The future of digital

Blrfl

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I enjoy her videos a lot, but I think being steeped in analog amps made her overlook something very important: the physical hardware of a digital amp is unimportant. The software that runs inside is the star of the show.

When I was making my living working on signal processing systems, the industry where I worked had a large library of algorithms for doing many of the standard things that were required in picking signals apart and doing things with their contents. Many of these algorithms had been so well-tested and well-tuned over time that you'd have to be a fool to develop new ones that do the same thing. Many are also traceable back to the 1970s and will reach the half-century mark during this decade. When you talk about taking pride in crafting something that lasts 50 years, this stuff is it in the world of signal processing.

In the same way you can plug a 12AX7 or 6L6 into a 60-year-old amp or a brand-new chassis of your design, these algorithms have been run unmodified on hundreds -- if not thousands -- of hardware platforms. Those platforms have just been vessels; the software endures.

Right now, digital guitar amplification is buried in proprietary products, but I predict that will change over time.
 

tomasz

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Very interesting point, that we may forget how analog circuits run, if that knowledge is not passed down generations. Humanity has a very short memory, if you look at history.
 

telemnemonics

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The article has popped up here before, I like her!
As for digital, I mean industry would never be held up or limited by changes in available tech like computer chips.
Wait, auto industry?
 

loopfinding

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Many are also traceable back to the 1970s and will reach the half-century mark during this decade. When you talk about taking pride in crafting something that lasts 50 years, this stuff is it in the world of signal processing.

that’s true, when I was working with real time image processing in jitter in college I was surprised to find out a lot of things (especially with lighting and shadows) were developed in the late 70s/80s. the hardware was essentially the bottleneck in rendering operations.
 

Jakedog

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Doesn’t matter if they last forever or not. It just doesn’t. It doesn’t matter if they’re repairable or not. They’re just gonna keep sounding better and getting cheaper.

In twenty years it’s going to cost less to just replace a fried digital guitar amp than it will to put preamp tubes in a deluxe reverb. So whether they’re fixable or not is really completely irrelevant.

The only reason it’s an issue now is because people are still trying to treat them like guitar amps and take them to amp techs to get fixed. Of course Joe the amp tech can’t fix them. It’s not even technically a guitar amp. It’s a computer that makes you louder. There’s going to be a whole other industry arising around these products. They’ll basically be computer repair shops.

I love old gear as much as the next guy. But I love new stuff, too. And claiming it’s going to be obsolete because it won’t be repairable just shows how utterly clueless some people are. This stuff isn’t going anywhere.
 

brookdalebill

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Doesn’t matter if they last forever or not. It just doesn’t. It doesn’t matter if they’re repairable or not. They’re just gonna keep sounding better and getting cheaper.

In twenty years it’s going to cost less to just replace a fried digital guitar amp than it will to put preamp tubes in a deluxe reverb. So whether they’re fixable or not is really completely irrelevant.

The only reason it’s an issue now is because people are still trying to treat them like guitar amps and take them to amp techs to get fixed. Of course Joe the amp tech can’t fix them. It’s not even technically a guitar amp. It’s a computer that makes you louder. There’s going to be a whole other industry arising around these products. They’ll basically be computer repair shops.

I love old gear as much as the next guy. But I love new stuff, too. And claiming it’s going to be obsolete because it won’t be repairable just shows how utterly clueless some people are. This stuff isn’t going anywhere.


I absolutely agree!
I love my Roland Cubes.
I have 4, and i’ve used two of them daily for over 10 years.
No hassles, no failures.
I grew up on tube amps, and used them exclusively till 2008.
Tube amps eventually fail.
All of em’.
If one of my beloved Cube croaks, I’ll accept it, and use another.
 

bumnote

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This is why I still have my IBM Univac connected to a modem and landline. I just can't fix my Mac if it breaks.

The premise of the article is stupid and myopic. A digital system is going to become obsolete in the mid-21st century because mid-20th century tech is going to be dominant? :lol:
The processor or motherboard of the digital amp goes? Pull it out, replace it...just like hooking up a new CPU to an existing monitor. That's provided the "amps" of 2041 are remotely like they are now. I have a hard time believing a 50lb Twin is going to continue to have the same appeal in 20 years that they do now.
Have digital pianos gone the way of the 8track and people are back to buying more upright and grands again? No.
Those new fanged transistor radios are a passing fad too...when a part breaks what are you going to do? Buy a new one?

I own one SS amp, nothing digital beyond a few pedals..everything else is analog pedals and tube amps. Once digital can better replicate that tone, I'm fine with ditching tubes. That's coming soon.
Romantic nostalgia would be the only reason to keep them. TV's haven't been repairable to 99% of consumers for decades, why are amps (outside of a small niche market) not going to experience this fate? They"re not.
 

kbold

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In twenty years it’s going to cost less to just replace a fried digital guitar amp than it will to put preamp tubes in a deluxe reverb. So whether they’re fixable or not is really completely irrelevant.

I worked in industrial electronics for many years: everything was repairable.
Almost all of todays consumer grade products are not designed to be repaired.
Firstly, it's generally cheaper to replace than repair, and secondly, many components (especially IC's) are not readily available.
This would IMO include all the current digital amps. The best you get wrt repairs is 'module replacement'.
 

Tonetele

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Thanks ce24. I guess we'll be scrounging and paying premium prices for parts till they're obsolete. Till then , just call Joe Bonamasa for parts.
 

Bendyha

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upload_2021-10-27_9-49-24.png
 

loopfinding

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Doesn’t matter if they last forever or not. It just doesn’t. It doesn’t matter if they’re repairable or not. They’re just gonna keep sounding better and getting cheaper.

In twenty years it’s going to cost less to just replace a fried digital guitar amp than it will to put preamp tubes in a deluxe reverb. So whether they’re fixable or not is really completely irrelevant.

The only reason it’s an issue now is because people are still trying to treat them like guitar amps and take them to amp techs to get fixed. Of course Joe the amp tech can’t fix them. It’s not even technically a guitar amp. It’s a computer that makes you louder. There’s going to be a whole other industry arising around these products. They’ll basically be computer repair shops.

I love old gear as much as the next guy. But I love new stuff, too. And claiming it’s going to be obsolete because it won’t be repairable just shows how utterly clueless some people are. This stuff isn’t going anywhere.

I just like how rossman can fix MacBooks with leaked schematics, alternate firmware can be written for the akai mpc, and other folks can replace and re flash EPROMs on old Yamaha synths, but the moment any trivial component fails on a modern piece of guitar equipment it’s “omg, it’s dead, it’s crap, it’s indecipherable, just throw it in the trash.”
 

Cyberi4n

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Doesn’t matter if they last forever or not. It just doesn’t. It doesn’t matter if they’re repairable or not. They’re just gonna keep sounding better and getting cheaper.

In twenty years it’s going to cost less to just replace a fried digital guitar amp than it will to put preamp tubes in a deluxe reverb. So whether they’re fixable or not is really completely irrelevant.

The only reason it’s an issue now is because people are still trying to treat them like guitar amps and take them to amp techs to get fixed. Of course Joe the amp tech can’t fix them. It’s not even technically a guitar amp. It’s a computer that makes you louder. There’s going to be a whole other industry arising around these products. They’ll basically be computer repair shops.

I love old gear as much as the next guy. But I love new stuff, too. And claiming it’s going to be obsolete because it won’t be repairable just shows how utterly clueless some people are. This stuff isn’t going anywhere.

the problem with your statements is that digital amps don’t cost the same as a set of tubes, they cost the same as an equivalent tube amp. But tube amps can also be ridiculously cheap (my bugeras were and gave me Stirling service over the years)

you’re right that the tech isn’t going to go away, but I don’t think Tube Amps will either. Too many people enjoy the thrill of coaxing sound out of a collection of wires caps pots and tubes and I think a resurgence of tube amps proves their longevity
 

runstendt

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I honestly do not think that the article is based upon a sound premise. There is an early statement about how nobody is learning circuit design anymore, which simply is not true. For instance, the electrical engineering curriculum at Penn State has at least two required classes about designing, testing, and debugging physical circuits (EE210 and EE310). Plus, there are additional electives that are extensions of these core classes.

https://www.eecs.psu.edu/students/undergraduate/Electrical-Engineering.aspx

If it seems like more and more things are going digital these days, that's because more and more things are. Digital electronics has come a long way. Current modeling amps do the job well enough for a sizable group of musicians. They may not be for everyone, but they have their acolytes, just as tube amps have theirs'. Electronic drums might be a better example. Early e-drums sounded digital, fake, and poorly synthesized, while modern e-drums use studio-quality samples and sound incredible. Our drummer uses an e-kit, and you would not know it based on the sound.

To wrap this little rant up, what I am trying to say is that people still are learning circuit design, but they are also learning digital design techniques. I know this because I teach both at a high school level, and some of my students are guitarists who want to learn how to create and repair their own instruments, amps, and effects. The "old knowledge" of circuit design is not being lost. If anything, schools are trying to teach it to more students than before.
 

naveed211

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the problem with your statements is that digital amps don’t cost the same as a set of tubes, they cost the same as an equivalent tube amp. But tube amps can also be ridiculously cheap (my bugeras were and gave me Stirling service over the years)

you’re right that the tech isn’t going to go away, but I don’t think Tube Amps will either. Too many people enjoy the thrill of coaxing sound out of a collection of wires caps pots and tubes and I think a resurgence of tube amps proves their longevity

I really do believe the world of guitar players is going to look very different in 10-20 years. It already is.

Some of the generation that reveres tube amps so much is going to pass away in that span of years.

Look at the generation of players today. How many in modern music are perfectly happy with software sims or Axe FX, Helix, or whatever. Even a lot of the guys who swore by tube amps are going digital.

That’s only going to tip more in the favor of digital, and tube amps will become more niche as the years move forward, I’d be willing to bet.

And I agree that her premise is flawed, and living in an analog dream world. Yes, digital becomes obsolete, every 5 years or so nowadays. You know what happens? They replace it with something more powerful and more advanced and the old one becomes disposable. That’s the nature of technological evolution, and modern consumerism.

There will always be enthusiasts, but those will become fewer over the decades. It’s not going backwards.
 

DougM

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This is all BS clickbait. The article title is supposedly a quote from her saying that digital will be obsolete in 10-20 years because no one will be able to repair it. What she really means is that she only knows tube technology and she won't be able to repair it. Then she supposedly says that no schools teach analog electronics anymore, and it may be true that fewer schools teach analog tube technology anymore, but I gaurantee you that anyone getting an EE degree learns all about analog audio technology, perhaps skewed more towards SS than tube, but still analog. In the actual article she only talks about her history of playing music and gravitating towards tech, and she says not one word about digital vs. analog. There are dozens of companies making high end tube stereo gear (and guitar amps), so those designers are learning this technology somewhere, and it ain't in someone's garage, because the tech used in tube audio gear is FAR more complex than is used in guitar amps. And even most of those designing tube guitar amps don't learn about PCB fabrication and other tech used in most modern tube amps anywhere other than in Universities.
And, for all those talking about the evils of digital, I guess you don't see the irony of this, posting these comments from your smartphone or laptop to this forum's digital server via all digital transmission technology
I have nothing against Colleen. I like her and respect and admire her a lot, and I don't even know if the quotes that are attributed to her are actually her words, since she says none of that in the actual interview.
Finally, the author of the article is Dave Hunter, owner of his own amp repair service, so he's hardly an impartial observer, and has his own agenda to further the use of tube amps for his own financial benefit
 
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Cyberi4n

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I really do believe the world of guitar players is going to look very different in 10-20 years. It already is.

Some of the generation that reveres tube amps so much is going to pass away in that span of years.

Look at the generation of players today. How many in modern music are perfectly happy with software sims or Axe FX, Helix, or whatever. Even a lot of the guys who swore by tube amps are going digital.

That’s only going to tip more in the favor of digital, and tube amps will become more niche as the years move forward, I’d be willing to bet.

And I agree that her premise is flawed, and living in an analog dream world. Yes, digital becomes obsolete, every 5 years or so nowadays. You know what happens? They replace it with something more powerful and more advanced and the old one becomes disposable. That’s the nature of technological evolution, and modern consumerism.

There will always be enthusiasts, but those will become fewer over the decades. It’s not going backwards.

there’s room for both isn’t there? Newer players come onstream that adore tube just as much as the current digital junkies enjoy theirs…
 

naveed211

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there’s room for both isn’t there? Newer players come onstream that adore tube just as much as the current digital junkies enjoy theirs…

I hope you’re right. Let’s touch base again in ten years.
 




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