Gibson Musical Instruments has been a defining force in instrument technology, from Orville H. Gibson's designs in the late 1800s to such legendary innovations as the Les Paul and Flying V. Now, Gibson is moving into the 21st century with GMICS, the first digital network for guitars and other instruments. This patent-pending development is an effort to create the future of musical instrument connectivity.
GMICS is the result of years of research and development envisioned and led by Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson CEO and Executive Director of the project, who foresaw the benefits of adapting digital computer network technology to the special needs of performing musicians. Juszkiewicz's dream is now a reality, and will be available for download at www.gmics.org.
The technology behind GMICS was enhanced by research, funded by Gibson, at the prestigious University of California at Berkeley, through their Center for New Music and Audio Technologies program (CNMAT), headed by Dr. David Wessel and Adrian Freed.
GMICS stands for Global Musical Instrument Communication Standard. It adds digital capabilities to musical instruments, music performance and studio gear without changing their fundamental nature. Sound quality is improved by using 16 super-fidelity 32-bit 96 kHz audio channels. GMICS also provides full bi-directional capabilities on a single cable, making powerful features like instrument-based monitoring possible. In addition, GMICS offers high-bandwidth control and data throughput, enabling on-instrument control of amplifiers, levels and more. The initial release of GMICS will use standard Category 5 (CAT5) cable and support lengths up to 100 meters.
"The music instrument industry is only beginning to realize the full potential of the digital revolution." says Juszkiewicz. "Our vision is to embrace and extend the capabilities of the guitar - and all musical instruments - without changing the character or playability of the instrument. With GMICS, we are now able to offer the musician pristine, better-than-CD quality sound and new control options in a reliable, easy to use fully digital system," he adds.
The GMICS system consists of a chip set that converts analog to digital and handles all the networking and processing chores. This system will be used in instruments, effects processors and amplifiers, creating a powerful, simple, end-to-end digital music performance system. The GMICS architecture manages jitter and latency to extremely low levels, enabling the distribution of true high fidelity audio throughout the system. In addition, GMICS can provide phantom-power, eliminating the need for batteries in the instruments. Designed to be modular and extensible, GMICS will scale to incorporate new networking technology, like wireless- and optical-based systems as price-performance and market demand dictate.
This revolutionary new technology will not only offer guitarists, keyboard players and other musicians fully-digital sound, but it can provide discrete support for hex pickups, a microphone input, headphone monitoring, all right on the instrument with only one cable. In addition, GMICS lets the musician set effects levels, amp settings and much more directly from the instrument.
The announcement and technical specification for GMICS is being made simultaneously at the 107th Audio Engineering Society Meeting in New York City and at the official web site, www.gmics.org.
GMICS is proposed as the new standard for live music performance and will be offered in licensed and electronic component form to the entire industry, effective immediately. The first GMICS-based musical instruments are expected to be announced at the NAMM show in February 2000.