Saturday, 9 April 2011

Experimenting with Sound in Flash - DJ Music Mixer

As soon as I realised the possibilities available with Sound Objects in Flash I realised that you could write a simple sound mixing app using ActionScript.

I started this experiment ages ago, but ran into a problem with the sound I couldn't solve straight away. 18 months later I remember it exists and blow the dust off to find the problem still waiting for me.

Just in case any one else has struggled with the same problem... I now have the solution, or at least know why that particular approach wouldn't work and have an alternative.

Once you set up a Sound Object you can either use attachSound to connect an embedded sound from your document Library, or you can use loadSound to load in an external MP3 file. But... and this is where I went wrong... you can't do both. In other words, if the first time you initialise the sound object you use attachSound you can't later change the sound using loadSound and expect it to behave normally. At least that was my experience.

My experimental app was a 2 channel audio mixer that used 2 Sound Objects, one for each channel. The mixing was done very simply by reducing the volume of one Sound Object while simultaneously increasing the volume of the other. So far so good.

However, for the Sound Objects to properly initialise, (and therefore the volume control code work properly) they needed to have a sound loaded into them straight away. The most obvious solution to me was to use attachSound to connect a sound embedded in the movie. So I made a couple of MP3s of 0 second duration and used those embedded within the app. Fine, the Objects initialised OK.

However, to be useful you need to be able to load external MP3s in, or it's only a 2 song show. And that's where the problem arose, because I would need switch from using attachSound to loadSound after the object initialised, and all of a sudden the volume control stops working as expected.

And that's what stumped me. It was only coming back with fresh eyes that allowed me to spot this discrepancy.

So, how to overcome it?

Simples - use loadSound from the first, but get Flash to load a non-existent sound by getting it to load nothing (e.g. ""). Sure, Flash will error, and complain it can't find the file, but the Sound Object will still initialise correctly - and the error is only visible when you test the movie from within the authoring software, not once exported.

Hey presto, when I load an external sound it all works, because I used loadSound all along and didn't change method later on. My music mixing app finally works.

It's possible there are other factors or other solutions - happy to hear about them, but that's how I got round it.

If it helps, happy to help.

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