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Submitted by Dan, posted on March 12, 2001

Image Description, by Dan

I've been an regular reader of flipcode for about a year or more and been just lurking around picking up cool tips and looking at awsome pictures.

The image submitted is a screenshot of the application I've been working on at Propellerhead Software (, it was finally released last autumn.

So what is it?
It's a music-making software. It features a number of "devices" that generates sound and has a build in sequencer. There is also free routing of the audio chain by flipping to the back side of the rack. The top left area is the front and the lower right is the back. At the very end is the sequencer.

So why post it at Flipcode?
It looks pretty good (imho).
It uses a number of techniques more normal to games than music, the graphics uses alpha channels and are custom compressed, it creates sound using both algorithms and samples in real-time. Realtime physics for the cables - yes they do move pretty convincingly. We use offscreens to avoid flicker.

I'd just wanted to share this with you guys since I like the site a lot. And I think it would make a really good tool for people making games who wants music but can't afford an entire studio. :]

Thanks for your time guys/girls.

PS. The absolute hardest part of any project is to finish it...

Image of the Day Gallery


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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.

March 12, 2001, 02:18 PM

Looks great (imho)


March 12, 2001, 02:59 PM


some very fine work in the area of graphical user interfaces. I should check out the software soon ...



March 12, 2001, 02:59 PM

Finally a decent app to compliment Rebirth. Keep up the good work!


March 12, 2001, 03:00 PM

Looks good. A no-brainer to use for anyone who has worked with the actual physical devices before. What are the minimum/recommended system specs? Looks like it uses a lot of screen space. Is it possible to go horizontal instead of vertical? Have you tried it with a dual screen setup?


March 12, 2001, 03:00 PM

This sounds like a buzz tracker clone type thing. Is that a fair comparison? Anyway it looks really cool, as cool as rebith 388. I've noticed that mostl music software usually emulates music hardware design.


March 12, 2001, 03:20 PM

This looks really cool-- it is a musician's dream :)



March 12, 2001, 03:22 PM

It´s amazing!!!!!!!!!!!
This to code is harder to make a Quake3 engine!
It´s just amazing


March 12, 2001, 03:27 PM


hey, your software really kicks-ass!! audio programming (on synths hardware/software) is one of my biggest hobbies beside 3d programming. your software is really the best compared to other softsynths on the market, and the sound it produces is just wonderful. it's very impressive to see the software running at 30% of the cpu-speed and emulating tons of synths and effects in realtime (40 ms lag), this really rocks!

the user interface is really nice to watch but it's far from being optimal! why didn't you place the sequencer in a seperate window for ex. (you can't maximize the sequencer, this is really boring). the wire-system is quite impressive too, but if you've a lot of devices it can get quite tricky to find the right wires and then connect them!

i would like to hear more about the sound-engine. what architecture do you use? it must be quite modular because the software lets so much freedom to the user . .

keep up the good work!! this really kicks-ass!!

Jukka Liimatta

March 12, 2001, 03:29 PM

First of all, the screenshot is too dark. Also, there are too few polygons on the screen ( 0 ). I don't like it.

Seriously, looks scary when think how much work must have gone in writing that-- it looks as professional as anything-- wow!


March 12, 2001, 04:30 PM

I think you forgot to mention that the frame rate is too slow and that you're making something that looks just like it. ^_^


March 12, 2001, 04:32 PM

Reason outguns and outclasses Rebirth in EVERY conceivable way.



March 12, 2001, 04:34 PM

Propellerheads also made Rebirth. They've gone and surpassed themselves by several orders of magnitude with Reason.


March 12, 2001, 04:39 PM


Reason is indeed excellent. Virtual synths, a drum machine, a ReCycle-based sampler, excellent editing capabilities, etc. This is as close to a "virtual studio" as anyone has gotten.

If you like Rebirth (also by Propellerheads), Fruityloops, or even tracking, then you'll love Reason. I highly recommend this product if you're in the market looking to purchase something.

Propellerhead's next project should take Reason and mix in 1 part Cubase and 2 parts Reaktor. That would be the ultimate audio package. =)

zed zeek

March 12, 2001, 05:15 PM

looks good (bit concerned though about the graphic niceness taking away to much cpu power causing jumps,skips in the music) , how many analog input signals is it able to handle at once? also isnt the field a bit crowded with calkwalk + cubase already or do u have a different target audience. best of luck anyways i love music creation programs.

Phil Carlisle

March 12, 2001, 05:32 PM

Well, I just got a demo of reason to try it out. Its really really gone WAY past anything else Ive seen in software. Apart from those "architectural" sound design programs which work from flowchats etc.

Goddam, thats just a whole studio (for dancy style music) in a box! :))

And only 300 quid? :))

Well, anyway, you guys have got my vote :) well done to you all.



March 12, 2001, 05:32 PM

Thanks for all the great comments!

dva13: Sorry it's only vertical, and no I haven't tried a dual screen setup - not much point when using Reason right now unless you stack them on top of each other. :]

freakyboy: Putting the sequencer in a separate window? What a wild idea! :] Yes we have thought about it... a lot. It's basically been down to timeconstraints that we haven't done it (yet).
If you think the cables get to messy you can use popup-menues instead or even hide the cables (in the options menu).

zed zeek: Well, we have trimmed the graphics part pretty good, more or less the only situation when the graphics takes much CPU is when you have tons of cables and flip to the back of the rack. One way to reduce that problem is to disable cable animation or hide the cables all together.
The music software business crowded? Nah... Everybody wants to be a popstar - no?

As for technical comments on the engine I don't know how much I'm allowed to give out. :[
I think it would make a cool flipcode article or something even though I'm not the DSP-brain and Propellerheads. I did design the internal routing of audio though.

This much I can say though:
All sound processing is done with 32-bit floating point.
There is no MMX/SIMD optimizations on the PC but on the G4 there are some altivec stuff.
The sound engine allows for free routing (so you can connect the cables just as you want).
And just about the heaviest calculation on the PC is the conversion from 32-bit float to 16-bit integer for output on the soundcard, and that is more or less the only code that is handcoded assembler - everything else is just plain C/C++.

Thanks again for the compliments!

PS. Hey! I created an account at flipCode... finally. :]


March 12, 2001, 05:50 PM

The cables look a little heavy. But it is really cool in use.... I just made my very first song! boot-budda-boot-budda boot... gonna go play some more.


March 12, 2001, 06:15 PM

Haha, I love the masking tape labels.


Scrambled Monkey

March 12, 2001, 06:32 PM

Ooooooooh I just drooled all over myself... I hope this isn't too expensive, because I think I may have to buy it.


March 12, 2001, 07:21 PM

u guys @ Propellerhead are really great !
i've seen reason running and it's really an amazing software ...

for both music produced and gfxs ...

really really nice work !!!

keep up the good work !

Pär Spjuth

March 12, 2001, 10:05 PM

Checked the demo out just to try the interface out (i'm not really into the music creation stuff) and I must say this really is something different! In a good way ;) It's fun to just try the different controls out and drag cables around! (call me childish if you'd like but it is things like this that triggers our creativity)

I say, haven't we just seen enough of those widget based GUIs by now? There must be something more to it than clicking those boring buttons and dragging those same looking bars... or? And plain skinning doesn't really add anything more than confusion...

I (one of many I guess) like the thought of happier more creative and productive people using exciting interfaces (and I'm NOT talking about WinXP here). Think about 3D interfaces like this one. We need research and innovation in this area!

Windows (as a phenomenon) begone! Let the software adapt to the user by creating a virtual work environment especially designed to fit the user's mental models!

Future, where are you?! I know I put you somewhere here....


March 13, 2001, 02:31 AM

I've taken a course on DSP myself which inspired me to code up some of it. I didn't make a fancy interface for it though.
How long did that interface take to make man? It's really neat when people bother to make a really nice interface that people actually enjoy using. Usually I find that it's the boring but necessary part of a program and therefore is nothing pretty.

Good to see that you have a mac version and use the altivec on the G4.

It must be well optimised since so little is in asm. Well done.

Oh, and welcome aboard.


March 13, 2001, 03:05 AM


I have used Rebirth before on the Mac, and it kicked ass. When i saw this IOTD shot, i almost flipped because i was waiting to see what the Propellerhead Software lads would do next! I remember thinking - "if that's what they can do then, imagine what they'll do later..." - and here it is. Looks freeeeeeeking beautiful, what a bunch of geniuses.

Keep nailing it! I'll buy a copy!


March 13, 2001, 03:08 AM

Hey! NICE RACK! (Sorry couldn't stop myself)



March 13, 2001, 05:08 AM

This software kicks ass, incredible improvement over rebirth !

My only suggestion is that you could make navigation a bit easier, like enabling the mousewheel. Also, computer screens are more wide than tall, so the ability to place to devices next to each other in 1280x1024 would be very very cool. Maybe you could just bring up such a "scroll spot" when you press the middle mouse button, like in iE...



March 13, 2001, 06:12 AM

I guess I'd get in a lot of trouble if I asked when the crack comes out..? ;)

Christian Schüler

March 13, 2001, 11:51 AM

1st I have to say that the GUI looks pretty neat from the first impression, though it may be interesting to know how the cables behave if you actually move them, which can of course not be presented in a static picture. It seems they are using the hyberbolic cosine (exp(x)+exp(-x)) for the cables.

The algorithm could need an improvement: See the cable from "Aux-2" to "Left input" of DDL-1. It seems a little unphysical because the bottommost point of the cable is not centered between the plugs, but is more closer to "Left input". Anyone on the same page as I am?

Last but not least, why not visit my humble soft-synth project at

it is an experimental console program, so it has 0% graphics, but can output some cool muzzi (I think)

- chris


March 13, 2001, 12:33 PM

Gulinciu nemusa


March 13, 2001, 01:22 PM

Perhaps it's being propped up slightly by the cables underneath. =)

In any case, it's largely irrelevant, because in action it works quite well.


March 13, 2001, 01:43 PM

Look good but, i doubt it's any match for Pro Tools.


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