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Ask Slashdot: Overhauling an Amusement Park's Multi-Zone Audio Player?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the this-sounds-like-a-fun-job dept.

Music 120

mcmadman writes "The multi-zone audio player I'm working with uses an almost decade old card/software combo that is prone to crashes and other anomalies. I would like to know if there are open source (read 'free') or other alternatives that would allow multiple simultaneous playlists played through the myriad of audio interfaces out there. The line outs are then plugged into a CobraNet matrix, which handles the distribution of the music/sound to their respective areas. I'm looking at eight channels minimum, timed playlist start/stops, and triggered announcements. So far the only software and hardware I've found are proprietary broadcasting solutions which tend to be a bit heavy on the wallet or meant for home use."

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120 comments

I'll let you wusaaaaaaaays! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39858521)

Such a thing! Christ alive!

Begin to use such as Gamemaker! Return to Gamemakerdom! I'm sickida such as you 100%!

You fuckin'! You fuckin'! You fuckin'! You fuckin'! You fuckin'! You fuckin' sandwich that never knew bread!

Simple solution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39858559)

Hook up your iPod / Pandora to your Slayer or death / black metal playlist of choice.
Play the music
??????
FUTURE EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR!

Awesome! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39858619)

Can I crowd-source my job too?

Multiple outs? (3, Funny)

kalpol (714519) | about 2 years ago | (#39858623)

I have no idea what I am talking about but what if you got a Linux box with 8 sound cards, configured 8 instances of Amarok to play, one on each output, and set up your playlists acccordingly?

Re:Multiple outs? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39858687)

You had me at "I have no idea what I am talking about".

Re:Multiple outs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39858761)

Shut up and take my money already!

Re:Multiple outs? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859087)

Or sox, since you want it to work reliably, not to be easy to fiddle with. GUIs are not needed here.

Re:Multiple outs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39860871)

I should clarify, I don't mean that no GUI should be available at all, though it's still not needed (some sort of user-level rather than developer-level UI is needed, but it need not be graphical), but that no GUI is needed or wanted on the one-per-zone processes. If you have a GUI, you want one for the whole system, not 8 that let somebody, say, fat-finger the fast-forward in sector 4 and kick it out of sync with sector 5.

The way I'd start going about this is a prototype system of shell scripts, probably some AWK for playlist handling and/or event stream parsing, and sox. Once I got that working, and rewrote any parts that begged for it in C (and rewrote/severely overhauled the rest of it -- the prototype is meant to be hackish and expendable), and obviously a front-end of some sort would be needed.

Re:Multiple outs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39860191)

Since he's using CobraNet, he's probably got something like existing Audia Flex gear. The cobranet allows you to link units (and their sources/outputs) to other devices somewhere on the other side of the park before amping and such.

But as for his question, no, I know of no open source software and hardware combination that would come anywhere even remotely close to those kinds of devices. Even the ones from 7 or 8 years ago (what I have).

Re:Multiple outs? (2)

Trogre (513942) | about 2 years ago | (#39862571)

Yes, but where is he going to find a motherboard that supports the 128GB needed to run 8 instances of Amarok?

Oh, and some grumbling about 8 PCI sound cards, though I guess USB ones would work fine.

possible solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39858647)

it might be possible to use rivendellaudio.org to achieve that, simply hook up the outputs from an audio interface to the matrix mixer..

Proprietary is good in this instance (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39858667)

Bite the bullet and buy a device intended for this use, the Medialon Audio Server. It outputs cobranet directly, is easily integrated into control systems and supports elegant triggering of all sorts. Plays back from SSD drives.

Re:Proprietary is good in this instance (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859523)

Maybe he can't. Maybe like most corporate greed bastards and sales folks, wonder which one you are, he doesn't have or isn't given the budget to do the job he needs. You can't help don't speak up.

Re:Proprietary is good in this instance (1, Flamebait)

bhlowe (1803290) | about 2 years ago | (#39860195)

You're missing the point.
Instead of having the client spend a little more up front for something that already exists and works, I suspect mcmadman wants to kludge together a bunch of code that was designed for something entirely different, and charge for support. (Which is the GNU model for developers who want to make money using free software.) He should be able to milk this project for a year or two, or at least until management gets a clue. Have fun!

Re:Proprietary is good in this instance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39860565)

I would normally not disagree with you, except I am seeing the IP abuse and FUD being spread by the current "owners" of Scott Studios software. The new owner, WideOpen [wideorbit.com] , warns its visitors that "WideOrbit is the only company that can legally give you INI files or software updates for the SS32 radio automation system..."

An ini file that any old text editor can edit. They now have comeplete legal control over a file that you could type in all by your lonesome? Really?!? They must have some strong IP mojo going on.

I trust that the brain trust at Slashdot will have a field day with this. Have fun!!!

Re:Proprietary is good in this instance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39860735)

Bite the bullet and buy a device intended for this use, the Medialon Audio Server. It outputs cobranet directly, is easily integrated into control systems and supports elegant triggering of all sorts. Plays back from SSD drives.

This, I cannot possible express how correct this is.

Re:Proprietary is good in this instance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39862269)

Absolutely. I'm all about the Biamp gear for zoned audio like this over CobraNet, but either way... hardward made for the job.

Good, purpose-built stuff is just pricey.

QLab? (4, Informative)

Jeremi (14640) | about 2 years ago | (#39858669)

I haven't used it myself, but I've heard nothing but good things about QLab [figure53.com] , which is a free download for MacOS/X. You might want to have a look at that.

You might also have a look at Cricket [cricketsound.com] , which is commercial software but not too expensive.

Re:QLab? (2)

fgodfrey (116175) | about 2 years ago | (#39858871)

I was going to recommend QLab myself. I use it for live theater and it is excellent. The free download only outputs 2 channels (but is otherwise fully functional for audio). It isn't that expensive to get the paid version that does essentially unlimited channels. It has MIDI integration for triggers and a variety of other features.

I haven't found anything free that does what it does.

Re:QLab? (1)

Marillion (33728) | about 2 years ago | (#39859197)

I also like QLab and use it for live theatre. Thinking off the cuff ... Each playback zone (park region) would be its own cue. QLab can handle multiple cues simultaneously. Set each cue to loop forever and direct each cue to a specific output channel. Cues do not need to be the same length. You'll need a QLab pro audio upgrade and a multi-channel audio interface if you want to stream more than two channels.

Re:QLab? (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about 2 years ago | (#39862415)

No. He's probably going to need paging stations and zones. What about echo cancellation boards? Possibly voip integration. What about facility-wide page ducking? Remote sources and destinations over CobraNet. What about interfacing with the (increasingly mandatory) voice evac system? What's going to interface with the wall panels and other misc controls?

This is a job for a real, actual DAP, just like every other amusement facility, conference space, etc. in the entire world. They're purpose-built to do all of these things. And they're going to need someone that knows what they're doing to set it up correctly.

Trying to cram a square peg into a round hole, just so you can say you used "open source", just doesn't make sense here.

make it easy on yourself? (1)

Moblaster (521614) | about 2 years ago | (#39858673)

If you have eight channels... it sounds like at least a semi-serious setup. But if you are using Cobra net, you'll definitely be putting time into troubleshooting and maintaining that kind of a beast. Why not just buy some good new fashioned Airport Express devices to stick into each room, and broadcast the audio through there, maintaining it through iTunes? It would save the value of your time... which you could then for other stuff.

Otherwise, get a Linux box, and stick some PulseAudio on there -- http://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/PulseAudio [freedesktop.org]

But you'll have to tinker more, which it sounds like you kinda want to do.

Re:make it easy on yourself? (4, Informative)

spikesahead (111032) | about 2 years ago | (#39858793)

He's not trying to outfit a house. He's trying to outfit an entire amusement park.

The scale is slightly different.

Re:make it easy on yourself? (4, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#39858985)

I got the impression that the CobraNet end was fine and operational, but the head end was buggy. Once the audio hits the line out, the job is finished. He needs multiple audio feeds which can be overridden with alternate audio (?) at regular intervals (park tours are beginning at the visitors center), and an option to override with alternate audio, either pre-recorded (boat to the mainland leaves the dock at 1900 hours) or real-time (emergency everybody-run-for-your-life-the-T-Rex-is-loose), on all or a selectable number of channels simultaneously.

Sounds like a real programming job!

Re:make it easy on yourself? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859903)

He better not tap into the phone system though, because "I debugged the phones. I thought maybe I should tell ya that the system's gonna be compiling for, ah, 18 to 20 minutes some of the minor systems, they might go on or off but it's ah, nothing to worry about, just a simple thing." didn't work so well last time.

Ah ah ah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859975)

I tried to help this guy out, but he flat out refused my proposal. I am totally unappreciated in my time! We can run the whole park from this room, with minimal staff, for up to three days. You think that kind of automation is easy? Or cheap? You know anybody who can network eight Connection Machines and de-bug two million lines of code for what I bid this job? Because I'd sure as hell like to see them try!

Re:Ah ah ah! (0)

mcmadman (868386) | about 2 years ago | (#39862515)

Assuming we are discussing about the same business offer that we have received, I said we would look into the matter and we would be in touch if such need arises. Now that you have taken a step forward to mock us and our decision publicly, I'm not so sure that your company is the right one when it comes to building a working business relationship. Nevertheless, I thank you for your interest and I wish you good luck into the future.

Re:make it easy on yourself? (2)

mcmadman (868386) | about 2 years ago | (#39860091)

I got the impression that the CobraNet end was fine and operational, but the head end was buggy. Once the audio hits the line out, the job is finished. He needs multiple audio feeds which can be overridden with alternate audio (?) at regular intervals (park tours are beginning at the visitors center), and an option to override with alternate audio, either pre-recorded (boat to the mainland leaves the dock at 1900 hours) or real-time (emergency everybody-run-for-your-life-the-T-Rex-is-loose), on all or a selectable number of channels simultaneously.

Sounds like a real programming job!

You nailed it. The live 'emergency' paging is actually done in cobranet so only pre-recorded messages are required to play on trigger.

Re:make it easy on yourself? (1)

jandrese (485) | about 2 years ago | (#39861913)

You're suggesting Airport Express modules to avoid having to do troubleshooting?!? They're neat modules, but their tendency to suddenly decide not to respond to the discovery broadcasts randomly for a couple of minutes randomly prevents me from suggesting them as a professional solution.

Dear Slashdot (-1)

jrmcc (703725) | about 2 years ago | (#39858675)

The coffee pot is empty, can you go make more?

Re:Dear Slashdot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39858795)

So apparently, asking for advice from your peers is not a good thing to do any more?

Re:Dear Slashdot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859351)

Wrong place. This is slashdot, which makes it more like asking advice from your queers, not peers.

Re:Dear Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859545)

I'm not your peer, fag.

Re:Dear Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39861081)

I'm not your peer, fag.

I'm not your cigarette, ass.

Re:Dear Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39861397)

I'm not your peer, fag.

I'm not your cigarette, ass.

I'm not your donkey, bum.

Proffesional AV Gear (5, Informative)

litemizer (661297) | about 2 years ago | (#39858707)

I did AV for a theme park in '99, and have done AV for several themed restaurants since then. When you're talking about putting together a system that's expected to run without a hitch 14 - 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, it's a lot like putting together a server you know will need high availability and reliability. Don't shoot yourself in the foot by getting something mediocre to do the job. The rule of thumb in theme/amusement park AV is to use solid state as much as possible (minimize your downtime to the extreme). My personal gear of choice is Alcorn McBride (alcorn.com). They have an 8 track unit that would to what you need it to do. I've used several of the binloop over the years, and with a near zero issue rate (and what issues I did have were due to a missing firmware update). And as a matter of disclosure, I did become a dealer for them after becoming familiar with their gear on the '99 project.

Re:Proffesional AV Gear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859663)

+1 Alcorn McBride. Made for your industry and functionality.

Re:Proffesional AV Gear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39860089)

Good to see 8 track units making a comeback. Very retro.

Re:Proffesional AV Gear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39862991)

It doesn't mean it's using 8 track tapes. It means it can handle 8 channels of audio (aka tracks).

I'm probably missing something (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39858753)

But this sounds like you might be able to get some good mileage out of Linux + Jack Audio.

Re:I'm probably missing something (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 2 years ago | (#39859073)

Your missing reliability.

For something like this, you probably don't want to mess around. Jack is great when it works.. but it's not designed to run continuously without a hitch for months on end.

Hate to say it, but proprietary works here. Something this scale, you want stuff made by companies who specialize (and whos reputation rides on) equiptment that you can stick on a wall/rack and ignore for years. Worship solid state.. pay attention to compatibility lists.. google for " " in the same query.. etc.

Re:I'm probably missing something (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 2 years ago | (#39859133)

* google for "<product a> <product b>"

My god.. I know it's my fault.. and there is a preview.. but a simple "hey dumbass, you've got a tag there that's not a valid html tag" warning would be kinda nice and easy to do. They filter out what tags you can use _anyway_. How about throwing that info down to us!

open sores? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39858819)

I know you mentioned open source(free) alternatives, but I really think you should sink as much money as possible into shiny Apple products.

Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this yet, but Apple products are superior in every way to Industrial hardware due to their clean, brushed aluminum design and overall hipness.

Pay money. period. (2)

fimion (890504) | about 2 years ago | (#39858825)

When it comes to professional show control you really do get what you pay for. this is an integral part of your park, and it will be used by bozos. find a professional show control system and buy it. it'll cost a few thousand, but it will be far less likely to break if someone presses the wrong button.

VLC Media Player (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39858831)

For the software side, VLC Media Player can handle the project that you described. Hardware, server grade components. Dual systems with a fall-over setup.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions... (5, Insightful)

blocsync (320897) | about 2 years ago | (#39858847)

First off, I've never done this with FOSS... That being said, I'm 100% certain it can be done..

You need to accept a couple of things when planning to do this with FOSS:
    Remote management can be done, but will require someone who understands the way you set it up
    You will probably be custom scripting when your playlists start (cron?)
    Updates will require manual playlist modification (goes back to understanding how you set it up)

For an amusement park, I think this is a bad idea... Not sure how big of an IT/Tech savvy staff this location has, but while they're looking to save a few dollars today, are they considering business continuity if you leave or if something happens to this custom system? are they planning to have regular backups done? are they planning for future expansion? etc...

My personal advice would be to avoid broadcast software (Way overpriced for this).... What would be more reasonable is digital signage software... it's designed to do this with audio and video, but you don't have to use the video portions (of course, consider that a future expansion option)... If you want to stick with linux based, I know ParkMedia has a decent setup... If you're willing to consider other (windows) options check into CoolSign.... Those are just 2 that I've used for similar setups, but there are tons of options in that field, that do what you want to do, with easy user interfaces for changing/moving stuff around, and the ability to remote manage them... Also they tend to work in a client server setup, so you back up the server regularly and if a client machine fails you just replace it.

Just my 2 cents, hope it helps.

Re:Decisions, Decisions, Decisions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859415)

First off, I've never done this with FOSS... That being said, I'm 100% certain it can be done.

If that doesn't scare you off, I don't know what will.

Re:Decisions, Decisions, Decisions... (0)

blocsync (320897) | about 2 years ago | (#39859521)

Troll much?

Re:Decisions, Decisions, Decisions... (1)

PenquinCoder (1431871) | about 2 years ago | (#39860783)

Truth hurts, doesn't it? IF you've never done this but are 100% sure that it can be done.... Well... would you mind sharing some investing tips with me too??

Re:Decisions, Decisions, Decisions... (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#39861739)

Come on now, I'm 100% sure it could be done too. At worst all you need to do is hire some programmers to write the software you need and then release it as FOSS. :-P

As for investing tips, I'd recommend stocks, and maybe some bonds. Politicians can be even more profitable in the long term, but tend to be expensive and getting your money's worth generally requires that you have considerable resources and a plan in place to properly leverage your assets.

Thank you, thank you. I'm here all *GRHKK*...

Re:Decisions, Decisions, Decisions... (1)

blocsync (320897) | about 2 years ago | (#39862933)

So... can you build a 5 story building? sure... have you personally done it by yourself? doubtful.... Having first hand knowledge of something, and knowing it can be done are not the same thing.. you're a complete idiot if you believe that you need to have done something to know it can be done. Like I said, stop trolling and offer some useful input.

Re:Decisions, Decisions, Decisions... (1)

mcmadman (868386) | about 2 years ago | (#39860503)

Thanks for the insight. Digital signage IMO is another beast on its own. There seems to be quite a selection of different FOSS solutions [xibo.org.uk] to it.

Re:Decisions, Decisions, Decisions... (1)

blocsync (320897) | about 2 years ago | (#39862981)

No problem, just wanted to throw it in as an idea... I can say I've personally set up Digital Signage software as a method of mass deploying music to 100's of locations (hotel chain). It worked great, was fairly simple to maintain. But it can absolutely be it's own animal. Any way, I wish you the best of luck on the project, sorry I couldn't offer a solution that matched your needs exactly.

here you go! 99 bucks and does it all!!!! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39858901)

http://www.multizoneaudioplayer.com/

Multi Zone Audio Player is not just another media player. It's a music control center for a whole facility or building with many rooms, halls, corridors or another zones. It' a reply for a need in a real application rather than simply a new idea. It's designed to work in professional and commercial environment, not just to entertain one person behind computer. Multi Room Audio Player is designed to play multiple sound tracks into many audio cards (or zones) simultaneously, with music organized into play-lists and/or play-schedules individually for every zone.

With Multi Zone Audio Player, You can:
create as many zones as required, limited only by PC capacity;
assign every zone to a corresponding sound output device;
add tracks to zone playlist, open/save/merge playlists;
full-featured media library and automatic playlist generator;
music library for easy indexing and search through your music collection;
flexible playlist generator with possibility to add advertisements, rotation and jingles;
separate equalizer for every zone;
events scheduler for each zone;
instant jingle hotkeys;
repeat all, repeat one, shuffle options;
drag & drop interface;
customize the windows layout for Your needs and specifics;
control every zone individually or all together at once.

Re:here you go! 99 bucks and does it all!!!! (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#39859405)

and no Paging override, like he mentioned was needed.

Re:here you go! 99 bucks and does it all!!!! (1)

doesnothingwell (945891) | about 2 years ago | (#39860769)

To whomever makes the budget decisions: Good Fast Cheap, pick any two. Wishing for cheap and demanding the other two isn't very likely to succeed.

Re:here you go! 99 bucks and does it all!!!! (1)

mcmadman (868386) | about 2 years ago | (#39861095)

Like I said in a reply to an earlier post, the live 'emergency' paging is actually done in cobranet so only pre-recorded messages are required to play on trigger. So this could be one solution.

Build your own software dept. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859027)

Use Pd - http://puredata.info/. It is free, cross-platform, and with minimal learning-curve pain you can set up multiple audio file players that route to your sound card outputs and offer independent volume control. And you can with a little more pain make an interface for these, even web-based if you need to access it from anywhere in the park...

Hope this is helpful,

J

idea.. (1)

satsuke (263225) | about 2 years ago | (#39859029)

I agree, it sounds like you'd want something a bit more professional than random cobbled together solutions.

That said, machines like the Raspberry Pi (or other small ARM based machines you might actually be able to acquire in quantity) might be one answer.

At least, the ability to output a sound file from an SD card and have an editable playlist is a pretty low entry requirement..

Just buy a dozen extras and swap them out if they die ..

Re:idea.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859251)

Just buy a dozen extras and swap them out if they die ..

That's really why buying something professional is probably the better option here. Professional audio control software and components are designed to be installed and ignored for years. Reliability is king with this stuff... and the companies who make it know it. Stick with tested products unless you've got a lot of flexibility/extra time and a boss/customer willing to accept a bunch of downtime while you iron out your hack/solution.

mplayer might work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859105)

Look at mplayer's network sync (master/slave) implementation to run multiple synced mplayers. I've used this at waterparks.

I think you can do it with linux (-1)

dietdew7 (1171613) | about 2 years ago | (#39859125)

My grandparents used to ask me to help them with their (Windows) computer all the time. I got tired of all the support calls so I loaded Linux on their home computer. They haven't called me for support since.

Re:I think you can do it with linux (1)

AxeMurder (1795476) | about 2 years ago | (#39859213)

My grandparents used to ask me to help them with their (Windows) computer all the time. I got tired of all the support calls so I loaded Linux on their home computer. They haven't called me for support since.

Is that because they can no longer use their computer because you replaced their operating system? Or is it because last time they called you for help you did something so horrible that they learned never to call you for help again? Or is it because Linux is so magical that they no longer need help?

Re:I think you can do it with linux (1)

dietdew7 (1171613) | about 2 years ago | (#39859257)

I think you've covered all the bases.

Re:I think you can do it with linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859383)

Yeah, within the first question he had it all covered.

Re:I think you can do it with linux (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 2 years ago | (#39860885)

No, it's because the first time they logged in, the fortune program kicked out, "Flee at once, all is discovered!" and nobody has seen or heard from them since.

Re:I think you can do it with linux (2)

operagost (62405) | about 2 years ago | (#39859337)

Linux eh? Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:I think you can do it with linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859425)

subscribe at http://www.ubuntu.com/ [ubuntu.com]

Click on the utter n00b button and follow the bouncing ball.

What are these 8 channels? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39859177)

What are these 8 channels? How closely do they need to be synced up, a tiny fraction of a phase difference of a 44 KHz sine wave like professional audio music mixing, or just synced up close enough that park closing end of day announcements happen "around the same time, plus or minus a couple minutes" on every speaker? The first thing I thought of is 8 NTP time synced machines each running exactly one speaker plus (speaker-1) so when one crashes you cross connect speaker 6 to the Left output of computer 7, or whatever. A huge benefit that when one PC dies, the other 7 will keep working. Explain the benefit of doing all 8 channels off one machine, especially if its going to be all hands off lights out automated anyway.

Another Excellent question is do you need to do live mixing on the fly with dynamic playlists, or are you basically making eight 16 hour mp3s that simply play once per day, every day, all year? The best user interface of all might be 8 ipods each with 16 one hour mp3s. Even the most inept carnie can figure out how to run a ipod.

Re:What are these 8 channels? (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39859321)

RAIN = Redundant Array of Ipod Nanos (or Inexpensive Nanos, since you'll be running off AC power you can buy the cheap ones from ebay with dead batteries instead of buy new)

Buy more than 8 nanos... you need 8 just for background music for each zone. Other nanos do nothing but squirt out a single announcement one time when play is hit. Feed into big ole mixer. All done.

Reprogramming by the end user is not much of a challenge assuming there exists at least one apple fanboy carnie. Another question that depends on your contract, are you trying to encourage substantial "long term support" or discourage substantial "long term support". A bunch of ipod nanos is not going to require much IT guy time, which is either a huge bonus or a huge epic fail, depending on your financial compensation plan.

Re:What are these 8 channels? (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about 2 years ago | (#39860639)

I can't speak for the submitter, but having been to an amusement park, I'd assume the 8 channels will be for 8 sections of the park, coming out of crappy speakers (outdoors bolted to buildings or in fake rocks).

Probably going to want them all to be able to have separate music playing, but also the ability to do park wide events and make announcements randomly throughout the day with appropriate fading.

The iPod system might be simple, but I don't think it'll cut it.

Multiple audio director? (1)

SEWilco (27983) | about 2 years ago | (#39859245)

I'd like to be able to direct multiple audio streams to several devices. Such technology might be useful to the original poster as well.

Is there a way to have a half-dozen audio output devices (USB audio devices can be cheap) and configure to which output device the sound from various applications should go? I've only seen interfaces for configuring where to direct all sound from a computer. Background music could go to one device, TV audio to the TV which is displaying the TV stream, system alerts to another speaker. The original poster would need to be able to direct the output from several media player instances to corresponding audio devices.

Re:Multiple audio director? (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 2 years ago | (#39859601)

Look into jackd.

Something to note with using multiple USB audio devices.. you run outa bandwidth. Expect to need to add a few USB interface cards.

My current setup is kinda fun:

I have:
- a "main" PCIe sound card
- my internal sound card
- a USB guitar interface
- and an auxilary USB sound interface

I use jackd to manage the "main" card and the two usb interfaces.
The internal sound card is alsa only.
I have connected the line out of the internal sound card to line in of the "main" sound card.. this allows me to get sound from non-jack aware apps into my jack setup (screw alsaplug).

jack.plumbing and friends let you specify fairly powerful routing rules.. and I've written a custom "control panel" that lets me quickly switch between various configurations. I use a whole mixture of stuff (rackarrack, jamin, ardour, jackEQ, jackrack, meterbridge.. the list goes on).

Re:Multiple audio director? (1)

djsmiley (752149) | about 2 years ago | (#39860445)

And in the good old fashioned open source sense you shared links to all your documentation..... and your control panel..... oh wait. :/

Re:Multiple audio director? (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 2 years ago | (#39861527)

Wouldn't mind sharing it, but the control panel is so specialized it would be absolutely useless to anyone else.

liquidsoap (1)

Enry (630) | about 2 years ago | (#39859283)

Give it a look. It ties into shoutcast and can do things on a periodic basis.

Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859285)

Honest question - how does one get into this line of work? I'm a network engineer by trade.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859467)

Two shots ammeretto, two shots brandy, two shots midori shaken together with a clown nose. drink out of a closed toe Louboutin. When you wake up in prision, talk to carl and give him something pretty to wear. If he likes it, you're in.

Re:Question (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 2 years ago | (#39859633)

Honest answer.. I think this is the kinda career you stumble into.

I've worked with some high end audio stuff (and cobranet) as part of another project. Never saught it out.. wouldn't even know how to.. and probably not enough work in the field to "go into it". Just something that comes up and if you happen to be around .. you get sucked into it for a bit.

Make your own. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#39859289)

1 linux box with 8 sound cards = 8 separate mp3 playback systems. a bit of PHP to make a web page to control it all and you are done. In fact there are tons of command line or service based mp3 player apps out there for linux that can run multiple instances.

Because you are not going to find anything that is cheap and ready to go. You have to either spend the money, and yes the amusement park has the money to spend on it, contrary to what the managers tell you. Or you spend a couple months rolling it yourself.

Re:Make your own. (1)

jandrese (485) | about 2 years ago | (#39861941)

I'll bet few people have ever tried installing 8 sound cards into a single machine. I find that doing stuff like that almost always ends up with the machine not booting or half (or all) of the cards not working.

Pro Gear, there is a reason it is used. (3, Insightful)

MushMouth (5650) | about 2 years ago | (#39859331)

Don't forget liability when the s$#! hits the fan and a lost child or evacuation announcement has to be made and the PA override fails. Rolling your own sounds penny wise pound foolish.

Re:Pro Gear, there is a reason it is used. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859599)

Don't talk shit. Any PA announcement will not come through a glorified PC juke box, it'll be hard wired into all of the output channels by law.

Look at this board (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859333)

This may be of some use to you.
http://www.sparkfun.com/products/11029

Go With Ableton (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859397)

It's not "free", but it's not crazy expensive..

With Linux.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859603)

For a Linux solution, I'd use PureData for the audio and triggering, and a M-audio Delta1010 for the 8 outputs.

It will require learning about PureData, but it's a graphical modular, so not that hard. Also, it can run 'headless' and be remote controlled over the internet.

Will the amusement park let people in for free? (3, Interesting)

OldTechGuy (1559745) | about 2 years ago | (#39859697)

I am always amused at the "i need an open source (read:free) solution" requests by folks who want to use it for their business. This is for an amusement park. I assume the park charges people for admission. They also charge for food, and to play the games, and so on. Yet, this guy doesn't want to pay for a solution to address his audio distribution needs. WTF?

Re:Will the amusement park let people in for free? (1)

get_your_guns (1380583) | about 2 years ago | (#39860119)

I agree, this guy wants to piece together a system of at best 'as is' for warranty, put it into public space where real emergency announcements being delivered means someone lives versus death if the system decides it could only run for 87 days (82 more days than tested in a back server room for a week) and dies on the 88th day when the tornado decides to visit and no one can be warned to get to a shelter. Just what I expect when I lay out money to go for a ride, that free is driving. Even the mouse ears would not do this

Re:Will the amusement park let people in for free? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 2 years ago | (#39860969)

If you think that anyone is going to willingly own up to liability when the system fails (and even the pro-grade stuff can do that...) I've got some nice oceanside property on the middle of the Florida coast to sell you.

Re:Will the amusement park let people in for free? (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#39860461)

Why be amused? This is exactly what Slashdot has been advocating all these years - "don't go proprietary, don't be a slave to the man, roll your own, go F/OSS".

Re:Will the amusement park let people in for free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39860645)

To be fair, most local amusement parks are Mom-N-Pop affairs forever flirting with bankruptcy. The owners of most small businesses are almost pathologically cheap. It's a survival mechanism. Even Walt Disney had to put a second mortgage on his house to build Disneyland. Very few make good money at it.

Re:Will the amusement park let people in for free? (1)

jandrese (485) | about 2 years ago | (#39862001)

These articles come up when someone's old equipment fails and they go looking for the replacement and discover that it costs 3x as much as his department's budget for the entire year. Maybe his boss is really stingy with the money too. So he's got to figure out some other solution and posts to Slashdot. It's not like Amusement Park owners are known for their generosity.

The best bet would probably be to try to convince whomever is in charge of the money that it is a safety issue and that they should just spend the $$$ for the proper professional solution, even if it does seem overpriced. The minimum wage summer intern that knows Linux could probably cobble together a cheaper solution based on what people on Slashdot say, but then he'll go back to school and something will go wrong and you'll be back at square 1, and it will happen on the day the Fire Marshal is inspecting the park and checking the emergency alert system.

Show Control Software (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39859731)

What you are looking at is show control software.

Here is a free one that will do what you are looking for, assuming you have enough audio out channels in Windows.

https://www.audiovisualdevices.com.au/software/multiplay/index.php

Two parts to your problem (1)

darkjedi521 (744526) | about 2 years ago | (#39860125)

You have two parts to your problem. Playing the actual audio files, and controlling when they will be played. There are many, many FOSS solutions for getting audio out of a PC with multitrack cards. Where things get messy is the control interfaces. Its going to be hard to find an interface that will do what you want for your price point. On the other hand, there are plenty of inexpensive (

Check out Richmond Sound Design [richmondsounddesign.com] 's offerings. They have a fairly robust audio and show control engine that can handle a large number of channels of both prerecorded and live audio, and can be controlled by a variety of free (as in beer), free (as in speech), and proprietary interfaces, both locally and over the network, along with things like MIDI.

A second option, that may or may not work (it will support the hardware but possibly not the use case) is Show Cue Systems [showcuesystems.com] . I've used this one for running lights/video/sound fx for musicals.

Alcorn McBride (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39861101)

Ex-Disney Imagineer here. Dunno why there's even a discussion, Alcorn McBride is the way to go.

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