a view into the sordid life i lead

Friday, September 15, 2006

Audio on Linux (and some drupal)

Ok, so we're on for becoming the most famous radio dj's of all time. No, really! So, this means that we need to get the audio part of the "radio" going on. For those of you not paying attention, radio does not yet have the video segment figured out, although we're going to do something extra special and provide visuals to our radio, a'la pretty much everyone else. I'll post more on that delicious moment when it actually happens, since this is all hope for glory and we know how that goes in this community. [Ok, I've seen the pundits already, dammit!]

What the hell does any of that have to do with anything. Well, thanks for asking Mr. Restless. Ubuntu (and Linux in general) is not that crazy about the whole audio thing. Unfortunately, in my perseverence of the Open Source model, I must see how far I can survive without a non-OS app to do what I need. In steps Audacity, which, as my friend Donald put it so finely "Has the audacity to call themselves an audio editor!" (to which I got quite defensive, and only later realized the very creative pun).

Audacity is very good for basic stuff, which is what we're doing so far. However, it has more than its share of problems with crashing on complex edits (cutting, splicing, cross-fading, etc.). It's not like it crashes every other second or anything, it's just that it's not perfect (the Beta state may account for that).

Now, there's also a bit of an issue with audio being routed to multiple interfaces simultaneously. For example, as the creators of Jack put it so finely "Have you ever wanted to take the audio output of one piece of software and send it to another?". To which I answer, "Of course, at least 3 times a day!". Anyway, Jack promises all this and more, so with much haste I performed the usual "sudo apt-get install jackd". NOTE: jack is a cd-ripping tool. jackd is the audio daemon that we're looking for here.

The real joy in Jack is the Documentation section over at As of this writing, the "using JACK from the command line" section returns a 404. Too bad (but then again, that's why we have man). Yet, the application seems EXTREMELY worthwhile. I'll have to try it out and see exactly what it does.

JACK is a daemon, and hence very command-line driver. The very excellent qjackctl gui to JACK makes for far easier configuration management and experimentation. At that link is another link to a document that describes how to use and play with JACK and a few other tools. [Direct link to the linux journal article is here]. [One point to note. The qjackctl app requires that the snd_seq module be loaded prior to running, otherwise you'll get a "Could not open ALSA sequencer as a client. MIDI patchbay will not be available". Just run "sudo modprobe snd_seq, and then everyone's happy]

A useful distro for doing "professional" audio work is the Planet CCRMA solution. As of this writing I have not tried it, but it does look promising given the reviews.

All this may give the lay reader the sense that Ubuntu is just a crappy ass platform for audio editing. It is. But that's not to say that it's sot possible to do stuff with it. Audacity allows
for the editing, and JACK appears to allow for all kinds of cool re-directs. For instance, sending a skype conversation to a recording interface. This would be very useful for interviews (and that's not easy to do right now). There are probably a whole bunch of other cool things that can be done with it, which i'm just now delving into.

On a tangent, drupal is pretty damn nice. There are a lot of really useful plugins, and it seems to be very well laid out and intuitive (unless you're a complete bonehead, like me sometimes, and don't realize that you need to save configuration changes in order to see them on your page!). Anyway, i've eval'ed TikiWiki, Joomla and a few others that are not worth mentioning, and Drupal stands out as the best CMS for the most part for non-techies running a website.

Blogged with Flock


Post a Comment

<< Home