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SDIF - Sound Description Interchange Format

February 2, 2005

All analysis data from AudioSculpt are now being exported as SDIF files. In order to be able to import data into MaxMSP I’ve looked into the SDIF format in the last week. I’ve never dealt with it before.

SDIF was developed from 1995 onwards as a proposed standardized file format for multiplatform interchange of spectral description. The goals of the SDIF format are stated in details here. The format is binary and well documented:

There’s also a lot of documentation and resources on the SDIF format at the Ircam server including documentation of IRCAM SDIF tools and utilities and the API of the IRCAM SDIF library:

SDIF was first decribed in an article by Wright et al. for ICMC 1998 and a more extensive article by
Wright et al.
for 107th AES Convention in 1999.

Support for SDIF in MaxMSP was first announced by Wright et al. at ICMC 1999 and released as alpha 0.5. Mac OS9 versions of the objects are available here while OSX versions of the objects are available here. AFAIK the objects have never been exported to Max for Windows XP.

Not all of the OS9 objects have been ported to OSX (yet). The GUI object SDIF-menu is only available for OS9 at the moment. Some of the externals described in the 1999 article do not seem to be publicly available at all: timemachine~ SDIF-stft~ and SDIF-istft~.

There was an “Analysis/Synthesis Comparison” panel session at ICMC2000 in Berlin moderated by Matthew Wright. For the session a collection of 27 sounds was used for the comparisments. A slide show from the panel is available and an extensive writeup of the panel session published in Organised Sound. The resulting analysis and sounds are also available. These might be interesting to consult and compare to for my own experimentation.

FTM do not support SDIF files yet but “import and export of SDIF files is currently being finalized and a score interchange format such as MusicXML will be supported in the near future”.