  Plus, you also have a thorough knowledge of the Sequential Circuits and DSI histories.  This allowed Dave to give us information that I haven't heard him give before.  So, congratulations.  I'm sure this interview will be enjoyed by hundreds or even thousands for some time.

Thank you! I felt the same about lots of previous interviews, so I wanted to avoid the obvious stuff. A great help was also David Abernethy's "The Prophet from Silicon Valley," which I still recommend to everyone who is into anything DSI-related.

I do have a few favorite parts.  The best one-liner from Dave: 'I religiously avoid the forums.'  I loved that line and laughed out loud when he said it.  It makes perfect sense to me.  Some might think that an instrument builder has an obligation to carefully monitor the views of his customers about his products.  I say, avoid all the online blather and build your instruments as best you can.  A little isolation is necessary to the creative mind.  Besides, his staff can mention to him anything from the forums that might be worthwhile, such as maintenance issues.

Well, guess who I had to think of when he mentioned that?  ;D

My ears perked up near the beginning when you discussed (oh so briefly) the issues of the Evolvers and their unique stereo design. My ego thought for a moment that you were going to say, "There's this nut on the DSI forum who carries on about stereo this and stereo that, and he's ready to buy his fifth Poly Evolver!  Dave, could you make him just a few more?".  But Dave didn't take the bait like I wished he had.  I guess he's not too sentimental.  I thought he might have gone on a bit about his first precious little DSI piece.  I would have enjoyed every word, since the Evolver has deeply influenced my whole approach to synthesis.

He admitted though, that the true stereo path was a cool thing and that there might be a chance of having it implemented again. So who knows?

Perhaps the most newsworthy thing that Dave mentioned was that DSI is about to announce a new product in a month.  That's actually what a few of us were expecting.  If I remember correctly, this instrument will be another "surprising collaboration," but not with Tom Oberheim, and it sounded small-ish, rather than like a full-sized synthesizer.  Did I get that right?   In addition, they're working on another instrument for next year, but we all presume that much.

I'm not sure about the size, but since he emphasized that the big product coming by the end of the year or the beginning of the next one will be full-sized, the next one might be smaller. I was rather surprised to see how open he was about the possibility to create other poly synths based on the blueprint that has been created with the Prophet-6 and the OB-6 respectively.

Now Paul, you had me scared stiff over Dave Smith retirement plans.  But from the interview, it sounds as if he has no immediate plans for that, as if he can maintain his current pace for quite some time.  I was relieved to hear it.

Haha - that cliffhanger went overboard. I guess the basic question was only whether the company would go on without him being directly involved in a couple of years - especially since he has a very good and creative team around him.

Razmo

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Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2016, 01:12:54 PM »
One month? ... until a new collaboration? ... wonder who that may be... who participate in that "synth club" that Dave attend sometimes? ... Tom he has collaborated with... MOOG is out of the question... Roger Linn is also done with... that leaves Don Buchla!? ... hardly so I believe.

But I'm exited to see what he comes up with... if it's anything revolutionary, or just another "voiceboard" to plug into the P6 engine like the OB6 is (with a few bells and whistles here and there... Dave style).

It has to be something truly unique to find it's way into one of my last 3 mixer channels  ;D
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Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2016, 02:46:23 PM »
If it's Buchla then we will gave to wait a year after ordering to get it and sell our houses to fund it.

Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2016, 02:49:55 PM »
It has to be something truly unique to find it's way into one of my last 3 mixer channels  ;D

So you want left, right, and center?

Steven Morris

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Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2016, 03:08:32 PM »
Wow! That was a lot of interesting info. I agree with SacredSynthesis-- there were some questions asked that seemingly never get asked... and I appreciate it so much!

A few points that really interested me:

1. Audio Rate Sequencer
I'd love to see this in Eurorack by DSI. I'm sure they would find a great interface for it with all the right CV control.

2. I wonder if the OB-6 SEM filter will be released in Eurorack...

3. RE: Delay (Evolver-style pitched feedback)
I've mentioned this before, but I think a 1v/oct. delay by DSI in Eurorack would be amazing.

4. Expressiveness w/ modern MIDI Controllers
I'm thinking of writing an email in support of the idea of separate MIDI channels per voice. Ideally for me, they would implement that onto the Tempest, but even if they started adding that feature to the newer instruments, that would be amazing. It's not even necessarily about the sound-- to me it's more about the nice interfaces and easy modulation routing systems that DSI synths offer. I think there is just so much potential! That is not to say that the sound isn't a big part of it :)


Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #18 on: March 16, 2016, 05:14:55 PM »
Was hoping you would ask him about why no 8 voices and only small keyboards on the last two releases and any plans for 8 voices and 61 key synths soon.

Re: A Q&A Session with Dave Smith
« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2016, 05:55:21 PM »
1. Audio Rate Sequencer
I'd love to see this in Eurorack by DSI. I'm sure they would find a great interface for it with all the right CV control.

That makes three of us.  :)

Also: Thanks for the kind words!