Csound/pd & Pro Audio


uplink3r

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I currently run Ubuntu and it's a bit tricky doing pro-audio. It helps to have a plug-in called Jack and a realtime kernel, and I am guessing Pandora has neither. However, that can't stop me from wanting to do music on the Pandora. There is a text-based program called csound that is completely open source. It's no stretch to say csound is one of the music tools (in terms of functionality) in existence. It can and has been used as the backend to audio applications and plugins. There is also PD, a similar opensource program that has the advantage of not being text-based and more intuitive.

If either of these programs were ported, you wouldn't get two new programs, but the ability to use thousands of pre-made audio scripts. On top of that Java/Python/C programs can use the csound library. But that's only scratching the surface.

It's hard to explain how innovative a pandora with pro-audio software would be. Here is a single example: the Korg Kaoss pad (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owkeBOcC-AQ) is a machine that can take 4 loops at a time, and apply one effect to one of them at a time. The effect is controlled completely by the location of your finger on a touch pad. It costs $300, and sells like hot cakes. It not be difficult to write something like this in csound or PD, and run it on Pandora. By "not difficult" I mean it could be easily done in under an hour and programmed to automatically sync up to a program on another machine.

Here are further examples:
-Even if the pandora just acted as a remote control for music (MIDI Controller) it would be revolutionary. There are NO controllers the size of the pandora, let alone any that are even remotely customisable (imagine pages of buttons/switches/x-y controls). Pandora is already set up for gaming control. Writing this is all e-a-s-y to do in csound/pd. In pd litterally anybody could write their own controller. (To see a midi controller check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1DJ4VtG9Sg)
-Running loops. If the pandora could only run a few (4-5) loops together it would still be a great tool for live sets. Like I said before that's all the KaossPad can do.
-T-Pain effect. Antares released a version of auto-tune for the iPhone. It would be soooo sweet to have this on Pandora.
-Audacity. If you can run GIMP, can you run Audacity on pandora? Extremely powerful program, familiar to many.
-Ardour. I would kill to have this pro-tools-like program on the pandora. Not so sure it's possible. It is open source.
-VGM remixes. Hey, you got all your roms! Not to mention PocketMusic, NanoLoop and other old-school GB music-making programs.

The pandora would not have to have a whole lot of functionality to be the most versatile piece of musical equipment of its size. The products it would compete with are all $200+. This would open Pandora up to a whole new community of users and innovators. If csound or pd could run on it, you'd have thousands of musical instruments and effects that are 100% editable by end users (on their PCs or Pandora). At worst it would be the best MIDI controller of it's kind (due to size, touch screen & gaming controls), and at best it could be a portable music studio in your pocket!

Questions:
What kind of audio latency would we be dealing with?
Is there an unstoppable audio hum/static with the Pandora?
How feasible is porting audio applications from one chip to another?
Is it possible to make an ASIO driver for Pandora that all audio would run through?
Can Pandora run Jack or use a realtime kernel?
 

dflemstr

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uplink3r said:
What kind of audio latency would we be dealing with?
Whatever you set the sound buffer length to be, I guess. If your applications manage to fill that buffer in time, it can be any size you want. That's how ALSA drivers on desktop Linuxes work, anyways. For actual codec chipset latency, I have no idea.
uplink3r said:
Is there an unstoppable audio hum/static with the Pandora?
The devs have so far said that they were unable to detect something like that. That doesn't mean that there aren't any distortions, however :p
I think that MWeston mentioned something about having isolated all analog lines for the sound output, however, so we probably shouldn't be getting those distortions you get using integrated MoBo soundcards, at least.
uplink3r said:
How feasible is porting audio applications from one chip to another?
What kind of audio applications? Everything that uses ALSA/Jack should be portable. Anything on Windows probably not.
uplink3r said:
Is it possible to make an ASIO driver for Pandora that all audio would run through?
Isn't ASIO something Windows-specific? Since Linux doesn't have Windows Media or DirectSound, not having ASIO shouldn't be an issue. ALSA drivers usually have as good a latency as you can get already, so there wouldn't be a point in creating an even more optimized driver.

uplink3r said:
Can Pandora run Jack or use a realtime kernel?
Yes and yes I would say, but would it be worth it? It's not like there will be that many processes doing device IO on the Pandora, so do you need RT scheduling for sound applications on a device like this?
 
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Pleng

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uplink3r said:
Here are further examples:
-Even if the pandora just acted as a remote control for music (MIDI Controller) it would be revolutionary. There are NO controllers the size of the pandora, let alone any that are even remotely customisable (imagine pages of buttons/switches/x-y controls). Pandora is already set up for gaming control. Writing this is all e-a-s-y to do in csound/pd. In pd litterally anybody could write their own controller. (To see a midi controller check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1DJ4VtG9Sg)

I can't find the thread now but there is somebody working on some kind of MIDI control interface software.

In addition there'll be some trackers available. I could never get on with trackers but it might be fun to try again with Pandora.

I'd love to be able to use Pandora as a multi-track recorder. I don't see any reason why, with carefully coded software, it couldn't be capable of mixing say 8 tracks of audio with some EQ and FX - I'm sure it's more powerful for instance than the Boss BR range of digital multi-trackers, as they are now several years old.

Even without optimized code, I feel sure that using the Pandora as a 4-track recorder will be possible. I'm sure there's software out the for Linux which is capable of doing so. And unlike running audio software on a PC; there won't be loads of other apps cluttering the memory and taking up valuable CPU cycles. Taking it a step further, of course, there's the possibility of an OS/Distro being designed specifically for audio work which could be booted straight from the SD card. Pop in the SD card, reboot and within seconds you're ready to go with your dedicated system.

Endless possibilities... :D
 
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trendy

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dflemstr said:
uplink3r said:
Can Pandora run Jack or use a realtime kernel?
Yes and yes I would say, but would it be worth it? It's not like there will be that many processes doing device IO on the Pandora, so do you need RT scheduling for sound applications on a device like this?
Professional audio/video needs RT. Everything that can't be made the same way from tags (as in repeated in the same parameters) needs RT to be done pro-level. Digital is only something relative to the medium.

Audiophiles say PC is crap because is not real time and they tried all the tricks that a user can do. The same goes for linux-based stuff. And they are still right (even if sometimes they claim stupid voodoos). There are exceptions and limitations, but lets not go there.

And unlike running audio software on a PC; there won't be loads of other apps cluttering the memory and taking up valuable CPU cycles.
RTOS isn't the only limitation. There are other reasons that PCs are bad for RT jobs: legacy way of doing thing (they still claiming they'll trow it away...), priorities hardwired, routing traffic to shared paths, CPU power state change...
Lack of optimization on the whole system still takes most of the bandwith (cycles were not the problem to begin with).
Anyway, I'll want to connect this to something like Lavry Engineering stuff and maybe have some acceptable recordings from a certain 1000$ mike (but I don't dream about this to what I consider pro-RTlevel).

There are endless possibilities (in a very limited number, but at least they're not severely limited), but only some have pro-level potential (which may not even be exploited in a pro way).
 
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berichandcreamy

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I would be interested in pro audio tools on Pandora! As soon as I get mine I plan to immediately test trying to use different mic setups and see if I can do interviews for podcasting on it. I'm interested on attempting to run http://www.mixxx.org (looks like serato) and http://ardour.org too



I just want to be able to rock an impromptu party from the Pandora :D
 

rabidpoobear

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trendy said:
Professional audio/video needs RT. Everything that can't be made the same way from tags (as in repeated in the same parameters) needs RT to be done pro-level. Digital is only something relative to the medium.
What the heck are you talking about? Plenty of studios record to a PC/Mac using Pro Tools. Windows & OSX are not real-time OSes.
trendy said:
Audiophiles say PC is crap because is not real time and they tried all the tricks that a user can do.
Audiophiles also say oxygen-free copper sounds noticeably better.
Then they do blind listening tests comparing OFC cables to monster cables to coat hangers and think the coat hangers sound just as good.
Some audiophiles are stupid and do not know what they are talking about.
http://consumerist.com/362926/do-coat-hangers-sound-as-good-monster-cables

trendy said:
And unlike running audio software on a PC; there won't be loads of other apps cluttering the memory and taking up valuable CPU cycles.
RTOS isn't the only limitation. There are other reasons that PCs are bad for RT jobs: legacy way of doing thing (they still claiming they'll trow it away...)
What do you mean by "Legacy way of doing things?"
trendy said:
Lack of optimization on the whole system still takes most of the bandwith (cycles were not the problem to begin with).
Anyway, I'll want to connect this to something like Lavry Engineering stuff and maybe have some acceptable recordings from a certain 1000$ mike (but I don't dream about this to what I consider pro-RTlevel).

There are endless possibilities (in a very limited number, but at least they're not severely limited), but only some have pro-level potential (which may not even be exploited in a pro way).
This sounds just like all the hype I hear over and over to try to sell higher end gear. Whether or not a RTOS is TECHNICALLY better is completely different from whether it is noticeably better or necessary. For live performance and for midrange recording the Pandora will be fine. In fact it will probably be better than a PC for live instrument recording in a lot of situations, because it has no fans and is battery powered so RF and fan noise will be lower.
 
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gadgetoid

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If you want to do portable recording, pick up a Zoom H4n.

Otherwise, MilkyTracker is all you need on the Pandora :)

I'd love to be able to hook up a control surface to the Pandora, but using it as one just seems illogical... the point of knobs and faders is that they're robust, tangible things which, with a certain dexterity, you can manipulate quickly and even simultaneously. Tiny little controls on a Panda screen are just going to suck. Sure you've got two analogue sticks which could simulate knobs, but at the end of the day you might as well just have bought the two Korg nanoSERIES controllers which don't suck- IE not the keyboard, it's abysmal.
 

gruso

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Advising people to buy other devices is a bit redundant innit? Anyone interested in this topic probably owns other devices already. The point here is to see what we can do with Pandora. :) I'd like to see a lot more running than little old Milkytracker.
 

relapse808

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For pro audio I feel the main thing is the hardware interface you are using. I use a motu 828 mk2 for my pc and it works very well. The audio built into the pandora probably would have such a high latency it would be useless. I do see trackers working well though as well as maybe a midi sequencer.
 

berichandcreamy

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@gadgetoid Yeah I plan to pick up Korg Nano but it wont stop me from exploring what the Pandora can do.

I might be asking too much out of the Pandora but nothing wrong with trying to push it to the limit. ;)
 

trendy

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rabidpoobear said:
What the heck are you talking about? Plenty of studios record to a PC/Mac using Pro Tools. Windows & OSX are not real-time OSes.
And you listened to the sound on true professional built hardware (those that still do not claim 24/192 being better than 24/96)? It's noisy because of not being done pro-level. Computer is still semi-pro level if you use it for analog operations. You are only pro-level when you do only digital on it. The AD/DA is done elsewhere, your stream should be only digital.
Audiophiles also say oxygen-free copper sounds noticeably better.
Then they do blind listening tests comparing OFC cables to monster cables to coat hangers and think the coat hangers sound just as good.
Some audiophiles are stupid and do not know what they are talking about.
http://consumerist.com/362926/do-coat-hangers-sound-as-good-monster-cables
There should be no significant difference in correctly manufactured cables if the equipment doesn't have problem with it. Even some engineers say marketing stuff (HD audio). The only decent cables that touch 100$/m are proprietary cables.

What do you mean by "Legacy way of doing things?"
Mostly no one bothers to update the code to new standards. Emulate new operation to old code for penny savings (that the customers pays later, but has a suboptimal derivative work). Cheap stuff that gets expensive only because of lack of competition isn't quality.

This sounds just like all the hype I hear over and over to try to sell higher end gear. Whether or not a RTOS is TECHNICALLY better is completely different from whether it is noticeably better or necessary. For live performance and for midrange recording the Pandora will be fine. In fact it will probably be better than a PC for live instrument recording in a lot of situations, because it has no fans and is battery powered so RF and fan noise will be lower.
If your doing commercial (very compressed audio) you shouldn't care, most of the time it will be masked by noise. See RHCP Californication for what a PC does to a performance.

I don't even listen to people opinions on audio, it's a waste of time. Even if they have serious engineering data to back it most of the time is a waste of time. Audio forums are only good to know the market, that's all.

I won't reply to anything not pandora related in the future. atm it's not even what to say about it because it isn't ready (no tests can be done). Audio is only something that I discuss with manufacturers seriously.

Someone who is sick with audiophiles going to listen analog only recording because they sound better than most of these new recordings, even with the distortions that analog has. Considering they don't have a problem with nostalgia (or snob behaviour).
 
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torpor

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I'm working on some audio tools for the Pandora (using my Beagleboard in the meantime) and I can say the following:

1. The Pandora can be configured to do realtime audio that easily matches the capabilities of devices like the Korg Nanopad and other "pro audio" electronics devices. I know this because I've been working on these pro audio devices for 20 years, and I know for a fact that the Pandora has everything we need to turn out pro-quality audio latency ..

2. I will be participating in/directly porting the following apps to Pandora as soon as I can get my hands on a real device (and/or the base OS that the devs are building is available for Beagleboard as well): seq24, zynaddsubfx (going to be a bit tricky), bristolsynth, asynth, lmms, qsynth, omsynth, mx44 (also a bit tricky). Some of these tools have x86 optimizations - obviously those will not get ported before the plain old C-based projects that are a simple compile.

3. MIDI capabilities for the Pandora should be superlative from the start of shipping onwards .. just plug in a MIDI device and away you go. I can, for example, just plug my Korg NanoKeys/Pad/Control devices into my Beagleboard right now, and they just plain work as controllers for audio apps. Same with MIDI I/O interfaces, btw. The Pandora will definitely be usable in a studio context for MIDI Sequencing and hacking. keyKIT will rock, for example.

4. The onboard DSP capabilities: once we have some basic things working and running, such as the ported apps listed above, and MIDI and so on, I will start to work on porting my synth/sampler engine to the Pandora OMAP, and work out ways to utilize the onboard DSP in *CUSTOM MUSIC SOFTWARE FOR THE PANDORA*. One of the main reasons I'm so interested in the Pandora is exclusively for the purposes of making music with it: I worked for years in the pro audio field and desired for a long time to have a portable music machine with decent power out there in the world, and Pandora is going to be *it*.

5. Another dead-easy project that will bring much power to the Pandora-using musician is USB Gadget Audio. A gadget_audio driver for the Pandora will turn it into a USB-based sound-card - so yes, all audio can be channeled back, as if it were being produced by a real USB-based audio card, into the PC DAW .. this is very possible, and will provide a feature set similar to other 'integrated' products, which incidentally use a totally proprietary (utterly rubbish) means of accomplishing the same thing .. USB Gadget Audio fro the Pandora will be very easy, but it depends on how things go with DJWillis and the other Open2X guys currently working on the Pandora OS release.

6. BOOT-FROM-SD. One thing you have to realize is that its very easy to boot another OS on the Pandora. So, someone (maybe me) will produce a highly optimized Pandora-Audio OS release which makes most of the given arguments utterly irrelevant. Imagine a bootable SD that you get: RealTime Audio and exceptionally good latency performance, tons and tons of built-in, ready setup audio apps, Gadget Audio driver integration, and plug and play functionality on the MIDI/USB side of things .. very, very feasible, and we will probably get more formerly organized on this side of things once there are more Pandoras out there in the wild ..
:)

Those that say that the Pandora doesn't have the beef, haven't opened the box on the over-priced synths currently in fashion and seen that in fact, they've got less power than the Pandora, yet plenty of so-called 'professional' musicians swear by the product. Just wait and see, folks ..
 

rabidpoobear

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torpor said:
Those that say that the Pandora doesn't have the beef, haven't opened the box on the over-priced synths currently in fashion and seen that in fact, they've got less power than the Pandora, yet plenty of so-called 'professional' musicians swear by the product. Just wait and see, folks ..
I'm glad someone's stepping up to do the work for this. Thanks in advance! I'll be developing some custom audio apps on Pandora as well, so I'd love a Pandora Audio distro. Sounds awesome.
 
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Pleng

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torpor; I'm not familiar with Linux audio apps. Are any of the apps listed on your 'to port' list designed for multitrack audio?

It's great to hear that Pandora will be capable of 'pro audio' results, but in the end I'm just happy with 'hobbyist audio' :D
 

peelie

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cheers torpor even if you get half of your list done that would be great :)

this USB Gadget Audio thing would be great for a lot of laptop musicians!
 

Pleng

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Thanks Gruso, LMMS looks like it could be just the ticket :D
 
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