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Learning Core Audio: A Hands-On Guide to Audio Programming for Mac and iOS 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0321636843
ISBN-10: 0321636848
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  • Learning Core Audio: A Hands-On Guide to Audio Programming for Mac and iOS
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Create Rich, Powerful Audio Apps with Core Audio on OS X and iOS

 

Audio can affect the human brain in the most powerful and profound ways. Using Apple’s Core Audio, you can leverage all that power in your own Mac and iOS software, implementing features ranging from audio capture to real-time effects, MP3 playback to virtual instruments, and web radio to VoIP support. The most sophisticated audio programming system ever created, Core Audio is not simple. In Learning Core Audio , top iOS programming author Chris Adamson and legendary Core Audio expert Kevin Avila fully explain this challenging framework, enabling experienced Mac or iOS programmers to make the most of it.

 

In plain language, Adamson and Avila explain what Core Audio can do, how it works, and how it builds on the natural phenomena of sound and the human language of audio. Next, using crystal-clear code examples, they guide you through recording, playback, format conversion, Audio Units, 3D audio MIDI connectivity, and overcoming the unique challenges of Core Audio programming for Mac and iOS.

 

Coverage includes

• Mastering Core Audio’s surprising style and conventions

• Implementing recording and playback with the Audio Queue architecture

• Using Audio Units to synthesize audio, perform effects on audio streams, capture from the mic, and mix multiple streams

• Managing file streams and converting formats with Core Audio’s helper APIs

• Creating positional audio in 3D space with OpenAL

• Using Core MIDI to synthesize audio on-the-fly

• Leveraging your Cocoa and Objective-C expertise in Core Audio’s C-based environment

 

When you’ve mastered the “black arts” of Core Audio, you can do some serious magic. This book will transform you from an acolyte into a true Core Audio wizard.


About the Author

Chris Adamson is an independent writer, editor, and developer who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Now focusing on iOS and Mac development, he is the coauthor of iOS SDK Development. He is also the author of QuickTime for Java: A Developer's Notebook and coauthor of Swing Hacks. He was formerly the editor of java.net and ONJava.com. He consults and publishes through his corporate identity, Subsequently and Furthermore, Inc., with a focus on user-facing and digital media development for Mac and iOS. He blogs on digital media software development at www.subfurther.com/blog. In a previous career, he was a writer/associate producer at CNN Headline News, and over the years, he has managed to own 11 1/2 Macs.

Kevin Avila (a.k.a. dogbert) is a smooth blend of carbon compounds, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen, with some impurities for added flavor. Additionally, he has more than 15 years' experience developing for the Mac and, since its release, the iPhone. Kevin has been involved in every corner of the audio market, from being an engineer at Apple to configuring professional recording studios. He currently is a code mercenary for various clients while he sits in his underwear at home, sipping coffee.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (April 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321636848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321636843
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Marnatti on November 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
iOS and OS X audio are done differently and the bulk of the examples work on OS X only. HAL methods (the methods with "Hardware" in their names) have been deprecated. I learned a lot from this book. Note to Chris Adamson, time for a new updated edition - this could be the definitive text.
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A weekend with this book was better than two weeks of evenings fighting with the "documentation" that exists elsewhere. After working through the examples in this, you'll be able to fight your way through the CA reference documents to do new things. I highly recommend it, with no reservations.

That said, I have two criticisms of the text: their presentation of code snippets and the shallowness of their applications. The code itself is solid, with good references and such, but it's split up into a couple dozen of snippets for each chapter, which is kind of difficult to work with. It may be that it's impossible to present things in a better way, though. As far as the shallowness goes: as you build off their basic apps, you'll notice that things get a lot more complicated, rather quickly. I'm definitely glad they didn't throw us into the deep end of this right off the bat, but, at the same time, it's nuanced to integrate CA code alongside UI code. A simple drum machine or synth keyboard app would be really helpful, after showing us the trivial CLI apps.

On the whole, this is a fantastic and indispensable book, with a couple of things to improve to make it perfect. If you're looking at working with Core Audio, glance at Apple's documentation, then buy a copy. It will save you a lot of time and frustration.
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I've been working with AudioQueue microphone input (IOS) for over a year, but found myself avoiding anything deeper (properties, listener callback notifications, metering, audio units, ...). After running through this tutorial, I now understand what is going on under the hood, and have moved down into working directly with audio units.

For me the most useful tips were:

1) Simple CheckError() logic to decrypt the 4 character mode and error code constants used throughout.

2) Clear explanation of file formats, audio formats, converters, and native PCM representations on IOS and OSX.

3) Pointers for where to find CoreAudio documentation (much of it can be found only in header file comments)

4) Clear pattern for required lifecycle sequence of constructing an audio units graph of nodes, which must be defined before open, opened before starting to set properties, and properties setup before initialize.

5) Reusable patterns for the sometimes awkward pointer arithmetic required to assemble AudioBufferLists on the fly.

6) Unkinking the awkward syntax of Output units, which are used for both hardware output and hardware input. Both the outbound bus #0 and inbound bus #1 have input and output scopes, which relate to where the unit fits into the graph. Clear description of threading, buffering, and clocking issues which must be handled in OSX context which may include multiple external audio accessories from different vendors, with different clocking and timing. After completing this tutorial I now "get it".

7) Clear description of the differences between OSX and IOS implementations.
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First let's start with stating how satisfied I am of having found that this book exists. Core audio is one of the most difficult programming topic I ever found, because of the subject matter and because of arcane, not very well documented, obscure and often inconsistent Api conventions and naming. OpenGl is difficult as it requires loads of mathematics, but is wery well documented. Core Audio is as difficult as OpenGL, mayebe more, but knowledge about it is much harder to be found.

The authors take their time to tell their readers what this book is not, it is not a book for wannabe programmers, it is not a beginners guide, beginners and less than determined programmers, please look elswhere. Audio is not for everybody, it involves doing computations in real time and is an order of magnitude more difficult than say, Ruby web based design.

A prerequisite for a beginner's book on Audio on Mac OsX and iOS, is being a rather advanced programmer in all three major languages required by the platform: Objective C, C (on which Core audio is based) and C++ (because of OpenAl 3d audio). You should be proficient enough to be familiar with structs, pointers and memory allocation.
The approach of the authors is keeping the UI side to a bare minimum, as UI is not what this book is all about: on the Mac side this choice implies having to deal with command line programs, and ignoring the Cocoa side of things. As this book is centered on Audio programming this choice is very logical. On the iOS chapter, a barebone simple View controller is used (as iOS does not support CLI.).
Learning Core Audio explains how to use all the major audio engines available on Apple platforms, which are basic Core Audio services, Core audio queues, Audio units and Open Al.
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