January 2002   

Hardware, Software, Wetware

by PAUL D. LEHRMAN

As we turn over the calendar to another New Year, we in the audio industry find ourselves asking the age-old question: Will we still have a job 12 months from now?

Actually, most of us don't usually ask ourselves that question, which is what makes this year so strange. But because we are living in the greatest era of uncertainty in about six decades, no one can really forecast what's going to happen. Let's try to hang on to a positive thought: Even hunkered down in bacteria-proof underground shelters, people are going to need to be entertained, and they will be, even if it means using car batteries to run their brand-new surround DVD systems.

So this month, let's not look at the gloomy side. With the Winter NAMM show right around the corner, let's instead ask ourselves that upbeat question that will be on the lips of everyone gathering in Anaheim: Is hardware dead?

Well, maybe that's not terribly upbeat for a lot of people — like the folks who make hardware — but it certainly seems to be getting a lot of attention. There are legions of people, the majority of them under 25, who think that using hardware for synthesizing, recording, processing and mixing music is so, well, so '90s. They've never known a time when computers weren't fast and reliable enough to produce and manipulate untold numbers of tracks of super-high-fidelity audio in real time. They're looking at us old fogies and our racks of processing gear, and wondering why we need all that iron when they can do everything they can even conceive of on a $700 motherboard with a $200 sound card.

The rest of this column, along with 56 more, is now available in The Insider Audio Bathroom Reader, published by Thomson Course Technology PTR.

Copyright ©2006 by Paul D. Lehrman