Audacity Unconference 2014

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The wiki for before, during and after AU14 in Preston, UK.

The main AU14 information page is here.

If you were there, please request an account using the link top right, but this is open right now.

If you don't understand wiki mark-up, don't worry, just add stuff and somebody will tidy it up for us.

What happened at AU14

It all started on Thursday evening, some food was eaten and beer drunk, and many conversations and wish-lists! About 11 of us had a great night in a pub.

One of the meme's that started to come from this was the 'three wishes meme'. If you could have three wishes from 'Audacity team', what would those three wishes be? (bear in mind that as in the fairy tales there can be unforeseen consequences). We also found there were a surprising number of biker or ex bikers around the table! There was some astonishment that Roger had brought his drum-kit all the way from the States, but it was the background noise in the pub - Steve had actually said 'trumpet'.

Detailed log of sessions is at Audacity_Unconference_2014_log.

Liz wrote a detailed piece about the first day on her blog.

Lots of the team were there
Martyn, James, Vaughan, Leland, Peter, Buanzo, Roger, Steve
Martyn, James, Vaughan, Leland, Peter, Buanzo, Roger, Steve


Some of the presentations were recorded on a fixed video camera, they can be found at

Things people offered to 'start' a chat about

These are offers people made to run a session:

Steve 8May14: A gentle introduction to one of the hidden gems in Audacity. How to make your own plug-ins using the built in "Nyquist" scripting language. This could include practical examples such as making an effect to help simplify crossfading tracks, generating weird and wonderful sounds, making your own custom filters and audio effects, or even an introduction to computer generated music. A basic familiarity with using Audacity would be required for this session.

Measuring the frequency response of your amplifier etc.

Martyn 8th May 2014:We could talk about a number of methods of using Audacity to measure the frequency response of amplifiers, mixing desks and so on. I have a particularly interest in using the Aurora modules, although they are quite 'experimental' in Audacity

Audacity Team discussion

Vaughan 23 June 2014:I'd like us to set aside some time for a discussion among Audacity Team attendees. I'm thinking mostly administrative matters, like how we securely share passwords for list admin. But I think we should primarily discuss the topics in that ftf discussion, rather than here. I suggest we do this last thing on Saturday, so we can review/debrief AU14.

Nyquist in Audacity

Roger 1 July 2014: Steve and I are planning some tutorials on Nyquist in Audacity. Steve will introduce Nyquist plug-ins, giving an overview of what it's all about, why you'd want to know more, and also giving some real practical information. In particular, he will show how to accomplish some relatively simple but tedious tasks with a little Nyquist code. He will give examples using the Nyquist Prompt effect, and then expand that into creating plug-ins. Examples might include such things as notch filtering, multiple "hum spikes", making crossfades, generating a "bad word bleep", and such like. This will lead toward a brief look at some of the more complex things that can be done with Nyquist to try and give a sense of the largely untapped potential, though without going into any complex programming. In a subsequent session, Roger will give more focus on Nyquist as a language. He will describe some general techniques for audio analysis (using RMS, pitch estimation, using thresholds, spectral centroid, etc.), sound synthesis (some primitives and some pre-built libraries available in the Nyquist distribution), and show a few examples. We'll put all our examples online. Please add a request here if there is anything in particular you would like to see covered.

Web Security and FLOSS

Buanzo July 7 2014:I'd like to chat about the current status of web insecurity and how to protect yourself from malware, from the perspective of Free/Libre Open Source Software, both as user, supporter and developer. This chat might evolve into all things security.

Other Topics

  • Audacity in Education - Podcasts, teamwork.
  • Audacity for Language Learners - Vowel sounds, structured Audio,
  • Real Time in Audacity - How do we get there?
  • Audacity Community - What can we do to help it?

Things people said they would like to have a chat about

We asked "What would you like to talk about?". These were the suggestions:

The Future

Martyn: I'd like to hear about what real users really want us to do in the future with Audacity. Audacity is many things to many people, what should be our main thrusts?

James: I have some GUI work in progress to show. I'm using antigrain which gives sub-pixel accuracy to drawing, and that means we can zoom in and out on the waveform continuously rather than in steps. It's also fast enough that we can smooth-scroll as we play audio. I've also got labels in different styles and colours which is an enabler for future new features. For example, tape a telephone interview and show the interviewer in blue and the caller in red on the waveform. Audacity's look has become a bit dated and its functionality isn't always as smooth to use as it could be. These upgrades are one of the steps Audacity is taking towards making the interface more flexible and modern.

Vaughan: Mobile & simplified GUI:

  • We get many requests for ports to mobile devices.
  • I think we would very much benefit by an alternative, simplified interface.

I will present some of my work in progress that addresses both topics, as there's lots of overlap.

And I think it's totally complementary to James's GUI work in progress. :-)

Vaughan: Mobile, with server side editing:

For iOS and Android, the barriers are, afaik, device support and having to port our Audacity C++ code. The former is out of our control and the latter is a major effort.

Trying to brainstorm about ways to get there sooner:

  • I have some experience (with Michael Chinen) in server-side Audacity project editing being used remotely, via scripting. This could be a path to providing Audacity editing from mobile devices without full porting of Audacity code to mobile OSes. That is, GUI on mobile device, audio computation on server.
  • Also did a project for editing short recordings -- primarily ringtones, and probably longer with current machines -- via remote GUI and add-on DLL on server. It was 5 or more years ago, based on Mezzo (!), and short recordings because Mezzo doesn't have disk-based editing yet (still does not). Importantly, the server did the security before it got to the add-on.

I don't have the security expertise to do the job on either of these paths, but it may be worth 10 minutes of discussion.

Navigation in Preston

The Media Factory looks like it is made out of Lego, giant grey and green blocks.

The University publishes a map here.

Walking from the Premier Inn to the venue (Media Factory) is about 9 minutes, from the Legacy about 6 minutes.

Martyn added walking routes to those 2 hotels and walking routes to the uni map here

This is where we sorted out equipment etc

  • We will have access to data projectors with HDMI and VGA inputs, for connecting up laptops.
  • We will have flip-charts, pens, post-its.

Vaughan: I bought a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter ( You have plenty of HDMI cables, right?

Martyn: Yes, we have HDMI cables and projectors booked.

Vaughan: Jams?! They've been mentioned.

Who's bringing what instruments?!

What are we playing? We can just jam, or play from standards (like Real Books -- I know Roger's a jazz player). I'm bringing my Real Books (digital versions).

I'm mostly a piano player. I'm not bringing one of those. Any available at UCLan?

Martyn: I have booked a studio with a freshly-tuned baby grand, hope that will do! We have guitars and things in stores, we need to book them out on Friday.

Dan: Is there anywhere DJs could play some music? Maybe some CDJs or vinyl turntables and a mixer? Hopefully there will be some music producers who would be interested in playing/mixing some of their music. I'm definitely up for it!

Martyn: Short notice for this, and I'm not sure we can do anything for you, but I'll try!

Dan: Yeah I appreciate that its short notice. I do have a mixer and two vinyl turntables myself. I could bring the mixer if need be, but I have no way of transporting the turntables from Brookfield to the Media Factory. I'll be taking the bus