Comments for:

Holy Schmidt - Quality Matters
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Synthman    Said...

I agree totally. Today instrument manufacturers just won't to make the big money so they are producing cheep plastic junk instruments like the new Korg MS20 and Minibrute. The only company that has produced anything worth playing today is Dave Smith with his new Prophet 12. Where has the passion gone to create a quality keyboard that professional musicians can use for many years. How many times can they keep recreate the same old 1980's instrument before people get tired of hearing that same old sound over and over again. Give us something new, fresh sounding and most of all a quality instrument. These instruments are our tools, we work with them every day so I need quality not toys.

23-May-13 07:10 AM

Atomic Shadow    Said...



23-May-13 08:33 AM

Atomic Shadow    Said...

I am not certain it is a question of passion when it costs as much as a car...

23-May-13 08:35 AM

S R Dhain    Said...

I agree with the sentiment, but it's a case of market forces methinks.

At the end of the day, id rather have korg, yamaha, moog DSI and roland still in business, as well as the softsynth manufacturers such as G force, arturia et al, simply because the alternatives are just open sourced third party apps for tablets and phones, which would be unstable in the extreme, and not always fit for purpose. Not good and not conducive to a quality production down the line.

The music industry itself isnt in the best of shape, and all the aforementioned and in fact ANYONE still involved in the business is doing it out of love, passion and HOPE, more than anything else. Until the industry itself can start to back artists and develop or generate a more robust business model in terms of revenue, based around the current digital paradigms and/or "ADD VALUE" to music , then cheap or no, im glad and relieved there's still pro level products being rolled out.

Apologies if ive gone a bit off track, but i dont believe at all that its just the backend guys making the cheapest gear around and just "shovelling it out there", its the whole ecosystem that needs more "food and water" to generate more riskier projects to feed back to the soft and hardware side, so they can feel comfortable in the knowledge that more people out there will actually BUY the gear priced beyond £1000.

23-May-13 08:36 AM

Lovely Day    Said...

And while we're at it, let's talk about the revered and reviled mp3.

We spend, literally, thousands of dollars for a microphone and preamp. We spend more on DAW software and expensive computers. We blow thousands more on mixing consoles, keyboard instruments, and speaker monitors.

Then, we take all of this incredibly awesome stuff --

and use it to produce 4 minutes of the worst-sounding audio in history -- since the advent of the cassette tape. (The cassette, by-the-way, sounds slightly BETTER -- because you still get a bit of an analog bump at around 50-60 Hz. With the mp3, you are spared the horrible hiss, wow, and flutter -- but you're still listening to a dumbed-down version of the original 96 kHz - 32 Bit (floating point) work of art that you created at home or in the studio.)

People are pretty stupid. They would prefer to go to a club to be assaulted with 110dB+ of the most heinous crap, while getting blind-drunk, going home with people who they barely know, and they call it a "lifestyle." That is not a life -- it is a waste of good money, time, and possibly one's own sanity.

The industry has shrewdly played up on the live everything, knowing that most people are unlikely to even bother buying recorded music anymore. Pandora rules the day. XM and Sirius satellite "radio" is installed in more cars, along with said Pandora, than even FM stations (which are all run by the same idiotic ClearChannel monopoly -- who also own all of the billboards in this country in the U.S.)

I remember how, not long ago, I saw some piece on a new soft synth. It might have been on this very site. I remember people complaining that $200 was too much to spend for a VST synth, and that you could just buy something that should be closer to say, $20-$50.

With that kind of logic, forget about buying NI Komplete. Forget about buying Waldorf Largo, or Omnisphere, or any other product that lets you create sound. Because if you really won't spend, say, $250-$500 for a piece of software, then you might as well just give up playing digital music entirely. Just go and learn how to play the guitar or the piano or the bass or the drums, and join a rock band, and play in your shitty little club and shut up and don't let the kitchen door smack you on your ass when the server goes by with drinks for the customers -- because let's put it this way:

If you aren't PRODUCING anything that people CARE about -- like food or beverages or clothing or housing or couches or cars or computers --

then you aren't producing anything of value.

THAT is the new normal. People don't want to have to pay for art anymore. They don't care. They don't see the value in it. And it sucks, and it breaks my heart, but it is a fact. So, if you expect to make any money as an ARTIST -- then you'd better be one HELL of an artist.

Because the competition is simply too great, and the forces that are causing this competition to grow are too diverse and too many.

Have a nice day.

23-May-13 09:31 AM

NOMOBS    Said...

" agree totally. Today instrument manufacturers just won't to make the big money so they are producing cheep plastic junk instruments like the new Korg MS20 and Minibrute"

Nope its mostly the end user that doesn't wanna pay a decent price. I know.. I run a store. ;)

Stop buying crap and spent money on quality. You'll see more quality coming into the stores.

23-May-13 10:42 AM

Synthman    Said...

NOMOBS, I can also agree with that statement. People today are cheap and buy crap. Quality is gone, cheap is in. In the long run the consumer will loose. Even the sound quality of music like MP3 and Pandora music is crap and low quality. What has happened to this world?

23-May-13 11:20 AM

brian from usa    Said...

Synthesizers are already a bargain. People into electronic music seem to have no idea what traditional instruments cost. Go price out orchestral instruments, grand pianos, percussion, you name it.

I play string bass and what is considered an entry-level professional instrument will cost you at least $5000 and another $500 for a bow. A set of strings costs me $200.

So anyone who complains about $3000 price tags on the Prophet12, Jupiter 80, workstations, Moog Voyager, etc. isn't being very realistic.

Something only seems expensive when you can't afford to buy it.

23-May-13 11:47 AM

Spinkterbrain    Said...

I strongly disagree with all of the stuff being said here about manufacturers making cheap stuff. There's a difference between cheap & affordable. If anyone wants a high end instrument/tool then the quality market exists as this article shows. By all means, spend your money & enjoy the beauty of a synth like this or a Moog voyager for example.They are fantastic synthesizers. For me though, the kind of guy who never has much cash to spare, i have learned the value of cheaper gear & i can say without any doubt "It's not the instrument"...Get it ? Someone on this thread i saw mentioned the new Korg ms20 in that same context. Well i bought one of those from the first shipment & it is a little demon.I love it & it's available to me because of its affordability.Lets not forget that it was also a budget synth in 1978 & that original models are still working well AND it is an iconic & classic synthesizer. Why would it otherwise be so successful again ? I say that even though there is a valid point to be made in this article about manufactures making better quality, it is not an invitation for gear snobs to stand on a pedestal & stone the poor ! Like i said, "If you want a high end synth, buy one"...But don't think for a second that it will transform you into a high end player...That's just plain blinkered !

23-May-13 11:53 AM

Tribrix    Said...

There's a lot of truth in these comments, even the contradictory ones. I have to agree about spending money carefully though. I bought the Alesis Micron because it was the cheapest synth with full sized keys I could find. It's very capable and sounds perfectly fine. But it's no bloody fun to play and programming it is a nightmare. I would have been smarter to wait longer and buy a more quality instrument. I pine for a DSI synth now. If I'd saved longer, I'd already have one.

23-May-13 12:33 PM

G David    Said...

I have played the new Korg MS20. It is cheaply built (in China) and is boring sounding. It is built like a toy my son would play with and then throw away. But people will buy them, play with them for a while and then sell them on ebay just like the Minibrute. They are just not quality instruments that professional musicians could use. Making music has more to do with talent but without quality instruments your talent will not shine. Save your money for the real deal.

23-May-13 02:10 PM

Spinkterbrain    Said...

I still disagree. First of all, the ms 20 is not boring, as you put it. Maybe you are ! Remember the root of this thread & realize that the ms 20 is only £500 new.The minibrute £400. That's £500 or £400 worth of synthesizer for £500 or £400. If your son ,G David, ever wants to throw one out, you can contact me here.I'll take it & i'll VALUE it too. Perhaps you have too much in life & don't appreciate everything. Rubbish to you but gold to me. OR...Maybe you're just trolling here !

23-May-13 02:46 PM

NOMOBS    Said...

The MS20 Mini is build cheap. With that I don't even care about what it sounds like. With old synths that aren't in production anymore its a different deal because there is no other way. (EG: OSCar great sound terribly build) But with new products thats just wrong. Building cheap just for the lower price tag. Its whats wrong with society today. There is more junk then quality. All wasted resources.

I know its how the economy works. But its also why people buy cheap stuff and say its good enough. Its only good enough because buying something better wasn't possible money wise. Don't let money rule your choice of music. Save up and buy the good stuff. And most of it share your good stuff with others that have good stuff so more good come of it. :)

23-May-13 03:44 PM

Spinkterbrain    Said...

What else is interesting here is that we have in this article an example of what looks like a very nice model indeed.These things do exist yet there's still a lot of criticism for cheaper units.So, to summarize then...If you are a person who agrees that instruments should be built to a better quality rather than compromise because of money,well here IS that product.It's also not the only high end synth out there. Why then,dismiss the products at the sub £500 level as rubbish ? I mean, you don't have to purchase any of them, The ms 20 mini,the minibrute, the bass station 2,the doepfer dark energy,the microkorg etc etc.. You have the option & a selection of more expensive alternatives, new & classics available, you can go get 'em. Lets also not forget certain other success stories that were cheap units, for example,The roland tb 303.Did that little unit fail to 'go professional' ? It was another affordable unit.Some say that it sounded awful but look where it went. The truth is really that manufactures who give us affordable or budget synthesizers are putting creative tools into the hands of a wider market population & by doing that ,inevitably they provide opportunities to more users, would be musicians,programmers etc..It means people can start somewhere ! Perhaps aspire to more luxury items later on. What was anyone's first synthesizer ? Was it a £2000 beast or an affordable but practical unit ?? Honestly, i would genuinely love to own a synth as good looking as this Shmidt & maybe i'll get one eventually but for now i can definitely get some fantastic sounds out of low end affordable gear ! Hands down.

23-May-13 05:17 PM

marx    Said...

This is ridiculous. The writer's argument is about exclusivity music hardware fetishism. The same lament as all the rest of those that want to keep people from "diluting" the quality of music. The synth has oscillators and filters just like any $100 VST, so how is inherently more interesting? See reasons above.

23-May-13 08:47 PM

GetLostGrandpa    Said...

Agree with the above...

Just another undercover elitist fetishist pig crying about the "good old days" when electronic instruments were "exclusive" to those with large paychecks.

23-May-13 10:36 PM

Diderique    Said...

I don't know if this is completely on topic... I didn't have the money back then to buy a CS80 or Prophet, let alone a Moog moduler system. SQ Pro One was within my reach and I learned synthesis on this black box with terrible keyboard and awful mod/pitch wheels. I sold it because the knobs were bust after a few years, so my experiences with classic hardware are not that good. DX and D-50 followed bacause eveyone had them. Roland D-20 was my workstation for a few years, but is sounded mediocre, especially measured from todays standards. However I fully enjoy the broad sound design possibilities and audio quality of soft synths these days. From the virtual CS80's and Minimoogs (no they don't sound like the original, but when you record the original and tame it into a workable audio format (wav), a lot of the differences are gone) to more original synths like Cube, Razor, Skanner, Synplant, Mälstrom, PadShop, Rayblaster and Steampipe2. No reason for pessimism here :-). I still can't afford a car from over $ 5000,- so let alone a synth, and I'm not an amauteur but a professionally trained musician and teacher.

24-May-13 06:20 AM

synthman    Said...

Spinkterbrain, your name says it all. We are just commenting here and then you have to go ballistic on people. If you find the need to put people down and troll this article then go buy your toy like synths and lock yourself in your room like a good little boy. As for the new MS20, it is boring sounding. How many times can people listen to the same old 1980's sounding MS20 sound before they get tired of it. Look towards the future in sound not the past. I will pay a good bucks for a quality made, fresh sounding synth, but most of the instrument companies today are not producing them. They just keep putting out these cheep made toy like boxes for the kiddies. And that's OK for a home bound beginner musician but for us road worthy professionals they will not do. The new Dave Smith Prophet 12 is definitely one synth that is on my must have list. It produced fresh new sounds that I have never heard before. Way to go Dave.

24-May-13 07:21 AM

JoeDee    Said...

I may be wrong but what is this thirst for analog synths? To me they sound boring, the same or similar. Not very interesting sounding at all. People are obsessed with them and I just don't get it. I would rather hear something more modern sounding.

24-May-13 07:41 AM

Mattsynth    Said...

I would love to see more professional quality made synths hit the market. Most of the synths made today are cheaply made or are missing modern features like patch storage, full size keyboards, etc. I myself like a fully loaded synth with all the bells and whistles, they make my life as a musician much easer.

24-May-13 08:57 AM

Spinkterbrain    Said...

Anyone who thinks a synthesizer sounds boring is in the wrong place. SYNTHMAN...It's not me who's trolling here or provoking. Just look at all gear snobs here & read what i was answering to. I didn't go ballistic as you say.Your comment was personal, aimed directly at me. Who's the troll then ? If you want be personal then look at yourself first.You say synths are boring & you call yourself synthman...Very imaginative. My view here is based solely on the content i'm reading & not aimed at individuals.Call me a good little boy then !..I'll take that as a compliment since you seem to know my age. You have your say & i'll have mine just as the internet gives us all a voice, not just you.Are you new to the web ?

24-May-13 08:58 AM

Prokey    Said...

Boo Hoo, I think Spinkterbrain is going to cry. I have also read your comments Spinkterbrain and it sounds to me like you are trying to pick a fight or something. Please use another site for your conflicts, you are disrupting this one. By the way I would love to own this synth.

24-May-13 09:28 AM

Spinkterbrain    Said...

Alright. Obviously the written word comes across harder sounding than real speech. If anyone here is offended by anything i have said, i apologize. It was not intentional. My first comments were meant to be constructive. For the record, i'm not offended by any of you.

24-May-13 09:53 AM

Synthman Sucks    Said...

Neither the Minibrute nor the Mini MS-20 are made of plastic. Both have more soul than the lame Prophet 12 which sounds like a cheap digital toy in comparison.

24-May-13 10:35 AM

Let's hear it synthman    Said...

synthman, if you're such an accomplished "roadworthy professional" how about you post links to some of your work?

24-May-13 10:47 AM

Mr Mono    Said...

I love my analogue gear. Its infinitley better than any computer mouse or controller twiddling. If you just buy synths because you like build quality and like to fiddle with knobs then fine. If you make music for people to listen to, then the amount you invest is not relative to talent or quality. You just need to go on youtube to see some of the dreadful music being made on £10k modulars and some of the great stuff being made on a £150 va. Im glad korg have gone retro. Prices on the used market are just ludicous. Only a small amount of other audiophiles (and im sure theyre a rare breed) can tell where a 3k synth or a 90 quid emulator has been used. The analogue sound (and it is only the analogue sound) should not be restricted to people that have masses of disposable income. However, quality synths have proven very important and are needed. But all you see is variations of the same thing with slightly different nuiances. Time to move with the times.

24-May-13 12:43 PM

koraDave    Said...

It's sign of the times we are living in... I agree that Mp3s suck, and making music on a iPad / iPhone is a joke - Remember, you get what you pay for! Should have never sold my Moog System 15!

24-May-13 12:52 PM

onimpulse    Said...

My problem with cheap stuff is, that it often gets expensive in the long because it dies.

For me the fun in synthesizers is controlling sound, even more fun with quality hardware pots that don't die after a few month of heavy.

24-May-13 12:55 PM

Ben JarDvis    Said...

Tell you what, you buy your expensive gear and when you get board with it, I'll buy it off Craigslist. For half the price.

24-May-13 03:46 PM

Spinkterbrain    Said...

Quote "Prokey Said...

Boo Hoo, I think Spinkterbrain is going to cry. I have also read your comments Spinkterbrain and it sounds to me like you are trying to pick a fight or something. Please use another site for your conflicts, you are disrupting this one." Unquote.

I don't eat the same sheep food.I have a view of my own opinion.It demonstrates individuality. I'm not a fighter.Should i change my opinion to suit you ? I am not in conflict with anyone.Don't feel threatened by blog posts, they can't hurt you !

24-May-13 05:49 PM

GetLostGrandpa    Said...

Myself, and the folks over at Synthtopia have concluded that all of you are a bunch of fucking douchebag gear snob elitists.

Sprinklbrain or whatever is exactly right. Synthman, you and your ilk are dinosaurs.

25-May-13 01:48 AM

me haha me    Said...

wow I never knew Benny Hill was a synth man

25-May-13 08:18 AM

yes    Said...

What price ? you must be joking Benny Hill

25-May-13 08:20 AM

gridsleep    Said...

My car only cost a bit more than half of a Schmidt. So, Schmidt--new, warrantied. CS-80--old, same price range, maintenance nightmare. Andromeda--old, about 1/6 - 1/5 price, some starting to fail. MemoryMoog--old, maybe 1/2 the price, probably impossible to fix. Prophet-08--new, 1/10 price, warrantied. But there is really no comparison. The sounds and usage are all different. You can't compare a Roland RD-700 to a Steinway. It's just a ridiculous concept. The Schmidt is what it is, a labor of love. If you have the dough, go for it. If you don't--work for it. In the end, you just have to decide if your talent is worth the price, and if the device is worth your time. Not everyone gets to drive a Bugatti Veyron, nor does everyone want to--or at least they won't admit to it. If you were gifted with any synth you could want, how many would say "Schmidt"?

25-May-13 10:49 AM

Coda    Said...

I purched a Minibrute just for fun. What a piece of junk. I was tired of the unit within 8 hours. Sold it on eBay to some other sucker like me. That will be the last cheap synth I will every buy. Save your money for quality made synths, it pays in the long run. The new Korg ms20 is not on quality list. I wish there were more quality instruments to purchase out there.

25-May-13 01:20 PM

downtoearth    Said...

Yep....Fuckin' gear snobs. Sound like they have a jack plug stuffed up their arse. Anyone would think they're royalty. Synthman, coda. You're all full of shit ! There's musicians in the industry making wicked fat sounds with low end gear & releasing it. Like that spinkterbrain say's 'it's not the gear' it's the muso'.

25-May-13 03:12 PM

Mattsynth    Said...

I been playing keyboards for over 30 years and have seen this phase before when Roland put out the 606, 303, 101 and many other less expensive instruments. These instruments started the Techno seen. Maybe these new batch of inexpensive instruments will start another style of music. Musicians will evolve and use the instruments that are available to them. Because I tour a lot these days I need more powerful synths that are built like a tank but musicians will make do with what there wallet will buy them so I see these cheaper instrument making it big. Musicians will make do and come up with amazing music using a full fledge or low cost instrument. I would like to see better quality synths because of my situation but it will be interesting to see what people do with these lower cost instruments.

25-May-13 04:22 PM

Spinkterbrain    Said...

Well said Mattsynth.Fair comment.It's good to hear that i'm not the only one who considers both sides of the coin. Respect.

25-May-13 04:29 PM

sean    Said...

While I see some truths in this article and comments section, I also see some misconceptions and misunderstandings as well. How I disagree: Cheaper IS cool in the sense people with real musical know-how and the ability to contribute something artistic can now start doing so in their bedrooms at an early age while someone my age (40) could only dream of doing such when they were in High School. This is great I think and will only make for a larger variety and depth overall in available music in the future. Does it result in more crap? Of course. But it also means more good stuff as well. More than likely it will also result in more synthesizer enthusiasts in future generations which will ultimately bring more buyers to the higher-end market, thereby lowering the costs to people whom have the money to buy the more quality gear. How I agree: Well, I agree totally in respects to the words on software. People think programers just hit a few buttons, slap in some graphics, and charge 20 bucks. Really? Coding takes a lot of time and knowhow. And to make something really innovative like Iris, we're talking a ton of time, bug checking, as well as follow up development. The iOS world (where I work) is even harder as Apple is constantly making changes to the platform and all the customers think everything should only cost a dollar. Summary: I think that corners are being cut on some things that shouldn't be by some of the major manufacturers. So even on hardware, I'm not in total disagreement. I don't get why companies selling items over $400 are moving to plastic bodied units. To me, if it costs $40 extra bucks to make the same unit with a steel or aluminium body, do it. I personally would rather see a unit with fewer features and a better build quality than the opposite. Under $400 bucks, I get it. Make it the cheapest you can to access as many knob twiddlers be they just curious about synths or semi-enthusiasts. Go over $350-$400 dollars and you're likely talking about someone that is actually planning to use your device to make something creative or plans to add that unit to a larger group of creative devices, and these users surely plan on using the unit for a longer period of time.

26-May-13 05:50 AM

time changed    Said...

see the debate on synthtopia same shit ,same snobbery !!! if cheap stuff sounds why buy rare,weak, unreliable but prestigious brands??? The key is that the musicians of the 60s in 80 masked their needy inspiration short of effects and of extremely expensive synthesizers!!

27-May-13 07:31 AM

Splap    Said...

Well it seems that the real issue here is "time spent with your gear" rather than how expensive your gear is...And this issue has always messed with musicians' minds.I personally think that there is no harm to be done from lower quality-cheaper synths as I think of them as tools not as "pieces of art" themselves. Surely there are some instruments out there that have revolutionized music-making but that had NOTHING to do with them being pricey and of the highest quality. The minimoog was a tiny,stripped down version of the modular monsters, that cost a fraction of their price, so was the DX7 and they were the most influential synths I believe...People need to start making music rather than "making love" to their gear...thats what the problem is and believe me its the same problem all over the digital arts world (take photography or cinema for example)...

27-May-13 07:51 AM

Kevin Nolan    Said...

@ author: agree broadly with your point - but - this is the wrong example to use. This instrument is not affordable, and in essence is not in any manner 'real'. Such quality could never reach the masses and would never be achievable on a braad scale (you chose the example!!). Such quality is too expensive to put into production, so it is not a viable reality for all but the very, VERY rich. In that light - what's your point? As history has shown, synth quality is not sustainable because it is not just a matter of scale - the market is simply too small. So if slightly poorer quality instruments appear, it is only because of the realities, not lack of care by manufacturers or lack of desire by end users. I'm an OASYS owner but Korg had to abandon it for a poorer quality physical implementation though Kronos. I'm sure Krog would have loved if more had bought and sustained the OASYS. Everyone agrees that striving for quality is good (- that is not lost on anyone and you make no new point in that; but you have chosen about the most unrealistic real world example you could have; and in so doing actually verified that your point is unsustainable in the real world. @ Brian form USA - concur 100%. People complain about a CS80 costing $5000 - $10000 on ebay, and wouldn't think twice about paying that for a 2nd had car of questionable quality. Expectations for the price of electronic instruments is out of proportion (but then again many musicians are not the highest of earners!!)

27-May-13 09:03 AM

Oli B    Said...

Just give me a synth, cheap one, expensive one, analog, virtual, digital. I love them all...

28-May-13 06:15 AM

Tacopan    Said...

The difference between men and children.

28-May-13 06:42 AM

Dan A.    Said...

It's worth $20k. Polyphonic synths of the late 70s and early 80s weren't cheap either: Prophet 5, $4K, OB-X, $5K, Memorymoog, $6K, etc,.. A late 50s Hammond B3 in walnut was $2800. People bought all of those, and people will buy the Schmidt.

29-May-13 07:53 AM

lagrangeaudio    Said...

When I was studying IT years ago we had a philosophical debate about quality, software quality specifically but the point can be extended. After much heated discussion we agreed on a definition: If the product meets or exceeds your expectation then it is considered to be a quality product. Quality as in qualified. It just highlights the fact that everyone is different. The problem becomes when the price of something changes the perception around expectation. You would expect a lot from a $20K synth but much less from a $5 app. On a personal note I feel cheap when I buy something cheap, but that's just me.

29-May-13 11:08 PM

audiodestruction    Said...

The class warrior in me wants to balk at the 20k$ synthesizer but the artisan in me appreciates the love and respect put into an instrument of that caliber. The real point is "if it sounds good it is good" paraphrasing Miles Davis. I think the ratio of good art to bad art will always stay roughly the same. So therefore by democratizing the tools to make art you are bringing more people into the pool. You may have to sift through more shit but there is more of a chance for brilliance to occur.

01-Jun-13 06:50 PM

Sabrewave    Said...

I believe there is such a thing as technological evolution for synths. Every synth model can occupy or be built to occupy a niche in the environment of the synth community marketplace. Those that become successful only get there by being played for decades. My persoanl view is that only time and trial ultimately define our synths and no synth of 'poor' quality, however artists define quality in the marketplace, lasts long enough to be anything more than a test or trial in the great synth race. Note that there have been some synth trials that have sold hundreds of thousands and lasted for decades since the 70's, but the manufactturer sold a lot of other crap just to stay in business.

03-Jun-13 08:28 PM

selercs    Said...

Ms 20 sounds amazing! I don't what some of you are talking about! What sounds crap are the softsynths and that clear crisp sound heard on most dance records today. Bring real analog back!

04-Jun-13 08:20 AM

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