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Messages - Julio Di Benedetto

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Music Gearheads Tech Talk / The THX sound
« on: December 09, 2013, 05:17:41 AM »
I had read somewhere that the THX sound was created on a 90 oscillator Serge was not so.  Heres the story behind it

I like to say that the THX sound is the most widely-recognized piece of computer-generated music in the world," says Andy Moorer. "This may or may not be true, but it sounds cool!"
>> It's called 'Deep Note'. 
>> It was made by Dr James 'Andy' Moorer in 1982, who has had a very cool career: Four patents, one Oscar. In the '60s he was working in Artificial Intelligence at Stanford. In the '70s he was at IRCAM in Paris, working on speech synthesis and ballet. In the '80s he worked at the LucasFilm DroidWorks, before joining Steve Jobs at NeXT. Today, he consults, repairs old tube radios and plays banjo.
>> At one point, the THX sound was being played 4,000 times a day at cinemas around the world (that's once every 20 seconds).
>> The Simpsons got permission for this [mpg movie] parody. Dr Dre was less lucky. He asked permission to sample 'Deep Note' but was turned down. He used it anyway, to open '2001', and LucasFilm sued.
>> Stanford student Jesse Fox tried to recreate 'Deep Note' for a course. His version sounds like a nasty accident in an organ factory. 
>> There are various theories on the web about how the THX sound was created - some people say it was a Yamaha CS-80, others that it was a Synclavier. I emailed Andy Moorer to ask how it was really made. The short answer was "On a big-ass mainframe computer at LucasFilm". But I thought I should give you the long answer here in full, just because it feels like Andy's writing his own history for the first time...
>> "I've never written the THX story down (nobody ever asked). So, here's the whole story:
>> "I was working in what was then called the "Lucasfilm Computer Division" that existed from roughly 1980 to 1987 or so. It spawned several companies, including Pixar and Sonic Solutions. I was head of the audio group. In about 1982, we built a large-scale audio processor. This was in the days before DSP chips, so it was quite a massive thing. We called it the ASP (Audio Signal Processor).
>> "At the same time Tom Holman was also working at Lucasfilm. He had developed what is now called the THX sound system. It was to premiere with Lucasfilm's "Return of the Jedi." They were making a logo to go before the film. I was asked by the producer of the logo piece to do the sound. He said he wanted "something that comes out of nowhere and gets really, really big!" I allowed as to how I figured I could do something like that.
>> "I set up some synthesis programs for the ASP that made it behave like a huge digital music synthesizer. I used the waveform from a digitized cello tone as the basis waveform for the oscillators. I recall that it had 12 harmonics. I could get about 30 oscillators running in real-time on the device. Then I wrote the "score" for the piece.
>> "The score consists of a C program of about 20,000 lines of code. The output of this program is not the sound itself, but is the sequence of parameters that drives the oscillators on the ASP. That 20,000 lines of code produce about 250,000 lines of statements of the form "set frequency of oscillator X to Y Hertz".
>> "The oscillators were not simple - they had 1-pole smoothers on both amplitude and frequency. At the beginning, they form a cluster from 200 to 400 Hz. I randomly assigned and poked the frequencies so they drifted up and down in that range. At a certain time (where the producer assured me that the THX logo would start to come into view), I jammed the frequencies of the final chord into the smoothers and set the smoothing time for the time that I was told it would take for the logo to completely materialize on the screen. At the time the logo was supposed to be in full view, I set the smoothing times down to very low values so the frequencies would converge to the frequencies of the big chord (which had been typed in by hand - based on a 150-Hz root), but not converge so precisely that I would lose all the beats between oscillators. All followed by the fade-out. It took about 4 days to program and debug the thing. The sound was produced entirely in real-time on the ASP.
>> "When we went to sync up the sound with the video (which I hadn't seen yet), we discovered that the timings were all different. I readjusted the times, generated a new score, and in ten minutes, we had the sound synced up with the video perfectly.
>> There are many, many random numbers involved in the score for the piece. Every time I ran the C-program, it produced a new "performance" of the piece. The one we chose had that conspicuous descending tone that everybody liked. It just happened to end up real loud in that version.
>> "Some months after the piece was released (along with "Return of the Jedi") they lost the original recording. I recreated the piece for them, but they kept complaining that it didn't sound the same. Since my random-number generators were keyed on the time and date, I couldn't reproduce the score of the performance that they liked. I finally found the original version and everybody was happy.
>> "If you get permission from THX, I can supply you with the written "score" for the piece (in music notation - this was used to get the copyright) or even the original C program that produced the parameter lists. I can't supply you with a program that makes the sound itself.
>> "The ASP was decommissioned in 1986 and later sold for scrap."

Thanks for the words Pete......not going anywhere, just needed some air.

Immersion.....its wonderful that you are able to express your emotions openly here on this forum and I respect that I just want us to be able to focus on the topic at hand.....

So on that note the Nonlinear lab prototype looks to me like it might have the format of the old Roland Alpha Juno which was actually the first analog synth I owned.  All the editing had to be dialed in with that big "alpha dial" on the left and viewed in that tiny screen.  The Nonlinear synth seems to have 2 large dials and a plethora of buttons.  Speculation of course but maybe what actually was a bad design by Roland  could be a good one for a software base hardware synth.  Most musicians today are comfortable with the external Akai like push button controllers so entering data and edits via a large selection of buttons might makes sense. 

Im done....might be time to take a little hiatus from the forum.  This is going no where and all this is sucking my energy as long as this "format" persists.

All the power to you Immersion!

Well, if you dont believe in the the future of software.....ok.  Oberhiem 4 voice...not new and not so forward looking though truly beautiful.....just an amazing awe inspiriting re creation with much improved midi etc.. Amazing to have it available foot in the past, one foot in the future.

By the way this is not a conversation.......

And you have spent 4-5k on and Eventide external FX box to run soft synths through......Ok,  time to take my blood pressure medication. Your notion of planning for the future has my nervous. My bad you actually have no vision for the future.  ;)

I have Matrix 12 in my studio.....its days are numbered.  What then?  Perhaps Stephan Schmitts new synth will be just what is need.  Can something replace...perhaps.  Will synthesis progress in some shape or form in hardware after electrically feed oscillators. Yes!

Again I welcome a debate....with a positive look into the thread, my rules.  ;)

The new Prophet 12 seemed amazing but it sounded like a average soft synth...
Or the Solaris synth. So much focus on everything else besides the pure sound. 

Immersion.....In one sense Im happy you are so vocal....and I do respect your opinion but you are mistaken.....its ok, you dont have the perspective which is something middle age men like myself  have earned through experience. You have youth that should have hope and a less jaded viewpoint..... ;)

You do know your pursuit for what is pure will only lead to silence...I hope thats what you are looking for.

No offense ment....just tired of having imho potentially good threads trashed.

Love & Peace


well let me guess, another super flexible product with terrible sound quality...
usually that is the way... it is not often both worlds meet together.

I cant fathom how you have an opinion about this metal frame and keyboard when it hardly makes a sound and one that you have not heard, unless you mean that NI soft synths have a terrible sound quality and this man has something to do with the creation of that company so......???  Did you actually read the quote or go to website.  It is the "idea" of something that is one of the most powerful forces on this planet. Its usually simple in essence and can often be extraordinary in completion.

This text is taken from the website......a gigantic looper, I dont thinks so.  But who cant tell at this stage.


The musical instruments we are developing embody a number of fundamental concepts which are important to us: performance-centered technology, product development focused on longevity and evolutionary development, an open source approach, and sustainable production methods.

Standalone systems. Our instruments are fully self-contained no external computers. We rely on ARM microcontrollers for the highest level of real-time performance, reliability and flexibility. Separate synthesis engines tap the vast audio processing power of embedded PCs. Optionally, software GUIs can be added by connecting Android mobile devices.

Full control. We have developed the TCD musical control protocol which overcomes many limitations of MIDI. TCD stands for "Time, Curve, Destination" and implements a high-resolution control over all aspects of a dynamic and expressive live musical performance. Read more about our TCD concept here.

Software-based digital sound synthesis. We are not interested in resurrecting the past by modeling analog machines of yesteryear. We are inspired by the virtually limitless sonic palette offered by digital sound synthesis. "Software-based" means that our durable instruments can evolve without falling into obsolescence. More about Phase 22, our first synthesis engine.

Top-quality hardware. Our musical instruments are built to last. They are not consumables to be thrown out and replaced every few years. We use the best components available to provide musicians with durable instruments.

Open source. Over the past few decades, the dynamics of open source has created many solid and mature technologies and has empowered people around the world. It is an invitation to sharing and community, fitting in well with how most musicians think. For Nonlinear Labs, it also means that our ideas can be used in other areas of music performance and production. Whenever possible, we will make our technologies freely available to these ends.

Local production. Our prototyping and production is 100% "Made in Berlin". Working locally means faster development cycles and better communication with manufacturing partners, resulting in higher quality. And by keeping travel and shipping to a minimum, we reduce our carbon footprint and can ensure that social working standards are met./i]

Stephan Schmitt founder of NI has step down as CEO and is now spearheading

Heres his 1st prototype idea....

Perhaps the future of soft synths is hardware?

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Vangelis
« on: December 07, 2013, 06:02:23 AM »
Some Vangelis videos I came across yesterday.....

V.A.T.J.T.I. (excerpt) on Vimeo

S.O.C. - T.M.T.M.T.M. (Vag scenes) on Vimeo

Anyone know what instrument he is play?

Computers, Internet and Technology / Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« on: December 04, 2013, 07:09:44 AM »
My Flac & Apple lossless purchased have dwindled to nothing since my iPod classic was stolen out of my car in my own drive way about 4 month own drive way >:(.  I will get around to buying one again but for now Im enjoying playing cds.  My girlfriend has an nano and plays mp3's in her car.  It is hard to listen to for me.  I roll down the windows and it sounds much better.

Don't pay too much attention to what I write. Everyone who knows me knows my opinions of who is great and who is over-rated are all out of whack with everyone else. For example, I think Jeff Pearce, as loved as he is here and among his fans, is actually UNDER-RATED. I think Jeff is a freakin' genius when you examine his entire body of work. Why he isn't every bit as revered as Roach and Rich (which is NOT a knock on Steve and Robert, both of whom are also brilliant) is a mystery to me. Just my two cents.

I think the HOS people would agree with you....he was right there on stage performing with both Roach & Rich at Ambicon.  Not at the same time of course though that would be special.

The "show us your studio pics" that Jesse (Numina) started was one that I recall had some 53,000 views and maybe more by now....thats just staggering.  That many gearsultz?

Maybe that thread has so many hits because I posted a link to it over on the gearslutz website a few years ago? Their was a thread going on there about ambient musicians and their studios, so I just linked it. Lots of gearheads over there.  ;D

I seem to remember seeing that Loren....makes sense.  Good way of bring visitors over. 


Not a compressor in the strict sense, more of a saturator but its what I use 99% of the actually have to push it quite hard to make it behave as its name suggests.  Just dont touch the punish button.  Its a tone shaper for me

UBK-1: The Concept on Vimeo
This is something Im interested in as a tone shaper

The Electra - Punching Up & Widening the Drum Buss on Vimeo
and this as another tone shaper :)

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Digital to analog converters
« on: November 25, 2013, 06:52:46 AM »

You mentioned Oophoi in your list of examples of good music - Oophoi released my music (and I've never shared this before) because he was amazed with the creativity with which I used the equipment I had - a Korg D16 and almost nothing else. Oophoi also described to me his favourite source and effects chain and surprisingly it did not include the high end equipment I or others might have expected.

A poorly made Katana Sword in the hands of a skilled Samurai is just as deadly as one perfectly crafted by a master swordsmith.......not a poetic image but something that was once said to me.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Digital to analog converters
« on: November 25, 2013, 06:12:45 AM »
Well, I'm 62 and I still remember where I live a lot of the time.


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Digital to analog converters
« on: November 24, 2013, 06:22:41 AM »
I think I'm going to stick with my setup for the most part and just try to improve upon using the things that I have, like Paul and I think some others suggested. I'm sure there's a lot than I can improve upon in terms of recording and production. I feel like I have good ideas and a distinct sound, so I think I can definitely build off of that and get better.

Thats the best advice Ive heard.....and you said it yourself. ;)

In time as your sonic ideas & skill grow you will find that the equipment you use will advance along with you.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Digital to analog converters
« on: November 23, 2013, 06:14:25 AM »
You have come to understand and know the sound and its quality from this high end gear and this is not something that is base on how much money a person has to spend....Burl converters on uneducated  ears within the home project studio would be a colossal waste of money.  This sound has to be learned.  Sort of like asking a person to taste a Chateau Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux when they are use to drinking sweet blush zinfandel wine.  Odds are they would spit it out.

I will always push the envelope for my self and go for the best gear I can afford and sometimes more than I can afford.  The complexity that Forrest suggest can be  an issue.  A great converter feed by a crappy pre amp or front end signal path will give what on the other side.....exactly.  So generally if say Burl which is the converter most talked about in this thread is your choice then the rest of the signal path should be of a similar quality or it is a pointless venture.  There can be a good deal of maintenance involve as well.

Ive mentioned this story before and like to when too much lofty high ended - ness dominates.   Bruce Springsteen's Fans consider his album "Nebraska" his best which was recorded on an 4 track cassette deck will the "Boss" was on tour way back when.  What the fans heard was not the tape hiss and poor quality record but the heart felt words and emotion he expressed. Certainly anyone would want to be able to capture every single subtle nuance of a performance that brilliant gear can do so well but the listener at the other end will be moved by the emotion not the the converters, pre amp or microphones used.

P.S......Great post Paul!

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Broken Harbour learns to use Logic 9
« on: November 21, 2013, 09:23:50 PM »
Go to the far right corner of the arrange window in logic 9 and you will see  a snap box, a drag box and then 2 smaller square box with icons....ususally defaults to arrows.  click on say the right box and the menu should open up..  look to the bottom of the menu for "Automation curve tool" this is the envelopes you speak of and will create fades between audio.  This does a good job of seamless merging.

In the left side of the arrange window highlight the audio track and by default you should see and elongated tab that says volume. click on it and it will open a menu which gives options one of which is pan that will behave similar to the volume automation. Clicking to the top of the audio GUI will pan left and clicking towards the bottom will pan right.  In the view tab be sure that track automation is activated.  Once you do it it is simple just a like squirrel like and hide at the beginning.....hope this helps

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Digital to analog converters
« on: November 21, 2013, 06:57:41 PM »
Yes...its been an interesting read and hopeful educational.


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Digital to analog converters
« on: November 21, 2013, 05:07:13 PM »
My head is spinning from all this :o    Castleview next time you should put up some sort of specific parameters so us gear heads keep our big guns in the what was your first studio setup  ;)  because just the sight of the word converters or ad/da brings out the hoarding mass.  This sounds familiar...must have seen it in another threads somewhere.

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