A very simple way to probe the Linux ecosystem is by having a look at DistroWatch.com. If we go to the Search Distributions page and select “Multimedia” as Distribution category we will find only 10 active distributions. However, only few of them are developed with “pro audio first” in mind. Also, not all the distributions of this kind are on DistroWatch. For this reason, I will list here the distros I bumped into along these years. I did not try all of them (yet) but I will give my impressions for the ones I tried.
So, I did some test of my new Entroware Apollo and got some nice results. Running on GNOME 3, realtime kernel and nothing much more (not even by boosting CPUs) the system performances are already very good, although none of the stability definitions have been respected.
I recently purchased an Apollo 1000 from Entroware, a young British company specialized in Linux computers. I had it with Ubuntu 15.04, not really my favorite Linux distro, but I needed a working Linux environment quickly to replace my old Presario CQ61, that seemed close to death (still alive and well though…). Only in the last days I have been able to install Arch Linux and do some audio configuration. The results are quite promising!
I have been using ArchBang Linux for a while now, almost 3 years. So, I am able to give my impressions of its audio capabilities and workflow. This is my first review, so I have not developed a scheme yet (a part for some definitions)… but I think it will form by itself the more I go on. So, let’s dig into ArchBang! Continue reading Audio Linux OSes Reviews: ArchBang Linux
Well, suppose we have a computer of any kind, a sound card and an operating system installed and ready to go. Nice, we think we are ready to make music then! However, this may not always be the case. In fact, the system (in the following I will refer to system asthe union of a computer, with a sound card, and an operating system configured for audio) may not be able to perform stably enough from the audio point of view. In simple words stability is the capability of the system to run over a prolonged period of time without encountering issues. Imagine we are trying to record a song. To be able to do that not only the system will have to respect our requirements on latency (if any) and sampling variables, but it will have to do it for a long time span, hopefully way longer than the time over which we need good audio performances, so that sample errors, losses, pops, clicks, xruns and crashes don’t ruin everything, wasting our time. We may intuitively define the audio stability (just stability in the following) of a system as the capability to perform audio tasks without encountering issues over time. For sure, we prefer a system as stable as it can get.
In a previous post I have talked about how a lowlatency audio system could be defined relating to (very little) ear physiology and (a lot of) common sense. This may seem odd, as this is not a rigorous scientific approach, but since the human hearing system is mostly unknown it makes some sense: it is impossible to pretend to model it to a very deep degree. Then, a bit of common sense must be used. Among the conclusions in the linked post there was that a system should be defined as effectively lowlatency when the latency is smaller than 2 ms, while should be simple to tolerate a latency as big as around 7-10 ms in most situations. I made the example of playing an electric/acoustic guitar in a room to get there, with an amplifier but being able to hear the direct sound as well. However, the requirement I got for the latency is much harsher than the usually agreed 20 ms. But from where that 20 ms came from?
For any audio system, may it be, for example, an analogue electronic circuit, a digital circuit, a whole computer or a physical wave-guide, there will be some time lag between the instant at which the signal enters the system and the one at which the signal exits. This happens for a lot of reasons, from the finite propagation speed of sound waves to the AD/DA conversion times, from the time required by the operating system (if we are using a computer) to complete a task to even the eventual hysteresis of the system. Latency is very often considered an important parameter of audio systems, especially computers setups for audio purposes (that we refer as computer audio systemsincluding any sound-card and operating system). More in depth, it is usually convened that latency should not be audible, that is, the user shouldn’t be able to hear any possible delay between its actions, which cause the input signal/event to be generated, and the relative sound output. However, this is not always the case.
Ok, so… this blog will be slowly filled with something. This something will be some brainstorming stuff from science/audio/music topics. However, I am planning to go off-topic if something is interesting for me. More in deep, I’d like to publish content about acoustics, electronics and open source, all linked to music. I also wish to publish reviews of Linux distros and software, focusing on the audio capabilities and workflow. I would like to cover also hidden non-Linux operative systems I found interesting, as well as hardware reviews. I am planning to post electronics tips and maybe tutorials… there is something in the back of my head… I just have to find time and inspiration!
Still testing stuff in the meanwhile… here the three dimensional wave equation… just to test the interpreter…