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Building high-performance interactive audio systems with the Bela platform

This workshop presents Bela, an embedded platform capable of ultra-low latency audio and sensor processing. Based on the BeagleBone Black, Bela features stereo audio I/O, 8 channels each of 16-bit analog I/O and 16 channels of digital I/O. It includes a built-in browser-based IDE including an in-browser oscilloscope. Bela projects can be written in C/C++ or Pure Data, with beta support for the Faust DSP language. The platform is a great base for building new musical instruments, interactive audio installations, synthesisers, guitar effects pedals, sound design tools or even kinetic sculptures.

Bela was created in the Augmented Instruments Laboratory, part of the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary University of London. The platform is open-source hardware and software. In March 2016, Bela had a highly successful Kickstarter launch, raising more than 10x its original goal with support from over 500 backers worldwide.

This workshop will provide a hands-on introduction to the Bela environment, working through a series of example projects in C and Pure Data which showcase some of the exciting possibilities Bela makes easy. Each participant will be provided with a kit to use, including a Bela board, a breadboard, sensors and other parts.

What to bring: laptop (any platform); headphones; optional: personal hacking gear (e.g. sensors, custom circuitry, sound producing devices).

Platform tech specs: Bela features stereo audio in and out (16-bit, 44.1kHz), 8x analog in and out (16-bit, 22.05kHz; 4 channels can be used at 44.1kHz) and digital in and out (16 channels, 3.3V). Stereo audio output is capable of driving line, headphone or 8 ohm speakers (1.1W amplifiers built in). Round-trip latency can be as low as 100 microseconds. Sensors and audio are sampled synchronously to eliminate jitter. The BeagleBone Black on which Bela is based has a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor with 512MB of RAM.

Participation in the workshop is free. At the end of the workshop, there will be an opportunity to sign up to join the Kickstarter production run which is currently underway, with estimated shipping in June or July.

For any questions, please email curators@stagingmhs.local

Eventbrite - Workshop: Build high-performance interactive audio systems with Bela

The workshop is supported by the Centre for Public Engagement at Queen Mary University of London.


The Music Hackspace programme is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.



What you'll learn

Course content

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