Cloud VST is an entirely new music production technology delivering a server-side environment on which users can conduct high-level audio processing, with no need for their own special equipment. Cloud VST brings cloud computing to Steinberg's VST (Virtual Studio Technology) interface. VST has become the de facto standard for supporting use of effector and synthesizer software plugins on local workstations, allowing users to carry out audio production on general-purpose computers with no need for dedicated hardware. Cloud computing moves the program code, necessary data, and processing work to the server side of an Internet connection, making these available for wide use by individuals and businesses. It has gained much attention as a way of efficiently using the Internet to free client computers from the burden of program installation and heavy processing loads.
How Difficult Is It to Produce Music?
Personal computers have become very powerful and are now quite capable of running specialized software for music production and editing. With today's VST and other software, for example, it is now possible to make pitch and durations adjustments at the computer, where previously such changes could only be made by re-recording the material.
On the other hand, it is not a simple matter to obtain and run this software, and in fact its usage has largely been limited to committed enthusiasts and to those who require it for business purposes. This is because the software is expensive to purchase and requires use of specialized techniques and operations.
Yamaha therefore has worked to develop a cloud VST approach that lets users process their music using software at the server side, making use of the available capabilities when and as needed. Users no longer need to purchase and configure the special equipment and applications that were previously required to create a production environment. Since heavy-duty processing can be left up to the server, users can now carry out high-level production even when working at home computers and portable terminals. And since users no longer need to install the types of software that require voluminous quantities of sound data, they can work on their music even from mobile PCs and mobile devices with minimal memory capacity.
Trial-and-Error Development Approach
Since cloud VST carries out processing at the server side, it is necessary for the client and server to exchange audio files, MIDI files, and other such data. Under our original design, the client would send an entire file to the server, and then receive the entire file back after the completion of processing. But the need to transfer whole files can lead to inefficiencies. For example, a user will often wish to work on only a small segment of a song during an editing session. In such cases, requiring the user to re-transfer the whole file each time can be very wasteful.
To address this issue, we have also now incorporated streaming capability; the user can transfer only the relevant segment to the server (by playing it out), then get the processed segment back and check its sound. Use of streaming allows for more flexible, targeted editing work. Cloud VST now supports both streaming and full-file transfers.
Freeing Users from Network Dependence
Use of cloud VST obviously requires a network environment in order to enable server-side processing. But no doubt some users will wish to continue music production work even when they are away from the network. For this reason, we are looking at the possibility of allowing users to temporarily download audio-processing plugins so they can do the processing at their local computer when they are off the network. Accordingly, we are currently incorporating authentication and encryption capabilities so as to reduce the risk of unauthorized downloads and copying.
Toward a New Style of Music Production
Cloud VST promises a seamless music production environment available virtually anywhere using virtually any type of computer or terminal. A typical user could well sit at a regular computer while in the editing studio, then switch to a minimally interfaced terminal when working at a recording location, and then turn to a mobile phone while in transit. Yamaha remains dedicated to further development of technologies that will fully implement previously unimaginable music production environments.
The user sends lyric data and other information to the server; the server then uses Yamaha's VOCALOID application to synthesize a singing voice, and returns the resulting audio data to the user's terminal.