It’s Flash 909, and Amiga Flash.

Code wizard Andre Michelle has already made a name hacking audio capabilities into Adobe Flash and ActionScript 3. We got to see his work in the form of real-time audio effects processing in the GarageBand-like online sample-and-compose interface for Splice:

Interview: How Splice.com Has Taken Music Real Audio Processing to the Web

Well, there’s more, well into the “Things Adobe Wouldn’t Normally Expect People to Do With Flash” category. There’s 8BitBoy (warning: link autoplays music), a Flash-based player for Amiga MOD tracker tunes. There’s a 909 emulation (cutely named FL-909). There’s open ActionScript 3 source called popforge [@ Google Code] with all the Flash-hacking tricks needed to do audio.

Now, the most tantalizing bit yet: Andre has a new music environment coming, and to tease its arrival, he’s put up a little application with Roland emulations and stompboxes — and it’s all part of the Rich Internet Application of the Future:

The Hobnox Audio Teaser is a new approach to give you a great opportunity to create music [compositions] online in your browser. The underlying audio engine is based on dynamic digital signal processing to provide very complex audio compositing in Flash. The graphical user interface is based on an unlimited sized desktop to layout your chosen devices as you wish to operate.

The first application design delivers you some Roland emulations and effect floorboards to play with. Since this is a Teaser, you don’t have the option to save your environment. However, already at this early state we provide you with some well-known software features as history, clipboard and auto-alignment of the devices.

“Hobnox” will be about more than some TB-303 toys; it promises to be an “online entertainment and rich media publishing platform.” I assume we’ll find out just what that means later. For now, there is a limited beta sign-up with the audio application; it wasn’t quite online when I looked for it, but hopefully it’ll show up soon:

Hobnox Audio Teaser – Come and register for private beta


popforge It’s not all sunshine and happiness. These are hacks, not fully-supported features of Flash — and Adobe, like so many developers of supposedly “Rich Internet Applications,” often doesn’t have a clue about sound. Andre has run into problems with his hacks for that reason. Now, I know what you’re saying — why should Adobe, a hugely-successful business, care about your MOD player? And of course, they shouldn’t. But that’s not the point. The vision of Rich Internet Applications is software that is expressive across media, and that includes sonic capabilities. Maybe people don’t care about the ability to play old Amiga tracker tunes — well, unless Timbaland is looking for some new tracks. But they might care when speech and creative music applications and interactive sonic interfaces come into play. We’ll never know for certain if the RIA developers keep ignoring audio completely, because then we lack the platform for people to do interesting stuff.

In the meantime, though, it’s comforting to have guys like Andre hacking in brilliant ideas. I hope Adobe takes note.

Thanks to Chris O’Shea for this link. Be sure to check out his all-new Pixelsumo blog.

  • nylarch

    Some recent conversations I've had with Adobe employees makes me hopeful they are working to patch some of the holes on the audio side.

    I hope they follow through b/c as nice as Processing is Flash is probably the most successfully deployed app in history and ActionScript 3 is quite nice to work with.

    Bravo to Andre.

  • That's great to hear — Adobe, patch away!

    I will say, though, the numbers on Java are not that far off of Flash's. I think what Flash has done more successfully is get people to regularly upgrade. So, with Java, you might be okay targeting Java 2 or at best Java 5, but the numbers on Flash 9 versus even Flash 8 are pretty unbelievable.

    I would hope some of the audio stuff gets improved in Java, too … both would be better than either/or.

  • nylarch

    Adobe seems very serious about moving Flash forward as a platform. It shows the value of competition b/c once Microsoft brought Silverlight out the pace of Flash development at Adobe really picked up. Sun kind of hurried out JavaFX so it could get in the game but that might go somewhere good as well.

    Adobe is also releasing (very soon) AIR, which will allow Andre to unplug his Flash apps and run them on the desktop, run them as occasionally connected clients that have full access to local drives and I would assume local processing power. That could be really fun for music…

  • AIR is very cool, but it's still short of the things you need to make a serious audio app — things like ASIO support on PC, plug-in support on Mac and PC, etc. But yes, there are still interesting possibilities as far as what you can do with it, and potentially in areas traditional apps haven't touched as much.

    I certainly don't want to re-launch the Java debate, but I will say Java is capable of doing some things Flash is not — even with Flex and AIR, Java remains more of a complete development platform and that's not Adobe's aim (maybe shouldn't be). I still see more potential in Java for music than Flash, and there's the ability to bring in C++ code.

    But, yes, for the forseeable future most serious music apps are going to continue to be written in C++, etc.

  • Rozling

    Did anyone catch the production values of the intro video on Hobnox.com? I have no idea what most of the people are saying but it's very, very well put together – check out the little bit where they seem to be triggering video from the individual notes of a Hendrix flurry – obviously edited that way but still it's all very creative.

  • corporation

    am i the only one not able to register for hobnox?

    the link the linked blog gives is 404ish.

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  • Looks like it won't let you register if you are US-based til Feb 28th.

  • Bigbadaboom

    Guys, thanx for theme. And just intersting, who knows interesting TB-303 VST emulators, i try Audiorelaism, D1 Phoscyon and Silverbox. Silverbox have just 1bar programming interface, but sounds not good, Audiorealsim, good for programming but very poor sound, Phoscyon best, but not perfect.

    So anyone can recomend another TB-303 emulators for VST?

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  • Matt

    It would be nice if Adobe released a 64 bit version of Flash for Linux like they've said they're going to for the past 4 years or so.

  • @Rozling: Thanks for the compliment. The video was put together by our own editorial team in Berlin. Just drop me an email if you'd like to know more. Cheers, David

  • My recent conversations with folks at Adobe suggest that they are thinking seriously about enhancing the real-time audio capabilities of Flash in FP10.

    I have been working on DSP/music tools in Flash recently, and have been following the Flash audio story (and Andre's work) for a while. As a number of other posters have observed, Flash is not technically the best for real-time audio work, but it's the platform that is here now, and installed in almost every browser.

    I haven't released my full project yet, but you can read a description of some of my work and play with a simple example at these links:


    The synthesis approach here is geared specifically to playback of musical events, not to continuous sample streaming. It uses the same basic hack, but plays longer audio chunks than the popforge code and the chunks start and end at silences, which I think results in more stable playback with fewer audible timing hiccups.

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  • … and we at Adobe have been listening, especially those of us who are music composers and musicians. The Flash Player 10 has substantial upgrades including the Speex Audio Codec and dynamic sound generation.


    (Hint: we're looking for testers)

    Tinic has created way more info so follow this link to learn more:


    Duane Nickull

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  • I was wondering how to create something like this.

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