Mmmm. Price for new system = high, yes. But appeal of original cosmetics and hardware quirks = infinite.
I've passed on a couple original CMI systems at $10k-ish, because I've got enough 30-year old gear and certainly don't want to be searching ebay for 8-inch floppies or spare chips.
If it were only a PCI card with an AudioUnit plug-in, priced at $5k, maybe it would sell more units, but how many more, even at that price? And would I want one? Sure, but not like I want the big Jetsons-looking beast with the green screen!
I fully approve of the El Gigante rack unit, clacky qwerty keyboard, and most importantly, the trapezoidal green glass crt with coily-cable lightpen... that's a MUST. I can't believe new examples are still in stock somewhere... or are there still plenty left over in the back room at Fairlight HQ?
Anyway, count me in. The directness, simplicity, and more importantly, the RESULTS I brought home from my few forays into Page R on rented systems made an indelible impression on me in the eighties, and being a "samplist" first and foremost, the CMI holds a special place in my heart.
The space-age casework and Apollo-era screen graphics are design purity on a sublime level, like a Ford GT-40 or a Dieter Rams stereo. If I can get a fresh example, powered by a mass overkill DSP engine, it's a done deal. Unlike a vintage original system, this one might outlast me!
Now. Who's going to do a clone of the PPG Realizer, in the original blue "launch control" form factor?
As to wishlist:
- It would be convenient to have at least a stereo pair of AES or SPDIF outs in addition to the MADI. Did I miss that on the spec sheet?
- I hesitate to hope for nifty uses for the USB port besides storing samples on a memory stick... but it would be great to see the CMI-30a show up as a class-compliant MIDI interface when plugged into a host computer via USB, displaying multiple MIDI ports that mirror each of its hardware ports (or not), letting you send MIDI tracks from another computer via direct USB connection.
- Along those lines, it would be great to be able to mount the CMI-30a drive via USB on a host computer for sample transfer, as you can with the Roland V-Synth. Plug in USB, hit some menu item on the instrument, and the drive shows up on the computer desktop. Drag files, unmount drive, hit menu item on instrument to return to play mode. Easier than swapping sticks. If the CMI-30a will mount on a network, then strike this comment!
- Don't let me even start dreaming about an AudioUnit plugin that controls the CMI-30a over USB, allowing you to integrate it directly into your sequencer, as you can with the Access Virus TI (finally, after it not working for like two years...). It would be too good to even hope for seeing the CMI-30a display mirrored inside an AudioUnit Instrument plugin that directly controls the CMI from the host sequencer via USB, with full MIDI and host sync support, and returns audio to the host mixer via the AU plugin...... So I won't even talk about stuff like that.
As to software wishes:
- As sexy as the lightpen is, I think we need an option to use a USB mouse or trackball to position the onscreen cursor...
- I would find it very useful to be able to quickly render or bounce whatever I'm hearing right from Page R into a stereo AIFF or WAV, for later import into Logic or whatever. This way as you're jamming, but not ready to commit, you could grab 1-to-8 bar loops of whatever you're hearing with a quick keypress. Then after you've got a few, use the USB connection I dreamt of above to drag them over to the Mac and drop them on a timeline. Ideally this command should bounce whatever you're hearing, so if you've got a weird combination of tracks soloed, then that's what you'll get in the resulting file.
- I don't know if there are any internal effects planned (certainly the crystalcore has some DSP to spare to run a reverb or three?) but it would be cool to be able to do some basic effects send-return stuff right on the unit... either with onboard effects, or using spare outputs and the sample inputs to send+return to external devices. It's often nice to jab some reverb and delays and whatnot right inside of a rhythm loop you're building without needing to print separated elements and apply individual effects in another workstation. Plus, this way the effects (hopefully) return back into the submix BEFORE the "Fairlight Crunch™" is applied. For all I know the CMI could always do this?
Just make sure the screen is green!