Audio backends


Input/output device or file is identified via I/O URI, which have one of the following forms:





audio device name



default audio device



audio file (absolute path)



audio file (relative path)


file://- or file:-

stdin or stdout


User can specify input file/device (source) for roc-send via --input option, and output file/device (sink) for roec-recv via --output option.

When device is used, user specifies driver explicitly (e.g. alsa:// for ALSA, pulse:// for PulseAudio, etc). When file is used, file driver is selected automatically, usually by file extension. However, user may force usage of specific driver for the file via --input-format or --output-format option.

See manual pages for more details.

Sinks and sources

To abstract files and devices, roc_sndio module defines three interfaces:

  • device interface (IDevice) - parent interface for input/output file/device

  • source interface (ISource) - child interface for input file/device

  • sink interface (ISink) - child interface for output file/device

For different types of devices and files, there may be different implementations of ISource and ISink.

The same two interfaces (ISource and ISink) are also implemented by sender pipeline (SenderSink) and receiver pipeline (ReceiverSource). See more details in Media pipelines.

The job of roc-send and roc-recv is thus to open a source and a sink and to transfer audio from source to sink:

  • in roc-send, ISource is implemented by device or file from roc_sndio, and ISink is implemented by sender pipeline from roc_pipeline

  • in roc-recv, ISource is implemented by receiver pipeline from roc_pipeline, and ISink is implemented by device or file from roc_sndio

The task of transferring sound from ISource to ISink is implemented in sndio::Pump class, which works uniformely with any pair of source and sink, being it file, device, or pipeline.

Backends and drivers

Top-level class of roc_sndio is backend dispatcher (BackendDispatcher), which holds all registered backends and decides which backend to use when opening sink or source.

Every backend (IBackend) may implement one or more drivers, identified by string name.

For example, SoxBackend (backend that implements audio I/O using SoX library) implements several device and file drivers: alsa, pulse, mp3, etc. Every device driver corresponds to particular sound system (e.g. ALSA, PulseAudio), and every file driver corresponds to particular file format (e.g. MP3).

When user asks backend dispatcher to open sink or source, user speicifies I/O URI and, for files, optional file format (i.e. driver name). Backend dispatcher then finds backend which is able to handle given device or file and asks it to create its implementation of ISource or ISink.

To help backend dispatcher with making decision, backends provide driver information about every available driver:

  • driver name – short unique string, for devices same as URI scheme (e.g. alsa), for files usually same as file extension (e.g. mp3)

  • driver type – whether it’s device or file driver

  • driver flags – whether driver supports sources and/or sinks, and whether driver should be used by default

Supported backends

To get list of supported device and file drivers, run roc-recv or roc-send with --list-supported option.

Most backends may be disabled at compile-time, so this list depends on build options.

The following table lists implemented audio backends:






native PulseAudio backend using libpulse



read and write various audio files using libsndfile



read and write audio files without external dependencies



universal backend that supports many audio systems and file formats using libsox