Integrate a simple USB Audio player for common file formats

Forums Forums SQ Forums SQ feature suggestions Integrate a simple USB Audio player for common file formats

This topic contains 19 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of SteffenR SteffenR 21 hours, 56 minutes ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 20 total)
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  • #99073
    Profile photo of Dilettant
    Dilettant
    Participant

    It would be nice if SQ Drive USB Port could be used to playback MP3, WAV, OGG, AIFF and FLAC Files even in different sampling rates and subformats.

    Those are all common, well documented audio Formats that can easily be decoded using well documented and commonly available free software libraries with liberate licensing (BSD Style or similar). So there should not be too much effort to integrate such as long as there is enough computing power and storage in the unit.

    That function would eliminate the need of using an external audio player for easy playback Jobs when someone brings in some Audio Files on an USB Key – so it can ease “small” Jobs.

    #99076
    Profile photo of SteffenR
    SteffenR
    Participant

    Those are all common, well documented audio Formats that can easily be decoded using well documented and commonly available free software libraries

    This is not true for all formats
    MP3 is patent protected
    AIFF is protected from Apple

    WAV format is already supported
    Stereo Playback 1/2 channel, WAV – 44.1, 48, 96kHz – 16,24-bit

    this is written in chapter 13.1 (page 95) of the Reference guide

    https://www.allen-heath.com/media/SQ_ReferenceGuide_V1_5_0.pdf

    #99077
    Profile photo of SteffenR
    SteffenR
    Participant

    OK I have to correct myself… AIFF is developed by Apple but not protected with patents

    #99169
    Profile photo of Dilettant
    Dilettant
    Participant

    MP3 Patents have run out long ago, according to wikipedia.de the last one in 2017. And IIRC the licensing was always free for playback, just not for encoding.

    #99171
    Profile photo of Dilettant
    Dilettant
    Participant

    Additon: it would also be nice if playback even worked with standard formatted USB sticks (the FAT Patents are BTW also history) and a simple subdir selection so we don’t have to fiddle around when someone asks “can you play the music on my USB Stick?”.

    #99182
    Profile photo of volounteer
    volounteer
    Participant

    @Dilettant

    or just tell them you can play any wav file and let them convert the format.

    I am sure that the next generation will have more options for playback but dont expect it in this version.

    #99193
    Profile photo of Dilettant
    Dilettant
    Participant

    The WAV player is a good start. But when it comes to “normal” Folks, a “Music File” is a synonym for a MP3 for many people. You can like that or not, you can not change it :-|.

    Some anecdotic experience: A small opening party for some village Place – i was there to do Speaker amplification for the local “most important Politician”, so i had a small Mixer, two active Speakers, two Microphones and some cable drums with me. No demand to bring in more gear for that.

    Of course, the SQ would be essentially too big for that job but today i might take it with me anyway because it is there anyway and it has some useful Features for speaker amplification smaller Mixers might not have.

    However, after the first Talk i was informed that the local Rescue Dog group wanted to do a presentation and so they would need to playback the Music “from this USB Stick”. Luckily i hat a solution with me, but that was more luck than plan.

    Well, you can say “sorry folks, I cannot play that because i have no mp3 Player here” – the “Reaction” of normal Folk might be something like “Kidding, yea? You say you have highly professional Audio Gear here that cannot playback a simple MP3 File? In 2021? Even my Handy can do that. Did you steal your gear from the Egypt Museum or what?”.

    #99199
    Profile photo of SteffenR
    SteffenR
    Participant

    I think the problem is a technical one… libraries for playback would need storage
    and the developers have to decide what gets the available space
    so a smaller selection of file formats could be possible

    I would vote for MP3 as an addition too, but would not care about OGG, AIFF or FLAC
    and for long term recordings I would suggest to be able to record stereo MP3 if it’s possible…

    And the ability to handle USB storage more flexible and more robust is highly needed.

    #99204
    Profile photo of volounteer
    volounteer
    Participant

    @Dilettant

    mp3 is a crude, terrible sounding, non answer, to a non problem of using too much storage space

    GBs are cheap and there is no reason to ever use mp3

    #99206
    Profile photo of SteffenR
    SteffenR
    Participant

    GBs are cheap and there is no reason to ever use mp3

    tell this all the people coming with sound files copied from somewhere
    and blame the sound guy why it sounds so terrible on the PA, it was all good on the phone…

    #99210
    Profile photo of Dilettant
    Dilettant
    Participant

    The Argument of library storage is valid, no question. Future Models of the Mixer can solve that, the current one may have limits there.

    For next hardware generation i would also suggest to integrate a much bigger Buffer for SQ Drive Recording. It seems to me that this is a main source of reported problems with several cheap USB Sticks?

    Maybe, an additional M2 Slot to optionally install a SSD for such things would be great. Could be used for internal Multitrack Recording, Playback libraries (think of Jingles) and even for additional Software. Should be accessible as Mass Storage via USB. Further on would give an Option to integrate DLNA Server and Streaming functions via Ethernet, WLAN or Bluetooth. Think of youtube live streams and such applications. Or of customers that can download recordings via WLAN/DLNA at the end of the session even after live gigs.

    When it comes to MP3, that is simply the widespread defacto Standard on audio files these days. You do not have to like it (i personally prefer Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Opus and FLAC by far) but there is no way around it. Basically a must-have. Even Car radios, Camping Freezeboxes and kitchen clocks can play MP3 from USB or SD Cards (newer Cars from VW playback FLAC and Ogg, too, for example).

    For a way to playback spontanously brought-in consumer audio “we don’t linke the format” is a bad argument. Support for as many widespread formats as possible is the way to go. OGG and Opus are heavily used for Audio in the net, FLAC is the fastest and most widely supported losless audio codec and suitable for long-term archiving. AIFF is apple-centric and a bit more historic but widely used by creative people.

    Somehow, those codecs are the Pendants to JPG, PNG, GIF and TIFF in Photography. None of them has a known patent or license problem.

    I don’t think a future SQ Generation needs to be able to write them all, but playback would be useful without doubt. Having to send people away because of technical limitations is always a bad thing at the end of the day.

    #99211
    Profile photo of SteffenR
    SteffenR
    Participant

    For next hardware generation i would also suggest to integrate a much bigger Buffer for SQ Drive Recording. It seems to me that this is a main source of reported problems with several cheap USB Sticks?

    no it’s not

    #99218
    Profile photo of Søren Steinmetz
    Søren Steinmetz
    Participant

    The main problem with cheap USB sticks are precisely that…. cheap USB sticks.

    If you have a USB stick with 150MB/s read speed, but only 5MB/s write speed, that will be a problem when you try to record onto the stick.

    If you start introducing a buffer inside the console, you could end up having to wait 30mins+ after the recording is done, before it is written to the stick, and believe me, a lot of people would just grab the stick right after they stop recording, resulting in a lost recording (and I have a hunch they would then blame A&H for a stupid design 😉 )

    #99228
    Profile photo of Dilettant
    Dilettant
    Participant

    I had many crappy USB sticks in use for Photography things in last years, but even the crappiest USB2 one i ever saw could write at least 8 MB/s on the long run which is much more than 32 Track 48/24 Recording should need – a 48/24 Track is a raw Data stream of roughly 150 kBytes per Second. There were some USB 1.0 Sticks with 1,5 MB/s Limit years ago, but with USB3 and later i’ve seen at least 10 MBit/s.

    What I see on some Linux Systems is that some modern big Sticks make long Lags (up to 30 seconds) after Blocks of several Gigabytes of Data. Even those beasts were able to write at least 16 GBytes of Data in 10 Minutes which is an average around 25 MBytes per second. They make 2 or 3 long lags while that but they do it. Including final “sync”, of course.

    So if the SQ had a 1 or 2 GB Write Buffer which is enough for several Minutes of 32 Track Recording at least that Problem would exist no more for most users. Maybe there are other Problems as well, but the symptoms seem to indicate this one for me.

    Removing the Stick too early can anyway only happen with such crappy sticks which at the moment do not work at all. In other cases, the buffer won’t fill, so the result is same than now.

    So what is better from a User point of view? “Recording breaks” or “have to wait to avoid breaking of Recording”?

    Since it is practically impossible to know if a stick is good or bad without testing it (even same models of same brands vary with production charges)
    it sure is a Problem – just look at the corresponding Thread in the Forum.

    An Alternative would be to switch to SDXC for Multitracking – with such recorders there are reported far less problemms of that kind. OTOH SDXC cannot be used to attach a Hard disk or bigger SSD Drive.

    #99235
    Profile photo of KeithJ A&H
    KeithJ A&H
    Moderator

    Just a quick thing – there is no ‘computer’ in the SQ, it does not run on Linux, nor does it have USB drivers to change/update. SQ-Drive is a hardware solution interfacing with a system which we built from the ground up. Huge benefits for stability, efficiency, performance and audio quality of course, but not so trivial (as some appear to believe it might be @Dilettant 😉 ) to add in consumer formats/multimedia.

    Hence the ST3 3.5mm stereo jack port, which along with the other (balanced) stereo inputs and USB-B connection allow you to easily connect any common playback/background music device.

    Not saying it’s not a fair suggestion though, just that it may not be technically possible (couldn’t say without R&D investigation).

    Cheers,
    Keith.

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