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
; 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
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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