sciss / audiofile

Audiofile library for Scala. Mirror of

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AudioFile is a Scala library to read and write audio files. It is (C)opyright 2004–2021 by Hanns Holger Rutz. All rights reserved. AudioFile is released under the GNU Affero General Public License v3+ and comes with absolutely no warranties. To contact the author, send an e-mail to contact at

requirements / installation

AudioFile builds with sbt against Scala 2.13, 2.12, Dotty (JVM) and Scala 2.13 (JS). The last version to support Scala 2.11 was v1.5.3.

To use the library in your project:

"de.sciss" %% "audiofile" % v

The current version v is "2.3.3"


Please see the file

supported formats

name read/write notes
NeXT R/W aka Snd and AU
Wave64 R/W
Raw R/W headerless

getting started

AudioFile currently supports reading and writing files in compressed (professional) audio formats such as AIFF, Wave or Wave64. It focuses on the audio data, while currently not supporting meta-data features such as markers, regions, or application specific data stored in the file headers.

The original API was made for synchronous I/O on the JVM:

  • To open an audio file for reading: AudioFile.openRead(aFile) or AudioFile.openRead(anInputStream). The InputStream variant has limited functionality, e.g. you cannot seek into the file, but only read sequentially. The stream variant can be used to decode files from an HTTP connection or in-memory (ByteArrayInputStream).
  • To just retrieve the specification of an existing file, to see if it can be decoded, what is length, number of channels and format are: AudioFile.readSpec(fileOrPathName).
  • To open a file for writing: AudioFile.openWrite(aFile, spec) or AudioFile.openWrite(anOutputStream, spec)

More recently, an asynchronous I/O API was added, which is the only API available on Scala.js, as the JavaScript virtual machine does not allow synchronous I/O. On the JVM, synchronous I/O is slightly faster and allows for a much simpler control flow (no need to map futures).

To the user, frame data is always represented as de-interleaved 64-bit floating point data, so you create a user buffer through Array.ofDim[Double](numChannels, bufFrames), or use a convenience method such as AudioFile.buffer(...). In other words, all sample frames are mapped from their native SampleFormat such as 16-bit integer to floating-point numbers in the range -1 to +1. Integers up to 32-bit can be represented this way without loss of precision. In the future, we might support the native storage format and/or 32-bit floating point data (like it used to be before version 2.3.0).

The synchronous AudioFile implementation is currently not thread-safe, so one should use a single file only from within the same thread. Alternatively, use a lock and validate the frame position before each read/write. The asynchronous API should be fairly thread-safe on the JVM; currently it is not permitted to run more than a single read or write operation at a time.

Here is an example of opening an existing file with synchronous I/O, reading through it to determine the maximum sample magnitude, then writing a normalized version to a new file:

import de.sciss.audiofile._

val in      = AudioFile.openRead("input.aif")
// for the output, switch to AIFF 24-bit integer, 
// but keep the other parameters (sample-rate and number-of-channels)
val outSpec = in.spec.copy(fileType = AudioFileType.AIFF, 
                           sampleFormat = SampleFormat.Int24)
val out     = AudioFile.openWrite("output.aif", outSpec)

// create a buffer
val bufSz   = 8192  // perform operations in blocks of this size
val buf     = in.buffer(bufSz)

// first pass: determine maximum magnitude
var mag     = 0.0
var remain  = in.numFrames
while (remain > 0) {
  val chunk = math.min(bufSz, remain).toInt, 0, chunk)
  buf.foreach { chan =>
    mag = math.max(mag, math.abs(chan.maxBy(math.abs)))
  remain -= chunk
println(f"Maximum magnitude detected: $mag%1.3f")

// second pass: adjust gain and write output
require(mag > 0)
val gain = 1.0 / mag // start over from the beginning of the file
remain = in.numFrames
while (remain > 0) {
  val chunk = math.min(bufSz, remain).toInt, 0, chunk)
  buf.foreach { chan =>
    for (i <- 0 until chunk) {
      chan(i) *= gain
  out.write(buf, 0, chunk)
  remain -= chunk


Scala.js does not know the type and does not support synchronous I/O. The asynchronous I/O API uses abstractions AsyncReadableByteChannel and AsyncWriteableByteChannel which are modelled after NIO's asynchronous byte and file channels. Files are opened with openReadAsync and openWriteAsync, using a URI. We currently implement a virtual file system with schema idb for IndexedDB, i.e. for accessing and storing files in a website's client side browser cache.


There is a system property AudioFile.DirectMemory whose value can be set to true in order to use direct-memory buffers (ByteBuffer.allocateDirect). Reading in a 1.6 GB is around 18% faster with direct memory. Direct memory can have the disadvantage that it requires an individual VM switch to adjust the maximum available memory before throwing an out-of-memory error. The default is false.

Using an asynchronous file I/O is around 26% slower than synchronous I/O (on JVM).

For all further information, please refer to the API docs. They can be created with sbt doc.

change log

  • v2.2.0: adds Scala.js support and asynchronous API. The base package was renamed from to de.sciss.audiofile.