BlokDust is a very stylish web-based music making app. By joining blocks together, you can build synthesizers, put effects on your voice, remix & manipulate samples and arrange self-playing musical environments. The built in tutorial gets you over the initial learning curve. You can hook up MIDI controllers to help create your instruments, and share the results on social networks. It is made by three developers in Brighton, UK, who have also made the code open source.

Google’s Omnitone: Spatial audio on the web

Google’s new Omnitone project is a first-order ambisonic decoder that allows you to binaurally render an ambisonic recording directly in the browser. This means that sound that has been designed for a multi-channel surround-sound speaker setup can be experienced using a standard set of headphones.

Hongchan Choi and Raymond Toy, the authors, gave me a demonstration of the technology using Google’s “cardboard” VR setup, and it really is impressive. The positioning of the audio maps well to what the eyes can see in the virtual environment, tracking head movements and object movements in the 3D space very well.

Get the full technical details and demos at Google’s opensource blog and the Omnitone project page.

What’s new in Web Audio

Mozilla’s Sole Penadés takes a look at the new Web Audio features and performance enhancements that have been introduced in Mozilla’s Firefox browser in the last 12 months. This includes a useful overview of the disconnect methods on audio nodes, the changes to lifecycle management of AudioContext and the move towards a more contructable syntax for node creation.

Guitar Amp Simulator in Web Audio

Michel Buffa has been pushing the boundaries of amplifier simulation creating ever-more realistic simulations using Web Audio. Michel describes the latest version of his guitar amp simulator:

With the help of the famous native amp sim coder LePou, we cloned the Marshall JCM 800 premp schematic with WebAudio (tonestack, filters between the preamp stages etc.). I also used asymetric + symetric transfer functions for the two distortions in order to generate both odd and even harmonics in a suitable way.

If you don’t have a suitable audio interface and electric guitar, the YouTube video has a good demonstration.


The midi-ports library provides a very useful set of simplifications and abstractions on top of the Web MIDI API allowing you to access devices by name as well as group ports by device.

genish.js tutorial

Charlie Roberts has written a comprehensive tutorial for their genish.js synthesis library. genish.js uses the Web Audio API to playback sound, but permits sample-by-sample manipulation of the audio. This allows some types of synthesis techniques that are impossible using Web Audio nodes - such as single-sample delay lines. To keep performance acceptable, genish.js optimises the generated JavaScript.

What does the harmonic series sound like?

A simple but effective demonstration of the principles of musical harmonics from Google Create Lab’s Alexander Chen.

Thoughts on improving Web Audio

Carl Tashian has been playing with the Web Audio API and has some thoughts on how things could be improved. Most of Carl’s points relate to extension libraries and possibilities for Web Audio-based technology rather than the API itself, but if you’re working on tools for other developers to use, Carl has some interesting ideas.

Talking Machines interview Doug Eck about Generative Art

In this episode of the excellent Talking Machines podcast Katherine Gorman interviews Doug Eck of Google’s Magenta project. They discuss the future of computer-generated art and music made possible by advances in neural networks and machine learning. The interview with Doug Eck starts at 15:30.