BaseAudioContext.createBuffer()

The createBuffer() method of the BaseAudioContext Interface is used to create a new, empty AudioBuffer object, which can then be populated by data, and played via an AudioBufferSourceNode

For more details about audio buffers, check out the AudioBuffer reference page.

Note: createBuffer() used to be able to take compressed data and give back decoded samples, but this ability was removed from the spec, because all the decoding was done on the main thread, therefore createBuffer() was blocking other code execution. The asynchronous method decodeAudioData() does the same thing — takes compressed audio, say, an MP3 file, and directly gives you back an AudioBuffer that you can then set to play via in an AudioBufferSourceNode. For simple uses like playing an MP3, decodeAudioData() is what you should be using.

Syntax

var buffer = baseAudioContext.createBuffer(numOfchannels, length, sampleRate);

Parameters

Note: For an in-depth explanation of how audio buffers work, and what these parameters mean, read Audio buffers: frames, samples and channels from our Basic concepts guide.

numOfChannels
An integer representing the number of channels this buffer should have. The default value is 1, and all user agents must support at least 32 channels.
length
An integer representing the size of the buffer in sample-frames (where each sample-frame is the size of a sample in bytes multiplied by numOfChannels). To determine the length to use for a specific number of seconds of audio, use numSeconds * (sampleRate * numberOfChannels).
sampleRate
The sample rate of the linear audio data in sample-frames per second. All browsers must support sample rates in at least the range 8,000 Hz to 96,000 Hz.

Returns

An AudioBuffer configured based on the specified options.

Exceptions

 

NotSupportedError
One or more of the options are negative or otherwise has an invalid value (such as numberOfChannels being higher than supported, or a sampleRate outside the nominal range).
RangeError
There isn't enough memory available to allocate the buffer.

 

Examples

First, a couple of simple trivial examples, to help explain how the parameters are used:

var audioCtx = new AudioContext();
var buffer = audioCtx.createBuffer(2, 22050, 44100);

If you use this call, you will get a stereo buffer (two channels), that, when played back on an AudioContext running at 44100Hz (very common, most normal sound cards run at this rate), will last for 0.5 seconds: 22050 frames / 44100Hz = 0.5 seconds.

var audioCtx = new AudioContext();
var buffer = audioCtx.createBuffer(1, 22050, 22050);

If you use this call, you will get a mono buffer (one channel), that, when played back on an AudioContext running at 44100Hz, will be automatically *resampled* to 44100Hz (and therefore yield 44100 frames), and last for 1.0 second: 44100 frames / 44100Hz = 1 second.

Note: audio resampling is very similar to image resizing: say you've got a 16 x 16 image, but you want it to fill a 32x32 area: you resize (resample) it. the result has less quality (it can be blurry or edgy, depending on the resizing algorithm), but it works, and the resized image takes up less space. Resampled audio is exactly the same — you save space, but in practice you will be unable to properly reproduce high frequency content (treble sound).

Now let's look at a more complex createBuffer() example, in which we create a two second buffer, fill it with white noise, and then play it via an AudioBufferSourceNode. The comment should clearly explain what is going on. You can also run the code live, or view the source.

var audioCtx = new (window.AudioContext || window.webkitAudioContext)();

// Create an empty three-second stereo buffer at the sample rate of the AudioContext
var myArrayBuffer = audioCtx.createBuffer(2, audioCtx.sampleRate * 3, audioCtx.sampleRate);

// Fill the buffer with white noise;
// just random values between -1.0 and 1.0
for (var channel = 0; channel < myArrayBuffer.numberOfChannels; channel++) {
  // This gives us the actual ArrayBuffer that contains the data
  var nowBuffering = myArrayBuffer.getChannelData(channel);
  for (var i = 0; i < myArrayBuffer.length; i++) {
    // Math.random() is in [0; 1.0]
    // audio needs to be in [-1.0; 1.0]
    nowBuffering[i] = Math.random() * 2 - 1;
  }
}

// Get an AudioBufferSourceNode.
// This is the AudioNode to use when we want to play an AudioBuffer
var source = audioCtx.createBufferSource();
// set the buffer in the AudioBufferSourceNode
source.buffer = myArrayBuffer;
// connect the AudioBufferSourceNode to the
// destination so we can hear the sound
source.connect(audioCtx.destination);
// start the source playing
source.start();

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
Web Audio API
The definition of 'createBuffer()' in that specification.
Working Draft  

Browser compatibility

Update compatibility data on GitHub
DesktopMobile
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidEdge MobileFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidiOS SafariSamsung Internet
Basic supportChrome Full support 10
Prefixed
Full support 10
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: webkit
Edge Full support YesFirefox Full support 25IE No support NoOpera Full support 22
Full support 22
Full support 15
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: webkit
Safari Full support 6
Prefixed
Full support 6
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: webkit
WebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support 33Edge Mobile Full support YesFirefox Android Full support 26Opera Android Full support YesSafari iOS No support NoSamsung Internet Android ?

Legend

Full support  
Full support
No support  
No support
Compatibility unknown  
Compatibility unknown
Requires a vendor prefix or different name for use.
Requires a vendor prefix or different name for use.

See also

Document Tags and Contributors

Last updated by: fscholz,