Project Bar-B-Q 1997
PROJECT BAR-B-Q, 1997
WAS SPONSORED BY:
Yamaha Corporation of America
Music & Computers
Motorola, Prodigy & BMI
Report: Table of Contents
Project Bar-B-Q '97
(The 2nd Texas Interactive Music Conference and Bar-B-Q)
Report of Results
"Project Bar-B-Q" is an intense Texas-style think tank held annually
on a 360 acre ranch in Boerne, Texas for three days in late October.
At this second gathering, 32 experts from the computer/music community
were in attendance. The goal this year was to "influence hardware
and software for music on computers over the next 5 years."
The group's results, along with action items, are presented in this
top of page
The BBQ Topic for '97: "INFLUENCING HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE FOR MUSIC
ON COMPUTERS OVER THE NEXT 5 YEARS"
The BBQ Staff prepared this plan for approaching the Topic:
1. Where do hardware and software appear to be headed in the next
2. What problems would we like to see solved, what questions
3. What solutions and answers can we come up with?
4. How can we best effect those solutions and answer those questions?
As was the case last year, key elements in achieving our goals were:
--a carefully planned, tightly scheduled program, tempered with
--every allowance for the group and individuals to follow their own
direction, including the formation of "rogue groups," picking the topics
to be brainstormed, opting to change the schedule on the fly, etc.
--fostering a very special setting in which all attention could be
comfortably turned to the task at hand.
Step 1, "Where do hardware and software appear to be headed in the next
5 years?" was addressed on Friday by a brief reiteration of the history
of BBQ '96, and a discussion of what repercussions that BBQ did and did
not have on our business.
Following the BBQ history were 5 talks of 15 minutes each by our guests,
on emerging technologies and recent (or near-future) changes in the industry.
The last of the talks, "appliance theory," by Van Webster, caused quite
a stir, and filled the minds of the Group with visions of questions and
The stage was set. Our comfortable place in the world had been
challenged. Our perspective was changed and broadened. Our minds
alert and full and ready to fight! Our brains were fully prepared
Step 2, "What problems would we like to see solved, what questions answered?"
is where we decided what would be brainstormed in the breakout groups that
comprised the body of BBQ. In this roundtable, we attempted to scrutinize
our industry to find its most important questions/topics. We decided
to form separate groups to study each topic, rather than having each breakout
group cover all topics.
Step 3, "What solutions and answers can we come up with?" was covered
in the same manner as last year. We split the attendees into 4 groups,
each assigned a facilitator (except one, which chose to form as a "rogue
group"), and brainstormed the hell out of the chosen Problems/Questions.
This happened, with various breaks, group exercises, and diversions, from
Friday afternoon through Saturday around 2:00.
Saturday afternoon, each group had two hours to write up their report
of solutions/answers to the Big 3 Problem/Questions. These reports
were read at 5:30 Saturday, and are included herein.
Step 4, "How can we best effect those solutions and answer those questions?"
is addressed by action items included in each group's report.
Last year, the BBQ report told the world what we wanted to see.
This year, our report is to let you know our best shot at answers to the
industry's biggest questions, and solutions to our biggest problems.
top of page
II. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Four areas were defined and attacked as the biggest problems/solutions
facing our business:
PROBLEM 1: A PC is an unreliable, difficult to use, rapidly moving
target. An appliance (task-specific system) is more efficient, economical,
SOLUTION: An audio appliance was conceptualized and designed.
It is a crash-proof, idiot-proof, great-sounding, affordable all-purpose
sealed box (or set of components within another appliance) that handles
all audio for PC's, NC's, set top boxes, and internet browsers, and even
does PC audio without the PC. A white paper is to be written and
read to the press.
PROBLEM 2: High-quality audio and a baseline platform need to
be defined, standardized, and logoed.
SOLUTION: High quality audio was defined as audio quality that
renders the artist's intentions without distracting artifacts, using hardware
and software as easy to use as today's Hi-fi equipment. The baseline
platform was defined as the advance audio description within PC'98, which
lists minimum acceptable specifications within certain parameters such
as frequency response and dynamic range.
Additional parameters were listed that ought to be included, such as
concurrency of audio features, and # of streaming audio channels.
It was recommended that if a PC OEM can not provide minimum speaker
capabilities, speakers should not be bundled. The phrase "Speakers
Not Included" might spur consumers to make their own choices in speakers.
Action items to develop this information and use it to influence the
industry are to be undertaken by the Platform Development Working Group
of the MMA/IA-SIG.
PROBLEM 3: Consumer demand and developer support for high-quality
audio must be encouraged and nurtured.
SOLUTION: The group defined the factors that limit consumer and
The group created action items to build both developer excitement and
-Educate and evangelize magazine editors
-Educate and evangelize developers
-Create an audio-enhanced version of a popular title
The group defined the factors that limit developer support for good
The group created action items to build developer support
-a better-tools-and-drivers Working Group was suggested.
-Programs for developer education were suggested.
-A white paper was suggested calling for better quality audio in titles.
PROBLEM 4: DLS must be enabled on the PC platform in the absence
of a DLS API from Microsoft.
SOLUTION: Constructive dialogue was established between major
players in the field, which seemed to galvanize the group, and hopefully
the industry, toward common solutions to downloading samples. Microsoft
clarified its timeline for including DLS functionality. Apples's
Quicktime 3.0 emerged as a possible solution to the problem. A MIDI
SysEx solution used by Chromatic emerged as a possible solution.
A letter was sent from BBQ to Microsoft requesting that a downloading API
be made available now, rather than waiting for all of DirectMusic to be
Action items were listed to follow through on the above.
As of this writing, a great deal of dialog on the BBQ e-mail list server
has been leading up to further meetings on the topic of promoting understanding
of great sounding audio in multimedia.
Other observations of Project BBQ '97:
It was observed that BBQ '96 did have significant impact on the industry,
through PC '98 and DirectMusic.
The Gigasampler by Nemesis was unveiled to the computer/music community,
demonstrating the lifting of significant barriers to computer processing
of sampled sound.
"Appliance Theory," championed in particular by Van Webster and Jim
Reekes, gained more than a foothold in the computer/music crowd.
top of page
III. OFFICIAL BBQ SCHEDULE
Influencing Hardware & Software for Music on Computers
Over the Next Five Years
Thursday, October 30th:
Hawaiian Luau Mixer
6:30PM Until ??? Main
Informal Introductions and Agenda Ventilation:
5 minute personal introductions.
Friday, October 31st:
and Chuckwagon Breakfast
Overview and Welcome: The Fat Man
9:30-10:00 TALKS 1:
Past: Since Last Year/Update:
"Where We Were/Thought We Were"
"What Happened/Didn't Happen"
10:00-12:15 TALKS 2:
"What's Going on in the Industry?"
"Strong Trends in Technology & Content"
Tom White: DLS
Aaron Higgins: Direct Music
Jim Van Buskirk: Endless Wave
Jim Reekes: Quick Time
Van Webster: Appliance Theory
(15 Minute Talks/Q&A)
1:45-3:10 Brainstorming Session:
"What are the Biggest Problems/Questions?"
3:10-3:30 Group Brain:
Narrowing Focus to four topics & splitting into groups
3:30-3:45 Beer Break
3:45-6:30 Problem Solving
Session: Part I
Breakout Brainstorm/Discussion Groups
6:30-7:00 Evening Break
7:00-7:30 Happy Hour in Main
7:30-9:00 Bar-B-Q Dinner,
Bonfire and Blues
9:00-??? Evening Acoustic
Saturday, November 1st:
7:30-9:00 Morning Grub
9:00-9:15 Town Meeting:
Epiphanies? Rogue Groups?
9:15-11:30 Problem Solving Session: Part
11:30-1:00 Working Lunch in Groups
1:30-3:30 Canoe Run Down
3:00-5:30 Group Results &
Finalize a Group Vision/Consensus of Future & Create Final Documentation
5:30-7:00 Groups Present
7:30-8:00 Happy Hour
8:00-9:30 Awards Ceremony
9:30-??? BIG JAM: Main
Sunday, November 2nd:
Snakepit open for Bloody Mary's & Mimosa's
9:00-11:30 Town Hall Meeting
Input from Attendees/Next Year's Event
9:00-4:00 Last Shuttles Out
top of page
IV. TALKS 1:
Talks 1: Where we were/thought we were
This talk was intended to disgruntle the attendees by forcing us to
look with greater scrutiny
at our preconceived ideas of where we are headed as an industry.
The Fat Man briefly reviewed the outline of the executive summary of
last year's BBQ report,
and invited people to contribute their own memories and impressions--especially
contradictory ones--of what was accomplished by BBQ '96.
Most significantly, it was suggested and agreed that we improve over
last year's work by
including action items and dates in our group reports for this year.
It was confirmed that the PDWG (started at BBQ last year) had a most
definite and positive
impact on Intel/Microsoft's PC '98 specs.
Likewise, the ICWG was cited as having had definite and positive influence
It was suggested that we deal with legacy issues.
We reminded ourselves of a question that was brought up at last year
and left unexplored; that
QuickTime might contain all of the functionality that would be required
of a standard, common
language for creating interactive compositions.
top of page
V. TALKS 2:
"What's Going on in the Industry?"
"Strong Trends in Technology & Content"
Tom White: DLS
Jim Van Buskirk:
BIOGRAPHY Tom White
Tom White is President & CEO of the MIDI Manufacturers Association
(MMA) and a
consultant on multimedia technology and marketing, specializing on
the convergence of the
computer and music industries. Tom also sits on the Steering
Committee of the Interactive
Audio Special Interest Group, which is developing recommended practices
technologies in multimedia. He manages the MMA's activities in
property, technical development, and outreach to other organizations
and related industries.
As the manager of the multimedia products group at Roland Corporation
from 1990 to 1994,
Tom was responsible for the launch of General MIDI and Roland's Sound
and worked directly with companies such as Microsoft and Apple to incorporate
MIDI technology in computer operating systems.
Tom is a frequent speaker on audio issues at trade shows and conferences,
and has been
quoted in various publications, including Music Inc., Comdex Show Daily,
and Multimedia Producer magazines.
Consultant on Multimedia Marketing & Technology
P.O. Box 3173 La Habra, CA 90632-3173, Tel: (310) 947-8689
Fax: (310) 947-4569
Update on DLS:
Available today ...
The DLS Level 1 Specification (DLS-1) document is now available from
the MMA, and the
instructions for ordering the document are available on the MMA web
The MMA is also now shipping "DLS Synth/Author" for Windows 95, which
is a DLS-1 file
authoring and editing program intended to jump start DLS-1 content
and ordering instructions are on the MMA web site).
Verification and Certification ...
The next deliverable from the MMA will be the "DLS Verification Kit"
(DVK) which will
allow developers of hardware or software synthesizers to verify compliance
with the DLS-1
specification. The kit includes reference DLS-1 files, a description
of the MMA approved
procedure for testing compliance, actual test materials for use with
an Audio Precision System
2, a copy of "DLS Synth/Author", and the source code for linking "DLS
Synth/Author" to the
developer's device. The DLS DVK will be available in December.
Actual DLS-1 compliance
certification (at the MMA test lab) will also begin in December. (Instructions
for obtaining the
DVK and certification will be posted on the MMA web site when available).
Marketing for Success ...
To achieve the goal of broad support for DLS Level 1 will require a
marketing effort aimed at
proving the viability of DLS. The MMA will be reinvesting a portion
of the revenue from
certification into publicizing those companies that provide DLS support,
starting with a listing
of DLS-1 compatible products on the MMA web site. Additionally,
companies that meet
compatibility requirements will be entitled to use the a "DLS Logo"
on their products and in
their own marketing. We encourage each and every audio developer
with an interest in broad
support for DLS to participate in the MMA marketing and logo efforts.
Compatible Products ...
DLS compatible devices (synths) have been announced by S3, Analog Devices,
Yamaha and Chromatic, and promised by many more audio IC and board
including Ensoniq, ESS, Rockwell, Kurzweil, and Texas Instruments.
Software for DLS
editing and content development is expected from Sonic Foundry and
other tools developers
The missing links ...
The missing link, however, are standard APIs for download management.
Many options are
in the works: Diamondware has announced a soon-to-be-released, DLS-enabled
their sound toolkit (PC), and Microsoft has promised an API ("Direct
Music") which will
support DLS in 1998. Meanwhile, Apple supports sample downloading in
(Windows and Mac OS) and now provides a means to convert DLS format
data to the
QuickTime format. We are also aware of efforts at Sun and SGI
to support the MMA DLS
format, as well as at RAD and other tools developers, but at this moment
no platform is really
"full enabled" for DLS. Rather than sit back and wait, we urge
you all to express your interest
in DLS to the people who can enable the platforms!
(note: Subsequent to this presentation, a BBQ group was formed to discuss
this issue, in
response to concern expressed by the attendees.)
Up next: DLS Level 2 ...
Since the time that DLS Level 1 was developed the functionality of entry
level PC synthesizers
has increased, and it now makes sense to look at a Level 2 specification
which can provide
better performance. However, to bring DLS-2 to market as quickly
as possible requires
anticipating the Level 2 program costs and necessary resources, and
budgeting for them in
advance. The MMA is currently reviewing a proposal for a DLS
Level 2 Working Group (in
the IASIG) which describes action items, milestones, and deliverables,
and plans to determine
the funding requirements to make this project a success. We will
notify MMA and IASIG
members of our conclusion and expected working group plans, shortly.
BIOGRAPHY Aaron Higgins
Aaron Higgins has a long and diverse past with music and audio.
Some of his more bizarre
accomplishments include playing in a band that performed while riding
bicycles and working
on a comedy radio show. After getting his BSEE from Penn State
University, Aaron worked
in the audio semiconductor industry as a design engineer and technical
Currently, he works at Microsoft as the Audio Technical Evangelist
in the Windows Division,
where he is focused on enhancing the state of the art of audio in Windows.
Audio Technical Evangelist; Microsoft
One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399
Tel: (425) 703-2029 Fax:
DirectMusic is a new set of APIs that will be released by Microsoft
in early 1998. The
functionality is split into two major sections called DirectMusic Core
DM Core delivers the long awaited API for downloading DLS files to either
software synthesizers. In addition, there is a completely new
MIDI interface with extremely
accurate time stamping. All of the MIDI flowing through the machine
will reference a global
clock with 100ns resolution. Developers wishing to access low
level MIDI and DLS services
can write to directly to DM Core.
DirectMusic Interactive is a flexible engine for delivering music that
adapts to any external
influence . By providing numerous controls of timing, mood, personality,
etc. the system can
bring spontaneity to situations that previously used repetitive loops
of music . The architecture
is capable of accommodating other music engines to enable maximum flexibility
BIOGRAPHY Jim Van Buskirk
Founded in 1996, NemeSys (New Media Systems) Technology, Inc., Jim Van
together with NemeSys co-founder Joe Bibbo have brought together one
of the most highly
successful groups of host-based signal processing technology developers
in the USA. The
technical staff at NemeSys have designed proven, production quality
shipping by such companies as Rockwell Semiconductor Systems,
Packard Bell, Compaq
Computer, Aztech Labs, Digital Equipment Corporation, Peavey Electronics
and have been
featured in technology exhibitions by Intel Corporation, Texas Instruments,
Corporation, Atlanta Signal Processing, and East West Communications.
An introduction to GigaSampler and Endless Wave MIDI/Audio integration
presented. Synergistic opportunities and convergence with interactive/gaming
were discussed, including the worlds first Endless Wave live 'interactive
by Team Fat's own David Govett. "Near production quality" development
tools for the
technology were shown with an example 350MB 6 velocity stereo sampled
which ran in a less than a 32MB RAM memory footprint with 7ms note-on
BIOGRAPHY Jim Reekes
Jim Reekes studied music composition and theory in college, never taking
a single computer
science or engineering class because he knew they would only pollute
his brain. He taught
himself programming, beginning with the Apple II and then on the Macintosh
128k in 1984
using assembly language because he couldn't afford the Lisa development
system. He begin
working in Apple's Developer Technical Support group, MacDTS, in 1988.
He took over
responsibility for the Sound Manager during System 7 beta (so you
can't blame that one on
him!) and in 1991 he finished the new Sound Manager 3.0, which
was a complete rewrite to
"make it suck less. "If there one thing he has learned
while at Apple, it's that there's a fine line
between an amazing insight and having a bad attitude. Amazing
insight is when you keep your
opinions to yourself, until someone asks for it. Jim has been
collecting progressive rock and
electronic music recording since 1970. He grew up in Pomona,
California, during the 1960s-
70s and can remember when Frank Zappa performed in local bars on Mission
Cucamonga was a vineyard. Jim thinks Frank was the most influential
composer of his time.
He wishes programming didn't suck out his brain so much, so that he
could spend more time
in his MIDI studio creating sound you've never heard before.
BIOGRAPHY Van Webster
Founder and President of Webster Communications a marketing and creative
company, is a consultant, speaker, video & audio producer, educator
systems designer. Major clients include the Warner/Elektra/Atlantic
Corporation, EMI Music
Distribution, and Glendale Federal Bank. Webster has produced
over 200 business video
titles and more than 300 Compact Disc Masters. Webster Communications
includes a full
service audio and video production facility for broadcast and business
He founded, and chaired for 18 years, the Recording Engineering Certificate
UCLA Extension where he continues to teach. More than 2500 students
have taken his
courses. In 1996, he chaired the 101st Audio Engineering Society
Convention in Los Angeles
and has served on the AES Convention Core Planning Committee for 12
years. Van has a
B.A. in Fine Arts from Claremont McKenna College and a M.A. in Architecture
California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. He
is a member of AES, SMPTE,
President Webster Communications.
607 North Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90042
Tel: (213)258-6741 email: VanWebster@aol.com
Van Webster presented at the 2nd Texas Computer Music Conference that
more efficient, more effective and more economical when they are task
purpose products do many things Okay, but few things well. An
appliance is a task specific
device. The most successful appliances are low cost, simple to
use and intuitive to
understand. A PC is an unreliable, difficult to use, rapidly
moving target. Constant changes in
technology have made computers very expensive expendables, not capital
General purpose computers are instruments of torture. People
who are tied to productivity
demands at work on a computer are not likely to turn to the same beige
box for entertainment
at home. Computerized Entertainment products will be more effective
in the market place if
they are dedicated systems (Appliances) and not general purpose PCs.
Will the market
decide which system will survive? Or will the industry?
For success, applications need to be
self contained and self scaling. All the required systems must
be included in the product.
5 Key Points to successful media:
1. MUST BE ECONOMICAL It must be a good value.
2. MUST HAVE STRUCTURE Media systems must offer the familiarity
3. MUST BE EASY TO USE Consumers respond to things that are easy
to use, understand
and enjoy. Consumers choose convenience over quality every time.
4. MUST OFFER SOMETHING COMPELLING The package must be a bargain
consumer just can't pass up.
5. MUST BE SYNERGISTIC Consumers like to add value to something
they already own.
OUR GOAL IS TO SERVE ALL THE PEOPLE. (OUR TASK IS TO CREATE
ECONOMICAL, STRUCTURED, EASY, COMPELLING AND SYNERGISTIC
top of page
VI. BRAINSTORMING SESSION:
"WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS/QUESTIONS?"
The entire group met to choose the problems/questions that were most
important to them,
which were then to be discussed by all the breakout groups. Most
of the problems/questions
proposed were incorporated into a five-step plan to influence hardware
and software for
audio on PC's.
1. Define high-quality audio
2. Define a baseline platform (including discussion of:)
-Host vs Non-host
3. Logo the standards
and enforce a logo?
our specs to bodies that already have viable, credible logos?
4. Consumer Demand--marketing
5. Developer Support--create/define/encourage the Killer App?
There was some discussion on point 3; some felt that a logo-ing
program was appropriate for
this group to undertake. However, most favored the attitude that
it would be appropriate for
the BBQ Group to serve the function of defining baseline platform specs
for audio on
computers which could then be incorporated into the superset of specs
created and enforced
by Intel and Microsoft.
Having been inspired by Van Websters talk, about a quarter of the attendees
formed a group
to work on defining and creating a Consumer Audio Appliance.
Likewise inspired by issues raised in the "Where does Hardware and Software...appear
heading" discussions, by Microsoft's DirectMusic presentation and discussions
of the previous
evening, a Rogue Group of roughly six people formed around Eric Larsen's
discuss issues surrounding a downloadable API.
The remaining half of the BBQ members were drawn into two groups, one
questions 1, 2, and 3 (Defining the Platform), and the other to discuss
4 and 5 (Bridging the
Gap between the Music and the Consumer).
Mark Miller made the very helpful suggestion of incorporating action
items, dates, and
responsible parties into the breakout groups' reports, thus allowing
prolonged time spent in
groups, and eliminating the need for our planned final meeting to define
top of page
VII. WORKGROUP REPORTS:
#1. K-Mart Shoppers
Facilitator: Jeff Johannigman
Dave Govett; Team Fat
Jim Reekes; Apple
Hamilton Altstatt; Disney Interactive
James Grunke; The Hotz Corp.
Van Webster; Webster Communications
Ralph Thomas; Strategic Simulations
David Battino, Music & Computers
The appliance workgroup took on the responsibility of scouting into
the territory of where
music and computers are headed. The goal was to put a stake in
the future, pointing out the
road ahead. This journey became a vision-quest to see what
an audio appliance might be in
the next 5 years. Just as the automotive industry has "concept
cars," we designed the concept
audio appliance--an affordable, easy to use, intelligent audio appliance
that connects to and
enhances home entertainment systems. Within the consumer electronic
entertainment systems are a collection of components, instead of the
PC method of the all-in-
The intention behind components is that the customer can buy a module
for the job. All CD
players work with all CD content on all stereos. That's what
it takes to cross the chasm from
high tech to mass market. One of the tests for such an appliance
is if one would expect to find
such a product in K-Mart. Our audio appliance is an apparatus
which can be a dedicated
device or embedded into a larger system. The audio appliance
is to do all of the audio
processing that occurs for the consumer. It will be incorporated
into the home entertainment
system whose duties include, among others, playback of movies and music-only
entertainment, as well as games and web-browsing.
This audio application is a DLS GM synth, containing a full GM set in
ROM with RAM for
DLS. It is an outboard sound card for PC's, NC's, set top boxes,
and any of the internet
browsers such as Web TV. It can be made to work with existing
PC's and existing software
titles using the audio driver. It has high speed digital I/O
connectors to transfer data to and
from the audio appliance. Firewire is the emerging standard,
which will be found on most
consumer electronic devices. Broadcasting and downloading audio
from the net, such as
MPEG or Liquid Audio, will be sent to the audio appliance from the
PC or NC.
The signal processing capabilities of the audio appliance are powerful
enough to mix, sample-
rate convert, and encode/decode audio formats. The audio appliance
runs JAVA, so it can
be programmed and provide the necessary graphical support to be displayed
on the TV.
Finally, and optional expansion slot, such as PCM/CIA, can provide
custom programs similar
to the way synths can access new patches and data. Any multi-channel
audio output, such as
a software package used by project studios, can be encoded into surround
Typical uses of the product include processing MIDI and digital audio
to be mixed and
encoded into a surround sound format. An educational use is the
example of the "Miracle
Piano" to teach keyboard skills. This could be done with the
audio appliance, low cost MIDI
keyboard, and the home entertainment system without a PC. CD
quality audio from the net
can be purchased or previewed without the need of a PC. A video
conference of a business
meeting can take advantage of the surround sound speaker placement
to simulate the virtual
positions of the people in the meeting.
With the emergence of the project studio, pitching your latest demo
can take place in the
comfortable living room by attaching the portable 8-track digital recorder
to the audio
appliance. An adjustable mixing board and EQ would be shown on
the TV, showing the
controls which have been recorded along with the audio data.
Interactive entertainment such
as the Hotz, Harmonix, and Resrocket could be done without the need
of a computer.
This product achieves an important element, the audio appliance cannot
crash the computer,
which is a problem that plagues the entire PC market. Our concept
of the audio application of
the future satisfies the requirement of an "appliance." It is
economical to the mass market,
$300-500, with a window of compatibility lasting 5-10 years.
It is synergistic in that it
combines the home entertainment system with appliances of the future
such as NC and
integrated web browsing set top boxes. It is a consumer product
for those who want to
interact with audio without computers. It has no user serviceable
parts, such as a lid to cover
slots, which consumers avoid. This product is for anyone with
an investment into a home
entertainment system, and those who are dissatisfied with computers
or NC boxes.
The next step is to document the concept in a white paper, to be read
bythe press, company
presidents, and key influences. The information can be made available
in magazine articles,
the Web, and possible discussions and demos at trade shows.
After scouting ahead, the future sounds good!!!
#2. The Pedernales Pinkerton's
Facilitator: Linda Law
Slogan: "Who are these
Aaron Higgins; Microsoft
Howard Brown; Compaq
Dan Cox; Intel
Mike D'Amore; Yamaha
Gary Johnson; Texas Instruments
Michael Land; Lucas Arts
Rob Maher; Euphonics
Gerard Papa; Lucent Technology
Jorge Salhuana; Texas Instruments
Daryl Sartain; ESS
Robert Sloan; Phillips Semiconductor
Pedernales Pinkerton's Report:
How do we define high quality audio?
The answer to "How do we define high quality audio" is an artistic or
subjective answer. The
best answer is "We can't define high quality audio, but I know it when
I hear it." It should be
comparable to CD quality, whatever the user defines as CD quality.
The speakers are the
limiting factor, especially related to budget. The key is that
the audio quality renders the
artist's intentions without distracting artifacts. We must also
remember that high quality means
that the hardware and software are as easy to install and use as today's
We also need to provide an immersive 3D experience.
What is the baseline platform for high quality audio?
The current baseline platform for high quality audio is the advance
audio description within PC
'98. This document specifies the minimum acceptable specifications
THD + N
Full Scale I/O Voltages
Sample frequency accuracy
What should be the baseline platform for high quality audio?
We feel that there should be minimum requirements for speakers.
If the PC OEM can not
provide the minimum speaker capabilities, we recommend that speakers
not be bundled, but
rather let the consumer choose.
Other minimum requirements
Concurrency of audio features
# of streaming audio channels
Sample rate conversion quality
It will be the extended channel of the PDWG to define and quantify the
list of parameters
above that are not included in PC '98. Beside the top five areas
described above, we also
see the need to look at:
levels of synchronization, A/D/A linearity, mechanical-acoustic
coupling, # of mixing channels, # of synth voices, sample rate for
synthesis, microphones and
How do we influence what we describe in questions 1-3 to become a standard?
We will present findings at conferences starting in March '98.
In addition, we will try to
influence any continuation of PC roadmap standards such as PC '98.
#3. The Plumbers
Facilitator: Tom White
Slogan: "We can fix
Mark Miller; Harmonix
Eric Larson; Creative
Conrad Maxwell; Rockwell
Joe Bryan; Chromatic
Paul Chasteen; Eye and I Productions
Charles Wiltgen; Apple
Mark Burton; Microsoft
The plumbers chose the task of enabling DLS on the PC platform, in the
absence of a DLS
API from Microsoft.
Participants included Charles Wiltgen of Apple, Mark Burton of Microsoft,
(Creative Labs), Joe Bryan (Chromatic Research), and Paul Chasteen
(Eye and I). Mark
Miller (Harmonix) and Conrad Maxwell (Rockwell) also participated on
the second day of
The participants from Microsoft and Apple clarified the current situation
for their own
solutions to the problem:
QuickTime (QT) 3.0, which may ship as soon as January 1998, has a SW
synth with similar
functionality to a DLS synth, and an API for download management, which
will run on both
the MAC OS and Windows 95/98 OS.
To enable QT for DLS playback will require a DLS format import component
converts DLS data into QT media format). Charles agreed that
developing this component
should be a priority for Apple after QT 3.0 ships, or would provide
assistance to someone
who wanted to begin that work immediately.
IHVs wishing to obtain support in QT for their own synths (replacing
the Apple Synth) can
produce a synth component which handles translation of parameters from
format. Assistance is available from Apple.
Windows 98 and 95 will not (at least for now) have native support for
DLS. Instead, support
will be provided via Direct X extensions (Direct Music). Direct
Music running on Windows
95 will not support hardware acceleration (replaceable synths).
Direct Music may ship about
the same time as Win98 (June 1998).
After the discussion of Apple and Microsoft solutions for DLS, Joe Bryan
proposal for a MIDI System Exclusive (SysEx) protocol for DLS.
The advantage of a SysEx
protocol is it would not require specific support directly from the
OS, since MIDI messages
are already passed intact in most every popular OS. The major
disadvantage over Microsoft
and Apple APIs (for example) is that it would not be bi-directional
and thus would not
support device queries nor error reporting. Still, it would be
simple and fast to implement!
Joe has offered to document the protocol used by Chromatic, which also
uses a commonly
available URL-reference function supported by both Apple and Microsoft
Joe asked that application developers review and validate his API,
and also asked for
someone to volunteer the code for IHVs to link in their drivers (in
case Chromatic is unable to
do so) that would make it easy for IHVs to implement the API.
The complete API could be
presented to the MMA for standardization prior to the MMA annual meeting
in January, and
could be operable early across a broad number of DLS-compatible products
in early 1998.
Another issue of concern to the group members was gaining application
developer support for
DLS. Eric reported the lack of broad support for downloadable
sounds among sound cards
has slowed the adoption of Creative's Sound Fonts format among developers
-- a situation
which DLS could resolve. The group discussed Creative's experience
and future plans with
Sound Fonts and determined that DLS support from Microsoft or Apple
(QT) should resolve
the problem, and enable Creative as well as other suppliers of synthesis
software to commit to support for DLS.
In keeping with the self-created charter of the second BBQ Project group,
action items were defined by the plumbers:
1. IHVs should contact Apple about developing their Synth Component
for QT 3.0
2. Someone needs to step forward and commit to developing the
DLS Import Component,
or else we risk waiting for Apple, which could ultimately result in
3. IHVs should also attend a Microsoft review of Direct Music
scheduled for the IASIG
ICWG prior to CGDC, and provide comment.
4. The attendees of the second BBQ project should make it clear
to Microsoft that the DLS
API is of immediate interest and need, and request Microsoft not delay
DLS for other Direct
Music functionalities. We need to help Aaron Higgins deliver
the right message to the Direct
5. Those application developers or IHVs interested in assisting
Joe Bryan polish up the
MIDI SysEx API need to contact him (address provided in BBQ report).
Anyone willing to
provide source code for enabling IHVs to support this API need to step
#4 Report of the Deep Fried Fat, Really Ugly,
Sound Monkeys from Hell and Soon
Facilitator: Dave Warhol & Ellen Guon
Slogan: "It's all in the name."
Joe Forget; Interact
Colin Anderson; DMA Designs
Tim Patterson; Interact
Rick Kelly; Accolade
Kurt Heiden; Creative
Peter Hinsbeeck; Intel
Scott McNeese; VLSI
Bobby Prince, Prince Music
The Monkeys group of the fabulous Project Bar-B-Q came to an early conclusion:
apparent that consumer demand does not happen in a vacuum. We
must create this demand
to support our work. Increasing consumer demand and developer
support for good quality
audio will be best achieved by enlisting magazines reviewers and editors
as evangelists for
good quality audio.
There is currently a lack of demand for good quality audio for a number
Lack of developer support
Lack of marketing
Consumers don't know
all the stats, logos, buzzwords, and technologies
Audio takes a backseat
to video in resource allocation
often based on graphical impressions
myths (CPU needs to be taxed for good audio)
The simple truth is Developer Excitement equals Consumer Demand
We focused on three
ways to build consumer demand and developer support for good quality
1.) Educate and evangelize magazine editors and reviewers about
good quality audio. Once
reviews of titles start including a greater emphasis on audio, and
the editorial content calls for
greater fidelity in audio, marketing personnel and developers will
realize that good quality
audio is important to their current development projects.
Educate and Evangelize Magazine Editors and Reviewers About Good Quality
Magazine editors and reviewers represent the least educated group about
for computers. Most reviews brush aside the importance of sound
comments like Those toe-tapping tunes made me hum. This
is in stark contrast to their
knowledge of graphics.
Therefore, we feel it is imperative to do the following:
Create a collateral piece called Audio 101 for reviewers that summarizes
the basic audio
technologies, why they are important, and how they are used in titles
today. Establish a set of
reviewer's guidelines for audio so reviewers know what to look for
and how to evaluate titles.
Get high-quality audio components on the desks of reviewers. Hardware
evangelists need to focus on magazines as a key element of education.
Cajole, bribe, and
lobby editors and reviewers to emphasize sound in the same way they
emphasize graphics and
2.) Educate and evangelize developers about the benefits of good
quality audio in their titles.
Programmers and producers need to understand what it means when a game
great audio: the added value is astonishing. Our battle is with
the developers, not the
Educate and Evangelize Developers About the Benefits of Good Quality
Audio. Sponsor a
session at CGDC called Audio for Producers to showcase technology and
compelling demos. Sponsor a session at E3 called Audio for Dumb
Marketing People to
showcase technology and content; include compelling demos. Encourage
a developer to
enhance their title to be showcased at both shows. Send a letter
to marketing departments
beginning with what we want to showcase. Establish a broader
category of computer audio
awards that are not popularity contests but based on objective standards
that are nearly
identical to the Reviewer Guidelines.
Develop a CD with Best of Audio examples AND upcoming product demos
good quality audio. CD to be sponsored by Hardware company or
Establish a reporting mechanism to regularly update developers on new
SoundFont, etc.) Author a monthly column/feature about Audio
in Game Developer
3.) Create an audio-enhanced version of a popular "A" title to
showcase the very best in
good quality audio. Compelling the industry to talk about statistics
and theory does not
motivate action; showing a real product does.
As for our final action item, we feel that is necessary to establish
an informal body to
coordinate and execute each of these items, such as the evangelization
of our mission and
message. This would not necessarily be an official working group,
but should be implemented
under the umbrella of the IA-SIG.
Building Developer Support:
Developer support for good quality audio is weak at best. We identified
a number of
challenges that sound teams face in implementing good quality audio
1.) Technology and Tools, How to use best in a true production environment
2.) Success Model What does good quality audio mean and how successful
can it be?
3.) Problem Solving How Do I Do This?
4.) Optimal Audio Use-How Do I Best Use Audio in my Titles?
5.) Realistic Goals within Product Development-Eliminate 200 sound
effects in an afternoon
6.) Lack of Standardization One Word: Legacy
To build developer support, we need to focus on the following action
A. Technology & Tools
Propose an IA-SIG Working Group to create better drivers, a run-time
better authoring tools that are compatible.
B. Developer Education
Create a mechanism to educate developers about technology developments
and advertise that
Sponsor a Session called Wake Up you Ignorant Sons of Bitches focused
programmers, and marketing wonks that aggressively promotes our mission
Distribute a White Paper at CGDC calling for better quality audio
implementation in titles.
Call for volunteers:
--Author an article entitled: Audio Technology for Game Designers
--Promote and extend the importance of awards as a motivation to develop
--Establish scalability as important and crucial
--Establish unified support of new standards
--Evangelize console game companies to adopt DLS standardization for
top of page