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ANNOUNCING: SuperCollider is now available

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James McCartney

Mar 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM3/21/96

SuperCollider, a real time synthesis language for the PowerMac, is now
available for sale. For more info see the FAQ below and get the demo version.
The price and how to order is at the end of the FAQ.

the SuperCollider FAQ :

*** What is SuperCollider?

SuperCollider is an environment for real time audio synthesis which runs
on a Power Macintosh with no additional hardware. SuperCollider features:
a built in programming language with real time incremental garbage
collection, first class functions/closures, a small object oriented
class system, a mini GUI builder for creating a patch control panel,
a graphical interface for creating wave tables and breakpoint envelopes,
MIDI control, a large library of signal processing and synthesis functions
a few of which are found nowhere else, and a large library of functions for
list processing of musical data. The user can write both the synthesis
and compositional algorithms for their piece in the same high level language.
This allows the creation of synthesis instruments with considerably more
flexibility than allowed in lower level synthesis languages. Since it is
easy to create control panels and graphic displays, SuperCollider is well
suited as a tool for teaching various synthesis techniques.
SuperCollider reads Sound Designer II and AIFF files and writes
Sound Designer II files. It can input and output audio from either the
Sound Manager or streamed from/to a file.

*** Where can I get a demo version?

The demo is available via anonymous ftp from :

*** What does it run on?

Only Power Macintoshes. It did not run on the PowerPC card upgraded Mac that
I have tested because it requires the audio hardware of the Power Mac.
It does not and never will run on 68K Macs. The 68K just doesn't have the
horsepower for real time synthesis.

*** Any particular flavor of Power Mac this works best on?

The faster the better. I use it on an 8100/80. The 6100 is
underpowered, especially without a cache card. I do use
it on a 5300/100 Powerbook but again it is a little
underpowered on that one though quite usable.

*** What is the programming language like?

If you would like to know more about the programming language,
it is an extended version of my Pyrite MAX object. You can get
the docs for that from:

*** Is SuperCollider playable via MIDI? I.e. can I create an instrument
and trigger it in real time from a MIDI controller?

Yes, however there is a trigger delay due to Sound Manager double buffering.
This delay depends upon the settings in the 'Set Globals' dialog.
There is a tradeoff between delay and performance. i.e. shorter
trigger delays mean less overall performance. With an 8100 it is only
practical to reduce the trigger delay to about 12 msec.

There is an object that manages voice allocation and stealing and handles
sustain and sostenuto pedals.

*** Can it run as a background app, e.g. so that I can play it from a
sequencer (via MIDI Mgr. or OMS 2.0)?

Not now. I've looked at how to do that but I'm not sure there will
be enough CPU left over to give those other tasks the time to do what
they need. A future version will allow running in the background.

*** Is the maximum delay time limited only by available RAM?
E.g. if I crank up SuperCollider's RAM allocation, can I have a 30-second
delay line?

Yes. All values are floats so it is 4 bytes per sample. A 30 second delay
line would take up 5 Mb.

*** Can I write my own unit generators in C ?

Not currently. Writing unit generators for SuperCollider is a bit trickier
than for CSound due to the real time garbage collector. Perhaps some future
version will allow using the Code Fragment Mgr to allow this but that is not
near term.

*** I've never programmed and don't know how synthesizers work but I want to
learn on your program.

SuperCollider is probably not for beginners at programming or audio synthesis.
If you've at least dabbled in both then you may find it rewarding.
It is easier to use than CSound but more technical than TurboSynth.

*** Will it run inside MAX ?

Although it was developed from the Pyrite MAX object, it is now a stand alone
program and will not run in MAX.

*** And, of course, what's the price?

You get: the SuperCollider program and example patches, a 196 page manual,
one year of bug fixes, updates and email support (within reason).

$250 plus shipping ($10 US, $15 Canada, Mexico, $50 overseas).
by U.S. check or international money order (Sorry, no credit cards or COD's)


James McCartney
3403 Dalton St.
Austin, TX 78745

--- james mccartney
If you have a PowerMac check out SuperCollider, a real time synth program:

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