HTML 5 Audio Redux

Sat 04 September 2010 by Jim Purbrick

My recent experiments in to using Procssing.js and HTML5 audio to generate multimedia web applications didn’t get very far. I first tried generating a new HTML 5 audio element for each audio event, which quickly caused the browser to grind to a halt, and my attempts to reuse audio elements by resetting the playback position didn’t seem work, leading me to conclude that HTML 5 audio was only really useful for playing back long audio files, not for building sequencers that play back many short samples. When I spoke to @rem about my findings he was convinced that resetting audio elements should be possible and this weekend’s Music Hackday London has provided the perfect incentive and opportunity to dust off my experiments and start tinkering again. An hour in and sure enough I’ve managed to get audio elements to reset: it seems that the trick is to set currentTime after calling play() on the element, something that seems very counter-intuitive, but seems to work (at least in Firefox 3.6.8 and Safari 5.0.1 on OS X 10.6.4). Now I have reliable sample play back it’s time to start playing around with more interesting interfaces in Processing and there are 26 hours of hacking left: game on!


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