CanJam at RMAF2017 People I Love - Mike Moffat and his Gadget

Hooo boy, welcome to a rabbit hole. A good sounding one, but still...

Back in the days of Stradivarius, says Mike, instrument makers would tune middle C to 256Hz (A=430.54Hz instead of A=440Hz). This is sometimes called Verdi Tuning or Scientific Pitch. Over time concert pitch crept up to A=440Hz, which puts middle C at 261.62Hz—37.5 cents (37.5/100 of a semitone) sharper.

"So what," you might say, "it's all relative."

Maybe...maybe not. I don't know. What I do know is that we're all pretty wrapped up in our technologies, and it is possible we're a bit out of tune with the natural resonances of nature...maybe.

Well, Mike has made a little gadget literally called "The Gadget" that uses DSP to shift the pitch back down to the older tuning without altering the tempo. Gadgets like it exist, mainly to pitch shift vocalists back into tune, but Mike claims none are clean enough to do the job well. No firm price yet, but Schiit expects the Gadget will sell for around $200.

It made me think about equal tempered tuning in which the scale tones are derived from the division of octaves into 12 equal logarithmically spaced tones. It's equal tempering that allows pianos to play in any key. The problem with equal temperament is that the intervals aren't from derived from the natural harmonic series of overtones, so the fifths and thirds don't sound quite perfect and notes of chords can beat against each other making them sound a little ragged. Tuning to the harmonic series overtones is called "just intonation."

Barber shop and string quartets have the luxury of not being tied to frets and fixed tones, so they are able to use just intonation and you can hear the purity of harmonies distinctly. Wouldn't it be cool to do some DSP to correct for the errors in even tempered instruments? Well, if you want to see an evil genius grin on Mike face, watch it as I ask him if he's ever though of DSP to correct even tempered tuning to just intonation in DSP at 1:00 in the video.

Mua ha ha ha ha haaaa!

Watch mad scientist Mike Moffat give us some Schiit in the video.


View on YouTube.

COMMENTS
HammerSandwich's picture

...it doesn't sound like ass, it sounds like Schiit?

PAR's picture

" Well, Mike has made a little gadget literally called "The Gadget" that uses DSP to shift the pitch back down to the older tuning without altering the tempo"

what is the purpose? All historically informed performances already use the correct pitch for the era of the music they are performing ( which can vary according to the period, 430 Hz is incorrect for later Baroque works etc.). Modern works were written with A=440Hz in mind. Very modern German works use A=443 Hz.So this device provides the wrong pitch for many historical works and the wrong pitch for modern works. So what's it for?

PAR's picture

To add, pitch varied from country to country as well. So the correct pitch for a French work of, say, 1780 may differ from one of the same year from Germany.

Phoniac's picture

> Gadgets like it exist, mainly to pitch shift vocalists back into tune, but Mike claims none are clean enough to do the job well.

That sounds to me like the famous developer sticking his head out of the cellar hole informing the world of his latest invention while completely having missed the solutions are already there. There not only exist a few, this topic is two decades old. Not to mention the reasearch done by Melodyne (which resulted in several uber-professional solutions, including such crazy stuff as Wow&Flutter eliminator), which inspired many others again to either make new or improved plug-ins for both pitch and tempo correction.

> Wouldn't it be cool to do some DSP to correct for the errors in even tempered instruments?

I bet that exists already.

tony's picture

these guys should get rid of their shity name before they go pontificating on all things. People with Integrety should have names reflecting their intending Integrety.

Who wants to trust people that call themselves shit? people that wear black lipstick and have razor wire tattoos around their neck?

It seems like 'self defeating' marketing from a marketing company.

I own Stoddard & Moffat's designs but I'm tired of waiting for them to grow-up, I probably won't buy any more shit and I will no longer defend them, there's an abundance of quality stuff out there.

Tony in Michigan

ps. of course, Mr.Jason knows the above and fully understands that he shouldn't name his little amps Puke, Puss, vomit or other offensive things.

Martin.'s picture

I don't agree. One can say, "That is good shit," but not, "That is good puke, puss, vomit, etc." There is a difference between being vulgar and being humorous. Schiit's website also make fun of other company's lofty claims about cables that claim to be almost out of this world. By distancing themselves in name, description and price they can claim to be different. Of course, it would backfire if their equipment was shit, but if they make good stuff at a cheap price point they can back their claim of being original. They also point to monoprice cables as cheaper options for their own, which doesn't happen very often in business either.

tony's picture

Humorous worked for an Attention grabbing "Marketplace Introduction"

but now:

Mr.Moffat is presenting a technological concept that knowledgable people are easily challenging. This isn't 'Funny' stuff!

Schiit stopped being humorous a very long time ago: as in when they corrected a defective Asgard released design ( that took NwAvGuy to point out ) or when they released a heavily microphonic Amp that made it out to market but later had to be scrapped out.

Schiit is no longer humorous.

If they need/want people to take them seriously they first need to take themselves seriously. They owe it to their customer base and their employees.

Tony in Michigan

scottfreerjh's picture

Personally Tony in Michigan I'm very happy with a company that has the balls and sense of humor to call themselves Schiit instead of most of the audio companies that rely on flowery bullshit and nonsensical words in their copy and advertising to sell products that give mediocre performance for thousands of dollars more than they are worth.

Don't like their gear. Don't buy the gear. More for the rest of us.

tony's picture

I been a Schiit Fan and Customer since their beginning.

I'd like to see them grow into a Company that isn't giving us a shitty, stinky, offensive Name!.

They're going upstairs to two Channel big rigs, they're widening their product line. It's time to widen their appeal to folks that would never embrace Middle Finger Naming strategies.

Of course, IF they delight in staying in a 10,000 sq.ft. rental property, they're choosing properly.

You get 'one shot' at making a 'first impression', if Shit is the 'first impression' you're wearing you'll loose this next generation of buyers.

Take a look around: we've got Harvey Scandals, Pussy Grabbing is back on front page, White Supremacists killing a girl with a car. Sleaze is getting very ugly, do we want our Audio Company's Name associated with all of this ugliness?

Stoddard's designs are worthwhile, they shouldn't be crippled with a shity name.

Tony in Michigan

scottfreerjh's picture

"It's time to widen their appeal to folks that would never embrace Middle Finger Naming strategies"

I don't think they care about appealing to everyone, and nor should they. As Jason has said a few times in his blog

"this isn’t about getting everyone to like you, this is about getting some people to love you."

"Of course, IF they delight in staying in a 10,000 sq.ft. rental property, they're choosing properly."

Good for them. Why do we assume that every business always has to become so big it collapses under it's own weight.

"You get 'one shot' at making a 'first impression', if Shit is the 'first impression' you're wearing you'll loose this next generation of buyers."

As previously mentioned

"this isn’t about getting everyone to like you, this is about getting some people to love you."

"Stoddard's designs are worthwhile, they shouldn't be crippled with a shity name."

Well that name seems to be working

tony's picture

the name seems to be working.

Your logic is ok for "true believers"

I guess that I'm saying that it's not appealing and their Name is not working.

The future is efficient headphones, active loudspeakers and Smart Phone based music systems.

Schiit is going backwards to record playing 2nd Generation Audio Gear featuring inefficient loudspeakers.

Schiit is going backwards with a shitty name.

Tony in Michigan

ps. personally, I don't care much, it's just another disappointment and I'm just another person with an opinion

scottfreerjh's picture

"Schiit is going backwards with a shitty name."

Better than going forward and then dropping off a cliff.

tony's picture

which is what their history has been like over the years, isn't it?

Tony in Michigan

jeffporter's picture

From a marketing perspective that is quite a rickety glass house. Maybe you would prefer that they call their company Aztek.

tony's picture

Aztek, that's a good one.

Yea, we at GM made some crappy stuff, phew and we know how to measure the cost of bad management decisions.

Honda & Toyota started killing us around 1992, ouch.

Our lack of competitiveness finally destroyed us in 2006 ( the Banking Crisis helped ).

Obama saved the US Auto Industry, thank god, my crummy Management got busted and put out to pasture. good riddance.

We then sailed into great success, even earning J.D.Power awards !!

We're a Trillion Dollar Industry now. Our Dealers are successful, our Car & Trucks are successful, we are about to go Electric & Driverless in a big way.

plus, we sell more Audio Gear than the entire Consumer Audio Industry.

We know how to mess-up and we know how to be Great.

Tony in Michigan

ps. Glass House: Your local Chevy Dealer does about $200,000,000 worth of Business per year. Some of that business is selling & Servicing used Astek Cars, none of our business is making obsolete products.

kais's picture

It does not make sense to me to retune a modern performance, as too many other things beside pitch are different if you want "historical correct" music.
The way instruments are played is different today, e.g. the use of vibrato, the tempo, the material for the strings, ... , many more, even the instruments itself the music was written for — J. S. Bach's cycle "Das wohltemperierte Klavier" was written for Clavicymbale/Clavichord or Cembalo, the kind of piano we have today wasn't then invented.
If you tune the same instrument, let's say a Stradivarius violin, to a different "A" it sounds different than if you later repitch it. One reason is the so called "formants", resonances at certain fixed frequencies that are characterizing the sound of any instrument, voice, sound creating object. These do not change with natural retuning, but become completely disturbed be any kind of "DSP" pitch manipulation.
When playing the artist interacts with those formants, plays different, something that is detroyed when you later change the formants.
There are lots of great ensembles that have the goal to play "historical correct". If someone likes that I suggest to listen to their recordings.

Thorsten Mühler's picture

Actually, pitch-shifting algorithms that maintain formant relationships have existed for quite a while now, and are used to pitch-shift, for example, singers without making them sound like different people. No idea if this Gadget uses such an algorithm, though.

Martin.'s picture

"Technology serve out humanity". I agree, but then there are different definitions of serving humanity. Does that mean robots that vacuum, cut grass, make dinner, etc., or something that brings us closer to who we are? I'm definitely not going there, but you can see how this topic can spiral out of control.

gevorg's picture

If you can make music sound orgasmic by "properly" shifting pitch to whatever clever number in numerology, why wouldn't a myriad of well established software DSP/VST companies already create one? Could be another niche of niche product like the revamped Schiit Loki. My red flag/bs meters would go off if this was presented by the likes of AudioQuest, but I'll give Schiit a benefit of the doubt, given how many great value products they created.

Jencoman's picture

Instruments with flexible pitch found in symphony orchestras, string and brass chamber groups, vocal groups, all perform in Just Intonation (JI). They have to, in order to sound "agreeable", regardless of the fact they are educated and thinking in the terminology of Equal Temperament (ET). Flexible pitch instruments adjust their pitch microtonally from the bass upwards, especially in sustained harmony passages, the bass being in relative ET. They have to, or the passage would sound ghastly, faster moving passages excluded. But Harry Partch was one composer who not only tuned upwards in JI, but also downwards. Check out his tomb GENESIS OF A MUSIC, plus the "overture" and "entr'acte" to his Delusion of the Fury.

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