Replicants, imposters and the real deal: Issues of non-use and technology resistance in vintage and software instruments
First Monday

Replicants, imposters and the real deal: Issues of non-use and technology resistance in vintage and software instruments by Claes Thoren and Andreas Kitzmann

This paper explores non-use and technology resistance among musicians and enthusiasts devoted to analog synthesizers (particularly vintage synthesizers from the 1970s), and the recent influx of software simulations that often elicit critical and negative reactions among this group of devotees. Drawing on a combination of assemblage theory and affect theory this paper presents a case study of a prominent online music community and asks: What does this particular instance of technological resistance reveal about the social construction of technology and the on-going emotional and material negotiations that constitute digital and analog experiences? Results show that the possession or appreciation of analog synthesizers and the rejection of their digital counterparts is less about composing music or playing with others and more about a solitary activity that is deeply emotional, experiential and carefully untainted by the impurity of digital processing and equipment.


1. Introduction
2. Previous research around non-use
3. Research design
4. Assemblages, materiality and affect
5. Findings and discussion
6. Conclusions



1. Introduction

Recent years have seen a resurgence of vintage analog musical gear and certain coveted models of analog synthesizers from the early 1970s such as the ARP 2600 or the Minimoog are rare, very expensive and oftentimes in an unreliable condition. This analog trend caught the attention of Forbes, which in January 2014 published an article entitled “Small firms are making big bucks in the analog economy” and stated: “It is fair to say that we are seeing something of an analog heyday” and proceeded to quote Dave Smith, founder of instrument manufacturer Sequential Circuits, as saying that “the music world is experiencing a second analog ‘golden age’” (Hamill, 2014). One response to this trend is French software company Arturia ( that since 1999 offers faithful “recreations” of highly respected hardware synths. Arturia’s business model is centered on making rare, legendary instruments available to electronic musicians at a low cost without the unreliability or space-consuming drawbacks of the originals. The original sound quality is according to Arturia meticulously replicated using their trademarked “TAE engine” (True Analog Emulation). This development in the music business is not without its critics, resulting in considerable debate in the electronic musician community and a rift between those who categorically resist the software experience in favor of 1970s hardware and those that choose to see emulation software as an affordable and convenient investment. A common argument from the critics is that software sounds “too perfect” and “cold” as opposed to its “warm,” “organic” sounding hardware counterpart. Such arguments persist in spite of a series of rigorous blind tests and sonic comparisons performed by prominent musician magazine Sound on Sound using an oscilloscope that revealed near-indiscernible differences (Reid, 2009).

Against this backdrop this paper explores non-use and technology resistance in electronic musicians, particularly with reference to vintage analog hardware synthesizers from the 1970s and the recent influx of software emulation equivalents. Applying a combination of assemblage theory (DeLanda, 2006) and affect theory (Massumi, 2002) to an empirical case study of an online discussion forum, this paper asks: What does this particular instance of technological resistance reveal about the social construction of technology and the on-going emotional and material negotiations that constitute digital and analog experiences?

Previous inquiries around replication (Benjamin, 2010) and digitization have primarily focused on the music recording and distribution industry (Downes, 2010), a similar retro trend discernible in the resurgence of vinyl in the audiophile community and the manner in which social capital is driven by expert knowledge and the ownership of rare pieces of equipment (O’Neill, 2004; Waxell and Jansson, 2013). As a departure from such works, this paper combines theories of assemblages and materiality (DeLanda, 2006; Kallinikos, et al., 2012; Searle, 1995) with affect theory (Massumi, 2002) in order to shed light on the emotive and sociomaterial “entanglements” that these musical instruments create, and that subsequently inform how electronic musicians think about their instruments and their musical process. Empirical data was gathered from one of the largest online music communities “Gearslutz” with over 250,000 members and 750,000 forum threads in order to explore the ongoing “analog vs. digital” debate.

Essentially, we question and discuss the connection between: 1) perceived experience, 2) the affective constitution of materiality, and 3) the resulting non-use or resistance. In order to answer the research question we examine how conceptual ideas of authenticity and artificiality are parsed through the materiality of musical hardware and software as the analog synthesizer is either represented as a stand-alone physical object, or primarily virtualized in the form of software with secondary hardware. Both dedicated analog hardware and what we might call its software counterpart are more or less constituted around hardware equipment. While an analog synthesizer is a traditional standalone physical instrument with oscillators and knobs that is plugged into an amplifier, software synthesizers require a personal computer or tablet on which to run the software itself, as well as a third-party computer-appended MIDI control surface in the form of a generic USB-connected keyboard. Thus the term “software synthesizer” is not without its materiality. Given these combinations of material and social flows on either side of the analog and software divide, this paper presents some insights into how aspects of materiality influence the way in which musicians choose to adopt and/or reject a particular practice of musicianship.

The paper proceeds as follows. In the next section entitled “previous research around non-use”, we briefly outline previous scholarly work into the area of technology resistance and non-use. The subsequent section entitled “research design” outlines the methodological aspects of the study and strategies pertaining to data collection. Thereafter, in the “assemblages, materiality and affect” section, we present the main analytical framework and introduce necessary theoretical concepts used in the analysis of the results particularly focusing on how affective (emotional) and material aspects play into the experience of using or refusing to use a specific piece of technology. In subsequent sections, the findings of the study are presented and analyzed, lastly followed by discussion and conclusions.



2. Previous research around non-use

Technological non-use has conventionally been understood in terms of lack or deficit, meaning that non-users of a particular technology, such as the Internet, are seen as lacking in terms of a skill set, ability or socio-economic potential or opportunity (Cushman and Klecun, 2006). As such, non-users are either to be converted into fully fledged users or dismissed as outliers to be quietly set aside and ignored. Over the past few decades a large body of scholarly work has been developed pointing “towards the growing emergence of ‘information apartheid’ and a ‘digital divide’; popularly seen as occurring between technological ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ or the ‘information rich’ and ‘information poor.’” [1]. What is telling about such terminology is its binary nature, which oversimplifies the complex nature of technological use and non-use. As Selwyn notes, this over-simplification is indicative of how more complex questions around the nature of technological non-use have remained “on the periphery of academic work on technology and society. Despite the endless futurology, pundit supposition and market research forecasting that surrounds information and communications technology we still know little about the patterns of non-uptake and non-use of new technology” [2].

Such sentiments are echoed in a growing body of research into technological non-use that shifts the emphasis of conceiving non-users as always potential users or users in waiting to one that takes “non-use on its own terms” [3] and to recognize and value non-users as “important agents of sociotechnical change” (Baumer, et al., 2013). Accordingly, non-use needs to be reframed as an integral subset of use itself, meaning that individuals who opt out of using a particular technology, such as those associated with digital information, need “to be considered part of the information society” [4] as opposed to exclusions from it. In order to achieve such a reframing it is necessary to break down the general category of non-use into multiple subcategories in order to better capture the diversity of reasons why individuals are not engaged with a particular technological practice. On the broadest level, one can divide non-use into the categories of voluntary and non-voluntary, which effectively moves beyond the consideration that non-use “necessarily involves inequality and deprivation” [5]. This is an important first step given that it effectively injects a level of agency into the sphere of non-use where non-use is not the result of passivity or a kind of implied helplessness, but an active conscious choice, which compels us to understand non-use as alternative use.

This concern over active agents is embraced by Satchell and Dourish’s (2009) informative investigation into non-use, where the authors provide further subdivisions in the form of six forms of non-use: lagging adoption, active resistance, disenchantment, disenfranchisement, displacement and disinterest (Satchell and Dourish, 2009). In the first category, lagging adoption is characterized as a delayed entry into a particular technological practice. Active resistance is a category of non-users “who steadfastly refuse to adopt a technology, in active and considered ways” [6]. What is crucial here is the emphasis on the “active” and “considered,” meaning that decisions to not adopt a technological practice are motivated by conscious and perhaps even ideologically driven ideas or agendas. The next category is that of disenchantment, which is described as a “nostalgic wistfulness for a world passing out of existence” [7]. Here non-use of a newer technology is prompted by the notion that the preceding technological form is more authentic on some level and thus representative of some ideal or at least preferred state of being. Disenfranchisement speaks to the manner in which specific social groups are excluded from participating in “particular kinds of technological arrangements” [8] by a variety of limiting factors, which could range from physical and cognitive barriers or impairments to a host of socio-economic, environmental and social obstacles that simply make access to a particular technology and the practices associated with it too difficult or even impossible (Cushman and Klecun, 2006). The category of displacement is one that is described as “destabilizing the notion of the user” given that it refers to situations of what can be described as “second hand use”. The example given by Satchell and Dourish is that of limited phone ownership in rural communities. Nevertheless, phone use or even the experience of being impacted by the kind of communication a phone makes possible, extends far beyond the few homes that have the device sitting on a table somewhere. Technology use therefore becomes a kind of service, where those with phones will relay messages or provide temporary access to those without telephones. The final category is that of disinterest where non-use is the result of a simple lack of interest or motivation and as such the objection is not based on anything particularly ideological nor can it be attributed to socio-economic limitations. It is simply disinterest, pure and simple: I don’t need it so I don’t want it. Yet, as Satchell and Dourish point out, the flip side of this seemingly straightforward sentiment is the extent to which technology is no longer just instrumental in our culture but is increasingly symbolic and linked to the larger trends within mainstream consumer and commercial culture. Accordingly, one’s use or non-use of a particular product is not necessarily informed by factors such as efficiency, practicality, access, and other measurable qualities — but rather the intangible and fleeting motivations of taste, style, mood and trends. The dividing line between use and non-use is therefore potentially thin and unstable given that individuals can quickly slide from one category to another because their interest is piqued or dissuaded as a result of changing styles, trends and dispositions.

Among the notable implications of considering non-use via a multitude of categories is the affirmation of “the dual nature of technological objects” in so much that they are “constituted by both physical form and social function” [9]. Derived from John Searle’s work on social reality, Faulkner and Runde’s approach is centered on how technological objects are assigned a kind of “agentive function” by the “practical interests of human beings” [10]. Generally speaking such “assignment” is done by social groups either intentionally or not, who designate a range of functions or uses that form part of that object’s identity and role. Depending on the nature of the object, the size and scale of the social group varies considerably. Objects such as forks and spoons, for example, would have its agentive function defined by the individual and collective practices of a very large group, perhaps even as large as the entire society [11]. However, objects such as surgical instruments would be given functionality by a relatively small and highly specialized group of individuals.

Faulkner and Runde focus their attentions on the practice of turntablism and the manner in which turntables are given a particular status and use by DJs or turntable artists. What resonates in particular with our own concerns is how the role and impact of technological change in the development and use of the turntable reveals an “arbitrariness in whether or not a new technical identity emerges after one or more technological changes and, if it does, exactly where the line is drawn between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ technical identity” [12]. This is similar to the supposed “lines” between analog synthesizers and their digital clones, especially when it comes to emerging identities and social constructions around the appreciation and use of these technologies. Social structure and rules thus have the potential to inform the design and manufacture of new products more so than specific advances in technology. In other words, designers may utilize an “older” aesthetic or mechanism [13] in response to users who favor such forms over the likes of touch screens or buttons. These “retro” design decisions arguably extend the concept of non-use to include more incremental types of resistance that could be characterized as piecemeal dismissals or refusals to adapt as opposed to wholesale rejection. Such fragmented forms of resistance again point to the complex social and cultural forces at play in both the use and non-use of technology.

The engagement we have with technology is also an emotional one, as demonstrated by Marc Perlman’s (2004) study of the hi-fi audiophile community, which are consumers of high-end audio equipment. Perlman notes that “audiophiles construct their own universe of meaning around their equipment,” often creating a distinctive set of attitudes that privilege personal experience over any attempts based on “scientifically authorized claims of audio engineering” [14]. These subjectively based attitudes and experiences give rise to a kind of epistemic authority where audiophiles will defend their preferences for a particular piece of equipment on the basis of their highly specialized knowledge and personal engagement that emphasizes subjective experience over scientific methodology. Such authority is difficult to argue against because any counter claims can be quickly dismissed by virtue of the authoritative status of the audiophile who “just knows” what sounds right, thanks in particular to him having so-called “golden ears” that “privileges the audiophile’s intimate, embodied, personal, inalienable, charismatic superiority of aural discrimination” [15] This is distinct to the mere “meter readers” who base their evaluations on “rationalized, public, impersonal procedures dictated by socially certified experts” [16].

Thus, “golden earism” is constituted around an emotional response as well as providing status and import within the specific contexts of the loosely defined audiophile community. The ability to stand up and declare, with unflinching confidence that analog instruments sound better than digital ones for instance, speaks to an impassioned commitment to a shared ideal and in some cases a belief that they are in defense of the very essence of music itself. One of the stated issues with digital recording, as raised by Fantel (1986), is that it is ‘unnatural’ and that it parcels out music “in separate numerical packets for shipment through time and space by way of recording.” For audiophiles, music is “sensation and emotion, and as such, organic and indivisible” [17].

To summarize, this study contributes to the broader discourse around digitization in society, and the present case study represents a type of resistance to technology that defies a traditional notions of efficiency where “digital” equals progress and efficiency with consistent high-quality perfected output produced cheaply and to a broad consumer spectrum. In the case of analog vs. digital synthesizers, these virtues are in many cases rejected in favor of their opposites. The study is designed around the paradox this represents: when a technology arrives that can replace and democratize an older technology that traditionally has been the privilege of a professional elite, tensions arise. The result is a distinction of epistemic authority between those that own the object and those that merely possess the software emulation. Users that own vintage originals are sometimes envied and respected for being able to benchmark the quality of the software, and sometimes questioned whether they are simply engaging in “analog snobbery” or “analog elitism”.



3. Research design

This paper uses data collected from an online discussion forum in order to map and analyze a particular discourse around a particular subject. Non real-time (asynchronous) online bulletin boards or discussion forums have previously been described as straightforwardly observable, relatively easy to use, and accessible (Andersson and Kanuka, 1997; Hsiung, 2000).

3.1. Data collection

This paper takes an inductive, exploratory approach to data collection from a particularly prominent and publicly open online discussion forum aimed at aspiring and experienced musicians called “Gearslutz” ( The forum does not require membership or login to read, and all the threads and posts are public and only actively contributing requires a login. The discussion forum in question covers all kinds of musicianship from professionals to amateurs, and from acoustic to electronic instruments. In total the forum is currently comprised of over 250,000 members and 750,000 forum threads.

In order to find and capture the analog versus software debate in this vast online forum we opted to limit our focus to the subforum “Electronic Music Instruments and Electronic Music Production” with approximately 50,000 threads. With the subforum as a starting point we entered the search term: “analog vs. digital” into the discussion forum’s search engine, resulting in 305 forum threads which were then subsequently captured using Web scraping software. In order to further reduce the amount of data, we subsequently performed empirical sampling in order to perform a qualitative deep analysis. Sampling was accomplished by scanning the title of each of the 305 threads for particular relevance (focusing on threads whose title explicitly mention or otherwise explicitly relate to the analog vs. digital debate), discarding 205 threads in favour of a final total of 97 forum threads of particular interest, containing a total of 15,703 forum posts. These threads and posts were aggregated into a number of text files for convenient coding.

3.2. Coding

The remaining dataset of 97 threads and 15,703 posts were imported into the qualitative software package NVivo (Bazeley and Jackson, 2013). The data was subsequently inductively coded in order to generate distinct features of non-use in the analog vs. digital debate. This was accomplished by condensing the bulk of our dataset into analyzable units [18]. Following Miles and Huberman (1994) we created a “start list” of codes prior to reading the data, and as we initiated coding this list was gradually modified and expanded as we iterated back and forth between the categories and the data. Thus, while the initial step of this study is driven by deductive reasoning (establishing a set of categories prior to coding), the first round of coding served to expand on the initial seed categories, allowing for the creation of entirely new categories. Coding started with the following codes:

  • Quest for authenticity
  • Epistemic authority
  • Active resistance
  • Disenchantment and disillusionment
  • Segregation and disenfranchisement
  • Rejection and disinterest

These initial seed categories were partly extensions of Satchell and Dourish (2009) categories of non-use, Pearlman (2004) and Waxell and Jansson’s (2013) categories representing the authenticity and epistemic authority aspects as rationales for non-use and resistance. As coding progressed, the categories were aggregated into three broader themes of discursive dichotomies, or oppositional themes:

  • Desirable vs. undesirable imperfections
  • Analog ears vs. scientific evidence
  • Disenfranchisement, disillusionment and disinterest

The following theoretical framework was then used to reflect on and discuss the contents of these three categories.



4. Assemblages, materiality and affect

The online forum dwellers that we describe in this paper share several traits with what Perlman (2004) in his study of hi-fi audiophiles call “golden earism”, as they discursively and similarly “construct their own universe of meaning around their equipment” and “resist /.../ scientifically authorized claims by privileging personal experiences” and “arguing against scientific methodologies that seem to expose those experiences as illusory” [19]. That is not to say that everyone is in agreement. On one side we have those that engage in discussion by referring to objective undisputable “truths”, or what Searle (1995) and other theorists of the realist persuasion call “brute facts” that come in the form of measured waveforms passed through an oscilloscope and established facts regarding the human hearing capacity. On the other hand we have what by some is described as a sensory illusion, manifested as heated arguments and debates between posters on Gearslutz around the subjective experiences of certain synthesizers using abstract language like “3D”, “alive” and “organic” as opposed to “cold”, “computerized” and “consisting of repeating patterns”. While audiophiles such as in Perlman (2004) are more concerned with what comes out of the speakers rather than the aesthetics of the speakers themselves and the amplifier knobs, these aspects very much concern electronic musicians and are an integral part of the sonic experience. The posters in the “analog vs. digital” threads are attempting to put words on something ephemeral, metaphysical, almost sacred — the emotional, affective, haptic (i.e., physical) response to using and listening to a particular instrument. This overall affective experience is wholly centered on a catalytic object and the visual, physical presence and haptic quality of the machine or the instrument.

We set this theory section up by making two claims: 1) that science alone i.e., what Perlman (2004) calls “meter reading” cannot fully account for what is going on in these subforums, and 2) that the aspects of materiality involved in this case only make sense from an affective viewpoint, i.e., as a material embodiment of a sensory experience where the instrument and the performer enter into a reciprocal, performative state. To this end, we combine a theory of materialism based in a realist social ontology with affect theory in order to shed light on non-use and resistance and its connection with the affective nature of these musical artifacts. This theoretical base encompasses both the posters that refer to brute facts, as well as those making emotional, affective claims.

In order to establish a robust, conceptual base from which to discuss technological non-use, we borrow the concept of the “assemblage” from Manuel DeLanda’s (2006) social ontology “assemblage theory”. We will furthermore use the iconic analog synthesizer Yamaha CS-80, manufactured between 1977 and 1978 as an illustrative example throughout this section. This particular instrument shares fame with two other well-known cultural artifacts: the film Blade Runner (1982) and the film’s soundtrack composed by Vangelis who throughout his career placed the instrument at the forefront of his work. In 2003, Arturia released the Arturia CS80v, a software emulation with the promotional tagline “she’s a replicant” referring to the near-indiscernible androids of the Blade Runner film. The vintage instrument and Arturia’s emulation appear quite often in our empirical data, which speaks to the centrality of both in this case and in our analysis.

Assemblage theory describes complex social systems as comprised of multiple components existing along a material/expressive continuum. Thus, a component part of an assemblage can be either expressive or material, or a mixture of both depending on what capacities it exercises — a similar argument as in Faulkner and Runde [20] where a no parking sign expresses a social regulation in addition to being a material artifact [21]. Furthermore, an assemblage is always “territorialized”, i.e., born when component parts become irreducibly dependent on each other, and relationships are formed that are aimed towards a unified goal [22]. A person playing an electronic synthesizer can be seen as an assemblage consisting of material components (e.g., a musically inclined person, ears that can hear, the instrument, electricity) and expressive components (e.g., the musical score that the musician reads from, musical training, basic synthesis knowledge, the layout of the knobs and keys of the instrument, amplitude and other sonic properties). Conceiving of this situation as a self-regulatory social system, the emergent result is the musical performance — a causal, sensory experience that can compel the listener (or performer) to experience goose bumps, chills, or shed tears of sentimentality. What furthermore emerges is legitimacy in the form of cultural cachet, the ability to otherwise impress an audience or generate recursive self-praise in the performer. The resistance and non-use we describe in this paper can be found in the interrelationships that the components of the music-assemblage are able to form with the outside. According to Deleuze and Guattari [23], who initially coined the “assemblage” concept, the ability to understand the fragility of an assemblage is dependent on us understanding the following:

We will ask what [the assemblage] functions with, in connection with what other things it does or does not transmit intensities, in which other multiplicities its own are inserted and metamorphosed, and with what [other assemblages] it makes its own converge.

What this means is that each component in the assemblage is continuously challenged by the “outside” as it exists in “relations of exteriority” [24]. The life of a component, and by extension the assemblage it is an integral part of, is contingent on each component’s ability to form harmonious relationships with its surroundings. For example, the synthesizer-performer assemblage would very much be dependent on available sheet music, or the electrical company and the supply of electricity. Without an electric current, the assemblage would dissolve, its components absorbed into other assemblages where the performer instead opts for an acoustic instrument or chooses to change venue to one where electricity is present. This reconfiguring of assemblages and component parts is called “reterritorialization” [25]. DeLanda [26] and expands on the concept of reterritorialization by arguing that:

one and the same assemblage can have components working to stabilize its identity as well as components forcing it to change or even transforming it into a different assemblage. In fact one and the same component may participate in both processes by exercising different sets of capacities.

At first glance what seems to be at stake, and subject to transformation, is contingent on whether an assemblage, where a vintage analog synthesizer has been replaced with emulation software, changes the ontological status of the original. The discourses we have investigated suggest that an assemblage where the original artifact is used, produces sentiments of legitimacy and respect because of its history, its sound qualities and its wooden inlays. Software, with its generic and mass produced hardware would produce sentiments of impersonation and cold, calculated simulation. Jane Bennett’s term, “vibrant matter,” [27] provides an explanation as to why the introduction of digital replicas causes such anxieties. The conventional differences between subjects and objects are minimized through a profound “knotting together” of the human agent (subject) and the material (object). In this regard, the human agent (or more broadly, and as with the term “sociomateriality” the social context) is no longer thought of as being the master builder who brings about material objects in response to the needs or circumstances of a particular sociocultural dynamic. Instead, both the subject and the object (the human agent and the thing) play an oscillating role in the construction process where agency is distributed across a field of possible outcomes as opposed to being contained within the singularity of a privileged human agent. In other words, the synthesizer is not just a means to make sound and music, it is an object of desire (or simulation) in and of itself, and therefore can be attributed an agency in that respect. Using modern software to make old sounds reflects how material properties of specific artifacts “provide people with the ability to do old things in new ways and to do things they could not do before” [28], and the end result is an intimate entangled identity between object and actor where music is not primary. Our results show that vintage synths are perceived foremost as objects of desire, and that emulations are foremost seen as objects of convenient replication conjuring images of a Taylorist assembly line ethos where performers become increasingly alienated and disconnected from their instruments in the name of digital progress.

Such a “material turn” is a departure from more deterministic modes of analysis that tend to overemphasize either social or technological constructivism. Things, such as hammers or analog synthesizers give rise to specific forms of human agency that in turn feedback into the ongoing material and social evolution of those things. In this sense materiality is engaged in a form of materialization thereby bringing about “immanent modes of self-transformation that compel us to think of causation in far more complex terms” [29]. Human choice and agency are therefore made possible “through the very resources that objects and structures dispose,” [30] but again, not in a unidirectional manner.

The ability (or inability) of a single component to hold together an assemblage and maintain legitimacy is what DeLanda [31] describes as processes of “territorialization”. Essentially what this paper investigates, in DeLanda’s terminology, are processes of deterritorialization. Non-use and forms of resistance, should it increase the homogeneity of an assemblage, represents a strengthening of the boundaries of the territory, whereas non-use and resistance that on the contrary opens boundaries and increases the heterogeneity implies the presence of deterritorializing forces at play. Indeed the term “territory” and particularly deterritorialization implies for the purposes of this paper processes of exclusion as well as inclusion, control and chaos. The consequence of such rationalization is that we have to equally consider alternative use as a form of non-use since both represent the same kind of reterritorialization, where users are driven to one choice as a result of resisting another. As DeLanda [32] and Deleuze [33] argue, “there is no deterritorialization without special reterritorialization”, i.e., the formation of a new territory, and a subsequent new assemblage in the same way that one cannot erase an ingrown habit, merely create a new one to take its place. Thus, the components of an assemblage that is fully deterritorialized does not cease to exist, but are dissolved into other assemblages or create new ones. In other words, the link between the Yamaha CS-80 instrument and its historical, cultural footprint creates a new artifact that profoundly affects its resonating power and how it is regarded and used in the future. Objects then, are capable of being genuine causal agents in as much as they are “capable of acting or interacting” [34]. Objects become integral parts in sophisticated reterritorializing processes and take on new meaning.

Brian Massumi (2002) points out that things, perception and thought are in a reciprocal relationship “into and out of each other and themselves” [35]. The thing is its being-perceives. A body is its perceivings. “Body” and “thing” and, by extension, “body” and “object” exist only as entangled, inseparable and implicated in each other. They are differential plug-ins into the same forces, two poles of the same connectability. The thing is a pole of the body and vice versa. Body and thing are extensions of each other existing along the same material/expressive continuum described by DeLanda (2006). They are mutual implications: co-thoughts of two-headed perception. The thing, the object, can be considered prostheses of the body — provided that it is remembered that the body is equally a prosthesis of the thing [36]. Such insights are important for our analysis of the findings detailed below in terms of how they allow us to augment theories of non-use by drawing attention to how affective (emotional) and material aspects are central to the experience of using or refusing to use a specific piece of technology. Users of analog synthesizers have not only strong opinions about their preferences but are engaged in a deeply personal and reciprocal relationship with their technology. These are the reciprocal relations of exteriority of the analog-synthesizer assemblage that territorialize a certain technology, in a certain way. Synthesizers thus in these instances of use function both as objects of reverence and as material agents engaged in their continuous revival, despite existing in a digital era that effectively renders them obsolete.

The takeaway is this: In an assemblage of electronic music performance, the material and the expressive components are an entangled, inseparable quality of each of the involved component parts. Agency is simultaneously and reciprocally expressive and material, indeed “knotted together”. The body and the thing are mutual recursive extensions of each other where object, perception, thought and feeling exist in a feedback loop.



5. Findings and discussion

We present the findings in the following, inductively generated categories that arose out of the data:

  1. Desirable vs. undesirable imperfections
  2. Analog ears vs. scientific evidence
  3. Disenfranchisement, disillusionment and disinterest

The first two categories represent dimensions of active resistance (Satchell and Dourish, 2009) as well as active endorsement, in other words a positive, active choice to not use software synthesizer instruments (sometimes labelled VSTs — virtual studio technologies). We found that every active choice to not use VSTs, inherently comes with a flipside — an active choice of alternative use, in this case using analog gear. As is apparent by the themes identified in the dataset, all categories address some kind of dichotomy or segregation, or in the matter of the last category, an involuntary, hybrid group where analog endorsement is paired with digital use.

5.1. Desirable vs. Undesirable Imperfections

An important issue that partly fuels the active resistance (Satchell and Dourish, 2009) to software and non-use among electronic musicians deals with imperfections, of which there are two kinds: the desirable and the undesirable, all of which have their basis in the material aspect of the synthesizer component. To begin with, an analog sound source comes with several inherent imperfections such as “temperature-induced oscillator drift” [37] (a gradual detuning noticeable when playing extended notes, particularly as the circuits heat up), distortion from overdriven filters and general background noise from the electric components, to name a few. The equivalent material component in digital form is “freed” of these unintentional imperfections that stem from limitations in the technology itself. In that sense, VSTs have been perfected and generate capacities for crisp, perfect sound, deterritorializing the buzzing detuned analog sound. Digital sound sources on the other hand have one central inherent imperfection: they are based on sampling — the process of “converting a continuous-time signal to a discrete-time signal” [38]. The industry standard of 44,1 kHz sampling frequency with 16 or 24 bits per sample represents the density and amount of samples taken from a continuous (analog) sound wave that, when plotted densely enough, are able to generate a more or less accurate representation of a continuous sound wave [39]. In practice, this means sampling in the spectrum 20–20,000 Hz, which encompasses the human hearing capacity. As a general rule, the sampling frequency should be at least equal to, or twice the maximum Hz in the range. In spite of this rule being followed with a physically inaudible tradeoff as a result, there is a clearly articulated ideological dislike — a deterritorializing force — among the Gearslutz community for digital sound, and its perceived inferior sound quality due to its lack of imperfections. The forum member “Tonnu” explains:

“The appropriate term for analog synth /.../ is the ORGANIC nature of its instability /.../ the drifty osc’s, the saturation in the filters, the distortions in its discrete components, etc.” (Tonnu)

In other words, the unpredictable nature of sound from an old analog electronic instrument makes it alive, and gives the object a quirky personality. Another forum member describes the inevitable tradeoff between analog and digital sound:

“The physical world /.../ is infinitely complex and dynamic — This is the world from which an analog signal originates. The world inside a computer is made of numbers, models, algorithms and approximations, and this is the place from which a digital sound source originates.” (EofN)

The reason one imperfection, such as the oscillator drift, is deemed desirable and another, such as the sound quality of sampled sound, is undesirable seems to stem from the subtractive nature of digital imperfection — the loss of sound, rather than the additive nature of analog imperfection, where hums, buzzes, detuning et cetera are qualities added to the sound:

“Think of a digital copy as /.../ close to but not truly identical. The digital waveform will sound exactly the same every time you play it, whereas the analog signal is alive and dynamic. You can still recognize it as the same sound, but it’s like the difference between actual wood grain and say a fake wood grain pattern. The pattern repeats. Real wood grain comes from chaos and does not repeat.” (ModularJack)

This perspective on imperfections point towards the notion that analog synthesizers do not territorialize music or group musicianship per se, and seem to preferably be enjoyed in a solitary fashion. In order to understand the nature of the solo performer that seems to be pervasive in this Gearslutz subforum, we noted the deficit of forum posts that discussed analog synthesizers in a music production setting, as interests seem to gravitate more towards sound design than music. One forum member seems frustrated with this situation and the lack of music perspective (or, for that matter, music uploads) in the subforum. Prior to this posting, the discussion had been ongoing for quite some pages of about the nature of analog sound using rather metaphysical and abstract terminology:

“Gearslutz needs to be about music PRODUCTION and how hardware and software contribute to that PRODUCTION, not well this is ‘warmer’, or ‘more 3D’. I could care less. If you are not making music, and cannot explain to me as a musician why x is better than y in that context the opinion is worthless. Period.” (Operaman)

Some posts later, another forum member seems to reference Operaman’s post:

“After doing/trying to make music for years, I am getting tired of staring at the screen and ‘mousing’ all day long. Mind you, this is /.../ the actual description of the way I am/feel. /.../ Guys who grew up with analog equipment and consoles may feel a certain sense of liberation when thinking about the possibility of doing most of the work with ‘one box’, so to speak.” (Augenblick)

The “liberation” Operaman speaks of, describes a feeling of restriction and alienation from needing a large setup — a computer, keyboards, wires, cords and installing software. The sense is that with screens and computers, performance becomes secondary to technology. We found several posts indicating an active choice to avoid “staring at a screen”, which can be construed as an active non-use of screen-based technologies, where the solution is to consciously revert to older, analog technologies:

“I find that the interface itself takes away all the spontaneity and visceral joy /.../. it just seems like I spend so much time just staring at a screen and navigating menus and endless, tedious mouse work.” (Steelcity)

Adding further merit to the idea of the lone analog performer, we note that the sought-after material property of temperature-induced oscillator drift, where the instrument drifts in and out of tune, effectively deterritorializes the activity of playing in a group with other instruments that are in constant tune. Nevertheless, the digital is in this case seen as being “too perfect” producing a “static, bad sound”, lacking the unpredictability associated with analog synthesizers:

“[T]to me what adds warmth is the analog signal path, analog oscillators & filters and the pitch drift.” (AnalogGuy)

To acknowledge the many more examples of this kind of perfection/imperfection rhetoric found throughout the data, this recurring theme equates imperfections with the object’s (musical instrument’s) living experience, and the sense that one is engaging with a unique instrument. To a significant degree, this is in marked contrast to what Perlman (2004) observed in his study of audiophiles where accurate and undistorted representation is the most important.

For analog synth purists though, music seems secondary to the analog technology itself, revealing a glaring inconsistency when the resistance to use software synthesizers is motivated by the way in which computer technologies take away “spontaneity and joy”. Clearly there is a perceived difference between digital interfaces and vintage analog interfaces. There are individuals who are castigated for not fully appreciating the purity of the machine itself and its ability to “reveal” the uniquely flawed essence of an ideal and idealized sonic experience. Sound matters in this case, but sound is not the same as music, because music, by way of today’s digital production techniques and mixing deterritorializes the pure analog signal, in so doing takes the listener away from the machine — again the disconnect, and alienation. It is far better, far more ideal to listen to untarnished, raw tone sequences and carefully selected sound “patches”. However, this does not make the experience any less emotional as the many impassioned discussions attest. Indeed, like the audiophiles in Perlman’s (2004) study, the analog synth enthusiasts also possess that certain something and those special ears that give them the authority to state with utter confidence, that this sounds better than that.

5.2. Analog Ears vs. Scientific Evidence

Consider the following three quotes, appearing in three separate discussion threads where so-called “analog, die-hard elitists” are being challenged by other forum posters, for their self-proclaimed ability to “clearly” distinguish Arturia’s software from “the real thing”:

“Sure..the die hard ‘use your analog ears’ elitism.. Show me the digital emulation of an analog synth that sounds better than the original and I might change.” (Seluj Netnihnov)

“How can it possibly be die-hard elitism to claim that digital models don’t capture 100% all aspects of analog synths? That’s my experience having a few old analog classics here as well as several of the latest plugins. Is that elitist? Should I ignore my actual experience... is that better?” (Pendejo)

“Analog instruments ‘touch’ my ears in a way similar to acoustic instruments. But this is not something I can ‘prove’ or communicate easily with words.” (Maisonvague)

These discussions rarely reach a conclusion, and any links to Youtube videos with blind tests are dismissed as already tainted by digitization. Those fortunate to have “analog ears” persistently claim an ability to distinguish between what is frequently called “authentic analog” and “digital simulation” — once referred to by forum poster “Gremlin Moon” as the synthesizer equivalent of the Voight-Kampff test from Blade Runner. In the film, “Voight-Kampff” is an empathy test and the only way a replicant can be distinguished from humans. The test is framed around replicants merely possessing implanted, donated memories rather than authentically lived memories, therefore lacking the kind of empathy and emotion unique to humans.

Fittingly to Arturia’s slogan “She’s a replicant”, the search for an authentic experience is not scientifically quantifiable one but an emotional quest for a reciprocal, embodied experience that defies scientific claims of “better”. Importance is placed on the performer’s relationship with the material component (the instrument) and its expressive capacities stemming from an enjoyed status in a canon of accomplishments. This conclusion is similar to Perlman (2004) where audiophiles in the pursuit of the perfect sound and the perfect stereo system “resist the scientifically authorized claims of audio engineering by privileging their personal experiences” and “argue against scientific methodologies that seem to expose those experiences as illusory” [40]. The common aspects between Pearlman’s study and the present study is the search for perfection and that expert test results are resisted in favour of the subjective experience, giving the perception of sound an esoteric quality [41]. The argument seems to lie in the definition of playing the instrument as an emotional experience rather than a detached attitude of science [42], as described by one forum member:

“Those that see mathematics as some sort of divine form of perfection think that humans can use it to describe sound perfectly, but don’t realize that math and all science is just a relatively crude man made language that is far from perfect. If you think that science is perfect, /.../, then digital audio is perfect. But if you have any kind of depth of understanding /.../, you know that there are aspects of energy and all natural phenomena that we can only begin to describe in a cursory manner.” (unfiltered 420)

Another member discounts a scientific view of sound in a similar way:

“That [analog variation is below the sound floor] is a myth close to superstition that don’t get more true just by endlessly repeating it..just use your ears.. everything sounds different..really everything.. /.../ In the real world things do sound different. Only in the digital domain sound events get identical repeatable.” (Seluj Netnihov)

What becomes evident, particularly with reference to Pearlman’s (2004) study, is that while Pearlman describes how audiophiles may use either science and numbers or emotional argumentation to pursue (albeit two kinds of) sonic perfection, the analog enthusiasts of Gearslutz take scientific claims of sonic superiority as a reason to resist. The argument is that scientific claims of superiority emphasize a scientific, machinic view of sound where sound can be reduced to zeroes and ones, and repeatable patterns, which in turn goes against the emotive argumentation of divine complexity and sublime, material and sonic experiences. Zero distortion, reliability (every instrument of a particular model sounds the same, every middle C keystroke sounds the same on that model) and predictable, disposable materiality (every MIDI controller looks the same regardless of the synthesizer loaded into it, and they are cheaply made, and replaceable without affecting the emulation) are arguments for non-use.

To summarize, the qualities detected by those equipped with “analog ears” are not necessarily scientifically sound related or physically audible, but rather seem to point towards how the object (the musical instrument) frames the experience of hearing the sound. In other words what is referenced is a framed experience, a paratextual (Genette, 1997) aspect of synthesizer materiality where the imprint left by the object on the user (or musician) is a perceived added value to the sound, leading to arguments such as: “The instrument feels old and I know that it is made up of analog circuits, therefore I think it sounds better”, exemplifying what Reckwitz [43] describes as a particular mindset stemming from engaging in a material practice that results in, and is recursively shaped by, certain pragmatic and semantic rules. Put simply: Being in the presence of a particular object, and engaging in practices in which this object is central, affects the user’s perceptions — he/she hears and feels things that are not scientifically there, but are no less real to the person affected.

5.3. Disenfranchisement, disillusionment and disinterest

The search for authenticity as an esoteric knowledge invoked by those privileged enough to have experienced “the real thing” brings us to a territorial divide between those who are able to have, and those who are the have-nots, because when there are privileged, there are also by necessity the unprivileged, labeled “disenfranchised” by Satchell and Dourish [44]. In particular, this third and last category of findings relates to non-users on the “outside” of the vintage synthesizer assemblage. These forum posters may be deterritorialized willingly or unwillingly. The category captures the segregation between meter readers and golden ears (Pearlman, 2004) and between musicians that voyeuristically enjoy analog hardware only through recordings, magazine articles and Arturia’s software emulations. These non-users exist in contrast to musicians that belong to the exclusive group that either possess or have been fortunate to play one of the highly regarded analog synthesizer models. This “analog/digital divide” has several different dimensions that encompass those that do not have the inclination, space, technological knowledge or financial capital to purchase and own an analog synthesizer:

“I totally agree the hardware sounds better but then again at £5000 for just two instruments it should blow my macbook pro out of the park. It doesn’t. Its 25% better at absolute best. For the 5 grand I have a macbook pro, Focal Twins, Apogee DAC, Room Treatment, Logic Pro, Piano action controller, etc etc. For 25%?” (Kola)

“I currently own zero, zilch analog synths and would LOVE to get hold of one. Unfortunately, I’m blagging an existence as a DJ/Producer and currently barely managing to scrape a living & am heavily subsidised by my long suffering wife... I do not need to ask her ‘Babes, can I please have £1500 for a Moog Voyager Rack’.” (Simonator)

“As much of an analogue snob that I am – I’ll pass. $15k is absurd. I mean [the Yamaha CS-80] is cool and unique but I’d NEVER pay that much for any synth. If it was as much as a Jupiter 8 (also kinda borderline at 4-5000) okay then. But that is just greedy folks. And yeah its guts look plain scary to service.” (Iain2097)

There is also the intellectual right, are you able to understand and appreciate the hardware? Have you earned the right to possess the instrument? If not the instrument is wasted on the ignorant. A forum poster who has recently purchased the Arturia Minimoog software is given this reply after asking the Gearslutz community whether his purchase was worthwhile:

“Just play a [Minimoog] model D, and sweep the cutoff knob with the resonance at about 2 o clock, with all three oscillators. You will get it.” (unfiltered420)

The answer implies that no, an Arturia emulation is not as good as the original. To some extent this category resembles the idea of disenfranchisement put forth by Satchell and Dourish [45] as a type of non-use as a “nostalgic wistfulness for a world passing out of existence” that focuses on the “inherently inauthentic nature of technology” and a “technologically mediated interaction characterized as a nostalgic invocation of the way things were.” Satchell and Dourish use the general term “technology” which for the present study we may translate to “digital technology”:

“I watch people play everyday on these systems and I never see that same level of passion or expression. What I see is playing with no real feel with the knowledge that it will be quantized after the recording anyway. Where is the expression in that? Where is the passion for and connection to an instrument? More disturbing perhaps is that this disappointing experience is broadly accepted.” (CoolColJ)

In the midst of this nostalgia, there are those that are disillusioned and have grown weary of the debate itself:

“You prefer the sound of one over the other. Awesome! Don’t let me stop you! You prefer the feel of one over the other. Awesome! Don’t let me stop you! What I’m getting fed up with are the ridiculous amounts of pseudoscience [analog proponents] feel compelled to come up with. All it shows is a gaping chasm of ignorance on how this stuff actually works, and when it gets debunked, all it does is that it makes the one who proposes it look stupid.” (Yoozer)

To summarize, the specific type of non-use displayed by the disenfranchised, disinterested and disillusioned want nothing but to become part of the exclusive group of analog owners, possessing the material component of the assemblage, and subsequently express the social capital that comes with being able to say: “I own several of these”. For those who, for financial or other reasons, are unable to purchase the authentic hardware synths, Arturia’s emulations provide the only alternative use for the disenfranchised, a use that is not undermining the idea that hardware is superior. This category on the surface represents reterritorialization, a reformation into another assemblage, a new-over-old choice. But the reality is that the choice is one of necessity rather than ideology. Perhaps what the forum member “Yoozer” is getting at is that Arturia’s software, in spite of the opinions of the non-using pro-analog group, fills a purpose, simultaneously praised and lamented, not because of how the software performs, but because of what it represents: that analog sound can be reproduced cheaply and without physical materiality, as long as the user can accept the compromise of choosing the software as an alternative to the “real” thing. Thus this category represents findings in the form of analog non-use that seems contrary to the VST software non-use. We may conclude that the main form of analog non-use exists as an involuntary choice where those without the necessary funds or space become deterritorialized from the analog-use assemblage in the material sense, but remain territorialized in the expressive sense meaning that they continue to affirm their ideological commitment to the analog community while (for the time being) using VSTs.



6. Conclusions

In this paper we have focused on what the particular forms of technological resistance associated with the use of analog synthesizers reveal about the social construction of technology and the on-going tensions between digital and analog experiences. In essence, this is a study about reterritorialization, and of reconfiguration and the anxieties associated with the mapping of a new assemblage where emulations exist side by side with vintage originals. There is an obvious flattening of hierarchies and democratizing of exclusive objects at play here. An instrumental component of our approach has been recent work on technological non-use, which emphasizes that the non-use of a particular technology is a complicated matter and not something that can be fully understood in binary terms. Accordingly, non-use needs to be considered as a process of reterritorialization, i.e., in conjunction with alternative use, meaning that the decision to opt out of one particular technological use inevitably leads to the adoption of another technological form.

The relationship between humans and their technological creations is an intimate one, which cannot be fully appreciated by thinking only in terms of active human subjects using passive technological objects. Instead, both the technological and the human are in a type of co-evolutionary relationship, or entanglement, that frustrates most attempts to isolate singular cases of cause and effect. Accordingly, the use and non-use of technology is arguably motivated by forces that range from lack (lack of access, lack of money, lack of education) to deeply emotional and affective engagements with the perceived meaning and cultural legacy of a particular technological artifact, such as analog synthesizers. The forum dwellers that advocate the virtues of analog synthesizers have a bodily relationship with the technology and their “affective” connection is not affective in a Cartesian sense because the sensory experience is mental and at the same time corporeal. The two are entangled, intertwined and inseparable and the reciprocal, equally entangled expressive/material property of the synthesizer itself is the object mirroring the performer. This inseparability leads to sound not being experienced as an isolated sensory event but in a spatial and embodied context where the body/mind human agent perceives the material/expressive agent-object.

Our paper has attempted to extend existing work on technological non-use, especially that work which recognizes the complex nature of non-use by incorporating recent theoretical work on materiality and affect theory. It is our belief that technology, or any other material artifact, has the capacity for a type of agency or “vibrancy” (Bennett, 2010) that makes it more of a partner with humans as opposed to being just an assemblage of tools and passive objects. Such a “partnership” is clearly demonstrated by the impassioned relationship that participants in the “Gearslutz” forum have with their beloved instruments.

The results from our data analysis indicate that the debates around the perceived differences between analog and digital synthesizers have little to do with actual music or music production. Instead what in many instances comes across as central is: 1) the actual possession of the material component, which represents a strong territorializing and homogenizing force, and 2) the manner in which that instrument is used to replicate the musical and cultural icons associated with it. The elitism surrounding the possession or appreciation of analog synthesizers and the rejection of their digital counterparts is therefore not about composing music or playing with others. It is rather about a solitary activity that is deeply emotional, experiential and carefully untainted by the “impurity” of digital processing and equipment. There are no scientific claims that can prove “the digital resistance” wrong. The analog devotees that frequent the Gearslutz forum dismiss any scientific claims as detached, computerized and cold, much like the digital synthesizers that they so dislike. What matters is the connection with the object itself and being in the presence of that object in order to enjoy its “aura” (Benjamin, 2010) and revel in the act of “playing” it, ideally in solitude and without the intrusion of other instruments.

This finding appears to fly in the face of the promise of digital progress as being faster, more efficient, scalable, of standardized quality, mass produced and cheap to distribute. It seems that these virtues are not what drives the retro-trend of analog enthusiasts. In their place is a type of counter discourse to the digital that identifies the return to the analog as a legitimate form of alternative use much like the return of cassette tapes, vinyl and tube amplification. Common to all these forms of alternative use is a search for a different kind of purity of imperfections that creates a uniqueness that is lost in digital replication. In addition to Satchell and Dourish’s (2009) categories we would add what could be termed “affective objections”, which is to say a general dissatisfaction or outright refusal of the experiential and material conditions of a given technological artifact or practice. These objections speak to a certain unease, a type of discomfort that we are calling “affective,” meaning that it captures a form of resistance that is motivated by an emotional or visceral reaction to the actual and conscious experience that the use of a (digital) technology brings about. Perfection, it would seem, lies in imperfection. The critical territorializing components of the vintage synthesizer assemblage territorialize imperfection, scarcity and “analog earism”, while at the same time deterritorializing “digital progress”, regardless of scientific proof of sound quality. We conclude by letting forum poster Touchmaster describe the critical material and expressive components as well as the legitimating emergent property of such an assemblage:

“By ‘analog imperfections’, [we on Gearslutz] mean the hard to predict complexity of real-world behaviour. Which makes stuff sound good, and not like a load of soullesss plastic crap.” (Touchmaster) End of article


About the authors

Claes Thorén holds a Ph.D. in information systems and is senior lecturer at the department of informatics and media at Uppsala University, Sweden. His primary research interests lie within areas of information systems and social ontology, materiality and the impacts of digitization.
E-mail: Claes [dot] Thoren [at] im [dot] uu [dot] se

Andreas Kitzmann is an associate professor in the Department of Humanities at York University. He received his Ph.D. in comparative literature from McGill University. He has written on the impact of communications technology on the construction and practice of identity, electronic communities, and the influence of digital media on narrative conventions. His publications include Saved From oblivion: The place of media, from diaries to Web cams (Peter Lang, 2004), Hypertext: The straight story (Peter Lang, 2006), and as co-editor and contributor, Memory and migration: Multidisciplinary approaches to memory studies (University of Toronto Press, 2011).
E-mail: kitzmann [at] yorku [dot] ca



1. Selwyn, 2003, p. 100.

2. Selwyn, 2003, p. 101.

3. Satchell and Dourish, 2009, p. 1.

4. Greger, 2011, p. 44.

5. Wyatt, 2003, p. 68.

6. Satchell and Dourish, 2009, p. 3.

7. Satchell and Dourish, 2009, p. 4.

8. Ibid.

9. Faulkner and Runde, 2009, p. 443.

10. Ibid.

11. Faulkner and Runde, 2009, p. 443.

12. Faulkner and Runde, 2009, p. 453.

13. Such as in the case of the jog wheel in digital DJ equipment; Faulkner and Runde, 2009, p. 458.

14. Perlman, 2004, p. 784.

15. Perlman, 2004, p. 792.

16. Ibid.

17. Perlman, 2004, p. 797.

18. Seidel and Kelle, 1995, p. 26.

19. Perlman, 2004, p. 784.

20. Faulkner and Runde, 2009, p. 443.

21. DeLanda, 2006, p. 28.

22. DeLanda, 2006, p. 12.

23. Deleuze and Guattari, 2004, p. 4.

24. DeLanda, 2006, p. 4.

25. Deleuze and Guattari, 1984, p. 334.

26. DeLanda, 2006, p. 12.

27. Bennett, 2010, p. 13.

28. Kallinikos, et al., 2012, p. 5.

29. Coole and Frost, 2010, p. 9.

30. Kallinikos, et al., 2012, p. 11.

31. DeLanda, 2006, p. 13.

32. DeLanda, 2006, p. 11.

33. Deleuze and Guattari, 1984, p. 334.

34. Ellis, 2002, p. 3.

35. Massumi, 2002, p. 94.

36. Massumi, 2002, p. 95.

37. Jenkins, 2007, p. 18.

38. Irwin, 1997, p. 81.

39. Ibid.

40. Pearlman, 2004, p. 784.

41. Pearlman, 2004, p. 785; Waxell and Jansson, 2013.

42. Pearlman, 2004, p. 804.

43. Reckwitz, 2002, p. 256.

44. Satchell and Dourish, 2009, p. 4.

45. Ibid.



Terry Andersson and Heather Kanuka, 1997. “On-line forums: New platforms for professional development and group collaboration,” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, volume 3, number 3.
doi:, accessed 22 October 2015.

Eric Baumer, Phil Adams, Vera Khovanskaya, Tony Liao, Madeline Smith, Victoria Schwanda Sosik, and Kaiton Williams, 2013. “Limiting, leaving, and (re)lapsing: An exploration of Facebook non-use practices and experiences,” CHI ’13: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 3,257–3,266.
doi:, accessed 22 October 2015.

Patricia Bazeley and Kristi Jackson, 2013. Qualitative data analysis with NVivo. Second edition. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.

Walter Benjamin, 2010. “The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility,” translated by Michael W. Jennings, Grey Room, number 39, pp. 11–37, and at, accessed 22 October 2015.

Jane Bennett, 2010. Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Diana Coole and Samantha Frost (editors), 2010. New materialisms: Ontology, agency, and politics. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Mike Cushman and Ela Klecun, 2006. “How (can) non-users perceive usefulness: Bringing in the digitally excluded,” In: Eileen Trauth, Debra Howcroft, Tom Butler, Brian Fitzgerald and Janice DeGross (editors). Social inclusion: Societal and organizational implications for information systems. Berlin: Springer, pp. 347–364.
doi:, accessed 22 October 2015.

Manuel DeLanda, 2006. A new philosophy of society: Assemblage theory and social complexity. London: Continuum.

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, 2004. A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Translation and foreword by Brian Massumi. London: Continuum.

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, 1984. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Translated by Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen Lane. London: Athlone.

Kieran Downes, 2010. “‘Perfect sound forever’: Innovation, aesthetics, and the re-making of compact disc playback,” Technology and Culture, volume 51, number 2, pp. 305–331.
doi:, accessed 22 October 2015.

B.D. Ellis, 2002, The philosophy of nature: A guide to the new essentialism. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Hans Fantel, 1986. “Sound; Debate over analog vs. digital may be pointless,” New York Times (8 June), at, accessed 2 November 2015.

Philip Faulkner and Jochen Runde, 2009. “On the identity of technological objects and user innovations in function,” Academy of Management Review, volume 34, number 3, pp. 442–462.
doi:, accessed 22 October 2015.

Gérard Genette, 1997. Paratexts: Thresholds of interpretation. Translated by Jane Lewin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sebastian Greger, 2011. “The absent peer: Non-users in social interaction design,” Master’s thesis, Aalto University, Department of Media, at, accessed 12 January 2015.

Jasper Hamill, 2014. “Small firms are making big bucks In the analog economy,” Forbes (13 January). at:, accessed 12 January 2015.

Robert Hsiung, 2000. “The best of both worlds: An online self-help group hosted by a mental health professional,” CyberPsychology & Behavior, volume 3, number 6, pp. 935–950.
doi:, accessed 22 October 2015.

J. David Irwin (editor), 1997. The industrial electronics handbook. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press.

Mark Jenkins, 2007. Analog synthesizers: Understanding, performing, buying — From the legacy of Moog to software synthesis. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Focal Press.

Jannis Kallinikos, Paul Leonardi and Bonnie Nardi, 2012. “The challenge of materiality: Origins, scope, and prospects,” In: Paul Leonardi, Bonnie Nardi and Jannis Kallinikos (editors). Materiality and organizing: Social interaction in a technological world. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 3–24.
doi:, accessed 22 October 2015.

Brian Massumi, 2002. Parables for the virtual: Movement, affect, sensation. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Mathew Miles and A. Michael Huberman, 1994, Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook. Second edition. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.

Brian O’Neill, 2004. “Listening spaces: Audiophiles, technology and domestic music listening,” Sounding out 2 — An international symposium on sound in the media, at, accessed 18 November 2014.

Marc Perlman, 2004. “Golden ears and meter readers: The contest for epistemic authority in audiophilia,“ Social Studies of Science, volume 34, number 5, pp. 783–807.
doi:, accessed 22 October 2015.

Gordon Reid, 2009. “Review: Arturia Minimoog V2,” Sound on Sound, at, accessed 12 January 2015.

Christine Satchell and Paul Dourish, 2009. “Beyond the user: Use and non-use in HCI,” OZCHI ’09: Proceedings of the 21st Annual Conference of the Australian Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group: Design: Open 24/7, pp. 9–16.
doi:, accessed 22 October 2015.

John Searle, 1995. The construction of social reality . New York: Free Press.

John Seidel and Udo Kelle, 1995. “Different functions of coding in the analysis of textual data,” In: Udo Kelle with Gerald Prein and Katherine Bird (editors). Computer-aided qualitative data analysis: Theory, methods and practice. London: Sage, pp. 52–61.

Neil Selwyn, 2003. “Apart from technology: Understanding people’s non-use of information and communication technologies in everyday life,” Technology in Society, volume 25, number 1, p. 99–116.
doi:, accessed 22 October 2015.

Anders Waxell and Johan Jansson, 2013. “Sound affects: Competing with quality in the Swedish hi-fi industry,” Industry and Innovation, volume 20, number 4, pp. 316–335.
doi:, accessed 22 October 2015.

Sally Wyatt, 2003. “Non-users also matter: The construction of users and non-users of the Internet,” In: Nelly Oudshoorn and Trevor Pinch (editors). How users matter: The co-construction of users and technology. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 67–79.


Editorial history

Received 2 October 2015; accepted 22 October 2015.

Copyright © 2015, First Monday.
Copyright © 2015, Claes Thorén and Andreas Kitzmann.

Replicants, imposters and the real deal: Issues of non-use and technology resistance in vintage and software instruments
by Claes Thorén and Andreas Kitzmann.
First Monday, Volume 20, Number 11 - 2 November 2015

A Great Cities Initiative of the University of Illinois at Chicago University Library.

© First Monday, 1995-2017. ISSN 1396-0466.