Developing Audio Applications With JUCE (part 2)

PluginEditors

Last time we looked at getting a very basic version of an application that can process audio running using the classes provided with the JUCE application framework.

The Scumbler app as we last saw it:

  • Could enumerate the installed audio/MIDI hardware on a computer
  • Let user select which hardware to use
  • Persisted that setup information between invocations
  • Created an AudioProcessorGraph object and an AudioProcessorPlayer to stream blocks of audio samples through
  • Created AudioGraphIOProcessor objects for performing actual audio input and output, which when wired into the filter graph successfully got audio moving through the application.

A lot of work to basically do nothing. This time, we’ll add some meatier stuff — the ability to add and control VST or AU plugins into the filter graph.

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Developing Audio Applications With JUCE (part 1)

Audio processor graph

Audio processor graph

Several times we’ve worked on projects in the pro audio/music instrument industries that have used a very useful C++ cross-platform application framework called ‘JUCE‘. It was originally developed as part of the ‘Tracktiondigital audio workstation, and later extracted out as a standalone framework (in much the same way that Ruby on Rails was extracted from 37 Signals’ work on Basecamp). For open source projects, JUCE is licensed under the GPL, and for commercial projects it’s licensed under a very reasonable per-company license (not per-project, or per-year). Applications written using the framework can be deployed on Windows, OS X, Linux, iOS, and Android.

For audio developers, it’s an incredibly useful framework that contains solid and well-conceived classes to deal with many of the lower-level tasks that any application processing audio will need to deal with — opening and configuring multichannel audio devices (which may involve dealing with numerous different driver stacks), finding and loading audio effects plug-ins (again — several different formats exist in the wild, including VST and Apple’s AudioUnits), accepting and generating MIDI data, implementing audio effects algorithms, reading and writing audio files, and so on.

I’ve worked on a few projects that used JUCE, but was never involved in any of the work that touched that audio layer. I’ve been considering writing the next version of a long-standing personal music software system over to JUCE, and after spending some time poring over the documentation and sample code, I decided that it would be best for my sanity to start with a smaller project as a learning experience, and document what I learned as I go.
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