Wolfson Audio Card for Raspberry Pi

Just ordered a Wolfson Audio Card for Raspberry Pi via RaspberryStore. I asked them about this audio interface at their stand during the NLLGG meeting where I did a presentation about doing real-time audio with the RPi and they told me they would ship it as soon as it would become available. They kept their word so I’m hoping to mount this buddy on my RPi this very week. Hopefully it will be an improvement and allow me to achieve low latencies with a more stable RPi so that I can use it in more critical environments (think live on stage). It has a mic in so I can probably set up the RPi with the Wolfson card quite easily as a guitar pedal. Just a pot after the line output, stick it in a Hammond case, put guitarix on it and rock on.

Wolfson Audio Card for Raspberry Pi
Wolfson Audio Card for Raspberry Pi

Wolfson Audio Card for Raspberry Pi

LAC2014: submission accepted!

My submission for the Linux Sound Night at LAC2014 with The Infinite Repeat has been accepted. The Call for Papers page mentions the term “danceable” so I’m going to focus on that. Making danceable music is quite a challenge for me but it should definitely be doable to produce a solid set, especially now that I’m the proud owner of a Korg Volca Keys. I’m definitely going to integrate it in my current setup as the Volca reacts great on MIDI sent from my workstation. It has some fat sounds that just scream dance floor.


Korga Volca Keys

I’m really looking forward to this year’s LAC. It seems falkTX and avlinux are going too, it’d be great to meet these guys in real life!

LAC2014: submission accepted!

LV2 gaining momentum

The number of new LV2 plugins being released is steadily growing. The last couple of months at least the following LV2 plugins have been released:

  • Bitrot (a set of LV2 and LADSPA plugins for glitch effects)
  • beatslash-lv2 (a set of plugins for live beat repeating and beat slicing)
  • deteriorate-lv2 (a set of plugins to deteriorate the sound quality of live inputs)
  • midimsg-lv2 (a set of plugins to transform midi output into usable values to control other plugins)
  • QmidiArp (LV2 plugins of the three QMidiArp modules)
  • x42-plugins (collection of LV2 plugins: tuner, oscillator, x-fader, audio-level meters, midi filters etc.)
  • BLOP-LV2 (port of the LADSPA BLOP plugins)

Haven’t tried them all of them yet but the ones I did try (the QmidiArp modules as plugins and some of the x42 plugins) proved to be very promising. Besides new plugins being released work continues on a great number of plugins, the LV2 framework itself and on tools facilitating in the creation or building of LV2 plugins. Especially falkTX is in the vanguard with his current work on getting his Carla plugin host to work as a LV2 plugin. This would open up a lot of possibilities like using it in hosts that don’t support all plugin frameworks (think Ardour and DSSI support). In the meanwhile the guitarix team continues to add great LV2 plugins to their ever growing collection and Dave Robillard, the main author of LV2, doesn’t sit still either with releasing updated versions of the building blocks that form the LV2 framework.

LV2 gaining momentum

Bitwig Studio to be released

The 26th of March Bitwig Studio will be released. From the Bitwig Studio site:

Bitwig Studio is a multi-platform music-creation system for production, remixing and performance with a focus on flexible editing tools and a super-fast workflow.

It’s being developed by folks who have worked on Ableton Live and it will also be available for Linux. It’s a cross-platform DAW which means that for the GUI a platform agnostic framework has been used. In the case of Bitwig Studio the chosen framework is most probably Java which raised some eyebrows within the Linux Audio community. The price of the upcoming product met some scepticism too as it ends up higher than initially announced. Add to this that there’s barely any support for plugins (except native Linux VST) and you’ll understand that this upcoming release has fueled a discussion or two.

I haven’t seen anything yet of Bitwig Studio so I can’t judge the quality, workflow or usability of the product. I’ve registered for a beta testing account two years ago and didn’t hear anything from the Bitwig folks until recently so to be honest I completely lost interest in the product in the meanwhile.

Really, the people from Tracktion do it a lot better in that regard I think, it’s cheaper, they communicate more and it’s based on a cross-platform toolkit that has more credibility (Juce). But you never know, maybe I’ll get blown away when I get my hands on Bitwig Studio. You’ll be the first to hear.

Bitwig Studio to be released

A week without a Mac

Got my new workstation last week. Ultimately I decided to opt for a Dell notebook system with Linux pre-installed. So that left me only one single option: the XPS 13 Developer Edition, aka Sputnik 3. After having worked with it for a week I can only say I’m very, very happy with it. Unboxing it was a joy in itself, unwrapping the amazingly sleek machine and booting it for the first time. The XPS 13 comes with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS pre-installed which is just fine for me, especially given the fact that everything seems to work flawlessly so far. I haven’t rebooted it for days for example, suspending it works brilliantly and when I open the lid the device wakes up instantly, even after having it closed for days. And even though it has an i7 CPU it can run for hours on a full battery. The touch screen is a nice bonus but I haven’t really made use of it yet, it could be quite cool for live perfomances though. I’ve tested the touch screen with seq24 and it’s quite awesome to be able to trigger sequences by pressing the sequences on your screen.

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition

I did try a fresh install but it would take me a bit too much time to get everything working properly so in the end I opted for sticking with the default install and install the Lubuntu desktop on top of it. And the default install doesn’t get in the way so I’m all set. I’m now looking for a nice keyboard and mouse to pair with the notebook, I’d greatly appreciate any suggestions. I had already ordered a Logitech K290 but I’m sending it back because it has the function keys swapped with the media keys and I just can’t work with that. Switching tty’s with Fn+Ctrl+F[:digit:] is just impossible to do with that keyboard. I could’ve tried swapping the keys but I’ve already filled in the RMA form and repacked the keyboard so it’s going back.

Next up is configuring it for making music. I’m thinking about purchasing a new USB audio interface, preferably USB2.0, that matches well with this machine. Suggestions are very welcome. I’ve looked at the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 but a recent thread on LAU raised some doubts. We’ll see, it’s something for later, for now I’m extremely happy with my new work horse.

A week without a Mac

Resolved JACK issues on notebook

Finally got around troubleshooting the issues I was facing with JACK on my notebook, a BTO that is actually a Clevo W170ER. Somehow I couldn’t go lower than -p128 with USB audio interfaces. When I thought I had tried every option, even disabling hyperthreading, I noticed two unidentified entries in my lsusb output:

Bus 001 Device 003: ID 8087:07da Intel Corp. 
Bus 002 Device 003: ID 5986:0401 Acer, Inc

The first entry is a Bluetooth adapter and the second entry is a webcam. Both devices are unnecessary when making music so I thought, why not unbind them. First I had to figure out their respective bus ID’s:

$ tree /sys/bus/usb/drivers/usb
/sys/bus/usb/drivers/usb
??? 1-1 -> ../../../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1a.0/usb1/1-1
??? 1-1.3 -> ../../../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1a.0/usb1/1-1/1-1.3
??? 2-1 -> ../../../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.0/usb2/2-1
??? 2-1.6 -> ../../../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.0/usb2/2-1/2-1.6
??? bind
??? uevent
??? unbind
??? usb1 -> ../../../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1a.0/usb1
??? usb2 -> ../../../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.0/usb2
??? usb3 -> ../../../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:14.0/usb3
??? usb4 -> ../../../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:14.0/usb4

Since the Bluetooth adapter sits on bus 1 and the webcam on bus two their respective ID’s should be 1-1 and 2-1. So I echoed the ID’s to the unbind file in the same directory:

$ echo -n "1-1" | sudo tee /sys/bus/usb/drivers/usb/unbind
$ echo -n "2-1" | sudo tee /sys/bus/usb/drivers/usb/unbind

Good riddance:

$ lsusb
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub

Then I started JACK again with -p64 using an USB audio interface connected to bus 3 (so no rate matching hub in between) and no more xruns, not even with a generic kernel and using WiFi and all. Next hurdle is the onboard sound. Below -p128 I get bursts of massive xruns and so far I didn’t manage to pinpoint the culprit.

Edit #1: I’ve found out that the Bluetooth adapter is the main bottleneck. Also, by echoing the aformentioned ID’s (1-1 and 2-1) you disable the whole USB bus apparently. To disable just the USB device echo the last ID in the respective path names, so for the Bluetooth adapter that’s 1-1.3 and for the webcam 2-1.6. This way you can still use the USB bus on which these devices are residing. In my case disabling the whole bus is not an option, this would mean I’d have to connect all my USB interfaces to bus 3 (bus 4 doesn’t have any external inputs) which could result in these devices getting in each other’s way with regard to bandwidth. After echoing the ID’s the output of the tree command looks like this:

$ tree /sys/bus/usb/drivers/usb
/sys/bus/usb/drivers/usb
??? 1-1 -> ../../../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1a.0/usb1/1-1
??? 2-1 -> ../../../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.0/usb2/2-1
??? bind
??? uevent
??? unbind
??? usb1 -> ../../../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1a.0/usb1
??? usb2 -> ../../../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.0/usb2
??? usb3 -> ../../../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:14.0/usb3
??? usb4 -> ../../../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:14.0/usb4

The lsusb command still shows the devices though.

Edit #2: unbinding drivers like described above won’t persist across reboots. If you’d like to make the unbinding persistent you could add the unbind command to /etc/rc.local or create a script that runs at login. There are other options of course like blacklisting the Bluetooth drivers.

Resolved JACK issues on notebook

Finally got an acoustic-electric

Last sunday I was like, I’m going to one of my favorite music stores and try me some acoustic-electric guitars. A good acoustic-electric guitar has been on my wishlist for like, ages. Of course I first checked on the site of the music store what they had to offer and at that moment I basically made a choice already because I had a hunch that the guitar of my choice would stand out because of its specs (hand-built, solid spruce top, mahogany neck, sapele sides and back). When I wandered into the music store and started checking out the acoustic-electrics the sales guy quickly approached me asking the inevitable question what I was looking for.

I told him my budget and he immediately picked the guitar I had checked out on the site. He handed it over to me and I was sold. The next one hour and a half were pure bliss, only tempered by a brief intermezzo with a Martin D-16GT which sounded like a cardboard box compared to the guitar I wanted. So I just bought it.


Eastman AC320CE


The AC320CE ships with a Fishman Matrix VT under-the-saddle pickup system which isn’t the best sounding solution but for the intended purpose of this guitar (using it on stage) it’s probably better than a solution that includes an internal mic. So no, I wasn’t blown away by the sound once it was plugged in but yesterday I bought a Fishman Aura Acoustic Imaging Pedal Concert preamp/DI for cheap so I should be covered. It’s actually an older model that can be upgraded to an Aura Sixteen.

aura_imaging_pedal

Fishman Aura Acoustic Imaging Pedal Concert


So I’m a happy camper. The guitar plays like a dream, sounds sublime unplugged and looks very good. I really like its neck which feels a lot like the one on my Sigma DR-41 (an old one, so not a recent, re-released Sigma). The tone is very well balanced, lows are well present and the highs just shimmer the way I like it. And normally I don’t really dig Venetian style bodies but the body of the Eastman is just very well proportioned. Awesome guitar. Oh yeah, I got 10% off the price, that always helps in making these kind of decisions.

Finally got an acoustic-electric

Living in a shell

Since I started working for my new employer the amount of time I’m spending inside a terminal window is rapidly increasing. And I like it. I’m learning more in a few months than I did in the past 5 years. I’m discovering superhandy commands and utilities that I had never used or even heard of before. Utilities like w, last and the various *stat utilities. And I’m becoming better and better in using utilities that I already know but that always remained hard to grasp simply because I didn’t use them extensively. Think of Vim, screen and sed. Or on a lower level, the Bash shell itself.

I’m particularly starting to develop a fondness for Vim. I’ve worked myself through a complete Vim book and when I finished it I was like, Vim is not arcane at all, it’s actually quite simple. It’s all about terseness, doing things in the fastest, most efficient way, memorizing the most important commands and forcing myself to use it for things I would normally do in say, gedit. So now I find myself easily copying whole blocks of text, commenting and uncommenting multiple lines with just a few keystrokes, using markers and buffers and browsing faster through files than possible with a mouse.

Currently I’m reading a book on Bash and it already provided me with a lot of new insights and ideas that I could use in my daily work. My scripting skills are a bit feeble so hopefully this book will help me to improve these. Luckily I have great colleagues that are very knowledgeable when it come to things like Bash and Vim so I’m coming along just fine. But I want to be able to purge a Sendmail mail queue filled with spam like I saw one of my colleagues do recently. What he did on top of his head was just amazing:

for i in `ls | grep qfr`; do w=`grep example.org $i | wc -l`; if [ "$w" != "0" ]; 
then echo $i | sed -e 's/^qfr//'; fi;  done | sed -e 's/^/*/' | xargs -n 50000;

This allowed him to create a list of all spam messages which he simply ran through rm. It’s no rocket science but I’d really like to be that proficient too. Another colleague of mine is just awesome with regular expressions and Vi. For example, I recently asked him how I could delete all text between parentheses including the parentheses, for example a list of packages I copied from /var/log/apt/history.log, and he immediately replied %s/([^)]*)//g. Yes, I’m blessed that I can work in such an inspiring environment.

Living in a shell

A month on a Mac

During the second job interview with my new employer I was asked if I’d like to use a Mac or a Windows PC with the assurance I’d get a Linux workstation after my probation time. Just put me behind a Mac then, that’s closer to Linux than Windows and from what I recalled it comes with a native terminal that does SSH. And what do I need more?

So there I am in front of a big, glossy screen and a tiny keyboard that lacks some familiar keys. My findings so far? Kind of neutral. I’ve got my terminal and I can run SSH from the CLI so I’m happy. There are some quirks that annoy me though (in no particular order):

  • No Compose key and I had to jump through quite some hoops to map a key as a Compose key.
  • No easy way to map a keyboard shortcut for opening a terminal. I had to resort to something called ‘Automator’ to get it working. And it still doesn’t work the way I want too. When there are no windows open pressing the shortcut doesn’t do anything. When there are open windows it works but why does it open two terminals when pressing the shortcut for the first time? Not a real big deal as I need multiple terminals anyway (I just can’t get used to tabbed terminals).
  • I prefer non-glare monitors to glossy ones.
  • No Home, End, PageDown and PageUp keys. Not a real big deal either, in fact, it’s a real good incentive to start getting accustomed to Vi(m) shortcuts since I kind of live inside Vim these days. I even bought this, great stuff.
  • Can’t get used to the default window management settings. For instance when you minimize a window and Alt+Tab to it the window doesn’t open. So I’m not minimizing any windows anymore since this is really annoying. Haven’t looked into changing this behaviour though, it’s probably something relatively simple.
  • Annoying pop-ups from updates and programs that are downloaded from the internet (“blabla” is an application downloaded from the Internet. Are you sure you want to open it?). Especially the latter ones are annoying. Disabling the pop-ups has to be done from a terminal. Wow, so much for a “user-friendly” OS.
  • Clicking the close button of an application doesn’t quit it. Cmd+Q does. This is something I won’t get used to either. Actually I don’t want to get used to the Cmd button at all.
  • I prefer a panel with a window list on it. I don’t know how other folks do it but this Alt+Tab stuff is counter-efficient in my case.

Are there things I particularly like about Mac OS X or the Mac itself? Actually no, can’t think of anything. Yeah, the keyboard feel is really nice but that pro gets nulled out because of the missing keys, ~ being placed next to the left Shift key and the Fn keys being mapped to the F1/F12 keys. Add to this the meaningless keys with all kinds of arrows on them and this key with a crossed square. No idea what they do. On a software level MacPorts is nice, it allowed me to install some of my favorite tools that I found were missing. Other than that I can’t wait to have my own workstation with Linux on it. The plan is that I get a Dell XPS 15 with a dual monitor setup. Something to look forward to.

And yes, I have to deal with quite some Windows servers now. I’m not going to dedicate a blogpost to my findings on that OS. Just one word. Meh.

A month on a Mac

Jack2 on Android

This mail just popped up on jack-devel:

Hello, I have news of JACK2 in android world!

Recently, Samsung released professional audio sdk on android platform which based on JACK2. It is a part of latest Samsung Mobile SDK: http://developer.samsung.com/samsung-mobile-sdk#professional-audio

Source code of JACK2 was retrieved from Samsung’s Open Source Release Center(OSRC) at http://opensource.samsung.com/. You can find current repository & more information at below link: https://github.com/KimJeongYeon/jack2_android

Additionally, SAMSUNG DEVELOPER CONFERENCE(October 28-29, 2013) will be held in San Francisco that one of sessions prepared to introduced professional audio on Samsung’s android mobile products: http://www.samsungdevcon.com/
Session : “Leveraging the Latest Features in Professional Audio Framework in Your App”

Thanks,
KimJeongYeon

Message says it all I guess. Apparently Samsung has developed a way to do pro audio on Android based on JACK Audio Connection Kit! Can’t wait to get my hands on this, stoked.

Jack2 on Android