[Ardour-Dev] Funding: Build and Sell Hardware

Mark Knecht markknecht at gmail.com
Thu Jan 22 13:23:28 PST 2009

On Tue, Jan 20, 2009 at 7:09 PM, Patrick Shirkey
<pshirkey at boosthardware.com> wrote:
> Dan Mills wrote:
>> On Wed, 2009-01-21 at 04:09 +0700, Hans Baier wrote:
>>> My idea is building a piece of hardware like that:
>>> Take expresscard, put in a number of ICE1712
>>> and some nice DAC/ADC together with a MIDI chip,
>>> (perhaps make it modular to being able to add more ICEs, if needed),
>>> find someone in China, Malaysia (or I can find one here in Indonesia)
>>> who assembles it.
>> Funny, I actually have a similar project for another application in the
>> works, but the day job keeps getting in the way.
>> If doing things with PCI-e and envy24s you will need a PCIe->PCI bridge
>> to convert to a standard pci bus for the chips, so it might be that a
>> FPGA is a better approach. I ended up going down the PCI 104 and Envy24
>> route, but am thinking that the next prototype will use a computer on
>> module instead. PCI 104 only has 3 bus mastering circuits which puts
>> quite a crimp in channel count unless you do the PCI bridge thing (Which
>> is a pain in the arse).
>> I am not sure that hardware for the low end market is really viable
>> unless you can move huge volumes, so you pretty much have to go after
>> the sort of niche that the IZ Radar II occupied (And that means more
>> then just 'good' AD and DA).
> Speaking from my experience of manufacturing large quantities of audio and
> multimedia devices it's not as simple as it's is being laid out above. It
> generally requires a large up front investment of time and money. We would
> be looking at a minimum order of $100,000 to get most established
> manufacturers attention just to talk to us. Most manufacturers in Asia are
> not really interested unless the contract is worth more than $500,000 and
> ongoing. For a one off contract they usually expect it to be worth something
> in the vicinity of $2,000,000 before they will start the machines.
> However if we were going to make a few prototypes and sell them to a larger
> established company we might have a better chance of making some bucks.
> It would be worth approaching the existing hardware manufacturers who have
> used Ardour in the past with a pitch to see if we can get them on board.
> I'm sure they would be interested in our ideas if we were able to present
> them effectively. Of course getting them to give us money for our ideas is
> another story.
> We might even be better off by offering a very competitive rate to assist
> the existing manufacturers with the software skills they need in exchange
> for continuing support of Ardour.
> If we can offer them a well oiled and efficiently managed team of developers
> and not just the over worked and underfunded Paul then it could make a big
> difference for everyone.
> There would need to be very clear lines of communication and authority if
> this kind of system was setup around Ardour. I think we have a lot of the
> building blocks in place now though so it's definitely a possibility if the
> will is there.
> Cheers.
> --
> Patrick Shirkey
> Boost Hardware Ltd.

BTW - I'm not really supporting the idea of selling hardware. I doubt
any group of people here could convince people that we're reputable
enough to have them start sending us money to do that. why us vs
Sweetwater or some regular place? Seems far too difficult and unlikely
to me.

Also, Ardour is probably the exact WRONG piece of software to do this
with since the DAW platform is the hub of most of what's going on in
the studio and if the studio is up and running then not only are we
asking them to pay but we're asking them to change the way they do
their work. that risky, time consuming and the user won't be
comfortable. That's a highly unlikely set of barriers for us to get
across in my mind.

On the other hand I am curious about the idea of creating some sort of
hardware/software support platform that up-and-running studios could
use on day 1 based around Linux and LAU software. A stand alone
computer with sound cards running a rack of Open Source reverb units,
signal processors, Jamin, etc., that could work with a generic studio
setup. The user would buy their own hardware and would buy a CD from
us for minimal cost. Those dollars go to Paul. That user has little or
no Linux experience so he needs support and he pays $50/month for
support which is provided over the net by one of us. Those dollars go
to Paul. None of this distracts the current developers and allows
interested Ardour/LAU users to support the cause.

Selling this would all be done up front at the web site informing the
customer that they are supporting Ardour development and Ardour is in
the box. They can use it as a DAW if they want to but they are not
required to. Ardour would actually be used as a real-time outboard
mixer with automation capabilities on this box but it's only mixing
and controlling the rack of Linux audio software processors - not the
studio's main audio. That's still done on Pro Tools or whatever they
are currently using. However something like this would get Ardour in
front of their eye balls and maybe some would start using it over
time. We would know what Ardour's doing, could supply Ardour plugin
templates, etc., so that the whole setup is immediately useful but not
forcing its way into the main signal path.

I think coming in on the side chain using Ardour and lots of other
plugins has a better chance of being accepted into a studio.

Just a thought.

- Mark

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