Beatnik Audio Engine

From Legacy Portable Computing Wiki

Beatnik Audio Engine, previously known as SoundMusicSys and later Headspace Audio Engine, is a sample-based audio engine developed from 1991 to 2001. Its soundbanks are stored in the proprietary '.hsb' (Headspace Sound Bank) format. In 1999, an optimized version of BAE was created for devices such as mobile phones, known as miniBAE. A rewritten version called mobileBAE was released in 2002.

Prior to being optimized for mobile usage, it was used in a variety of products to handle music and sound effects, such as WebTV, video games and operating systems.


The technology was first developed by Steve Hales and Jim Nitchals in their video game company called Halestorm in 1991. At the time, it was called SoundMusicSys, appearing in many successful video games for Macintosh, and in Microsoft's WebTV devices. In 1994, Steve and Jim transferred the technology to Igor's Software Labs (aka IgorLabs), which Beatnik. (called Headspace, Inc. at the time) would eventually acquire.[1] Later, BAE appeared in 1997 as a browser plugin used to play "RMF" (Rich Media Format) files, a direct precursor to MXMF files that used proprietary bank formats instead of .dls. This format was a way of storing music in a small size, so people with a dial-up connection could download it relatively quickly.

BAE was also used in older Java versions (until JRE 7), and BeOS. Nokia started licensing miniBAE (a smaller version of BAE) in 1999,[2] but did not begin using it until the Nokia 3510 and Nokia 7650. It was used on many Nokia phones between 2002 and 2010, although after 2004 it had been deprecated in favor of MobileBAE and was only being used on low end S40 phones at this point. The last known phone to use it was the Nokia 2220 slide.

Sound banks

Sound bank name File size Creator Notes
patches.hsb 482 kB Peter Drescher
Brian Salter
Mike Pukish
The default sound bank bundled with JRE, as well as later versions of the Beatnik Player plugin. It's a lower quality version of patches111.hsb.
patches111.hsb 1.14 MB Peter Drescher
Brian Salter
Mike Pukish
The default soundbank used in the first version of the Beatnik Player plugin.
patchesp.hsb 7.29 MB Peter Drescher
Brian Salter
Mike Pukish 4.9 MB Peter Drescher Originally made for BeOS, bundled optionally in JRE.
WebTV Classic bank 304 kB Peter Drescher
Brian Salter
Mike Pukish
Used in the original WebTV Classic devices.
WebTV Plus bank 374 kB Peter Drescher
Brian Salter
Mike Pukish
Used in WebTV Plus devices. Is an alternate version of patches.hsb