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Topic: Daydream: Sampler that loaded MP3 files instead of waves for each note

  1. #1

    Daydream: Sampler that loaded MP3 files instead of waves for each note

    Daydreaming about a multisample player that would accept mp3 files as though they were wave files: Just record each note (or translate each wave file) at the needed velocities as an MP3. MP3’s are getting better and better in audio quality. What would happen to our world if the average sample of a piano note came down from a megabyte or more to a few kilobytes, and a several gigabyte piano was reduced to a few megs?

    • Much less memory stress on the entire system, meaning far fewer crashes and fast loading times when creating large scores, and the loading of far more instruments: an orchestra wouldn’t require huge loads of memory.
    • The gain in memory and resources could be used for memory hungry functions such as convolution.
    • Combined with Direct-from-disk, loading of instruments would be almost instantaneous. (We would be back in the day of, 7-16 megabyte pianos or less, but with modern equipment.)
    • Several now huge libraries could fit on a flash drive. Or just sit on a hard drive taking up little space. So could VSTI’s with a huge library of sounds. One could carry a very large collection of sounds around.
    • A second hard drive for samples might not be needed? But the constant seeking for files might still encourage it. On the other hand, if the files were greatly reduced, they could be loaded into RAM.
    • Commercial advantages would accrue: Libraries could be sold on a single CD or flash drive, or much more easily downloaded.
    The disadvantage:

    1.Yeah. That little problem with sound quality. How many frequencies would be lost and how much would the bit rate suffer? What’s the latest news about MP3 losses? Would sampling at 96000 help here, so the rate was reduced to a still acceptable level? Is there on the other hand any way to predict the extent of frequency loss, and somehow edit the wave file, or record, by accenting the frequencies so there would be less of a loss? (EQing for predicted loss, more or less.) Sounds convoluted, perhaps, but the advantages would greatly repay the effort.

    But: What if the mp3 samples were used only for drafting? You could draft, very quickly, without worrying about memory problems, using a complex multisampled instrument or an orchestral score, and save it as a midi file. If the quality was not what you wanted, you could then load the full wave sample set for rendering.

    More significantly, what if the sound quality, particularly if files were recorded at 96000 before being translated, and more resources could be allocated to convolution, was good enough that we could accept the losses for the trade-off in size, speed, and no freezes or crashes?

    Surely not an impossible endeavor.

  2. #2

    Re: Daydream: Sampler that loaded MP3 files instead of waves for each note

    It would surely be nice.

    I see some problems:

    1. I'd use ogg format instead of MP3. It's open source and it has higher quality (at least to my ears, I have made blind tests)

    2. You'll save RAM, but you'd need way more CPU. It's not the same to play an MP3 with Winamp, that decoding hundred of voices in MP3 format in real-time. I don't know how much would it stress the CPU, but I bet it would be a lot.

    3. As far as I know, convolution takes CPU rather than memmory, so we'd end with a highly overloaded CPU.

    I think the future is in other ways of representing audio, insetad of PCM. Have a look at Synful, specially the new horn demo which uses the upcoming engine, and you'll know what I mean. Its source is recorded material, but the whole orchestra is less than 200 MB (it has limited set of instruments and articulations, and the quality is not top notch, but the new engine sounds as a 34 bit recording!!)

    The other alternative is synthesis: have a look at WIVI's demos here: http://www.wallanderinstruments.com

    But maybe in a not too distant future... who knows?

  3. #3

    Re: Daydream: Sampler that loaded MP3 files instead of waves for each note

    well, less stress? - then convert 200+ mp3 files at once.

    the quality would be lower as well ..... and I think mp3 would not allow for precise time access inside the mp3 file due to the block encoding .....

    lossless compressed would be more interesting IMO


  4. #4

    Re: Daydream: Sampler that loaded MP3 files instead of waves for each note

    I've looked at synthesis before--PianoTeq is great.

    Yet the daydream continues. (I have too many large libraries...) I'm not sure I understand why the processor stress would be so high. Decompressing\decoding? But what about MP3 players that easily play back the files--does the processor hit come when first opening the file and interpreting the code, so that playing one file is straightforward, but playing a fast series of them would jam things up?

    Would it help that each file would be smallish--say 30 seconds or less for a piano sample? (I don't want to get into a debate about how long a sustaned piano note should be recorded, though.) Or is the hit still there just from opening and reading the file?

    Could there be an alternative: a background program that could decode the mp3s when you open the instument, store the information, and then
    let you access the information as you play? Again, convoluted, but wave tables and midi can get convoluted. This would be something like a wavetable, but it would store the data encoded in the MP3.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    St. John's NL

    Re: Daydream: Sampler that loaded MP3 files instead of waves for each note

    Quote Originally Posted by steff3
    lossless compressed would be more interesting IMO

    I just finished converting about 4.5 gigs of 24/44.1 waves down to about three gigs using lossless compression in GSEdit. It also has heavier compression algorithms that incur some sonic cost, but certainly nowhere near that of using mp3's. Of course, we're still talking about fairly large files compared to mp3's, but it's a step in the right direction, and this method actually reduces CPU strain. It'll be interested to know if TASCAM beefs this idea up in GS4. Maybe they're going for the mp3 idea, who knows?


  6. #6

    Re: Daydream: Sampler that loaded MP3 files instead of waves for each note

    The only problem I do see (apart from the quality, which would be greater than playing 1 single mp3. Imagine layering 1000 mp3s somehow over 5 minutes worth of work), is the CPU overloading which is quite significant in the case of mp3s, and greater in the case of ogg...

  7. #7

    Re: Daydream: Sampler that loaded MP3 files instead of waves for each note

    Cakewalk Dimension Pro (and Rapture) will work with ogg files.

  8. #8

    Re: Daydream: Sampler that loaded MP3 files instead of waves for each note

    I just read that the latest version of Directwave, version 1.25, will let you create multisamples with ogg files, according to a shareware site. (But the Imageline site at http://www.image-line.com/documents/directwave.html makes no mention of ogg support.)

    The only problem is that Directwave doesn't have DFD, so there could be a problem, even with smaller samples, in using large instruments. I'll be trying out their demo to see. If it works well, and the size of multsamples can be greatly reduced while not losing too much quality, I'm surprised that we haven't heard more about the program.

    Do Dimension Pro let you create full szed multisamples? I thought they were more playback programs that also let you add a sample or three as oscillators. (I'm sitll waiting for a program that combines something like Rapture or Wusik with a full multisample creator\player.)

  9. #9

    Re: Daydream: Sampler that loaded MP3 files instead of waves for each note

    The CPU hit from decompressing mp3's on the fly makes this problematic at best.

  10. #10

    Re: Daydream: Sampler that loaded MP3 files instead of waves for each note

    I remember seeing a 9000mb hard drive in 1995 for only $10,000

    Could you imagine the sample drive space you would have these days for that much.

    I don't really groan too much buying another hard drive to accommodate larger/more libraries.... Drives going down, that's another story

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