Thursday, August 18, 2011

Patchstorm #1.

About Patchstorm

Patchstorm is a collective patch-making recurring event. Goal is to create patches for softsynths or samplers, on a certain theme/restrictions. At the submission date, the patches would be made public from this wiki page for anyone to use.
Patchstorm is similar to Tunestorm, but unlike it, there are no restrictions on sharing of in-progress work and you are welcome to submit a patch even long after the deadline.


Patches are to be used on free open source software, running at least on GNU/Linux, for example Yoshimi/ZynAddSubFx, Petri-Foo/Specimen...
The submission must be licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, equivalent or less restrictive, of course the work must respect the licenses of resources it is based on.


Finished submissions are to be sent to <contributions AT>, please use "Patchstorm" in subject of the email.
Submit as many patches as you want, each in archive file (zip or tar.gz), containing the patch files, installation instruction, license information and a demo sound file (ogg, mp3, flac or wav). Plus points for source file (midi/whatever) of the demo sound file :)

Current Patchstorm (01)

Theme is nice fat yet ripping distorted sound :) Deadline 2011-9-17. (If working with sampler, make it loopable - not fixed length)

Learning and previous parts

Monday, August 8, 2011

Does FL/OSS Have the Tools to Compete?

Some topics get talked about so much that the rhetoric becomes the topic.  FL/OSS versus proprietary audio is like that to me.

However, in this blog I would like to explore (and maybe inspire discussion) about FL/OSS and proprietary audio systems by comparing critical functionalities throughout the typical audio chain. Note that the comparisons will exclude hardware that does not interface with the OS or audio applications.

Q: Why functionalities?

A: Because I believe it is more important for people to understand what is possible rather than if FL/OSS mimics the same methodology or work flow. The question should not be Does FL/OSS have the foomatic-2000 reverb? but rather Does FL/OSS have a good reverb?

Interfacing the Problem
The first step of the audio chain is the audio interface which converts analog sound into digital bits, also know as the analog digital convertor (ADC). A low quality ADC can adversely affect sound by coloring it, introducing artefacts, or even inaccurately converting it. Closely comparing the original analog sound and the "converted" digital sound can reveal these issues. One term that is used often to describe quality ADC's is "transparent"; you don't hear the conversion, you just hear the original sound.

Luckily, and speaking holistically, audio interfaces with quality ADC's are available for the inhabitants of FL/OSS environs. From the very expensive (and very good) stand-alone rack converters to PCI cards, such as the RME series, quality converters are quite available.

Quality ADC's can be prohibitively expensive for many, but the goal of this discussion is to compare the functionalities available, not as a budget guide.

Lastly, I will mention bit depth and frequency only to explain that I will not mention them. If we are discussing transparency and high end converters then we have long crossed the threshold for adequate bit depth and frequency.

Now that the analog sound has been transparently converted to digital we would expect it to be recorded.

Work flow aside, I would posit that any modern DAW will properly record incoming digital signal to hard drive comparatively and adequately.

Plugging In
Disclaimer: this is a subject for which I am neither an expert nor have moderate experience with proprietary plugins.

The next major stage that effects the audio signal are plugins.

Thousands of proprietary plugins exist and more are being made every day. I would like to exclude the "black box" plugins (those that just "make your music sound better") for this discussion and focus on the "classic" plugins like reverb, delay, flange, etc, although I concede that this is slightly unfair for comparison purposes.

Hundreds of LADSPA and LV2 plugins are available for free to the FL/OSS musician. Additonally, many are available for purchase, like the excellent LinuxDSP plugins. VST plugins are also available, both free and purchased, although some DAW's may require hand building them with VST support enabled.

FL/OSS plugins might not have the numerical advantages and the breadth of spectrum that proprietary plugins have, but the base line functionality is definitively available.

Mixing and Mastering
I will define mixing as the consideration and manipulation of signal levels, frequency, dynamics, and panoramic position between instruments on a particular track.

Can FL/OSS applications handle this?  Absolutely.  Ardour, for example, does this easily.

I will further define mastering as the consideration and manipulation of signal levels, frequency, dynamics, and panoramic position between tracks on a particular album.

Again, can FL/OSS accept and defeat this challenge?  Again, absolutely.  Using JAMin coupled with Ardour is a very powerful, yet uncomplicated, method to accomplish this.

So here's the summary where I ask a probing and insightful question all while summarizing the blog and finalizing it with a witty answer.

If FL/OSS operating systems and audio applications can provide the same fundamental functionality as their proprietary counterparts, then why aren't more people using them?

I believe the answer is multifaceted, yet simple, and includes people and knowledge.

If Bob Katz was using FL/OSS to master albums I believe many would have already explored this options as well.

But what if a well recorded, mixed, and mastered album was made with FL/OSS and actively and robustly publicized as such? Would that be enough to quieten the naysayers and energize others to explore it?

Would you?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tunestorm #6

We ended up with 9 fantastic entries for Tunestorm #5 and I want to come back and hit it hard with another one. I might keep the Tunestorms at one a month if people don't revolt or attempt to rise up and kill me. I want to stress that Tunestorm is a great way of fine tuning your work flow and allowing you to be more productive. Don't feel like you need to write the next hit for every Tunestorm, just take the idea write a concept and the most important is to finish your work and get it turned in.

The theme of Tunestorm #6 is "FREEDOM". Write a tune that represents freedom to you. Could be "free as in freedom", could be "free as in beer", could be anything.

Deadline for this Tunestorm is September 3rd.