1 Playing Sounds
2 Playing Streams
stream-play/ unsafe

Portaudio: Bindings for the Portaudio portable sound library

John Clements <clements@racket-lang.org>

 (require (planet clements/portaudio:2:=0))
This collection provides bindings to the cross-platform “Portaudio” library, capable of playing sound on Windows, OS X, and Linux.
This package includes the portaudio dynamic libraries for Windows and Mac, where I believe that users will have trouble compiling and installing such a package. On Linux, users must install it themselves.
In addition, there is a small C library that provides interface code. This is provided in compiled form for all platforms.
These C libraries, like all other higher-level parts of this package, assume that all samples are represented as 16-bit signed integers, and that there are exactly two channels of interleaved audio. Doing something else would require recompiling the callback code, or writing your own callbacks and calling the portaudio functions directly.
The functions of the portaudio package are provided directly. These are not documented; instead, read "portaudio.rkt" to see the header file for portaudio, which turns out to be essentially the best existing documentation for the package. Furthermore, these functions are not at all safe, and it’s definitely possible to crash racket using these functions.
There are also higher-level functions, s16vec-play, and stream-play, and stream-play/unsafe, for playing sounds and streams. The first two are safe. These are documented below.

1 Playing Sounds

The first high-level interface involves copying the entire sound into a malloc’ed buffer, and then playing it. This is relatively low-latency. On the other hand, copying the sound involves doubling the memory required for the sound itself, so it’s a bad idea to call this for sounds that are really big (> 100MB?).

(s16vec-play s16vec    
  sample-rate)  (-> void?)
  s16vec : s16vector?
  start-frame : nat?
  end-frame : nat?
  sample-rate : nonnegative-real?
Given an s16vector containing interleaved 16-bit signed integer samples, plays the given sound, starting at the given frame and ending at the given frame. Returns a thunk that can be used to halt the sound, if desired. Play is asynchronous: control returns as soon as the sound has started playing.

This function signals an error if start and end frames are not ordered and legal.

Here’s an example of a short program that plays a sine wave at 426 Hz for 2 seconds:

#lang racket
(require (planet clements/portaudio)
(define pitch 426)
(define sample-rate 44100.0)
(define tpisr (* 2 pi (/ 1.0 sample-rate)))
(define (real->s16 x)
  (inexact->exact (round (* 32767 x))))
(define vec (make-s16vector (* 88200 2)))
(for ([t (in-range 88200)])
  (define sample (real->s16 (* 0.2 (sin (* tpisr t pitch)))))
  (s16vector-set! vec (* 2 t) sample)
  (s16vector-set! vec (add1 (* 2 t)) sample))
(s16vec-play vec 0 88200 sample-rate)

2 Playing Streams

(stream-play buffer-filler    
  sample-rate)  (list/c (-> real?) (-> void?))
  buffer-filler : (-> buffer-setter? nat? nat? void?)
  buffer-time : nonnegative-real?
  sample-rate : nonnegative-real?
Given a buffer-filling callback and a buffer time (in seconds) and a sample rate, starts playing a stream that uses the given callback to supply data. The buffer-filler receives three arguments: a procedure that can be used to mutate the buffer, the length of the buffer in frames, and the frame-number to start at.

The function returns a list contaning two functions: one that queries the stream for a time in seconds, and the other that stops the stream.

This function is believed safe; it should not be possible to crash DrRacket by using this function badly (unless you exhaust memory by choosing an enormous buffer size).

Here’s an example of a program that uses stream-play to play a constant pitch of 426 Hz forever:

#lang racket
(require (planet clements/portaudio))
(define (buffer-filler setter frames base-frames)
  (define pitch 426)
  (for ([i (in-range frames)]
        [f (in-range base-frames (+ base-frames frames))])
    (define sample
      (real->s16 (* 0.2 (sin (* tpisr f pitch)))))
    (setter (* i 2) sample)
    (setter (+ 1 (* i 2)) sample)))
(define sample-rate 44100.0)
(define tpisr (* 2 pi (/ 1.0 sample-rate)))
(define (real->s16 x)
  (inexact->exact (round (* 32767 x))))
(match-define (list timer stopper)
              (stream-play buffer-filler 0.1 44100.0))

Note that this example uses a long buffer of 0.1 seconds (= 100 milliseconds) so that most GC pauses won’t interrupt it.

However, this a latency of 100ms is be pretty terrible for an interactive system. I usually use 50ms, and just put up with the occasional miss in return for lower latency.

(stream-play/unsafe buffer-filler 
  (list/c (-> real?) (-> void?))
  buffer-filler : (-> cpointer? int? int? void?)
  buffer-time : nonnegative-real?
  sample-rate : nonnegative-real?
Given a callback and a buffer time (in seconds) and a sample rate, starts playing a stream using the given callback to supply data.

The difference is that this function’s callback is called with a cpointer, rather than a set!-proxy. This saves the overhead of a function call and several checks, but perhaps more importantly allows the use of functions like memcpy and vector-add that can operate at much higher speeds (currently ~5x) than the current vector operations.