Sample Code

Equalizing Audio with vDSP

Shape audio output using discrete cosine transforms and biquadratic filters.



You can use vDSP functions to change the frequency response of an audio signal; for example, boosting or cutting the bass or treble of a music track.

This sample plays a drum loop and offers a range of equalization presets using two approaches:

  • Discrete cosine transform-based (DCT) equalizations that explicitly zero specific parts of the audio spectrum.

  • Biquadratic filter-based equalizations that use a set of coefficients to change the frequency response based on the ratio of two quadratic functions.

When you first launch the app, the drum loop plays without any filters applied. The app displays the frequency domain representation of the drum loop, illustrated below, and a segmented control that switches between the equalization presets.

Diagram showing a frequency domain audio signal with no equalization filter applied.

Before exploring the code, try building and running the app to familiarize yourself with the effect of the different equalizations on the drum loop.

Generate the Audio Samples

This sample includes an audio resource, Rhythm.aif, that contains a drum loop. Use the getAudioSamples(forResource:withExtension:) function to generate an array of single-precision values from the drum loop:

let samples: [Float] = {
    guard let samples = AudioUtilities.getAudioSamples(
        forResource: "Rhythm",
        withExtension: "aif") else {
            fatalError("Unable to parse the audio resource.")
    return samples

The samples array contains single-precision values that represent the entire content of Rhythm.aif. To learn more about the AVFoundation classes used to generate the samples, see AVAssetReader and AVAssetReaderTrackOutput.

Configure Audio Playback

The sample app’s view controller conforms to the SignalProvider protocol by vending an array of single-precision values that represent audio data. Use the configureAudioUnit(signalProvider:) function to define the sample app’s view controller as a signal provider for audio playback:

AudioUtilities.configureAudioUnit(signalProvider: self)

On return, the configured audio unit’s output provider repeatedly calls the getSignal() function and renders the returned data as audio. For each call, return a page of length sampleCount from samples:

let start = pageNumber * sampleCount
let end = (pageNumber + 1) * sampleCount

let page = Array(samples[start ..< end])

pageNumber += 1

if (pageNumber + 1) * sampleCount >= samples.count {
    pageNumber = 0

You can render the audio unaltered by returning page.

To learn more about using AudioToolbox to render audio, see AUAudioUnit.

Define DCT-Based Equalization Filters

The sample includes four DCT-based equalization presets:

  • Low-Pass blocks high frequencies (treble).

  • High-Pass blocks low frequencies (bass).

  • Band-Stop blocks mid-range frequencies.

  • Band-Pass only allows mid-range frequencies.

The sample implements the presets as arrays of single-precision values between zero and one. To apply the equalization, multiply the frequency-domain data by the values in each preset array. For example, the following code creates the band-stop filter by returning an array mainly filled with ones, apart from elements 300-380 that are filled with zeros.

static let dctBandStop: [Float] = {
    return interpolatedVectorFrom(magnitudes:  [1,   1,   0,   0,   1,    1],
                                  indices:     [0, 290, 300, 380, 390, 1024],
                                  count: sampleCount)

static func interpolatedVectorFrom(magnitudes: [Float],
                                   indices: [Float],
                                   count: Int) -> [Float] {
    assert(magnitudes.count == indices.count,
           "`magnitudes.count` must equal `indices.count`.")
    var c = [Float](repeating: 0,
                    count: count)
    let stride = vDSP_Stride(1)
    vDSP_vgenp(magnitudes, stride,
               indices, stride,
               &c, stride,
    return c

The following image visualizes the effect of the band-stop filter. The darker, blue line represents the frequency-domain audio data, and the lighter red line represents the values in the band-stop filter:

Diagram showing a frequency domain audio signal and a band stop filter. Where the band stop filter values are zero, the frequency domain data is zero. Where the band stop filter values are one, the frequency domain data is unchanged.

Prepare the DCT Setups

Create setup objects that contain all the information required to perform the forward and inverse DCT operations. Creating these setup objects can be expensive, so do it only once—for example, when starting your app—and reuse the objects as needed.

The forward transform is a type II DCT:

let forwardDCT = vDSP.DCT(count: sampleCount,
                          transformType: .II)

The inverse transform is a type III DCT:

let inverseDCT = vDSP.DCT(count: sampleCount,
                          transformType: .III)

Equalize the Audio with DCT

To equalize the audio using a DCT-based filter, do the following:

  • Apply a forward transform to the signal data (time-domain). This generates the frequency-domain representation.

  • Multiply the frequency-domain by the filter values.

  • Finally, apply an inverse transform to the multiplied data. This generates the time-domain representation.

func apply(dctMultiplier: [Float], toInput input: [Float]) -> [Float] {
    // Perform forward DCT.
                          result: &forwardDCT_PreProcessed)
    // Multiply frequency-domain data by `dctMultiplier`.
                  result: &forwardDCT_PostProcessed)
    // Perform inverse DCT.
                          result: &inverseDCT_Result)

Finally, scale the result. The scaling factor for the forward transform is 2, and the scaling factor for the inverse transform is the number of samples (in this case, 1024). Use divide(_:_:) to divide the inverse DCT result by sampleCount / 2, and return the result of the divide operation:

            Float(sampleCount / 2),
            result: &inverseDCT_Result)

By passing the values in page to this equalization function, and having getSignal() return the function’s result, the app applies the DCT-based filter when playing the drum loop.

Declare the Biquad Structure

Declare a structure to apply biquadratic filtering:

var biquadFilter: vDSP.Biquad<Float>?

Define Biquadratic-Based Equalization Filters

The sample includes two biquadratic-based equalization presets:

  • Low-Pass blocks high frequencies (treble).

  • High-Pass blocks low frequencies (bass).

Define a biquadratic filter by declaring a set of coefficients that plug in to the following formula:

General formula that describes mathematically the transfer function used by the vDSP Library for biquadratic filtering. Cap H open parentheses z close parentheses equals b sub zero, plus b sub 1 times z to the power of minus one, plus b sub 2 times z to the power of minus two, over one plus a sub 1 times z to the power of minus one plus a sub 2 times z to the power of minus 2.

The following code defines the coefficients for a low-pass filter (that reduces high frequencies):

static let biquadLowPass: [Double] = {
    let b0 = 0.0001
    let b1 = 0.001
    let b2 = 0.0005
    let a1 = -1.979
    let a2 = 0.98

    return [b0, b1, b2, a1, a2]

When either the low- or high-pass biquad filter is selected, the corresponding coefficients are used to instantiate biquadFilter:

switch mode {
case .biquadLowPass:
    biquadFilter = vDSP.Biquad(coefficients: EqualizationFilters.biquadLowPass,
                               channelCount: 1,
                               sectionCount: 1,
                               ofType: Float.self)
case .biquadHighPass:
    biquadFilter = vDSP.Biquad(coefficients: EqualizationFilters.biquadHighPass,
                               channelCount: 1,
                               sectionCount: 1,
                               ofType: Float.self)

Equalize the Audio with Biquadratic Filters

Use the apply(input:) function to apply biquadratic filtering structure to the audio signal based on the selected coefficients (such as biquadLowPass defined earlier):

func apply(toInput input: [Float]) -> [Float] {
    return biquadFilter!.apply(input: input)

By passing the values in page to this equalization function, and having getSignal() return the function’s result, the app plays the drum loop with the biquadratic-based filter applied.

See Also

Audio Processing

Biquadratic IIR Filters

Apply biquadratic filters to single- and multi-channel data.

Discrete Cosine Transforms

Transform vectors of temporal and spatial domain real values to the frequency domain and vice versa.