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Wasm By Example


Reading and Writing Audio


NOTE: This demo "idea" should not be used in production. As well as the manual type conversions. This is just for learning purposes. The text will contain mentions of when something should not be used.

As stated before, WebAssembly is a great fit for computationally intensive tasks. And even the official AssemblyScript Documentation covers this. For example, Tasks that involve things like big data, heavy logic with conditionals, or nested looping. Thus, generating / rendering audio samples can get a significant speedup by moving these mentioned parts into WebAssembly. In this example, we will be amplifying audio samples from an AudioBuffer using the Web Audio API. Note: This functionality can and should be done through a Gain Node, but this is mostly for demonstration purposes. A more realistic (albeit more complicated and not fit for a demo) use case, would be to implement unsupported Web Audio API effects like a bitcrusher (Example Video), or a ogg decoder for unsupported browsers.

Another Note: This example will continue to build on our simple buffer/pointer memory passing. This could be implemented using higher-level data structures, and these data structures will be covered in later examples.

So let's get into the example:


Before starting implementation, if you are not familiar with digital audio, or how it works, I'd highly suggest watching this video on "How Digital Audio Works" by Computerphile. But a quick TL;DR, Digital Audio can be represented by a one dimensional array, containing positive (1.0) and negative (-1.0) signals. Where the index of the array represents time.

As usual, let's get started with our index.ts file. You will notice here we grow our memory, as in order to pass back our pixel values into Javascript, we will write these values into Wasm Memory. That way, Javascript can read them later. Please be sure to read the comments in the following code examples, and be sure to follow links or look at previous examples if something does not make sense. Let's get into it:

// Set up our memory
// By growing our Wasm Memory by 1 page (64KB)

// Create some buffer/pointers (array index and size) to where
// in memory we are storing the pixels.
// NOTE: Be sure to set a correct --memoryBase when
// when writing to memory directly like we are here.
// Javascript writes to the INPUT_BUFFER,
// and Wasm will write the result in the OUTPUT_BUFFER
export const INPUT_BUFFER_POINTER: i32 = 0;
export const INPUT_BUFFER_SIZE: i32 = 1024;
export const OUTPUT_BUFFER_POINTER: i32 =

// Function to do the amplification
export function amplifyAudioInBuffer(): void {
  // Loop over the samples
  for (let i = 0; i < INPUT_BUFFER_SIZE; i++) {
    // Load the sample at the index
    let audioSample: u8 = load<u8>(INPUT_BUFFER_POINTER + i);

    // Amplify the sample. All samples
    // Should be implemented as bytes.
    // Byte samples are represented as follows:
    // 127 is silence, 0 is negative max, 256 is positive max
    if (audioSample > 127) {
      let audioSampleDiff = audioSample - 127;
      audioSample = audioSample + audioSampleDiff;
    } else if (audioSample < 127) {
      audioSample = audioSample / 2;

    // Store the audio sample into our output buffer
    store<u8>(OUTPUT_BUFFER_POINTER + i, audioSample);

Next, we can compile the module following the Hello World examples compilation process, replacing the appropriate file names.

Next, let's create an index.js file. In the beginning of this file, we will need to set up our AudioContext, as well as a bunch of buffers and things that we will use later:

// Some general initialization for audio

// Create our audio context
const audioContext = new (window.AudioContext || window.webkitAudioContext)();

// Create the number of samples we want for our audio buffer,
// As well as create an empty stereo buffer at the sample rate of the AudioContext
const numberOfSamples = 1024;
const audioBuffer = audioContext.createBuffer(

// Create our originalAudioSamples, and our amplifiedAudioSamples Buffers
const originalAudioSamples = new Float32Array(numberOfSamples);
const amplifiedAudioSamples = new Float32Array(numberOfSamples);

Next, let's set up some type conversion in our index.js. This is because the Web Audio API takes in floats (between -1.0 and 1.0) as their audio samples, but for demonstration purposes wanted to show how we can do this using only bytes in Wasm linear memory. Since this is kind of unneccesary work, this should not be used in production. Instead you'd probably want to use the Wasm memory buffer as a Float32Array. But, here is how we'd do the conversion if we wanted to stick with a byte array:

// Function to convert float samples to byte samples
// This is mostly for demostration purposes.
// Float samples follow the Web Audio API spec:
// Byte samples are represented as follows:
// 127 is silence, 0 is negative max, 256 is positive max
const floatSamplesToByteSamples = floatSamples => {
  const byteSamples = new Uint8Array(floatSamples.length);
  for (let i = 0; i < floatSamples.length; i++) {
    const diff = floatSamples[i] * 127;
    byteSamples[i] = 127 + diff;
  return byteSamples;

// Function to convert byte samples to float samples
// This is mostly for demostration purposes.
// Float samples follow the Web Audio API spec:
// Byte samples are represented as follows:
// 127 is silence, 0 is negative max, 256 is positive max
const byteSamplesToFloatSamples = byteSamples => {
  const floatSamples = new Float32Array(byteSamples.length);
  for (let i = 0; i < byteSamples.length; i++) {
    const byteSample = byteSamples[i];
    const floatSample = (byteSample - 127) / 127;
    floatSamples[i] = floatSample;
  return floatSamples;

Next, Let's load / instantiate the wasm module, index.wasm in our index.js, and perform our actual audio generation and amplification. Again, we will follow the module instantiation from the Hello World example. A lot of the logic here is expanding on the WebAssembly Linear Memory Example, but applying the learnings to a DOM API. The most important thing here is probably how we are copying out memory from Wasm, using .slice calls. Please see the reference links if things get confusing.Again, I'd like to mention the type conversion is a bit unneccesary, and should not be used in production. This is mostly just to show how you can convert down to bytes if you are not entirely using floats in parts of you Wasm linear memory.

Here is the wasm instantiation / audio amplification in our index.js below!

const runWasm = async () => {
  // Instantiate our wasm module
  const wasmModule = await wasmBrowserInstantiate("./index.wasm");

  // Get our exports object, with all of our exported Wasm Properties
  const exports = wasmModule.instance.exports;

  // Get our memory object from the exports
  const memory = exports.memory;

  // Create a Uint8Array to give us access to Wasm Memory
  const wasmByteMemoryArray = new Uint8Array(memory.buffer);

  // Generate 1024 float audio samples,
  // and make a quiet / simple square wave
  const sampleValue = 0.3;
  for (let i = 0; i < numberOfSamples; i++) {
    if (i < numberOfSamples / 2) {
      originalAudioSamples[i] = sampleValue;
    } else {
      originalAudioSamples[i] = sampleValue * -1;

  // Convert our float audio samples
  // to a byte format for demonstration purposes
  const originalByteAudioSamples = floatSamplesToByteSamples(

  // Fill our wasm memory with the converted Audio Samples,
  // And store it at our INPUT_BUFFER_POINTER (wasm memory index)

  // Amplify our loaded samples with our export Wasm function

  // Slice out the amplified byte audio samples
  const outputBuffer = wasmByteMemoryArray.slice(
    exports.OUTPUT_BUFFER_POINTER.valueOf() +

  // Convert our amplified byte samples into float samples,
  // and set the outputBuffer to our amplifiedAudioSamples

  // We are now done! The "play" Functions will handle playing the
  // audio buffer

Next, we need to provide a way to actually play/pause the audio buffers using an AudioBufferSourceNode. Thus, at the bottom of our index.js we will add:

function beforePlay() {
  // Check if context is in suspended state (autoplay policy)
  if (audioContext.state === "suspended") {

// Set up playing the Audio Buffer
// Using a shared Audio buffer Source
let audioBufferSource = undefined;
function stopAudioBufferSource() {
  // If we have an audioBufferSource
  // Stop and clear our current audioBufferSource
  if (audioBufferSource) {
    audioBufferSource = undefined;
function createAndStartAudioBufferSource() {
  // Stop the the current audioBufferSource

  // Create an AudioBufferSourceNode.
  // This is the AudioNode to use when we want to play an AudioBuffer,
  // Set the buffer to our buffer source,
  // And loop the source so it continuously plays
  audioBufferSource = audioContext.createBufferSource();
  audioBufferSource.buffer = audioBuffer;
  audioBufferSource.loop = true;

  // Connect our source to our output, and start! (it will play silence for now)

window.playOriginal = () => {
  // Set the float audio samples to the left and right channel
  // of our playing audio buffer


window.playAmplified = () => {
  // Set the float audio samples to the left and right channel
  // of our playing audio buffer


window.pause = () => {

Finally, let's make sure we have the following to our index.html to provide buttons to call our play/pause functions so we can actually play our audio:

<!-- Other HTML here. -->

  <h1>NOTE: Be careful if using headphones</h1>

  <h1>Original Sine Wave</h1>
  <div><button onclick="playOriginal()">Play</button></div>

  <hr />

  <h1>Amplified Sine Wave</h1>
  <div><button onclick="playAmplified()">Play</button></div>

  <hr />

  <div><button onclick="pause()">Pause</button></div>

<!-- Other HTML here. -->

And you should get something similar to the demo (Source Code) below! Note: This was a lot of Javascript getting the Audio stuff all set up, this I highly recommended click the demo source code link just provided to get a entire view of everything going on.


This is the end of the "concepts" examples! Feel free to fix, suggest, or contribute examples to WasmByExample! Also! There is additional learning resources, such as using high level data types and using WebAssembly outside of the browser, back on the WasmByExample homepage.