Liner Notes
Red Guitar Pick
The FATpick Blog

We're extremely excited about this release. We think it massively improves several aspects of the product and is a big step closer to our vision of FATpick.

While there's a lot of good stuff still in the pipeline — features and enhancements we wanted to include but didn't quite make the cut — there's so much here it's hard to summarize.

We'll probably come back to this post over the next several days to add stuff we forgot to mention or link to later posts that expand on some of these topics, but here's some of what's new in FATpick v2:

✨ New Audio Engine

The audio processing engine — both input and output — was nearly completely rebuilt for FATpick 2.0.

This effort was primarily driven by the desire to add new functionality to the system — some of which we've only just begun to take advantage of — but also provides significant performance and efficiency improvements.

✨ DAW-style Customization of Backing Audio

Backing audio tracks are now generated "on the fly" rather than pre-processed.

That means players can now customize the backing audio — in real time — by selecting which of the more than one hundred distinct virtual instruments is used to "voice" the track. The options include dozens of realistic-sounding, sample-based guitar, bass, string, piano and brass instruments and robust electronic "voices" like those generated by an analog synthesizers and digital keyboards.

"Mute" and "Solo" controls have been added each track's independent volume slider, with conventional DAW-style semantics. (Mute fully silences a track while retaining the original volume setting. Solo mutes all other tracks such that only the tracks marked solo are audible.)

All of these settings can be managed "live" — while the song is playing — via the new track / mix control panel available on the tab viewer.

(Also FATpick remembers how you've configured each song. The last mix you used is restored whenever you return to the song.)

✨ Better-Sounding Virtual Instruments

While the generation of audio tracks now happens "live" in the FATpick client application rather than being pre-generated by a FATpick server, the same basic infrastructure was used in both cases. We "simply" migrated the audio generation logic from "the cloud" into the desktop application.

However we also took this opportunity to improve the quality of the virtual instruments used to generate backing audio for each track. While the core infrastructure — and some specific instruments — are the same as before, the quality of many of the virtual instruments has improved.

Some songs will sound more or less that same in FATpick v2 as they did in the previous generation of the app, but you may notice a significant improvement in the quality of many of the "voices" used to generate the audio tracks. In particular several instruments that used to be purely synthesized have been upgraded to a sample-based implementation and the sound of some of the already sample-based instruments has also been improved.

There are more enhancements still in the pipeline — possibly including user-controlled samples and sound-fonts if there is demand for it — but the sound quality is already a noticeable step up from the first generation of the product.

✨ Dynamic Track and Mode Switching

Choosing a different track to display in the tab viewer — even switching to a new track within the same song — used to be a bit cumbersome: you had to exit the tab viewer and essentially "reload" the song to change the track you were playing along to.

Similarly the old audio engine had to be "reset" in order to switch from practice mode to performance mode (or vice-versa), which caused a delay of a second or two each time the button was toggled.

Now both of these actions are instantaneous. You can seamlessly switch from one track to another, or toggle between practice mode and performance mode, without skipping a beat.

✨ Instant Imports

Adding a custom song by importing a Guitar Pro tab file is now almost instantaneous.

With previous releases users were forced to wait ~20 minutes (sometimes more) for the FATpick server to process an import and make it ready to play. This processing time has been virtually entirely eliminated.

Imported songs can now be played immediately after being added.

✨ Enhanced Playback Rate Support

The audio quality at non-standard tempos has dramatically improved. You can now set an arbitrary playback rate with little or no distortion.

We've also taken advantage of this to expand the range — and granularity — of available playback rates.

✨ Pitch and Timing Detection Improvements

The audio input signal processing infrastructure has been redesigned to improve performance, increase accuracy and to use resources more efficiently.

While the previous generation of FATpick's pitch and timing detection algorithms already analyzed the audio signal roughly 60 per second, the resolution of the new engine is more than 5 time that.

This allows FATpick's pitch detection and note-onset/note-offset analysis to be nuanced, responsive and precise. (Although to be fair we anticipate that we'll need to fine tune this revised algorithm a bit based on field-testing with the wider user base.)

✨ Other

  • Song downloads have been made more efficient, so you'll spend less time waiting on the "Loading..." spinner.

  • We have relaxed some constraints about which features are available when the tablature player is running. Notably the advanced audio analysis settings menu, latency calibration and in-app tuner can now all be used when the tab viewer is open.

  • The in-app guitar tuner now mirrors play-time audio analysis more closely. (For technical reasons the gauge-based graphic tuner still isn't a perfect representation of the play-time pitch detection algorithm - use the "Test Settings" option on the Advanced Audio Analysis Settings menu for that - but it is closer than before.)

🐞 Bug Fixes

  • Solved some problems with the handling of 12/8 and other compound time signatures.

  • Fixed minor keyboard navigation issues on various screens, including inconsistent use of specific shortcuts.

  • Fixed issue in which toast (pop-up) messages were sometimes hidden behind modal dialogs.

  • Fixed longstanding minor problems with the alignment/placement of "stops" (ticks) on range slider tracks. Took advantage of this to refine stops on several range sliders to more accurately reflect the underlying values.

  • Fixed issue which caused "restore settings from cloud" to incorrectly enable toggle switches in some scenarios.

  • Minor cosmetic improvements and fixes, mostly related to consistency.

  • Fixed issue with the "stickiness" of the tooltip mode setting.

Get the most recent version of FATpick — currently for free — from

Also see more posts tagged , , , or .
Or, go to the latest posts from the Liner Notes blog.