The following isn\'t speculation; it\'s deduction!

I\'ve been waiting for ages for GS V3..………for over a year. The reason for my wait is that its release was always just around the corner and no one wants to buy an expensive piece (\'very\', in the UK) only to be greeted by a stiff upgrade cost shortly afterwards which would be similar to the \'buy new\' cost in the USA.

A recent issue of UK magazine \'Computer Music\' hinted that big names were in financial trouble. If you read the signs it is obvious to anyone, with half a brain, that Tascam is one of them. It looks like they have run into cash flow problems. GS is only a small part of their business but, nevertheless, no company with cash and a plan would allow the competition to overwhelm them without any fight in the terms of articles in magazines, websites and advertising. They might have a plan but clearly they don’t have the cash to fight the GS corner.

The result is stagnant adverts, moribund websites ludicrous prices and disinterest in the UK and the rest of the non USA world. A decent businessman would have made the recent price reduction a year ago when the competition came over the hill like some sword swinging army. That would be the normal business strategy in a similar situation. At the current USA prices I would, by now, have had v2.5 for a year and been happy with the value for money and would have had plenty to keep me busy so that the v3 wait wouldn’t have been a consideration.

On the Northern Sounds website it has been left to one non Tascam employee, \'Bruce Richardson’ to act as ‘defender of the realm’. Bruce, admirably and almost single handedly, jumps loyally to the defence of GS v3. Fortunately for Tascam they are getting free support from an obviously very gifted journalist who has the time and the inclination to do the job. In the meantime there isn’t a peep from anyone at Tascam regardless of the media you turn to. The way I see it is like this:

Tascam, AKAI, Roland, EMU, Yamaha etc, manufacturers of hardware synths and samplers were like the proverbial rabbits caught in the headlights. They never saw the Computer based revolution coming. (God knows why was pretty obvious to most of us) Like Wordperfect never saw Word coming. Boeing never saw Airbus coming. We never saw the end of our Empire coming! Because of the way business cycles and the human psyche works this will always happen.

Tascam panicked, when they finally saw the writing on the wall, and bought Nemesys. In the meantime the competition was out in the form of Halion, Kontakt and a few others. I guess that the programmers were already being very ambitious (in an effort to regain their lead) and may have been forced to raise their ambition higher when the competition appeared. Arguably, the competition was offering pretty much the same product for half the price.

As with all engineering endeavours, including software, it is almost impossible to estimate the time that innovation will take so Nemesys may well have given Tascam an honest but inherently optimistic time to v3 completion during the takeover. I suspect that the cash burn on GS is frightening and yet they will have got stuck in the trap of having to pile more and more effort in to try and finish it. However as the development time became protracted (due to financial, leading to staffing shortages, or technical programming difficulties) the competition was raising the bar even further so that by this time the original vision of the v3 programme may have had to be raised yet again during development as the competition caught up and started to overtake. This would have aggravated their predicament by adding yet more work and they may have ended up being trapped in a, particularly nasty, vicious circle. As if that wasn’t bad enough, in the meantime all the hardware recording market was also slowly being taken over by PC based software as folk, (and that includes musicians) became PC literate through need at their place of work etc. How Tascam must have hankered for the old days of the Portastudio which was their innovation and with which they led the world for some time.

Gigastudio’s UK pricing has never reacted to the competition. It has always been unreasonably high here to the extent that I was attracted by Garritan’s bundle which, in comparison to the UK prices, meant that you could effectively get GS for free….if you bought the strings. To be fair GS led the technology, they were the ‘Rolls Royce’ and so you couldn’t blame them for stiffing everyone for what the market would stand……..initially. The trouble is you can’t keep doing this ad infinitum; you have to react to market forces. Due to this mis-marketing GS never became a mass-market product and people just pirated it. A lot of music outlets in the UK don’t stock it (unlike the realistically priced Kontakt) and will only obtain it to order. I can’t remember when Tascam took over so, at that stage, it could be that it was Nemesys’s marketing and distribution set up which was responsible.

If you phone up Tascam in the UK you realise that GS is only of tiny interest to them. This is confirmed in their advertising, which is both limited and static month after month. I phoned up recently to enquire about the price reduction and some pompous guy announced that the UK division worked independently. He was almost proud to state “there are no plans to reduce prices at this moment”. This may be true, but it doesn’t excuse his apparent total lack of interest and knowledge that he hadn’t a clue that the USA had reduced the prices a couple of weeks earlier and, clearly, wasn’t actually interested. I later pointed out to him, in an email, that he ought to be aware of Internet shopping.

I think that the chances are that GSv3 might stagger to the market but I fear that Tascam is mortally wounded. TEAC might just cut their losses and ditch Tascam. It doesn\'t look good, does it? Is Tascam going to repeat what happened with AKAI? They were the first, or at least the first big force, in hardware samplers and created the sample standard, which still lingers on today. Even if GS ‘dies on the vine’ the GS standard will remain for several years.

Me? I’m just a hobbyist, hoping to get back into sequencing this winter, and am just observing the signs. Talented businessmen such as Garritan and the East West guys know infinitely more than I about what is happening and based on their findings they have decided to go the Kontakt route.

I have decided to follow them, I mean GPO is irresistible and I should be able to get my GS samples, which I’ve collected over the past year, into Kontakt in some reasonable form. I will then follow up my Kontakt purchase by adding Kompakt (utilising NI’s ‘special’ deal) for its, by all accounts, excellent library. However, now that the price reductions have occurred (in the USA) I may well buy GS 96 (a forum user kindly tipped me off about a really cheap US source) as I can then get £50 off Kontakt for cross grading (now there’s switched on marketing)!! This means that I can effectively get GS96 for ~£70. Now this is following Bruce’s advice of getting both although, frankly, I could really do without the double learning curve and this is the only consideration that might prevent me from purchasing both now!!

Finally, is this forum getting quieter or is it my imagination.....