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Category Archives: Geekspeak

Four common mistakes in audio development

This is a discussion of four common mistakes that audio developers make, how to do better, and how to detect whether there’s a problem. It’s written primarily for developers, but should be accessible to non-developers too. I introduce Realtime Watchdog, a diagnostic tool for developers, and provide a brief survey of popular audio libraries.

Making audio apps is enormous fun — it’s rewarding, there’s huge scope for creativity, and then when you’re done, other people use it to be creative too! There aren’t many fields that are like that, and I consider myself very fortunate to be able to work in this area.

But there’s also a serious side to working with audio. As audio developers we have a responsibility to our users to, basically, not embarrass them in public. A DJ whose equipment emits an ear-piercing crunch mid set will not thank us (well, it depends on the club. Maybe they will?). Nor will a performer whose backing drum machine clicks and crunches distractingly, throwing the performance. Same goes for in private — if the user just nailed a take, only to discover that there’s a giant click in the middle of the recording, they’re going to be cursing our name.

Now we’re living in a post-Audiobus/IAA world, where our users’ setups often span multiple apps, one bad actor can mess everything up, and it’s often impossible to tell from where the problem originates.

Imagine if Loopy HD had glitched in the middle of that?

The audio engineer on The Tonight Show told me the main reason that they chose Loopy for the segment above was because he had been a Loopy user for years, and it has always been solid and reliable.

Even if there’s just a one-in-ten-thousand chance that an app will glitch during a typical session, well, that’s one glitch a day if your app sees ten thousand sessions per day, which is not uncommon. Two glitches a day if it has twenty thousand sessions a day. And I’ll bet most music apps have a higher glitch rate than that.

It can take just one glitch during a live performance for a musician to completely lose faith in their whole setup. The one thing they cannot troubleshoot in their setup is their apps, because it’s an opaque system. And so every app they’re using is indicted. They’ll stop using all of them. It’s an angry Facebook post to all of their musician friends waiting to happen; the exact opposite of what anyone reading this would want.

So, it’s this duty of care that we audio developers have that I want to focus on in this article, because our music apps have to be solid and reliable. All of the time. Read More »

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If you’re interested in the technical details around how music apps get made, this is an excellent talk by music technologist Greg Cerveny on creating music apps. He’s interviewed a bunch of developers (including the developers of Patterning, Fugue Machine, Elastic Drums, and me) about their process and their background, and these are the results. Worth a watch!

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The Amazing Audio Engine 2 Sample App demo

Here’s a demo of the TAAE2 sample app – full source code with The Amazing Audio Engine 2.

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Presenting The Amazing Audio Engine 2

Presenting The Amazing Audio Engine 2: a new audio engine for Core Audio. In this video I introduce the main concepts, and walk through creating a simple demo app that plays a loop with effects, mixed together with audio input, with recording capabilities.

Find TAAE 2 at theamazingaudioengine.com, or on GitHub.

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I’ve been spending some time with renowned live-looper and all round cool dude Dub Fx, talking about Loopy Masterpiece and future projects. Along the way, we made an awesome App Preview video for Loopy on the App Store. Here’s something else we shot at the same time.

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Dubfx

Spent a brilliant few hours with Dub Fx jamming out some rather splendid beats with Loopy.

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Ableton Link: it’s gonna be huge! Stay tuned for more announcements soon. 

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A few people mentioned that they wanted to see the technical stuff that I discarded from the last video. I promise nothing, but here it is, sans-Benny Hill theme music.

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