Dave Smith (engineer)


Dave Smith (engineer)

Dave Smith is an engineer and guitarist who pioneered many groundbreaking technologies in music technology. Smith was responsible for the first polyphonic and microprocessor-controlled synthesizer, the Prophet 5. He is also commonly referred to as the "Father of MIDI" due to his involvement in the development of the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) specification, which went on to become a standard interface protocol, not only for modern electronic keyboards and synthesizers, but also for recording and pro audio equipment. It was also Smith who introduced the concept of multitimbrality for electronic instruments.[1]

Contents

History

Smith has Masters degrees in both Computer Science and Electronic Engineering from UC Berkeley. In the mid-'70s, he founded Sequential Circuits, one of the most successful music synthesizer manufacturers of the time. In 1977, he designed the Prophet 5, the world's first microprocessor-based musical instrument and also the first programmable polyphonic synth,[2] a functionality adopted by virtually all synthesizer designs ever since.

In 1981 Smith started developing the idea of MIDI. He presented a paper outlining the idea of a Universal Synthesizer Interface (USI) to the Audio Engineering Society in 1981 after meetings with Tom Oberheim and Roland's Ikutaro Kakehashi. The plan was to create a standard communications protocol between electronic instruments and equipment from different manufacturers around the world. The result was MIDI. MIDI was first publicly demonstrated at the Winter NAMM Show in 1983, when a Sequential Circuits Prophet-600 was successfully connected to a Roland Jupiter-6. In 1987 he was named a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) for his continuing work in the area of music synthesis.

After Sequential, Smith was President of DSD, Inc, a Research and Development Division of Yamaha, where he worked on physical modeling synthesis and software synthesizer concepts. In May 1989 he started the Korg R&D group in California, which went on to produce the innovative and commercially successful Wavestation synthesizer and other technology.

Smith went on to serve as President at Seer Systems and developed the world's first software based synthesizer running on a PC. This synth, commissioned by Intel, was demonstrated by Andy Grove in a Comdex keynote speech in 1994. The second generation of this software synthesizer sold over 10 million copies, as a result of being licensed to Creative Labs in 1996; it was responsible for 32 of the 64 voices in Creative Labs' AWE 64 line of soundcards.

The third generation of Smith's software synthesizer, now named Reality, was the world's first fully professional software synthesizer, and was released in 1997. Dave was both the lead engineer on Reality, and wrote all the low-level optimized floating point synthesis code. Reality was the recipient of a 1998 Editors' Choice Award, and earned Electronic Musician Magazine's highest possible rating.

Currently Dave is designing hardware instruments again with the Evolver, Poly Evolver, and recently released Prophet '08 and Mopho synthesizers from his new company, Dave Smith Instruments. He is currently collaborating with Roger Linn (the inventor of the first drum machine to use digital samples) to release a new drum machine utilizing analog synthesis called the Tempest.

Awards

Dave Smith

  • Induction into the TECnology Hall of Fame at the AES show by Mix Foundation in September 2005.[3]
  • Received (AES) Fellowship Award in 1987, which is given to a member who had rendered conspicuous service or is recognized to have made a valuable contribution to the advancement in or dissemination of knowledge of audio engineering or in the promotion of its application in practice.

Prophet '08'

  • Key Buy Award (Keyboard Magazine, November 2007)
  • Muzikmesse International Press (MIPA) Award, March 2008
  • Musiciplayers WIHO Award (2008)

Evolver and Evolver Keyboard

  • Key Buy Award (Keyboard Magazine, March 2003)
  • Key Buy Award (Keyboard Magazine, August 2006)
  • Musicplayers WIHO Award (2006)

Poly Evolver Keyboard

  • Future Music 2006 Ace Award
  • TEC Award nomination (Mix Magazine, 2006) Technical Excellence & Creativity in the category of Outstanding Technical Achievement, Musical Instrument Technology.
  • Synthesizer Of The Year Award (Electronic Musician Magazine, 2006)
  • "Most psychedelic electronic instrument 2005" (Psychedelickitchen.org, 2005)

External links

References

  1. ^ Julian Colbeck, Keyfax Omnibus Edition, MixBooks, 1996, p. 119
  2. ^ Dominic Milano, Vintage Synthesizers, Miller Freeman Books, p. 23
  3. ^ Mix Foundation. TECnology Hall of Fame 2005
Notes

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