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Yamaha and Steinberg: A Good Fit

Yamaha's Athan Billias says open philosophy will drive development By Frank Moldstad

Athan Billias
Yamaha Corp. became a major player in the computer music market in December when it acquired Steinberg Media Technologies, developer of DAW programs Nuendo and Cubase, from Pinnacle Systems. Recently we spoke with Athan Billias, Yamaha Corporation of Americas Director of Marketing, Technology Products about the companys plans for Steinberg.

Among other things, he assures Nuendo and Cubase users that their software will remain cross-platform, saying that both Yamaha and Steinberg are committed to offering users freedom of choice. And hes excited about opportunities for better integration of audio software and hardware products and greater interoperability among a wide range of products industrywide. Heres what he had to say.

What attracted Yamaha to buy Steinberg?

The main reason for Yamaha to acquire Steinberg is we believe that the computer music production marketplace is growing very rapidly and that Steinberg is the premiere cross-platform DAW creator in the world. They are really one of the only cross-platform providers, and that gives us a stronger position to enter the growing computer music production field.

The second thing was to make sure we could complete the Studio Connections initiative, which was started by Steinberg and Yamaha a good three years ago. This is a joint initiative to develop technologies and protocols for the integration of hardware into the DAW environment. Its an ongoing initiative. But the first step in that initiative was Studio Connections Recall that we were showing at the Winter NAMM show, and we wanted to make sure that we could successfully complete that project.

So theres already an established working relationship between Yamaha and Steinberg for product development.

Absolutely. One of the reasons we believe that the partnership between Yamaha and Steinberg will work is because, one, weve already been working very closely together; and two, that we share a common philosophy. That philosophy is that the future of computer music production is not software versus hardware, its one environment where software and hardware are seamlessly integrated together for a better end user experience.

 Is Steinbergs VST, for instance, going to continue as an industry plugin standard, or will other protocols be affected?

I think this is another thing that Yamaha and Steinberg share as a general philosophy, we are both standards based companies and open technology based companies. If you look at the computer music field, with VST, ASIO, MLAN, and  observe the history of both Yamaha and Steinberg, they have a philosophy that opening technologies to the industry as a whole creates interoperability, and interoperability creates freedom of choice for customers. Thats what customers want.

It sounds like users should expect interesting software-hardware tie-ins.

Well, youre already seeing that in terms of the Studio Connections Recall. Its also important to note that Studio Connections is not a proprietary or an exclusive thing. At the Winter NAMM show on Sunday, we had a meeting that was very well attended, with about 35 people there from a variety of different companies. We handed out an SDK for DAW manufacturers so that they could integrate the hosting component, and were hoping that all of the DAW manufacturers, such as Logic, Digital Performer, and SONAR, will implement that. And on the other side of it, there were hardware manufacturers there, including companies like Mackie, Korg and Roland, and they were investigating what the possibilities were for them to develop editors.

Diagram of Studio Connections' total recall flow, illustrating how software plug-ins co-exist with software control surfaces talking to hardware in DAW applications like Cubase SX and Nuendo. When a project is saved, Studio Connections compatible devices will have their settings saved, too. The official website is

As an example of that kind of open stance, one of the things we showed at that meeting was a Generic Component for Studio Connections Recall. This is a Graphical User Interface that allows you to take basically any device that does a MIDI Sysex dump and build a Studio Connections Recall Component very quickly. So you edit your vintage synth on the unit itself and when you get the settings you like you can save them to your DAW via the Recall Component.

At Winter NAMM, we showed about 10 different components of older Yamaha products as proof of concept. But there was even a DX-7 Generic Recall Component. You could set up the DX-7 in the machine state that you want, click on the generic component, save it to your DAW, and when you open the project file again it does recall and sets that DX7 back up to the state that it was when you last saved that project.

So again, its a very inclusive philosophy in trying to provide to the industry as a whole tools for the implementation of this in a very quick fashion without putting tremendous demands on engineering resources.  

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Related Keywords:Yamaha, Steinberg, Nuendo, Cubase, Studio Connections, Winter NAMM, VST, DAW

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