October 19, 2016
by GForce Software
Made with the help of Streetly Electronic’s John Bradley and Martin Smith, this film is a comprehensive and fascinating story of the trials and tribulations then ultimate resurrection of an iconic instrument which still grabs our sonic attention nearly 50 years after its birth.
There’s enough info in this film to educate even a hardened Mellotron® enthusiast and there’s no doubting the formidable expertise that Streetly have garnered since John’s family commenced manufacturing and sales of the original way back in 1963. Indeed, the truth is whenever we go to visit them we talk little else but ‘tron and we always leaved armed with more nerdy nuggets of ‘tron information. We also now own one of their magnificent Streetly M4000 ‘trons which is the only currently manufactured ‘tron that’s faithful to the original instrument’s tape replay ethos.
While we love and admire the engineering of the original hardware machines, we also think hardware and good software should sit side-by-side. Because although the hardware versus software debate still rages, ad nauseam, the simple truth is that there’s no definitive answer as to which is best. Just as there is good and bad hardware, there is good and bad software and the answer to this conundrum will depend on all manner of things including your personal perspective, available space, your technical savvy, your preferred working environment and of course your finances.
Although the hardware versus software debate still rages, the simple truth is that there’s no definitive answer as to which is best.
For example, do the majority of musicians looking for ‘that sound’ really care to maintain a forty-plus year old instrument, sourcing rare parts when they wear out or break?
Naturally we care, because we feel that we’re custodians of these instruments and while many other software companies simply hire-in instruments to record or model, we consider this bad practice. In our opinion good practice is when you’ve lived with and loved the original instrument’s character and foibles for a considerable time before beginning any emulative process. Because, then and only then, do you stand a chance of capturing some of the instrument’s soul and character within the software alchemy.
It’s a simple dogma but you’d be surprised at how many software companies ignore this in favour of marketing hyperbole. Indeed, when we explained our philosophy to the marketing director of one such company, he said “No one really cares” and strolled off to no doubt perpetrate more marketing myths.
Understanding and love for an instrument is what really matters when trying to transplant its character.
For us that fundamental understanding and love for an instrument is what really matters when trying to transplant its character. You see, we can tell the difference between good or bad, lazy or indifferent, marketing bullshit versus a real love for the authentic, because we’ve been immersed in these instruments for over 30 years. And in the case of Streetly, over 50 years!
But ponder this – while we’ve thrown countless bags of money at the purchasing and maintenance of all manner of tape replay instruments from Chamberlin’s to Mellotrons, we’re the exception. We’re committed (some would say ‘certifiable’) and we do it so that you don’t have to.
If you want an M400 plus all the tapes we supplied with the M-Tron Pro, you’d be looking at £20,000 plus, as opposed to the M-Tron Pro’s £140. Likewise, if you wanted to buy the physical tape frames of a Streetly Tapes Volume for your original M400 you’d be looking at a price tag of at least £5,000, whereas at 1% of that each Streetly Tape Volume represent amazing value for money.
It’s something worth bearing in mind the next time that someone tells you that hardware is better than software.