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Gibson to Embed Guitars with Ethernet 474

caseyuw writes "Gibson is planning to roll out their Magic this year with the delivery of guitars using Cat 5 instead of analog cables to connect instruments and amplifiers. The debate over the quality of digital vs analog signal processing is not new, but using a 'Magic' Les Paul would force you entirely into the digital domain." We mentioned this last year, but the above article has much more information.
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Gibson to Embed Guitars with Ethernet

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  • Uhhhh (Score:5, Funny)

    by l810c ( 551591 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:34AM (#5165848)
    Let's DOS the basist.
  • Wireless? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dpete4552 ( 310481 ) <slashdot@tuxcont ... minus physicist> on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:34AM (#5165849) Homepage
    Would it then be possible to send the info wirelessly (sp?) to the amp? Seems kind of cool.
    • You may run outta bandwidth at the current wireless speeds. The article talks about getting to Gigabit by March.
      • Re:Wireless? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Chainsaw ( 2302 ) <> on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:57AM (#5165941) Homepage
        Let's see... If we transfer standard CD quality, you would get (16*44100)/1024 == 689 kbit data per second. Stepping up to 24*96000, 2250 kbit is used. The maximum limit for 802.11g is about 5400 kbit.

        As a guitarist, that seems good enough.
        • Re:Wireless? (Score:5, Informative)

          by chrome ( 3506 ) <> on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:02AM (#5165962) Homepage Journal
          The latency is too high. I usually get around 11ms to my wireless 11mbit network at home. Had the same on my apple airport (actually, a bit slower, 15ms).

          Might be that 54mbit wireless has good latency though.

          One thing that annows me about the main post is the statement that Magic will 'force' people into digital. This is nonsense of course.

          From the article: Those initial Magic guitars will also have traditional analog pickups. "It will essentially be two guitars in one: You don't have to go digital if you don't want to," said Arora.
          • Re:Wireless? (Score:3, Interesting)

            For music applications 3-5 ms latency is considered "acceptable" but even that can sound kind of crummy in some situations.
            • Re:Wireless? (Score:3, Informative)

              by tcr ( 39109 )
              Uh, 3-5ms latency is generally considered to be "not noticable"... :-)

              That's what you might get with modern cards and, say, ASIO drivers/Cubase VST.
          • Re:Wireless? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by avandesande ( 143899 )
            I read an interview with Billy Cox (Hendrix's Bassist) where he made a 100' cable so that Jimi could play in the crowd. He couldn't use it because there was a 1ms delay in the signal. Networking is much slower than that!
            • Re:Wireless? (Score:5, Informative)

              by dkessner ( 69018 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @12:13PM (#5167677) Homepage
              1ms delay in a 100 ft cable? Not likely. Signals travel in a cable at about 1/2 the speed of light or about 6 inches per nanosecond. So a 100 ft cable will have a propagation delay of about 200 nanoseconds. That's a far cry from 1 ms (a.k.a. 1,000,000 nanoseconds).

              On the other hand, sound travels through air at about 1 foot per millisecond (roughly). So that 100 ft cable would put Jimi 100 ms away from the monitor speakers. At 4/4 time and 120 beats per minute that is almost a quarternote of latency. Clearly no riff-master would ever want to be off by that much.

              Likewise, you can think of latency as "adding distance between you and the speaker". For example, 1 ms of added latency is like adding another foot between you and the speaker. For most applications 5 ms isn't going to be noticeable, but the signal chain for a concert or studio can be long. And all those 5 ms delays really add up.

              Gibson Magic is really just a CobraNet wannabe ( CobraNet has been around longer, is more of an established standard, and has more sophisticated network management and routing than Magic. In contrast to CobraNet, Magic is a latecommer that was developed by people who should stick with guitars rather than 100Base-T. More to the point, CobraNet is supported by more than 30 different companies while Magic has maybe one supporter if you don't count Gibson itself.

              And isn't this just a repeat post? It seems that Gibson Magic pops up here every so often but that they don't have any real new news...

        • Re:Wireless? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:56AM (#5166137)
          Read the article - they're talking about 32 channels, 32-bit each at up to 192 kHz sample rate, synchronous operation (not using the term, but it comes down to it) and 250 usec latency.

          You'll never get that across today's wireless LAN technology.
    • by 10e 999 ( 128948 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:43AM (#5165892)
      The info can already be sent wirelessly through the amp via VHF and UHF.

      Ever heard of a wireless microphone? Same concept, except connected to the pickups on the guitar.
      • From the article:

        "New team member Alexei Beliaev will help rev the spec to version 3.0 by March, adding support for video and 1-Gbit/second speeds, up from 10/100-Mbit Ethernet today. Magic uses the Ethernet physical layer and Category 5 cables to provide thirty-two 32-bit bidirectional audio channels with sample rates up to 192 kHz, jitter less than 80 picoseconds and latency as low as 250 microseconds across 100-meter point-to-point links. The protocol uses a UDP-like packet held to a fixed packet length and transmission rate. Magic conforms to the 802.3af spec for providing power over Ethernet."

        In terms of connection vs. usage, this particular concept is a bit ahead of the curve. As much as I endorse 802.11g, I don't think it will cut it for these guys. Wonder if they've tried FireWire 800?
    • by 1ridium ( 220238 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:48AM (#5165910)
      Just as long as no one in the audience is sitting there with a laptop and a Pringles can.
    • As the article states:
      Magic conforms to the 802.3af spec for providing power over Ethernet.
      Now, I admit that this doesn't mention if the 'Magic' system is providing power, or receiving power, but well, something's getting power over the cable. I don't know how you're going to pull that off with wireless.
  • by Thenomain ( 537937 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:35AM (#5165855) Homepage
    Why not use Firewire, which is more common for A/V devices?
    • by jerkychew ( 80913 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:41AM (#5165883) Homepage
      Firewire currently tops out at 800Mb/second, and is a relatively new techology. Cat5e can handle 1 GB/sec, and has been around in its current incarnation for quite a few years.

      Also, the max length of a FireWire cable is 4.5 meters [], while Ethernet can do 100 meters []before needing a repeater.

      Not sure how much bandwidth a gee-tar takes up, but I'd bet that cable length was the deciding factor in this design.

      • Wrong... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Theaetetus ( 590071 ) <> on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:09AM (#5165988) Homepage Journal
        Firewire currently tops out at 800Mb/second, and is a relatively new techology. Cat5e can handle 1 GB/sec, and has been around in its current incarnation for quite a few years.

        Also, the max length of a FireWire cable is 4.5 meters, while Ethernet can do 100 meters before needing a repeater.

        Not sure how much bandwidth a gee-tar takes up, but I'd bet that cable length was the deciding factor in this design.

        From Apple's Firewire 800 [] page:
        "FireWire 400 delivers data over cables of up to 4.5 meters in length. Using professional-grade glass optical fiber, FireWire 800 can burst data across 100 meter cables."


      • Nope.
        The parent post linked to a site that sells IEEE1394a cables.
        IEEE1394b (or Firewire 2) uses 9 pin (rather than six pin) cables (in the Apple implementation).

        1394b also defines a new high speed mode called S1600, with a data rate of 1572.9 Mbit/s. The signal can be carried by copper wire, glass fibre, or plastic fibre. The maximum cable length is now 100m, rather than 4.5m.

        This is not to say that Apple computers can transmit at S1600 over 100m distances, but this article [] indicates that 1394b does not always imply 800 Mb/s over 4.5 m of copper.
  • CAT5? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by forgoil ( 104808 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:38AM (#5165867) Homepage
    If we are going digital, wouldn't it make far more sense with built in wireless lan instead? The argument for those pesky cables has been the analog sound, I'd think most people would be hardpressed to find problems with wireless vs Cat5 these days.

    Well, there will surely be those who claim that since it IS a cable, it must be better. But with the same information being carried over, I hardly think that they can make much of a case, other than being pesky.
    • Re:CAT5? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by seanw ( 45548 )
      I don't have a definitive answer, but I would guess that latency would be a problem. in a live or recording situation, you really can't have your guitar solo lagging behind the rhythm section. latency has to be very small, whereas wifi introdcues larger and more unpredictable degrees of delay.
      • Re:CAT5? (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        in a live or recording situation, you really can't have your guitar solo lagging behind the rhythm section
        End quote

        You obviously haven't been in a rhythm section before. I think going wifi would finally bring the guitarists back to playing on the beat.
    • Re:CAT5? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by grahams ( 5366 )
      Think Spinal Tap []... Remember the scene at the military base? Obviously radio interference would manifest itself differently with MAGIC, but it is still a concern, and one that roadies and performers probably don't want to have to worry about.. On top of that, MAGIC supports up to Gigabit Ethernet, bandwidth that current wireless networking can't really approach..
    • Re:CAT5? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lennart78 ( 515598 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:51AM (#5165920)
      First of all: Wireless isn't getting nowhere near the transmission speeds you achieve with a cable.
      If you want fast and realtime communication, you also get 2 extra conversion steps while using wireless transmission. Extra conversion is extra delay.

      And reliability is a factor too. Wireless transceivers for analog audio signals have a bad reputation for reliability and audio qualitiy, and you should avoid them until you have the means to invest the monetary value of, say a medium sized car, into it.

      No guitarist is going to ever touch that equipment if it fails him/her onstage, ever...
      • 'ever' and 'not touch' are pretty strong statements...they get in the way of your weak point.

        Also, you're saying your cable TV can do things your (wireless) satellite media connection can't? Bluetooth, maybe...but since 'wireless' is a big topic, with lots of methods, you just might be wrong.

        I seriously doubt anyone would ever want to defend such a clearly outragous claim :)
      • Re:CAT5? (Score:3, Insightful)

        No guitarist is going to ever touch that equipment if it fails him/her onstage, ever...

        I guess that's why the vacuum tubes are so popular, right?

    • Re:CAT5? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DarkMan ( 32280 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @07:17AM (#5166438) Journal
      From the article:
      Magic conforms to the 802.3af spec for providing power over Ethernet.

      Utilitiding power-over-ethernet means that you no longer have to worry about dub batteries. That's a huge saving, and the reason that phantom power (essentially a power-over-mic-cable technology) exists in all mixing desks.

      With wireless, you have to worry about power too. For a large stage show, you assign a tech to deal with that, and kick his ass if you run out of juice.

      For people who arn't the Rolling Stones, U2 etc, power and signal in one cable is a good thing.

      Additionally, cable gives a dependable signal. Note that this is not TCP/IP over ethernet, but a completly different protocol. What happens when you lose bandwith in your wireless connect? You'd get a click in the sound. That's speaker-wreckingly-ears-bleedingly unacceptable. 802.11 doesn't have badnwidth guarentes, whiles cable does (de facto, if not de jure - I don't know the ethernet spec well enough).
  • OH YEAH! (Score:2, Funny)

    by The_Rippa ( 181699 )
    I can't wait until I can digitally UNLEASH THE FOCKIN' FURY!!!
  • RIAA? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Jason1729 ( 561790 )
    Does this mean if you try to play a copyrighted work, the RIAA will DOS your guitar?

    ProfQuotes []
  • by Quaoar ( 614366 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:42AM (#5165884)
    ...I'll be hit with a ad every time I strum G#?
    • by littleRedFriend ( 456491 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:59AM (#5165952)
      No, but it does come with DRM. This will prevent you from playing tunes on your guitar that have been copyrighted.
      • I don't think it would work that way.

        But here's how it *could* work:
        • At the start of each gig, the guitar amp would 'activate' with a central Gibson server via GPRS, WLAN etc.
        • Once cleared by the server, the guitar would then be able to play wirelessly.
        • During each gig, the guitarist's playing would be written to disk as a compressed MIDI file.
        • During the next 'activation' with the Gibson server, the midi file of the last gig gets uploaded.
        • The Gibson server analyses the musical components of the MIDI file, and determine which of the licks, riffs, rhythms, fingerings, chops, changes, scales, arpeggios and general melodic sequences are already on the 'copyrighted guitar techniques' database, as well as general songs databases.
        • For all playing elements that encroach on copyright, the Gibson server would calculate a royalty bill, which would be totalled up and emailed out to the musician. For example, the chord sequence Am/D7/Edom9 would cost 0.1 cent each time it's played.
        • Failure to pay the royalty bill at the end of each month would result in the guitar refusing to 'activate' at the start of the next gig. Either that, or physically incapable of all chords except those for 'Achy Breaky Heart'

  • by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:42AM (#5165885) Journal
    At least now "Let's hack the Gibson" will be a legit h4x0r saying...
  • by Soporific ( 595477 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:43AM (#5165890)
    The ability to buy cheap CAT-5 versus hugely overpriced 1/4 cable is just one reason. Being able to control amps and effects, let alone anything else you would be able to connect to a network together is just a bonus.

    Of course you will see all the "purists" noting that it doesn't have any tubes in it, therefore it must be useless. However I would love to be one of the first people to play one.

  • by Aldurn ( 187315 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:45AM (#5165901)
    My fist thought was:

    I didn't know Steve Gibson [] played guitar!
  • Not the problem (Score:3, Informative)

    by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:48AM (#5165913) Journal
    You can have it going over ethernet if you want to, but the probelm is the noise introduced by the pickup of choice, not the 1/4 inch cable.
  • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @03:50AM (#5165916) Homepage Journal
    They also go into why they chose cat5. It has something to do with packet and jitter control.

    Apparently it's compatible with all existing ethernet devices. So in theory you could connect any kind of tranciever you wish. Want Fiber? Just get a tranciever, want wireless? Just buy a tranciever. Want to route it across the internet through a tunnel.. Holy sheep shit batman!

    I know a lot of bands, the worst problem they have is finding a studio to practice in. You could set up a "virtual studio" just by tunneling and building VPN's between their houses.

    Things like latency could be transformed into delay effects..

    Anyways, sounds really cool. I'm gonna post the story on my site and try and get an interview.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:15AM (#5166014)
      This idea is just plain silly. First, consider who is creating this standard? Who is promoting this standard? Is this in any way necessary? Are there any benefits that can't be realized with current technology?

      It is my belief that simply adding "digital" to the standard guitar design does little more than claiming my shiny red bicycle runs on java. In fact there may be more immediate negative consequences than positive ones.

      The guitar pickups, as far as I can tell, will still be analog. Thus, every guitar must have an A/D converter in the body. Having digital output will limit you to digital signal processors, unless you first convert back from D/A. You will find countless arguments supporting analog sound quality, I won't even attempt to address that issue. However, what quality do you think the onboard converter in the guitar will be? I doubt (considering size, power, and cost constraints). that it will even begin to approach that of a hide end DSP effects box. Unless of course these are meant prohibitively expensive play toy gadgets. Not to mention these prohibitively expensive gadets will only work with other prohibitively expensive gadgets that are compatible with the same format. Using a guitar to control other devices is not a novel idea, there are plenty of midi conversion kits. With a little technical know how, you could replace the knobs already on your guitar with others to send midi signals (providing you have the appropriate card and install a midi output). The author of the article took a naive view of midi, making it sound like a total failure. Although it might not be the most beautiful solution for communication between instruments, it is successful. You'll be hard pressed to find any quality synthesizers or processing gear that don't utilize the MIDI standard. You'll be hard pressed to find any entry level synthesizers or processors that don't use the standard. A qoute also appears in the article that all instruments and related equipment will be digital in ten years. You'd expect synthesizers to be the first to bring about this revolution, considering the construction. I suppose that is why MOOG is still such a powerful name! The article seems little more than an ill informed response to the intersection of two fields that the author fails to comprehend as a whole.
      • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @06:14AM (#5166289) Homepage Journal
        This idea is just plain silly. First, consider who is creating this standard? Who is promoting this standard? Is this in any way necessary? Are there any benefits that can't be realized with current technology?

        Read the specs, it's all open. Biggest advantage will be user created software synths, better compression/normalization, it's adaptation of highly availiable technology and it's open sourceness (which I know the mods will love me for mentioning)

        The one major weakness with midi is it's ring topology. This is just straight up ethernet, any topology that ethernet supports this new standard will.

        Here's a quote from the PDF specification.

        Physical Layer
        : consists of the mechanical and electrical specifications required
        to form the physical network. This layer is compatible with the IEEE 802.3
        Ethernet physical layer.
        Data Link Layer
        : as defined by the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet protocol. It views bits
        transported by the Physical Layer as defined sequences called frames that can be
        transported across any standard Ethernet-compatible network.
        MaGIC Application Layer
        : uses the frames transported by the Data Link Layer to
        encapsulate MaGIC-specific information into packets that allow MaGIC devices
        to exchange real-time bi-directional audio and control data.
        The MaGIC application layer is independent of the two layers under it thereby providing
        the ability to easily change the mode of physical transport based on available technology.

        As you can see, it uses just good old 802.3 Here is a list of what Mechanical interfaces it works on.

        2.4 Mechanical Interface
        The MaGIC protocol is suitable for a variety of physical interfaces. Examples include:
        the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet physical layer, the high-speed multi-link Optical Interface,
        wireless interfaces, the Ethernet Gigabit-based physical layer, etc.
        This specification only describes the MaGIC Link based on the IEEE 802.3 100-Megabit
        Ethernet physical layer, which uses standard Category 5 (Cat 5) cables, and RJ-45

        I could go on and on about why it's so much better than midi. Check out the pdf, it's got more info than the videos.
    • Sorry, you won't be sending the audio over the internet with much reliability. Packet jitter is totally important with this system. The packet's timing on the receive end is used to set the exact proper sample rate for the output D/A via a Voltage Controlled Crystal Oscillator (VCXO). Just setting both ends to the same sample rate with a plain crystal oscillator is not good enough, both ends will never be the same exact frequency. Both ends must be locked, otherwise you will end up with slippage on one end.

  • by jarkko ( 40871 )
    If I'm going to start replacing the cable during a hot solo (screaming chicks, crowd going wild) and the stupid plastic clip on the RJ-45 breaks off.

    OTOH, the only time I've ever seen screaming chicks is when they run away.
  • Does anyone still actually argue that analog is superior to digital?

    I mean, the only thing analog has going for it is "warmth". Of course this "warmth" is a result of the limited frequency and dynamic range of analog and can be easily duplicated.

    Tell you what. Have an expert put on headphones and listen to an analog recording, then have them listen to a 32 bit 96khz digital copy of the analog recording. Do you think they are going to be able to tell which is the original? No, of course they won't because the digital copy is IDENTICAL in frequency and dynamic range to the analog signal.
    The only difference is that the analog recording is using the full dynamic and frequency range of the medium to reproduce the recording and the digital recording of the analog recording is using a mere fraction of it's potential dynamic and frequency range.

    So if one is a superset of the other why even use the other!?

    • 32/96? 24/96 i believe.

      also if the converts were of nice quality. but the wont.. because.. theyre expensive.

      the cheap converts are pretty shitty.

    • Does anyone still actually argue that analog is superior to digital?

      Yup. Ever heard digital distortion? It's downright disgusting and would only be considered useful by certain Industrial-Noise outfits. My valve bass amp (Ampeg SVT) compresses as it reaches distortion, creating a fantastic sound.

      On the synth front, my Korg Mono/Poly sounds far superior to the MS2000 digital synth that sits above it. Fuller bass sounds, more cutting leads and pad sounds that exude far more character and are so fat they need compression to fit in the mix.

      On the drum machine front, it's more a matter of taste, but for me a Korg KPR-77 with everything but the kick run through a Roland RE501 tape echo sounds great.


  • the first web server appears on one of these things?

    And the first copy of Doom that is controlled by the guitar?
  • to the song "Communication Breakdown"
  • by Hasie ( 316698 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:06AM (#5165977)
    Remember that many of the arguments against this technology are the same as the orginal arguments against electric guitars (pioneered by Les Paul if memory serves), electronic keyboards, and most other tech-based revolutions in the music industry. Yes, guitarists are traditionally very conservative, but they adopted the electric guitar, so why not the electronic guitar?
  • There is no way that RJ45 connectors would be able to endure any kind of live stage abuse. At least mLAN uses Firewire cables which are possibly a little more durable. Why don't they update the MIDI protocol to include all these extra things. In a MIDI lead two of the five pins don't do anything anyway. Everyone's gear already has MIDI connections, so I reckon it would take a while for the new protocol to take off.

    All in all though, new technology such as this will create some totally wild new music and some awesome new stage shows. I am excited! (Big Kev excited!)

    Some related technologies:

    Yamaha mLAN []

    CobraNet []

    Steinberg System Link []

  • "They are more focused in finding ways to recreate the sounds Led Zeppelin or B.B. King laid down in the '60s or '70s," said Thompson

    And there's my big problem with digital amps. Jimmy Paige didn't need them, nor did B.B. or Eric Clapton. Why do you need a computer's help getting killer tone? Hint: It's because you don't know how to do it the 'real' way. It's expensive to get real good, real loud tone no matter what instrument you play, and this digital crap is just a shortcut -- a pretty lousy sounding facsimile of a shortcut for the most part.

    In other words, this is for the script kiddies of the music world.

    Besides, my cat5's connector inevitably snaps off after a decent amount of use. Could you imagine the number of connectors a gigging band would go through, plugging and unplugging those a hundred times a day? As said before, it's a solution looking for a problem. Unless Gibson has something else up their sleeves we don't know about... Hmm...
  • by tgrotvedt ( 542393 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:08AM (#5165985) Journal
    This could be really, really good for young bands and such who are making demos so they can get signed to *gasp*, a major label, or even indie recording. Most people assume that it would be very easy to record guitar and get a good sound. Well when I set about recording a demo for my band, I found out just how wrong I was.

    'Till now, if you wanted to record on a PC (and some of this also applies to 8-tracks and tape systems), you'd either need a really good stack, a proffesional pre-amp, or one of those new-fangled V-Amps. But none of those come dirt cheap, so lots of people have to download software amp sims from Kazaa, and stick with that. Not great.

    In a few years, if this tech makes it into low-end guitars, beautiful, full, well equalised tones for everybody! And I also imagine that when this becomes common place, it will bring the quality of cheap & expensive axes much closer together.

    Nowadays, alot of rich kids, or kids with parents or brothers or whatever in the industry make it because they are the only ones that get to prove themselves. Even without being conscious of it, the A&R rep at the studio will prefer a real nice sounding, well produced demo than something cheap, because it makes the songs sound better, and in music, what else is there? In the long run, this technology could be really beneficial. But for now all the struggling artists will have to keep hearing audiophile elitists crapping on about how anything mastered at anything less than perfect 96khz audio hurts their ears.

    • 'Till now, if you wanted to record on a PC (and some of this also applies to 8-tracks and tape systems), you'd either need a really good stack, a proffesional pre-amp, or one of those new-fangled V-Amps. But none of those come dirt cheap, so lots of people have to download software amp sims from Kazaa, and stick with that. Not great.

      I have a little experience in home recording, and I have to disagree.
      Since it's little use to plug a guitar straight into a soundcard, you'll need some pre-amping. I use a zoom gfx-8 to get the right signal strength. This baby cost me the equivalent of $500. It can do some compression (which it shouldn't) and a hell of a distortion (even though it's digital, it beats a lot of analog equipment I've used, including my current choice of amplifier),and some other fx, if you'd like to. (Every el-cheapo amp with a line-out will also do fine, in my esteem.)
      When you've pushed you signal through this thing, any decent sequencer software can finish the job, provided it is equipped with a compressor and a parametric equalizer. These are available for under $200. You can use the fx-processor for bass too, but I personally perfer the line-out of my old 25-watt bass amp, because it's got all it's need, and anything I need to alter, I can do with some EQ.

      The moral of this story:
      Gibson MAGIC will NOT make home recording cheap, because these babies will be /very/ expensive to start out with, besides, you will not find any Gibson guitar for under $1000, and you will need an evenly expensive amp to boot...
  • by SensitiveMale ( 155605 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:08AM (#5165986)
    Give me a Cisco Stack!!!!
  • During some guitar contest, the losing geek can launch a DoS attack against the leader
  • by mirko ( 198274 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:12AM (#5166000) Journal
    Line6 offer a better choice for most guitarist with their GuitarPort [] : it allows one to use its existing guitar with computer which'll model the required amp/cabs sounds...

    Now, the laziest could also check out Steinberg's Virtual Guitarist []...
  • by SensitiveMale ( 155605 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:14AM (#5166006)
    to the guitar.

    It would be just like adding a sequencer to a drumkit.

    The guitarist can play lead and rythm parts on the same guitar.

    No more problems when lip synching or playing the music off a tape. Simply save the packets on the guitar and send out. How would the audience or the anyone know?

    You could actually buy a guitar that played EVERY Stones or Rush song perfectly.

    Cover bands everywhere are celebrating.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does this mean Microsoft will require a EULA for all music played in the key of C# ?


    Thanks I'll be here all week!
  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:16AM (#5166019) Homepage Journal
    I mean, Ethernet isn't really designed for real-time connections. I realize that it can work when you get to the really high speeds, but wouldn't that be expensive.

    I guess what I'm wondering is, why did they chose Ethernet rather then Fire wire, or even S/PDIF? Do you need to use special switching hardware that insures real-time communication? What about packet loss?

    Personally, I'd like it if everything used Ethernet, it really does seem to be the most convenient form of networking out there. Hopefully all the work put in by Gibson will be adopted and we'll be able to plug our stereo, TV, VCR and everything directly into our home gigabit LAN. It would make things a lot easier, that's for sure.
  • I know that you make fun of him, and all, but this is just an awesome display of technological diversity!!!

    I mean, you can go to his website and get your probes ported, and get your testes shielded, and get your zip drive fixed, and get a screensaver, and get some really 31337 advice on stuff, and even get a tool that tells you your IP address. And it's all in "hand-crafted assembly code!!!"

    And now he does stuff with guitars!!! And it's Ace Frehley's brand of guitar. Wow!!! ...oh...not that Gibson? So I shouldn't have used all the !!!'s?
  • nuts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by io333 ( 574963 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:20AM (#5166035)
    This is a solution in search of a problem.

    I've been a musician all my life and I'll tell you right now what seperates the really good players from everyone else is PRACTICE, not gadgets.

    I think probably the marketing division staged a successful coup over at Gibson.

    The gadget freaks are gonna love this though, so I can't blame Gibson for trying a new way to bring in some cash.

    Someone posting something about the "purists... blah blah blah blah"

    Excuse me? Purists my *ss.

    There's a real reason that the best guitarists lust and drool over 90 year old technology: It is because it is impossible for solid state electronics, no matter how tweaked, sampled and modified, to duplicate the odd harmonics the come by nature out of the plasma in a hot vacuum tube.

    Musicians care about *sound* and nothing else. If the best sound came out of a old transistor radio running FreeBSD modified with DDR ram and put in a hollowed out cardboard box, they would use that.

    I'm a violinist. Once upon a time I thought that all the hoopla surrounding Strat instruments was just complete BS and that with the right combo of tech, lutherian technique and materials, that the sound could be reproduced. And then I heard one in person.

    Perhaps another problem is that lots of *engineers* work for the instrument manufacturers, and they stare at an oscilloscope hooked up to a tube and think "it can't be so hard to reproduce that" as well as "I need to do something new around here to keep my job!"

    Now I have heard some solid state amps that sound pretty good. But they still don't come close to tubes, even after all these years (40+?) of trying.

    And if you personally cannot hear the difference, might I suggest you work on training your ear a bit better? The difference is glaring to folks with well trained musical ears.
    • On a slightly pedantic note (?): it's the even harmonics (2f, 4f...) that are most prized in vintage tube guitar sounds. Odd harmonics (3f, 5f...) are easily found whereever there is clipping. This is the difference between Jimmy Page and Robert Fripp - Crunch vs Fuzz, Even vs Odd harmonics. Personally, I don't want to sound like any well-known guitarist, so these "amp emulation" systems have little interest to me.
    • It is because it is impossible for solid state electronics, no matter how tweaked, sampled and modified, to duplicate the odd harmonics the come by nature out of the plasma in a hot vacuum tube.

      The 'natural' sound of the electric guitar was a quirk of the technology that was around at the time. And a lot of people hated it, compared to the 'natural' sound of acoustic instruments, most of which had only been around in their current compromised scale form for a few hundred years. When the compromised scale was introduced, in order to make transposition and keyboard instruments possible, I'm sure the purists said that the compromise was just that, and that nothing that would ever replace a flute that only plays in E flat.

      If Gibson had gone digital from day one, people would be posting about how now analogue system, however tweaked, can never reproduce the clean precision of digital. Or something. And in 30 years' time, when someone comes up with another way of doing music, all the digital 'purists' will bang on about how nothing can approach the 'natural' beauty of a DX-7...

      You ear get used to whatever sounds you feed it within reason. If you don't believe me, try listening to some Indian music, for example. To a Western ear, it is all out of tune, before we get on to the melodic component, but half a billion Indians would disagree...

    • Re:nuts (Score:3, Insightful)

      by torpor ( 458 )
      I, likewise, have been a musician for a long time, and currently working in this sort of industry at Access.

      Personally, I totally agree with you on the performance vs. gimmick issue. I think there's no fact more telling than the mere musician statistic: there are a lot of people making music.

      It's better, live. If Gibson can give a better experience - functionally, what's different about protocol types to a guitarist if he's *still* plugging a cable in, either way?

      I haven't heard a better 'sound' over Gibsons magic. I only see easier recording potential, and thus: easier editing.

      From my current standpoint, editing is crap. Protools gave us Britney Spears.

      It's time for performance to reign supreme again. Does CAT5 give that, somehow?
    • by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @06:51AM (#5166370) Journal
      first of all, IANA (I am not ancient) so my knowledge on this might be rusty. correct me if anybody knows better.

      Now, here are some reasons why tubes might sound better:

      first of all let's start with some tube basics: you heat a plate (cathod) and electrons jump off it. the electrons pass through a grid, and gets obsorbed at another plate (anode). You can vary the voltage on the grid and control how much eletrons pass - hence the amplifying.

      The difference between a tube amp and a FET amp is that tube amps have some insane amount of dynamic range that is very nice and linear. somethinge like 40V (or more, depending on the tube). It goes by the name "high voltage, low current."

      Now, for the same power, FETS can't touch this range because most fets don't operate at that high voltage level - and if you push it then it will saturate / turn off and you won't be linear anymore.

      So for the same power, FETS would go toward "low voltage, high current." This is cool and all, and theoretically if you stay within the linear region you are all good, right? wrong. All the EE books teaches you one thing that you never do in the real life - that is to assome a nice ground.

      ground is never nice - especially when there is a lot of current, ground tend to float here and there - which would give you crap and distortions that we all know and love. Of course, throughout the years engineers (hey we don't have a life, after all) figured some ways around it - but AFAIK all of these are either 1) very expensive, and 2) not completely effective (usually it's both). (btw, one of these is to make as much of the system digital as possible.)

      So... In the end, tube amps still reign. I heard that RCA made the best tubes, no confirmation on this, though.

      Just for the few who thought "well when we get lots of superconductors then finally FET amps will be better!" That's not correct either. Unfortunately superconductors we know of are only good for no resistance at DC, and the ground does not play nice because of AC concerns.

      So, there you have it. For the record I don't know any engineers who thought "oh yeah I can duplicate a tube response through other means," but they might have told their bosses shit like "I can make it damn close and you can't tell the difference" (which is usually a lie) so to keep their jobs.

      And Tubes are considered solid-state. A tad fragile (there are stainless steel ones for the military, if anyone is interested), but still solid state last I checked...
  • "Generally speaking the music industry is very digital-averse," acknowledged Gibson Labs general manager Shri Arora, who helped design the core Magic technology. "But as the technology gets better, the cost-effectiveness is becoming a compelling force. In five to 10 years this [electric instruments and related equipment] will all be digital anyway."

    Umm . . . yeah. So where do I get digital vacuum tubes?

    You can argue, if you want, about whether analog actually does sound better than digital -- all of us purists will still be dragging around our out-dated, cost-ineffective, heavier-than-sh!t gear anyways until we're convinced it's been improved upon.

    And as long as I can still fret a note, I'll be gutting cats myself for fiddle strings . . . .

  • by ebusinessmedia1 ( 561777 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:28AM (#5166066)
    First, I wish them well, but the current Gibson management has a history of failed and ill-supported attempts to make new technology work in the music industry.

    Also, Gibson's shotgun-like litigious actions within the music industry within the past decade have caused the music industry to put little faith in its supporting a technology standard of *any* kind. The past actions of its current management will make music instrument manufacturers think twice (or more)before they adopt or even license Gibson technology.

    Some history:

    1) Gibson completely blew their opportunity as once-owners of the Oberheim name (which they inherited as part of a purchase). Poorly-defined and ill-marketed products killed the Oberheim brand; meddling by ownership didn't help...(recently the Oberheim name returned to its rightful owner, Tom Oberheim, who is nicely rebuilding the brand).

    2) Gibson bought Zeta Violin (a very innovative manufacturer of electronic violins and basses), and with it the services of the gifted engineer who who started Zeta. They had this engineer cobble together a MIDI substitute called ZIPPY. This at a time when MIDI was just getting a head of steam up. Gibson's ownership wanted to replace MIDI and collect license fees. Forget about helping to nurse a just-getting-off-the-ground standard, or MIDI). Talk about bad timing. ZIPPY died, and the engineer had a hand in regaining Zeta (a fine company these days).

    3) Next was Gibson's infamous purchase of Opcode Systems, a few years back. Opcode was a primary manufacturer of music software and hardware at the time - one of the best. They created the OMS standard, which the Mac music community was widely dependent on. They promised Opcode's then-owner an opportunity to start a little R&D Group and come up with a few new things. The whole thing died in an acrimonious lawsuit, and in the offing, Gibson destroyed Opcode, and OMS. What a waste.

    4) Unrelated to technology (at least computer technology) is Gibson's recent purchase of the once-renowned Baldwin Piano Company. Gibson has chosen to take even this famous music industry name, and make it a laughingstock. At this year's NAMM (National Association of Music Manufacturers) show they presented Baldwin pianos in gaudy, bright colors with graffiti-like drawings on them (for instance, one bright yellow grand had a desert scene painted on it with a Hummer riding across the desert floor in the the background - unbelievable!). I can see doing this to one piano, but the whole damn line? The instruments are laughable, and a blight on the once-reknowned Baldwin name.

    5)Gibson is run like a personal playpen and funhouse by current management, who is out of touch with market reality (and a few others); however, Gibson has good, dedicated people. For their sake I hope this technology cathes on.

    6)Other companies will be coming forward with technologies like this, and others. Let's wait and see if Gibson maintains its consistency in things having to do with technology, and screws this one up.

    Certainly, if this technology did catch on, *any* music instrument manufacturer licensing it would have to be *very* wary of Gibson's current management's penchant to sue fast and hard for any real or even (and especially) perceived violation of licensing or other agreements. This company is vulture-like when it comes to the law. Gibson is a great example of a company who is purchased by a management with a few crazy ideas and a lot of money. They come in, buy a well-established company with good products and dedicated peopl,e and make it a personal plaything. Gibson, and the music industry deserve better.
    • Gibson is run by a pointy-haired technohick CEO named Henry Juszkiewicz. If you read anything about him, read about the Oberheim debacle [] to get a glimpse on his poor management style and scavenger tactics of extorting IP from technology companies. Every man that has ever entered into a technology partnership with Juszkeiwicz have all been sued by him. Even law firms under retainer for Gibson have been sued by Juszkeiwicz. He openly refuses to pay engineers and programmers more than $25/hour and refuses to offer bonuses/raises yet he brags about retaining the top law firms in town. More info on Gibson here. []

      Almost everyone in the music industry is well aware of Henry Juszkiewicz's history and do not put any faith in his gee-whiz high tech products. He is quickly becoming the laughingstock of the music business.

  • point-to-point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:37AM (#5166084) Homepage
    A lot of people were complaining about latency in wireless network connections. Does anyone make a short-range, low-latency, Ethernet bridge? Something made for point-to-point communications will be a lot better for musical applications than trying to hook the guitar into 802.11b or Bluetooth.

    Especially knowing how the music industry drives technology, I suspect we'll be seeing these sorts of links in the near future.

    Hmm. Infrared LEDs on the guitar strap?
  • by XJoshX ( 103447 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:37AM (#5166085) Journal
    Although I really hope this does well, I know there will be a large percentage of "diehards" who will never accept any sort of progress in guitar technology. Look through review sites like harmony-central and you will see many people who are very similar to extreme audiophiles in their oddities. They think that anything digital will sound like shit and they'll never change their mind.

    As far me, I'm really interested to see how this goes. With all the noise introduced in analog effects pedals the business has been needing something like this just to get a clear signal.
    • Well count me in as an electric guitar luddite. I thought it was ironic that the article mentioned the '57 Les Paul, because I used to own one. Back in the 70s, I saw the lead guitarist from Uriah Heep strumming a '56 Les Paul Jr.. with a handfull of tire chains. Try that with your expensive computerized guitar!
      Anyway, part of the point of electric guitars are that they are noisy, and that's part of the whole sound. I heard one eminent musicologist declare, "music is just pure tone plus noise, and each genre expresses one particular noise preference." Even a virtuoso like Segovia would sound like crap on a guitar with no noise in the signal.
    • by srichman ( 231122 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @06:01AM (#5166265)
      I am a guitarist who "hates digital," but not this kind of digital. I buy analog effects, amps, and synths because I appreciate the sound they create. I feel that the sound of a screaming analog filter or an overdriven tube amp is not something that has been reproduced accurately in the digital world. I find these analog sounds quite desirable.

      However, the "sound" that an audio cable imparts to music (in the form of hum and interference) is not something I find desirable. In this case, the digital version is superior to the analog version.

      I'm sure there are a few extreme-odd-audiophile-luddite musicians who don't want any analog to digital conversion happenning at all between their instrument and their ears. This, of course, means that they can't put their music on compact disc, which is the de facto music distribution standard (or at least was). I find this attitude wholly unreasonable and impractical. Musicians who eschew the DAT, the mp3, and the compact disc must, in my estimation, be in the minority.

      Most musicians, I think, are like me. I might prefer a quirky old tape delay or analog phaser to their digital equivalents, but, at the end of the day, I know my music gets fed into my computer at 24bit-96kHz digital. I'm an analog fan, but not a snob; I switch to digital when it's better/more practical.
  • but using a 'Magic' Les Paul would force you entirely into the digital domain

    If you read the fucking artical, you'd see that the Guitar will also have anlog pickups and outputs. It won't force you to do shit.
  • Just thinking of that great genius of our time - Willy Wonka - and thinking of musical locks. Could you use something like this to take a fingerprint of the player so that you could encrypt or sign files? It sounds like it'll have a high-quality stream so you could possibly get a better sample than you could get from a cd or recording? It'd be interesting to see a digital music file with a musical signature that only the original artist can duplicate.
  • Famous last words (Score:5, Interesting)

    by m00nun1t ( 588082 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @04:54AM (#5166128) Homepage
    Quotes from the article by "Art Thompson, a senior editor of GuitarPlayer magazine":

    ...The mainstream guitar player doesn't have the slightest interest in this...

    ...but he pointed to the unfulfilled promise of such earlier digital-music revolutions as the musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) format. Most interest in digital technology today is limited to small experiments, conducted among artists and consumers, with systems that model effects...

    Doesn't this just sound like one of those famous quotes waiting to be reused over and over again in 20 years time - like the "there is a total world market for 5 computers" and "rock and roll is a fad, Mr.Epstein".
    (Please don't reply with the Bill Gates 640K quote - he never said that)

  • by orange_ice ( 622834 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @05:14AM (#5166179)
    There's one very good reason to choose cat5 over wireless- no matter what protocol you use, your wireless guitar would be working at a radio frequency that can be duplicated, and therefor messed with. One of the easiest to mess up would be 802.11b- it runs at the same frequency as many microwaves, cordless phones and other appliances. Can you imagine being a guitarist on stage at a show at a small venue, and all of a sudden the owner of the place gets a phone call that effectively stops the show? Other protocols share frequencies with less other things, but can still be interrupted easily by anyone who really wants to sabotage a show.
  • by philkerr ( 180450 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @05:30AM (#5166207) Homepage
    Slightly off topic but relevant to the story. DMIDI is a distributed networked MIDI protocol and is an emerging IEEE standard. It's currently undergoing a revision moving it from being IP based to Ethernet based and the new applications should be releasable in a few weeks (the Linux/ALSA app was finished yesterday and is now being tested).

    The original UDP version, from a performance timing perspective, was tight and the network was transparent to musicians. The Ethernet version seems to be even tighter! []

  • by SuperGlue ( 468780 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @06:27AM (#5166308)
    With these new "MAGIC" components included, I am curious on how long it will take for the following things to happen:

    1. MS announcing an embedded version of NT for the Gibson.

    2. The developers of products such as Soundforge,Cakewalk *& Protools get preloaded in package deals.

    3. Slashdot features an article showing how easy it is to Mod the gibson with the latest Gforce card & monitor, mouse & keyboard connectors.

    4. Not satisfied with only supplying the OS for the guitar, MS purchases Gibson.

    5. All songs after this will begin with that happening and eternal windows startup wav file.

    6. Slashdot post an article featuring the first Linux build for it.

    7. A custom neck mod made with a slot for scanning your guitar tab in. (Embedded LED's light up green on frets and turn red on wrong notes)

    8. The first Worm makes its rounds looking for predefined sequences and modifies the output based on it. (Ygnwie capped at 12 notes a minute or possibly the always unheard Church guitarist will have their volume adjusted to an audible level)

    9. A small number of freshly networked guitar players attempting to break from the norms of society will stop speaking and develop a riff-only based form of communication. (Coincidentally following a profound LSD experience)

    10. Actually the previous item may have already happened.

    11. Terrorist are accused by homeland security as using embedded messages within a guitar which is reveiled when the correct 80's hair band solo is played.

    12. Humans realize their diminishing fun while playing these devices and get back to their musical roots (Fart, Burping & beating on things with sticks)

    13. Slashdot post its final article on the subject on the greatest MS Gibson guitar mod of all ...... Firewood

    Almost Sober,
  • by Koyaanisqatsi ( 581196 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @07:02AM (#5166404)
    From the article:

    The spec (...) is now available online in a version 2.8 for a 10-year royalty-free license.

    So what happens after ten years? Huge fees those manufacturers who can afford, lawsuits for everyone else? The fact that Magic is not a open standard may prevent it's wide acceptance.
  • by Scooter ( 8281 ) <owen AT annicnova DOT force9 DOT net> on Monday January 27, 2003 @08:21AM (#5166621)
    Lets get rid of the troublesome strings then, replace the operator with some software! Said operator can then concentrate fully on the strutting, and generally looking cool.

    I can only imagine your traditional rock band roady will think of this - can you imagine:-

    "Oi! Dave, make us a cuppa tea - I'm jus con-figging dur main switch"
    "yeah alf a mo John, gotta unpack da amps and those er.. 'rooter' things you was talking about"
    "Noice one, don't forget the bootp server"
    "er... John.. what's this 'effernet' anyway?"
    "not now John" (taps microphone) " Testing, I mean 'Ping'"

    "No response from bass guitar"
    "is it da cable?"
    "Nah thas normal - he's bladdered, innit".

  • by qengho ( 54305 ) on Monday January 27, 2003 @11:17AM (#5167337)

    I can just see it: a worm that turns the output of a Nine Inch Nails show into the treacly slop of Kenny G. The horror, the horror! (Although vice-versa might be interesting...)

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith