whisper = psithyrizo, psithyros (Greek)

Questions and answers

The purpose of this page is to provide questions asked by someone about Whisper, and questions that you'd probably ask anyway, together with the corresponding answers, so that there would be no need to ask the same questions again. If you have a question that is not otherwise answered on the website, and you think it's an important one to ask, you can use the email address given at the bottom of the page.

Would I want to try Whisper?

The usage model of Whisper is very different from most other sequencing tools, but if you're interested and open-minded, it could definitely be worth a try.

Can I get Whisper?

Whisper is currently available "on demand", so you might be able to get it by sending email to the address given on the contact page. When requesting download access, please tell us a bit of yourself and the computing environment where you'd like to try Whisper (plus what you'd like to use it for). We're prioritizing people who are likely to actually be interested even after trying the tool.

What are the hardware and software requirements?

1) A desktop or laptop PC with a keyboard and a mouse (or similar input).
2) A well-performing dual- or multicore x64/x86 processor (Intel/AMD or similar).
3) Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista or XP (64- or 32-bit).
4) ASIO or Windows drivers for an installed sound device (native ASIO drivers preferred for lower latency).
5) At least 3GB of free main memory (less might also work in some circumstances).

The 64bit versions of the application only support 64bit VST plugins, whereas the 32bit versions only support 32bit plugins. You can only mix 64- and 32-bit plugins in a single session by using some kind of bridge software between the application and the plugins.

Whisper is currently (since version 1.06.0) being built for Windows 10, and it does require the Visual Studio 2015 runtimes installed on the computer. An older version using Visual Studio 2008 runtimes and supporting Windows XP is also available.

An optional MIDI controller can be used for additional precision or more freedom in note input etc., but it is not required for using the software as such.

As of version 1.05.0, a very limited form of audio (voice) input is supported. To use that functionality, you'll need a microphone and/or a line-in.

What are the known issues with Whisper?

Whisper has some known issues, of which there's a (usually quite up-to-date) list included in the HTML documentation. Consult the documentation (included in the software package) for more details. Currently there are no big issues open, but with more use, more issues are likely to pop up as well. And even when the software is working ok, there are of course some known limitations in what it can do, etc.

Who is developing Whisper?

Whisper is mostly developed by just one person as an amateur project in his spare time, sometimes with help from a few other people. This often means that progress is slow, but it also means that the design and implementation of the application is in tighter control, and when there actually is progress, it is fueled by actual enthusiasm towards the subject. Hopefully the resulting application doesn't contain as many compromises either as if the development team was larger.

Why isn't Whisper open source software?

The current intention is to make and keep Whisper freeware, but not open source.

Whisper is quite a small and specialised project that stems from personal interests, and there are already many open source projects which are working on music creation software. You must also remember that Whisper is relying heavily on the proprietary VST technology, for which the SDK source code can't be given to people who have not signed a licensing agreement with Steinberg. If you want to open the sources, it means that you have to separate the source code very clearly to parts involved more closely with VST, and parts which are not specific to the used proprietaty technologies, and which do not contain any source code from the SDKs. You can basically only properly open source the latter parts.

We would also like to keep the development work coherent and limited in scope, and simply opening the sources would not add extra benefit in that aspect (while it would bring with it more new things to take care of.

Summing it up, we don't think that open-sourcing Whisper would currently be worth the hassle, as it probably wouldn't benefit the project itself very much. We could perhaps take a few more people to work with the project, though, if they also signed the license agreements required, but we'd still like to keep the development team quite small, so that the people involved are more familiar with each other, and have common goals for their work.

Does Whisper work on Macs?

No, and yes. The recent Intel-based Mac hardware is pretty much like normal PC hardware, and you can run Windows on it, so you can (at least in principle) also run Whisper on a Mac. But you can't run Whisper in Mac OS X. And because of that, you can't use any plugins installed on the Mac OS side with Whisper, but have to install the plugins (also) on the Windows side.

Macs also have traditionally quite different user interfaces than Windows PCs (for instance the mice only have one button by default).

The Whisper UI has originally been designed for two-button mouses with mouse wheels, and will need some refactoring to be good for one-button mice as well. It's also possible that proper use of Whisper will also on Mac computers require you to purchase a two-button mouse with a mouse wheel.

It would certainly be interesting to make Whisper work in Mac OS X, too, as Macs are so often used in music creation. The OS itself is nice too, but right now the main goal is just to make Whisper work where we use it ourselves, and in this phase, it's not very practical to buy or borrow Mac hardware just for doing the porting (which also takes lots of additional time and effort).

Can a complete newbie instantly learn to make music using Whisper?

Wouldn't say so. Of course that depends on how you define music, and a newbie. Getting used to Whisper might take some time, at least if you're not familiar with tracker software, or even music software in general. On the other hand, the application has some additional aid for people who are not so familiar with music, like a way to use modes/scales/chords somehow without really knowing so much about them.

Probably it will take more or less time to learn to use Whisper, as it has its own thinking structure compared to most other sequencers, but when you have learned the basics, it should be fairly straightforward and logical to use (hopefully).

Can an experienced musician learn to use Whisper?

That's another interesting question, as an experienced musician most probably has experience on things that are quite different from Whisper. If you haven't used a tracker application at some point, you might not be so familiar with entering notes and values in columns, for instance. Instead, you might be more familiar with a piano roll approach. There are also other things that might be quite different with Whisper than with the more popular music creation tools, and especially if you've been playing using physical instruments and recording audio using microphones, line-ins etc., you might need some time to adjust to *writing* music instead.

If I have problems with Whisper, who will help me?

Unfortunately there is no official support available for Whisper, other than maybe some additional troubleshooting-related documentation made available on this site. The authors of the software do not have extra time to use for supporting the software, especially as long as the software is free to use, and they don't get any money for the work they're doing for it. Even setting up and maintaining a user forum where users of Whisper could help each other would require too much time, energy and money from the point of view of the developers.

There are currently no plans to make Whisper commercial, either, but if that happened, the situation might change.

This basically means that you're on your own in using Whisper. If the provided documentation and information on this site are not enough to help you with some problems you might encounter when using Whisper, and if you can't solve those problems yourself or get help from some other people, you should probably not be using the software.

Is Whisper a Buzz clone?

That depends on your definition of a Buzz clone. The term is often used of any music applications that have been inspired by Buzz, and have some similarities with it. Whisper does have quite a few UI similarities with Buzz, but while it uses the concept of multi-pattern sequencing, and some other UI elements that also Buzz does, it's also quite different from Buzz in how those elements are actually implemented and used in the interface. It isn't a modular synthesizer in itself (like Buzz is), and it's strictly a VST host (which Buzz hasn't traditionally been, without extra plugins for that purpose). Still, if you compare Whisper to both Buzz and some more common music creation software, you will see that Whisper is much more a clone of Buzz than it's a clone of many others. The reasons for why the Whisper UI resembles Buzz UI so much are mostly that

1) We think some things are already done in such a simple way in Buzz that it's not easy to do them simpler.
2) We have used Buzz, and have got used to its UI (although we're actually more used to Whisper now).

The UI can still change quite a lot, and maybe it will not be as suitable to call Whisper a "Buzz clone" in the future as it is now. But still, we like Buzz too, and if that fact itself makes Whisper a "Buzz clone", we're quite happy with it :-)

Why is the Whisper UI so different from typical DAW host applications?

Whisper is not a typical DAW host application. It's more like a pluggable "music box" for composers than a "full-fledged" audio workstation for whichever audio needs you might have. It's also basically a realtime-only application, which means that while you can store the output in a wave file, the application doesn't have any "offline" audio processing functionality by itself.

The Whisper UI is designed for personal computers, and the intention is not to imitate any physical instruments or studio equipment visually, but to create an UI that gets the most benefit out of being run on a computer. That might create additional challenges if trying to make the UI as good as possible on both PCs and Macs, as they have a bit different input methods etc., and so PC and Mac users might have somewhat different requirements for an UI.

In general, while having animated knobs and such things on the screen might bring a familiar environment to someone who has worked in a "real" physical studio environment, that is not the most practical way to do an UI for a computer application. For example, it's sometimes much more practical to show numerical values in their numerical format (and possibly as sliders instead of rotatable knobs) on a computer screen, and let the user change the values using the mouse wheel on top of them, than to let her/him try to grasp a virtual knob and move the mouse left/right or up/down to rotate it.

It's also good to not have overly much information on the screen at once, but to try to show only the relevant things in the most effective way. What that way is in each situation, is a different question, of course.

More questions needing answers?

If there's another important question that still isn't answered on this page, you can send it to "whisper" at "whispervst.org" (of course you'll need to make that to a full email address by adding the "@" sign in between).