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Virtually Wrong

Posted on : 01-01-1995 | By : admin | In : Seer History

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Although the word was in the air, ICS/Turtle Beach I believe did a great disservice to the population through the unnecessary use of mysterious jargon. Marketeers are allowed that, but in this case the choice was technically wrong and set in motion a persistent misunderstanding.

They chose VS to mean Virtual Synthesizer (not Vector Synthesis); an appellation which has now achieved the status of permanent error. In common usage virtual means “sort of.” Like, virtual reality is ‘sort of’ reality. So, a virtual synthesizer is supposedly ‘sort of’ a real hardware synthesizer. This is obviously stupid, since the sounds created are synthetic either way.

In fact the correct usage of virtual in the computer context derives from “virtual machine”—meaning that the early computer had an overlay to make each user think that they were virtually using a different computer. It is a single thing appearing differently to each user. Similarly, virtual reality is not a ‘sort of’ reality, but a construct that is rich enough to allow each user a unique viewpoint.

So, a virtual synthesizer is one synthesizer that appears to be many; and that is exactly the description of the contemporary multi-timbral MIDI instrument which is in fact one synthesizer with the now developed MIDI logic to appear as up to 16 channels minimum.

‘Virtual’ should never have been adopted to indicate that a software synthesizer was a lesser being than a hardware one. That was proven over and over again as each release of Satie and Reality thoroughly embarrassed competing hardware.

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