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A. Introduction

  /  A. Introduction
TPF-Tools is of a bundle of modular utilities which provide bidirectional, low-latency and high-quality audio and video streaming.  TPF-Tools is specifically designed to enable users at remote locations to play or perform music together, and makes real-time interactions possible.

1. Components and Structure

There are three tiers of the TPF-tools bundle – TPF-Basic, TPF-Intermediate and TPF-Advanced. These have been designed to accommodate increasingly complex user requirements. Each comes with their respective installers.

TPF-Basic

is an easy-to-use tool for jamming and long distance teaching. The bundle consists of ‘TPF-Party’, a standalone device which allows users to connect with mono audio streams at up to 16 locations, and includes mixing and panning functions. It grafts on to OSX’s Coreaudio, but can also be used with JACK2 (see below). TPF-Basic does not include a video function.

The ‘TPF-Basic User Manual’ is introduced in Chapter B.

TPF-Intermediate

is designed for more complex projects with multichannel audio inputs; it also includes a video streaming function. In addition to the ‘TPF-Party’ tool, the bundle includes the ‘TPF-Client’ tool, which connects at up to 8 locations with up to 8 audio channels. It is bound to DAW Ardour, which is also included in the bundle. It provides users with the full functionalities of a digital audio workstation. The streaming protocol and the JACK2 utility handle the necessary internal and external connections. Ultragrid software is included in the bundle for video streaming.

The ‘TPF-Intermediate User Manual’ is introduced in Chapters C1–C4.

TPF-Advanced

In addition to all of the TPF-Intermediate functions and components, TPF-Advanced includes virtual audio. It incorporates Ambisonics tools that allow for binaural rendering through headphones and the use of Ambisonics Loudspeaker Arrays.

The ‘TPF-Advanced User Manual’ is introduced in Chapters D1–D2.

2. The philosophy behind audio components in TPF-Intermediate and TPF-Advanced

Although the architecture of TPF-Intermediate and TPF-Advanced might be more demanding than using a standalone or plug-and-play device (such as TPF-Basic), there are some considerable advantages:

The inclusion of a digital audio workstation allows you to control all parameters of the outgoing and incoming audio signals between different locations.

Everything can be controlled from your computer, no additional devices like mixing consoles are needed (although you can include them if you wish).

Audio signals can be treated independently at each location, allowing you to make an individual local mix at each location without influencing the mix(es) at the other location(s).

You can benefit from all functions of a DAW, e.g. recording your session, adding reverberation or using other plugins which extend your sound-processing possibilities.

The number of channels you want to send and receive among the different locations can be designed according to the unique requirements of your setup, up to 8 locations with 8 channels each (although the full capacity might not be realistic due to network restrictions).

Ardour and the TPF-Client both use Jack2 which facilitates handling and optimises latency.

The virtual audio feature of TPF-Advanced builds on the excellent competencies and tools developed in-house.

All involved utilities are open source or open source based and free of use.

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