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Effects Customizations

by Kshitij Gupta



This project focuses on the effects section of Mixxx. I will be refactoring the effects section of Mixxx to support the integration of LV2 effects and implementing new features like:

  • Import/Export Effect Chains
  • Show/Hide Effect Parameters
  • Rearrange Effect Parameters
  • Set Custom Defaults and Ranges

Architecture goal

The current architecture of the effects code is overcomplicated and makes it easy to create bugs when adding new features. In the GUI thread, classes for handling effects and chains are split into two pairs of classes, EffectChain/EffectChainSlot and Effect/EffectSlot, but there is not a clear separation of responsibilities between the members of each pair. It is not clear what the role of EffectChain should be versus EffectChainSlot. This has created a situation where state needs to be duplicated and kept in sync between the classes of each pair, which is overcomplicated and error-prone. Furthermore, there is a superfluous EffectRack layer above EffectChain/EffectChainSlot which does nothing but overcomplicate the code. This layer will be removed and what are currently called “chains”/“units” will be renamed “racks” to align with common English audio terminology. The ControlObjects will be renamed to align with the new implementation and aliases will be provided for backwards compatibility:

  • [EffectRack1_EffectUnitX_EffectY], parameterZ[EffectRackX_EffectY], parameterZ
  • [EqualizerRack1_[Channel1]_Effect1], parameterZ[[Channel1]_EqualizerRack_Effect1], parameterZ
  • [QuickEffectRack1_[Channel1]_Effect1], parameterZ[[Channel1]_QuickEffectRack_Effect1], parameterZ

Before we implement new features, we will refactor the current code so each class has a clearly defined role. From the bottom up, with changes to the current architecture italicized:

  • EffectProcessor: an instance of a specific effect such as Echo or Flanger. This is an abstract base class to provide an interface for EngineEffectSlot to interact with the EffectProcessorImpl subclass without EngineEffectSlot being concerned which type of effect is loaded. No change from the present implementation.
  • EffectManifest: declares the metadata for a specific type of effect such as Echo or Flanger. This metadata includes the effect's name; available parameters; and the ranges, types, and defaults of those parameters. No change from the present implementation.
  • EffectsBackend: enumerates available effect types and instantiates an EffectProcessor from an EffectManifest. Each category of effect, namely Mixxx's built-in effects and LV2 effect plugins, has its own EffectsBackend subclass. Refactoring required to instantiate EffectProcessors instead of old Effect class.

Every specific effect like Echo or Flanger is implemented as a pair of an EffectProcessorState subclass and an EffectProcessorImpl subclass:

  • EffectProcessorState: an abstract base class for the state of an instance of an effect for one combination of input and output channels. This state persists across cycles of the audio engine thread. This will be made by renaming EffectState.
  • EffectProcessorImpl<EffectProcessorState>: a template abstract base class which contains the logic for managing the EngineEffectStates so the implementation of specific effects like Echo and Flanger do not need to be concerned with memory management. Each effect implements a subclass of this declaring its parameters with an EffectManifest and containing a processChannel function with its DSP logic. No change from the present implementation.
  • EngineEffectSlot: A place where an effect may be loaded that lives in the audio engine thread. It may contain an EffectProcessor or be empty. This class contains logic for smoothly toggling effects on and off without audible pops. This class will be made by renaming EngineEffect.
  • EffectSlot: holds the ControlObjects for interacting with skins and controllers in the GUI thread. Communicates state changes from the ControlObjects to EngineEffectSlot via the effect MessagePipe FIFO. Passes EffectProcessor instances to the EngineEffectSlot also via the MessagePipe FIFO. Decouples the set of potential effect parameters from the parameters exposed to skins and controllers so that users can hide and rearrange parameters as they prefer. This will be made by combining the present Effect & EffectSlot classes.
  • EffectPreset: contains a snapshot of the state of an EffectSlot and serializes/deserializes this to XML. This will be used both to create EffectRackPresets and implement custom per-effect defaults. This will be a new class.
  • EngineEffectRack: contains a chain of 3 EngineEffectSlots. This will be made by renaming EngineEffectChain.
  • EffectRack: holds the ControlObjects for interacting with skins and controllers in the GUI thread. Communicates state changes from the ControlObjects to EngineEffectRack via the effect MessagePipe FIFO. This class will be made by combining the current EffectChain & EffectChainSlot classes. The old EffectRack & EngineEffectRack classes that don't do anything will be removed.
  • EqualizerRack, QuickEffectRack, OutputEffectRack: EffectRack subclasses for the deck equalizers and QuickEffects plus the master output equalizer. When the old superfluous EffectRack layer is removed, these will be reimplemented as subclasses of the new EffectRack class made from consolidate the old EffectChain & EffectChainSlot classes.
  • EffectRackPreset: holds a snapshot of the state of an EffectRack and serializes/deserializes this state to XML. Used by EffectsManager to communicate with EffectRack. This will be a new class.
  • EffectsManager: saves/loads XML files to a private QHash<QString, EffectRackPreset>, where the QString index is the user-defined name for the preset.
  • MessagePipe: a FIFO for communicating state changes and objects from the main thread to the audio engine thread without blocking. EffectProcessors and EffectProcessorStates are allocated on the heap in the main thread and pointers to them are passed on the MessagePipe to the EngineEffectSlots.
  • EngineEffectsManager: provides an interface for the rest of the audio engine to the EngineEffectRacks/EngineEffectSlots/EffectProcessors. Receives messages from the MessagePipe and relays them to EngineEffectRacks.
  • WEffectRackPresetSelector: subclass of QComboBox. On startup, gets a QList<QString> from EffectsManager for the list of available EffectRackPresets, where the QString is the user-defined name for the preset. When the user selects an EffectRackPreset, WEffectChainPresetSelector tells EffectManager to load it, which triggers EffectsManager to send the EffectRackPreset to EffectRack. This will be a new class.

Here is a sketch for a new effectrackpreset.h file:

class EffectRackPreset {
    EffectChainPreset(QDomElement savedPresetXml);
    double dSuper;
    EffectChainMixMode mixMode;
    QDomElement toXml();
    QList<EffectPreset> m_effectPresets;

Proposed Timeline

Week 1 (May 14 - May 20)

During this week, I'll be working on effect blacklisting for LV2 effects. I will also start working on connecting EngineEffect* and the Effect* classes if I have enough time at the end of the week. I will be able to work during nights or early mornings during this week because I have a workshop scheduled from May 15th to May 30th during the days.

I was able to add the blacklisting feature by the end of the week. A little work was required to be done on top of it.

Week 2 (May 21 - May 27)

I aim to finish connecting EngineEffect* classes to their corresponding Effect* classes during this week.

I spent time working on the blacklisting feature only. Due to a workshop scheduled in college, I couldn't find much time during the weekdays. A few segmentation faults took a lot of time during development.

Got the Effect Blacklisting branch merged!

Week 3-6 (May 28 - June 24)

I will focus on refactoring the effects engine architecture during this period. The currently implemented architecture is overcomplicated and is the reason behind many bugs and less extensibility.

I will start by discussing the architecture thoroughly. Mostly, I will start by consolidating the EffectChain/EffectChainSlot classes and other Effect*/Effect*Slot classes. Then I will proceed on to refactor how the effects are connected to their corresponding Engine classes.

Week 7-8 (June 25 - July 8)

I will work on implementing importing/exporting effect chains during these weeks.

Week 9-10 (July 9 - July 22)

I will work on implementing effect parameter hiding and rearrangement during these weeks.

Week 11 (July 23 - July 29)

I will work on implementing custom defaults and ranges(if time allows) programmatically.

Week 12-13 (July 30 - August 14)

I will implement any missed out functionality in these weeks and write the final documentation in this period.

Proposed Deadlines

May 21

Finish working on LV2 effects branch with effect blacklisting. (Merged)

June 25

Finish working on the new effects architecture.

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effects_customization.1528987252.txt.gz · Last modified: 2018/06/14 10:40 by