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16bit sound to 16 million colour light magic: RISC OS spectrum analyser

By Chris Williams. Published: 14th Apr 22:18:51 | Permalink | Printable

Digital Music on RISC OS
Playing quality music digitally from your computer is a marvellous thing but have you ever thought about what it looks like? Listening to the music is one thing but actually seeing it is something else altogether. Spectrum analysers are software applications and devices allowing engineers to see audio sources by splitting up the signals into their constitutional parts and displaying each part separately, usually on a monitor or a graph plotter.

This is all interesting stuff especially as drobe.co.uk has learnt that familiar games group Visions of the Impossible, (VOTI for short), have uploaded a very cool RISC OS spectrum analyser on to their website. Written and developed by James Reynolds, Spectrum examines the audio output of your RISC OS machine and visualises it in various user-selectable and configurable effects. From a straighforward bar graph display to swirling oscilliscope displays in 16 million colours to a 3D ripple model, Spectrum is great alongside your MP3 player.

"The reasoning behind it eventually appearing on the VOTI site is that it used to be on the authors web-site but he went to uni and his argonet subscription ran out, I couldn't find it anywhere", explains Nathan Atkinson, VOTI head honcho. "Using my finding talents I found him and he's willing to release it."
Nathan has also hinted that an associated music player is on its way, but it is too early for a public release.

According to the VOTI website, "Spectrum started off a while back to fill in the need for the Risc PC to have a 16bit spectrum analyser. I decided that as well as doing the basic show it could be modified to add a hint of style and the all important flash factor to the RISC OS desktop. It now comes with a modular system of effects that can be created by any ARM code programmer. It has got some new rather funky effects."

Spectrum is fully configurable, RISC OS 4 compliant and can display any effect in time with any music playing, on desktop or full screen. It can handle modes from 256 colours all the way up to 16 million and on this editor's Castle Kinetic RiscPC there is little slow down from complicated effects. A list of included effects is given below, there are more but these are my personal favourites. Clicking on the name of an effect will take you to a screenshot of the effect in action.

Drip This is an impressive 3D ripple effect that responds to the pitch of music.
Fire A very pretty, smooth and fast wash of cycling colour heaven. Very reponsive to the music being played.
Mindwarp Prepare to embrace the crazy vivid swirls and wavy lines of the Sixties. Tinted glasses not required.
Spectrum This displays the individual frequency components of the audio output in bar graph form. Very fast and very technical looking.
Waveform Last on this list but certainly not least I can tell you. This is an oscilliscope output that can be blurred, sharpened, faded, colour cycled, spinning or wandering.


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