Author Topic: I Want a Fairlight  (Read 4824 times)

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Supervisor 194

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I Want a Fairlight
« on: December 02, 2009, 07:32:23 AM »
Sadly, I've never owned a Fairlight. I own seventeen keyboards from nearly every manufacturer spanning more than two decades, but the closest I've come to a Fairlight is buying sample CDs. What synthetic musician hasn't lusted after the CMI? Even though we are many decades away from the previous incarnations being anything approaching relevant, the name still has great cache.

When I heard about the 30-A, I was thrilled. I've been watching the company for a very long time hoping that something like this would happen. Then I saw the price tag. $17k, seriously? Is Fairlight simply not interested in creating something that could be purchased and used by normal people? The audience of people who can drop five figures on a keyboard is still awfully narrow.

Take a moment and look around. This is the world we live in, this is the Fairlight of its time:

http://openlabs.com/ultimatestudio.html

It's only $6k, which frankly is also pretty high. But it can do EVERYTHING - using existing, time-proven platforms.

In my perfect world, Fairlight would make something like this leveraging Crystal Core and its other technologies, give it the distinctive Fairlight look and let everyone have a piece of the name. I'd love to have a Fairlight someday, but it doesn't appear that I'm on track for this to happen.

Am I just missing the point? Perhaps... but I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this way.

Peter Vogel

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Re: I Want a Fairlight
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2009, 04:50:26 PM »
Am I just missing the point? Perhaps... but I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this way.

Thanks for your comments - are you missing the point? Yes and no.

The point of the CMI-30A is to service the demand for a "vintage" Fairlight CMI.  It is a small production run, using expensive materials (compared to today's plastics etc) and will be a collector's item.  Hence the relatively high cost.

Assuming this 'flagship' product is a success, it will ignite interest in the broader market which we intend, just as you suggest, to meet with a modern, lower-cost product range based on the Crystal Core.

I would welcome your ideas on what you would like to see in such a Fairlight 'Seies 4' that that would set it apart from products like the Open Labs one or the many other excellent synthesisers on the market.

Best wishes,

Peter

Tax-5

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Re: I Want a Fairlight
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2009, 05:47:41 AM »
How can you compare an OpenLabs Niko with a Fairlight CMI?
The OpenLabs Niko is just a computer with additional hardware (audio interface, midi keyboard, controller etc.) inside a synthesizer housing.
The CMI is a real great machine with personality..

My amount of synthesizers is going towards seventy (including rack-modules, drum machines and toy keyboards) and i played a lot of synthesizers..
I heard thousands of recreations and samples of the original fairlight... (sample cd's, plugins and much more) but nothing comes close to the original...

If you want a "cheaper" Niko try to get the Wersi Icarus..
Its almost the same (a computer based keyboard/synthesizer)

Jaish

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Re: I Want a Fairlight
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2009, 01:01:44 PM »
Quote
How can you compare an OpenLabs Niko with a Fairlight CMI?
The OpenLabs Niko is just a computer with additional hardware (audio interface, midi keyboard, controller etc.) inside a synthesizer housing.
The CMI is a real great machine with personality..

I couldn't have written this any better, myself.  Good point!

Besides, the Neko is based on a Windows OS.  UGH!  The CMI has it's own proprietary OS designed for ONE purpose...making music, and NOT for everything from accounting to games, etc, etc.  And how would the Neko react to a virus or some other malware? 

So, I guess that would be one suggestion - stick with the propietary OS, or something equally as robust, and certainly NOT any form of Microsoft Windows...

solarflare

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Re: The Fairlight CMI 30A Series "XXX" and the Fairlight CMI 30A ***
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2010, 02:47:07 PM »
I can understand all points of view vis a vie the CMI 30A (Beside other Synth OEM type comparisons). From the CMI 30A Features already outlined which are yet to be firmly defined as I understand, Co$t is a major factor. This is not a Prosumer toy as we all understand, though should we be looking at this heritage of Synthesis and Sampling, possibly in a 2 feature set.

One to satisfy CMI Series 1/11x/111 Fairlight Junkies whom will pay a serious amount for a working unit with service history, and the CMI 1/11x Lust Mongers who often lose a decent sum in many scenarios trying to purchase of Ebay and the like. Sadly I know many cases where it just won't Power up and needs "Serious re-conditioning". Those whom desire to take this project forward, by refining the performance aspects CMI 30A, could no doubt include huge parts of already known & implemented Fairlight FPGA technology as the CMI 30A will also no doubt represent the next step to the CMI "Fairlight CMI Legend" leaving the possible options abound and plenty of ideas to be massaged be it Hard Disk Recording, FX, Dynamics, Disk Streaming of Instruments, Various Synthesis types & Sampling rates et all, alongside Form, Function, Style, and Bespoke ownership privilege such as the Keyboard. The Fairlight CMI 1/11x/111 in terms of Audio has an analogy in Synthesis like "Harry Siedler" designed buildings & "Eames" Furniture.

One point though: Numerous examples of libraries have been created since the mid 80's, even into 2003/4 VSTi's and it seems no one has ever been happy with the original Sounds on CD or CD-ROM even if Sampled by one's self at 8-bit - into Akai, Or Emu Samplers. Thinking in cost 7-8 years ago a fully optioned Rack Emu E4 Platinum was $9,000.00 Plus! So there we have 128 meg 64 Midi dedicated FX Card & Dynamics Multiple Outputs x 16 Analog, ADAT Lightpipe, AES, Dual SCSI, W/C and 40-100 GB IDE or SCSI Internal HDD. The S5000/6000's had more options and the Z4/8. Still it just didn't sound like "The Fairlight CMI IIX that we all know & Love. (Will the first new Samples posted be Dogs Barking again?)

I understand this forum to enable part voice & vent the final design Specs. If a unit is built that allows access and freedom to the masses such as software and entry level USB & Firewire Interfaces have done simply liberating PC's & Mac's into the Myspace popular culture I don't see the point. Though at the same time I have not seen Korg OASYS Synths walking out the door, nor M4 Mellotrons which must come close in legend to the Fairlight CMI series.

As I see it unless a compromise is reached between Vendor and Buyer/ End User, we could be looking into a well oiled scenario. I.E do we end up with a Pultec EQP-1A3 or Neumann U47 with VF14 Tube {Insert your High priced vintage Unit) scenario all over again so in 10 years we are all chasing S/H CMI 30A's. This is a concern. The units manufactured as the CMI 30A in my opinion need to be either totally finalized in all aspects and sold at a common worldwide Price point with 110/230v 50/60Hz capability or compromised to a degree, made regional, and in doing so by using parts still of a high standard, though making them available in sale to those whom are prepared to pay a premium that is reasonable for the Hi End private Studio market as well as the large Recording Studio facilities. I can remember Fairlight's being dragged into Studios continuously, only a select few Studios had them on hand to power up.

Overpricing is a major concern for many, and once published in the usual Audio Worldwide Magazines, could the CMI 30A be lost if the product is not price stamped with feature set. Possibly the New Fairlight CMI 30 A could come in 2 distinct Forms. It is what the Vendors decide, I.E a one off 30th edition production run, or a more carefully thought out and managed, almost "Staged & Staggered production run" of the CMI 30A that will be either 5000 dreams come true or 5000 broken. Possibly more either way! Is their going to be Solid support for the OEM period with Spare parts available & accessible to Most countries? Or will service issues be specifically required to have the Unit returned to Australia? Great Techs are very thin on the ground these days. What will be the Warranty options? Will there be a specific Web forum for owners new & old, will Legacy CMI's have any support at all? If I remember correctly it was over reaching that lost us the first Fairlight's with massive USA support required alongside a world of technology catching up fast.

Past is past, though what about designing 2 very distinct Fairlight 30th CMI A Editions by pure omission.

Option 1. A Fairlight CMI 30A (Maybe denominated by a Triple Roman Numeral "XXX" for the 30 Year Anniversary.) that is Fully loaded with all options fitted outright as you open the crate - I.E the whole box and dice. No mucking about.

Option 2. A Fairlight CMI 30A that is denominated by the "A" as in Anniversary, though one that has an Upgrade Format, though this unit would Max out at a certain level omitting some of the more 21st century FPGA features of buying the fully optioned CMI 30A "XXX". This lower CMI A could possibly be a lower level machine focusing more on the previous features Series 11x/111 features while holding it's own in terms of the modern day feature set. ( Though not compromised in terms of quality.)

Yes, I understand this is a "Major" digression re the " 30th Anniversary Edition" though I do see it as a very sensible option if not compromise, as it would seem their would be extremely brisk business alone in a re-issued Fairlight Series IIx/III for Artists, Engineers, Sound designers and Engineer/Producers. Thus making option 2 all the more viable for the Vendors as well as less cashed up Fairlight CMI devotees. I'm not saying give them away, though throw an option into the ballpark that is more inclusive for Artists, more so as Record companies, (what's left of them) Recording Contracts and advances are near non existent compared to 30 years ago!

In mid 2009 I was given the option of purchasing a Xynergi, though on final consideration, even had I of purchased, it was far to powerful for my needs coming into the next 3 years. And my Private studio is in no means unsatisfactory. The GFC had hit all very hard at the time with the world markets were in free fall. It wasn't my Accountant who said "No" to the purchase, it was simply my Gear Lust Re-clocking from Jam sync & Jitter to Steady Stream, working out that the purchase at the time was just not essential to business. The CMI A is a very different situation and in looking to buy one a serious amount of thought is required. Can I hold Out? And will this be "The Very Last Chance Ever"?
Hmmmm!
Just my 2 Cents
SolarFlare.

Ultra404

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Re: I Want a Fairlight
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2010, 11:07:25 AM »
The lack of answers here it's a bad sign mate...
 ???

Peter Vogel

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Re: I Want a Fairlight
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2010, 12:52:52 PM »
The lack of answers here it's a bad sign mate...
 ???

Nah, just that it was a big post that I couldn't answer in 5 minutes!

Stay tuned.

Peter

Ultra404

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Re: I Want a Fairlight
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2010, 08:32:24 AM »
Oh Peter, thank you,
you made my day!
 ;D

Peter Vogel

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Re: The Fairlight CMI 30A Series "XXX" and the Fairlight CMI 30A ***
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2010, 06:50:19 PM »
Thanks for your thoughtful post Solarflare.

Yes, there are two distinct markets to address. My intention is to fulfil the desires of the "CMI 1/11x Lust Mongers" first as this is the simplest and most profitable exercise. Developing a more affordable unit minus the cosmetics of the old CMI is certainly on the agenda but is a costly exercise, and unfortunately my first Fairlight experience did not make me a wealthy man, so I have to rely on external funding which is very hard to come by these days.

As you say, the various CMI sample libraries around won't sound like "The Fairlight CMI IIX that we all know & Love", because you need the quirks of the sampling and reproduction chain to achieve that. It's a dynamic thing that can't be reproduced by playing samples of CMI sounds through a high quality but lifeless sampler.  Hence the new CMI replicates all the artifacts and distortions of the original using the Crystal Core processor to mess up the sounds in realtime in ways no other sampler can.

Will the first new Samples posted be Dogs Barking again?  Hadn't thought of that, but what a great idea! ;-)

Regarding servicing and long-term support, the 30A will have very few custom components (especially compared to the CMI-II/III which was 100% custom).  The only item to be concerned about would be the Crystal Core, but this is the same piece of hardware used by Fairlight.au in all their new products (have you seen the EVO announced last week? http://www.ziogiorgio.com/viewnews.php?id=26357). With a huge customer base using the Crystal Core for other purposes, you can expect it to be supported well into the future.

Certainly world-wide support will be much easier this time 'round; the Crystal Core is stocked by dozens of Fairlight distributors so a replacement could be had anywhere in the world overnight. The rest is all standard stuff you can get anywhere. And this time we have the internet, so software fixes and updates will be a breeze.

Finally, there has always been a strong lobby for a low-cost Fairlight CMI.  But unfortunately this is not likely to happen any time soon. Electronic product manufacturers typically make say 15-20% profit margin.  And remember there is say 100% markup between factory and consumer. So you need to sell a *shitload* of low-cost items to recover a few $million R&D costs.  Great for Casio or Roland; not viable for a niche company like Fairlight.

Thanks for the input, hope this is illuminating.

Peter

KRISS

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Re: I Want a Fairlight
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2010, 03:36:02 AM »
I must say that as a fan of the fairlight since the day it came out, i am in hope that one day i will own my own fairlight system, be it a Series 1, 2, 2x or 3. In the UK, where i live, these classic synthesizers have been seen at prices as low as UK £3,000 for a series 3. God! i wish i had 3 grand to spend as it would be my dream system.

The Series 30-A has by now (in August 2010) probably been snapped up by famous musicians and rich individuals, although i guess limiting its run will make it unique and collectable. I actually love the idea of the origional-style of screen using modern components as i was (and still am) totally loving the Lightpen on the screen format Fairlight 1, 2 and IIX. Its great that Mr Vogel and his team that are catering for the musicians who like retro-gear but with a modern twist. I've been studying books and magazines on Technology since 1978 and even now in 2010 i am still doing that research. Sadly, unless i win the (united kingdom) lottery i will remain a Fairlight-less musician but i will (and i mean I WILL) get one or more of these systems in my private personal studio one day - and it will happen!

I love seeing bands on TV using them and i guess the band PET SHOP BOYS was the most prominant TV users of the Fairlight on their (UK) TV performances as well as The Art of Noise who used about 4 or 5 Series IIX Fairlights on the UK TV Programme 'The Tube' - a pop chat show in the mid-late 80s. Fairlight sounds are classics and i am really very exited about hearing about the new system. Its a fantastic machine and i hope Peter and the Fairlight team make a kind of proper production run of new Fairlight systems in the future (as i said, i am sure now that the limited 30-Anniversary CMI is sold out maybe?).

I say hello to Peter Vogel and all the Fairlight users around the world. You are ALL Respected, honored and looked up to by me - loadsa love, peace and respect to all, - Kriss, August 2010.

galaxiesmerge

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Re: The Fairlight CMI 30A Series "XXX" and the Fairlight CMI 30A ***
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2010, 12:22:11 PM »
Thanks for your thoughtful post Solarflare.

Yes, there are two distinct markets to address. My intention is to fulfil the desires of the "CMI 1/11x Lust Mongers" first as this is the simplest and most profitable exercise. Developing a more affordable unit minus the cosmetics of the old CMI is certainly on the agenda but is a costly exercise, and unfortunately my first Fairlight experience did not make me a wealthy man, so I have to rely on external funding which is very hard to come by these days.

As you say, the various CMI sample libraries around won't sound like "The Fairlight CMI IIX that we all know & Love", because you need the quirks of the sampling and reproduction chain to achieve that. It's a dynamic thing that can't be reproduced by playing samples of CMI sounds through a high quality but lifeless sampler.  Hence the new CMI replicates all the artifacts and distortions of the original using the Crystal Core processor to mess up the sounds in realtime in ways no other sampler can.

Will the first new Samples posted be Dogs Barking again?  Hadn't thought of that, but what a great idea! ;-)

Regarding servicing and long-term support, the 30A will have very few custom components (especially compared to the CMI-II/III which was 100% custom).  The only item to be concerned about would be the Crystal Core, but this is the same piece of hardware used by Fairlight.au in all their new products (have you seen the EVO announced last week? http://www.ziogiorgio.com/viewnews.php?id=26357). With a huge customer base using the Crystal Core for other purposes, you can expect it to be supported well into the future.

Certainly world-wide support will be much easier this time 'round; the Crystal Core is stocked by dozens of Fairlight distributors so a replacement could be had anywhere in the world overnight. The rest is all standard stuff you can get anywhere. And this time we have the internet, so software fixes and updates will be a breeze.

Finally, there has always been a strong lobby for a low-cost Fairlight CMI.  But unfortunately this is not likely to happen any time soon. Electronic product manufacturers typically make say 15-20% profit margin.  And remember there is say 100% markup between factory and consumer. So you need to sell a *shitload* of low-cost items to recover a few $million R&D costs.  Great for Casio or Roland; not viable for a niche company like Fairlight.

Thanks for the input, hope this is illuminating.

Peter


I would recommend that Fairlight recall what made it great the first time around:  Sound AND Workflow.   Now that software dominates the feature sets, I would like to see some cutting edge AI (artificial intelligence) for things like Arpeggiators (multiples that can be stacked, layered polyrhythmic) in an EASY to use way.  I already have a fully loaded modern studio arsenal.  But here are my wishes for the CMI and that I believe WILL make it a *must* have (not just a nice-to-have).

Some software desires:

1) Note transformation (arpeggios and variance controls like meta-templates so that key change movements are possible)
2) Automatic real time chord recognition and play, variance (say I play a the same chord "A-C-E", the system generates variants around this - maybe combined with note transformations)
3) Intelligent percussion patterns library (a library with midi patterns geared to auto-generation, rhythmic accompaniment, fills and variations)
4) Genetic Mutation of sound generating parameters (i.e auto-generation with controls of new sounds)
5) Genetic Music generation
6) Algorithmic music toolbox for creating note, melody and chord compositions
7) Key/Note templates for sample/sound generation switching (example, sax sound going "up" the keyboard is playing differently than descending the same scale).
8) Take lessons from the playability of the DK Synergy II+ (independent voice portamentos, tracking hands independently)  and its method of multi-stage envelopes/phase modulation/FM synthesis
9) Provide software interoperability --- i.e. use the propellerhed/Reason bridge, work with MAX for LIVE (Ableton)
10) Expansions!!! Software modules.

Thanks!

Andy Bogle

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Re: I Want a Fairlight
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2011, 03:57:47 PM »
I believe there should be a PC or Mac application that would be identical to the CMI.  ::)