Thread: Bela Board
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Old 09-22-2019, 11:31 AM   #5
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Belgium
Posts: 4,872

If you're talking about general computing, the RPi is much more performant.

But that ends when you want to do multi-channel audio IO. The best a Raspberry can do, is about 8 in, 8 out simultaneously. It's 1 internal USB port that (until the Pi4) also handled Ethernet is just too restrictive.

Bela has the Beast. Stackable audio IO boards, each offering 8 in, 16 out. And these are coupled to a specialised processor. I know next to nothing about this processor, but for the time being, I'm willing to accept their word for the possibilities.

Then I see an open source replacement for a Behringer X32, or a UAD DSP box. Or even both.

I've been trying to formulate a hardware platform for audio. Basic demands: route anything to anything with low latency. Apply some processing on these. Multi-channel, of course. Like 32 in, 32 out.

I'm doin' that. With a Mac, a FF400, TotalMix and a few ADAT boxes. Like a digital EQ over ADAT. It works.

When it comes to moving the software to another computer, I'm lost. Even moving to another Mac isn't really straightforward, because of software not included in the OS. TotalMix, for starters, but also some libraries. Setting these up required a day of work in rare cases.

I'm not even looking at MIDI. I've avoided MIDI at all cost. Every time I tried it, it required days, weeks of work to get it to use some hardware completely. And when it worked, it failed miserably cause something, somewhere, arrived late. Latency...

OSC seemed like a better solution. Ir's networkable out of the box. So I tried it. But the first time another user tried to use the box, it failed too. Because users aren't network engineers. At least, this one wasn't.

With Bela, the hardware is so cheap it goes another way. No computer needed for what I'd like to do. Just a Bela. And, yes, with a Beast cape, it runs 300 £. Seems pretty expensive, until you realise you get 8 in, 16 out with it. Or even 10 in, 18 out.

If (and that's a very big IF) Reaper would run on it, it could be a dream. Reapers's performance is fine on an old 1 GHZ Intel with 1 GB ram. As long as it doesn't has to drive a big screen, it screams. No problem with 36 I/O.

But even without Reaper, it could do about 95% of what I'm looking for.

Now if anyone has real experience with it, I'd like to hear from you. The good, the Bad and certainly the Ugly.

Until then, I'll be on the hunt for specs of that specialised chip. Haven't found anything yet, but I keep getting distracted by other bits of interesting reading...
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity” Albert Einstein

Last edited by cyrano; 09-22-2019 at 11:55 AM.
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