OpenAV suite for musicians

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Vladimir Koletic, 123RF

Vladimir Koletic, 123RF

Soft Music

The OpenAV suite of software allows musicians to create music on the Linux platform. It's made up of digital effects and software instruments, giving the user high-quality audio effects and instruments to create, mix, and master.

The OpenAV suite [1] is made up of several programs. The ArtyFX suite of plugins contains a variety of commonly used audio effects: reverb, delay, equalizers, filters, distortions, and beat smashers: They're all there!

Fabla and Sorcer are instrument plugins. You use them to create audio from MIDI notes. Fabla loads samples and plays the samples back to create rhythms and beats. Sorcer is a wavetable synth, designed especially to create dirty basslines.

Fabla, Sorcer, and the ArtyFX plugins are all LV2 plugins [2], so they can be used in your favorite digital audio workstation (DAW), such as Ardour or Qtractor (Figures 1-3).

Figure 1: The Fabla sampler user interface allows you to play and manipulate sound samples.
Figure 2: ArtyFX allows you to use filters and effects on the incoming sound.
Figure 3: Sorcer is a polyphonic wavetable synth LV2 plugin that lets you create harsh, modulated, sub-bass-driven walls of sound.

Getting It Installed

OpenAV is packaged by various third parties. Check out the KXStudio PPA for audio software [3] for Ubuntu, for example. If you're interested in getting the latest stable release, you can always grab the source code: See the "From Source" box to get compiling.

From Source

All released OpenAV software is available from the website [4]. To download the latest source from Git, first make sure you have git , cmake , lv2-dev , and libcairo2-dev installed:

$ sudo apt-get install git cmake lv2-dev libcairo2-dev

Then, clone the NTK Git repository to get the UI library OpenAV uses:

git clone git:// ntk

Build and install the NTK library:

$cd ntk
$ ./waf configure --prefix=/usr
$ ./waf install

Clone the OpenAV ArtyFX source:

$ git clone

Change to the ArtyFX directory. Create a build directory and configure using cmake

$ mkdir build
$ cd build
$ cmake ..

Compile and install:

$ make
$ sudo make install

Follow the same steps (except for installing NTK, which you only have to do once) to install the other components in the suite. You can download and build Fabla [5], Sorcer [6], and Luppp [7] using the same procedure by substituting the appropriate link in this command:

$ git clone <url here>

If you run into trouble, you may need to build some dependencies that are not yet present on your system. You can install all the dependencies for jalv with one command: sudo apt-get build-dep jalv . This command should fix compilation errors. You should now have all the libraries needed to compile jalv on your system. Go back and try the compile step again; it should work now.

Testing 1, 2, 3

The OpenAV plugins comes with presets making it easy to test them all. Before you can use them, though, you have to configure the system for professional audio production. If QJackCtl isn't installed yet, run the following to download it to your system.

$ sudo apt-get install qjackctl

To start JACK, run the QJackCtl program and hit the Start button. (If you've never used JACK before, check out the awesome JACK tutorial online [8]). Note that this will switch PulseAudio off, so you may find that the audio of some of your programs will stop working.

To test OpenAV software, you can use a tool that hosts LV2 plugins and lets you run them standalone. This tool is called Jalv. To install it, run

$ sudo apt-get install jalv

Launching Fabla in Jalv is done by running the jalv.gtk command and giving it the URI for Fabla:

$ jalv.gtk

To hear the output of Fabla, you need to route its audio outputs to your speakers. In QJackCtl, click the Connections button and connect Fabla to System (the sound hardware on your computer). This tells JACK that you want to hear Fabla directly. This step might seem obvious, but in professional audio, it is often very useful to be able to route Fabla through some FX before playing it back. I'll be covering that later in this tutorial.

The presets menu provides several drum kits that are included with Fabla; try loading one into the program. Clicking on a pad in the UI will play back the drum sound. If you have .wav files on your computer, load them into Fabla by right-clicking on a pad and selecting the .wav file to load.

If you leave Fabla running, you can start FX to use with it, such as ArtyFX's Roomy. Open a new terminal and run Roomy:

$ jalv.gtk

You need to tell JACK that you want to route Fabla through the FX and then to the sound output. Do this by changing the Connections in QJackCtl like before: Disconnect Fabla from the System and connect Fabla to Roomy, and then connect Roomy to System. You've just put a reverb effect on the output of Fabla; it sounds much more spacious and open, right? Try Panda or the other plugins of the ArtyFX suite, connecting them just like before.

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