iElectribe, the future?

Korg has officially released the iElectribe Gorillaz edition, which you can read all the details in this post if you hop on over to Matrixsynth.

However upon seeing that post, I recalled some rumor on various forums that according to Korg, their experiment into the Legacy Collection was deemed more or less a failure in terms of loss due to piracy. I’m going to sidestep the piracy soap box angle all together and instead wonder if with the iElectribe if we haven’t had our first glimpse of future offerings from “the big three”.

The obvious advantage of the iElectribe being on the iPad would first and foremost be in how well it lends itself to the touch screen interface. The second and perhaps not as obvious advantage is that the iPad is also a proprietary system. That’s a big plus if you’re trying to avoid Klingons off the starboard bow while in orbit around Uranus.

Ok, all kidding aside, profit loss is of big concern to big corporations. A small division within a bigger company that’s hemorrhaging money is more likely to get the ax, then say an established hardware division. However, the sheer size of the PC / Mac and mobile device market for music apps is going to make it harder and harder to ignore.

As of right now, the industry standard of being able to tie the software to the hardware has been by offering us embedded VSTs that route audio from synth in and out of your DAW. Witness M-Audio’s first venture into synths with the Venom: a synth that is not editable in any way from the front panel and requires the use of a VST editor.

I think increasingly, this will be more important to the industry as time goes on as the benefits of a combined system are obvious. The manufacturer stands a better chance of holding onto their product and the user gets a bonus in being able to offload the processing power from their DAW. Arguably, I think Roland was already poised to take advantage of such a combined solution with technologies that existed in their SonicCell. I think what was stopping it from being a success was the fact that it was essentially an expensive GM module that required the purchase of additional expansion cards. Regardless, I think they had the right idea, but were missing the right blend of ingredients to make it a success.

On the other hand, I think may also begin to see more software based solutions that require a USB key, such as Steinberg’s Halion 4 and Halion Sonic. I mentioned them previously in this post and what’s interesting is that while being based on the Halion engine, the sound content was produced by parent company Yamaha’s Motif development team. It would seem that with the extra sense of security gained from their E-Licenser USB key, they put some extra love into Halion. Most of the praise I’m reading about it seems to be overwhelmingly positive and more specifically calling the sound engine superior to other similar products such as Omnishpere.

Hopefully, Halion 4 and Halion Sonic will be as successful for Steinberg as Kontakt proved to be for Native Instruments and that will pave the way for future releases of products from them or other major manufacturers. But I think that to get any sort of real movement in the industry, a breakthrough product is going to need to be created that will set a precedence for profitability while also creating an industry standard. However, sadly, I don’t have much hope for the near future as most of the major companies are hedging their bets on performing keyboards rather than synthesizers or computer related products in these tough financial times.

Hopefully though, an open standard of authentication and security will be developed for the Windows Mobile and Android markets and Korg will take the bait and release their iElectribe and hopefully other instruments on mobile platforms, if a compromise for the desktop world can’t be found.

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