The Null Device

I have been playing with a Yamaha SU700 phrase sampler recently. (For those not in the know, that's a blue box with a number of pads and knobs which can play back sounds and loops.) One thing which I've noticed about the device is the minor things that were left out. A glaring example is its MIDI implementation; the device can be controlled from an external keyboard, but ignores note numbers, making it impossible to control a sample's pitch with the keyboard. It would not have been at all hard to make it play a sample at a different pitch depending on which note was played, and it would have made the unit a lot more useful. The SU700 does not support MIDI sample dump either. As for SCSI, the implementation is somewhat brain-damaged; apart from being very slow (apparently the device's CPU does all the work), it only supports one SCSI device at a time, doesn't support all standard devices (ZIP drives work; ORB drives don't), and you cannot connect it to a computer via SCSI. Also, SCSI disks are written in a proprietary format, which means you can't use them to transfer files to/from your computer. In fact, the only way to transfer samples (without resampling, that is) is to shlep them across on MSDOS-formatted floppy disks, which of course doesn't work for anything over 1.4Mb.

I got the impression that some overworked engineers at Yamaha designed everything from scratch, cutting corners to make the deadline. Why couldn't they just base the device's OS on Linux or QNX or something with working SCSI and file systems which other machines can actually read?

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Posted by: barry watts http:// Tue Apr 29 09:41:45 2003

Using a SCSI zip drive - you can save the sample as Aif. files and then import them from the SCSI zip drive - still slow but it is quicker than floppies and allows larger files.

There are heaps of other design problems with the unit - you cannot transfer or copy songs from one volume to another. And the unit needs to be start stopped to move to another song - making the unit a nightmare to use live - but it has it's advantages which more than overcome it faults - I swear by the SU-700