The Null Device

2x303 + 909 + pedals = Hobnox Audiotool

Web toy of the day (if not the year): Hobnox Audiotool. A TR-909, two TB-303s and a bag of effects pedals in a Flash applet, with a nifty patch-cord interface.

It sounds pretty authentic (well, at least as much as the various ReBirths and 303 softsynths) and flexible (the knobs produce the right amount of variation in the sound), which suggests that there is more to this than a bunch of samples in a simple player. The two options are:

  1. Recent versions of Flash have some kind of MSP/SuperCollider-style unit-generator-based audio engine built in, and pre-stocked with a bunch of useful components (such as wavetable oscillators, envelopes, filters, delay lines, convolvers, &c.), so that the Flash code only has to assemble a network of these and press play. Which essentially means that this sort of high-powered computer music infrastructure has become thoroughly commodified, to the point of being embedded for free in the infrastructure, remaining unnoticed until one actually uses something made from it. And that it would be possible to assemble quite usable audio production web applications in Flash, or:
  2. The applet merely communicates with a process on the web server, which synthesises the audio and streams it back to it.
Option (a) is, of course, the more exciting one. Anyway, I'd be interested to see how this is done.

There are 4 comments on "2x303 + 909 + pedals = Hobnox Audiotool":

Posted by: toby Sat Apr 5 02:40:58 2008

Flash, communicating with a Java applet for synthesising sound.

Posted by: acb Sat Apr 5 11:12:49 2008

Actually, I spoke too soon; it is, amazingly, one all in interpreted ActionScript. The Java applet merely acts as sound output (for some reason), and isn't even loaded on some machines:

Posted by: toby Sat Apr 5 23:12:43 2008

Colour me surprised. Are you sure? I guess AS is bytecode interpreted, and if it isn't too dynamic then that could be reasonably fast. But still, that's a lot of data to process.

Posted by: David Thu May 8 18:01:34 2008

Just a quick note that we just rolled out an update of the Hobnox Audiotool. As promised the TR808 is now online, along with two new stompboxes (Compressor and Bitcrusher) and some enhanced functions. Saving is still not possible yet, we’re working hard to make it happen for the next update. More infos here: