Linux-friendly multi-plugin host for live use

All your LV2 and LADSPA goodness and more.

Moderators: khz, MattKingUSA

Post Reply
danboid
Established Member
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:28 am
Location: England

Linux-friendly multi-plugin host for live use

Post by danboid »

Can anyone recommend a suitable plugin host / DAW that works well under Linux (or wine, I'm fine with using REAPER under wine until the Linux version matures) for the purpose of hosting several VSTs (LV2 would be nice too but not essential) plugins configured to use specific presets and letting me switch between them by pushing buttons on my MIDI controller keyboard?

If I end up using a DAW for this, then I would be adding each different plugin (configuration) to a separate track and then I'd need a way to bind the highlighting of specific tracks to buttons on my controller so that I don't need to reach for the mouse to click on the track/plugin I wish to control. Ideally, I would also be able to move back and forth through the tracks/plugins and also switch between banks/sessions using buttons on my MIDI controller. On top of that, I'd like to be able to run multiple instances of the host or it should support multiple input devices, each with its own independent bank/session ie one for each MIDI controller.

Carla would seem like the ideal app for this but I'm not sure it meets my needs, yet? I'd expect someone on here has already solved this problem under Linux?
Are you new to Linux Audio? This manual explains how to install KXStudio, set up and use JACK, mimimize latency, lists the best Linux AV apps and much more all in a concise and easy to understand format.

http://wiki.linuxaudio.org/wiki/kxstudio_manual

progwolff
Established Member
Posts: 44
Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:08 am
Location: Lübeck, Germany

Re: Linux-friendly multi-plugin host for live use

Post by progwolff »

I encountered the same problem when I completely switched to Linux.

It's dependent on the number of VSTs and the complexity of your setup.

For me it's mostly sufficient to have a piano, an e-piano, a hammond and a synth mapped to different MIDI channels. Carla is the ideal tool for this kind of setup. The win32-VSTs I use run stable and external MIDI devices can be mapped to plugin parameters (although MIDI learn is not implemented yet).

If you need different devices, make heavy use of split zones, multi-plugin-layers and really want to control everything via MIDI, I have no solution for you. On Windows I used ableton for this kind of complex setup. The Max scripting environment shipped with ableton was really nice to have a per-song-setup. I just needed to press a button on my foot controller to let all my instrument presets change and get the chords for the current song displayed. I am not aware of a similar solution for linux. Maybe it could be done with a combination of vvvv and Carla. Didn't try it so far.

danboid
Established Member
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:28 am
Location: England

Re: Linux-friendly multi-plugin host for live use

Post by danboid »

Hi progwolff

Thanks for your reply!

Ideally I would be able to do what I want under Carla but, after having investigated it just now, it isn't possible with Carla's current features and my current MIDI controller keyboard.

The only way I can see to switch between different plugins (or multiple instances of one plugin with different presets/config) under Carla is to assign them to different MIDI channels as you say. That isn't really practical with my current controller (an M-audio Oxygen 49) because to switch the MIDI output channel requires at least 4 key presses, 5 if you are switching to a double-digit channel and so of course thats no good if you need to switch plugins/presets in the space of a beat. Maybe when Carla gains MIDI learn I'll be able to train it to use one of my controllers command keys to switch to a specific channel?
Are you new to Linux Audio? This manual explains how to install KXStudio, set up and use JACK, mimimize latency, lists the best Linux AV apps and much more all in a concise and easy to understand format.

http://wiki.linuxaudio.org/wiki/kxstudio_manual

danboid
Established Member
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:28 am
Location: England

Re: Linux-friendly multi-plugin host for live use

Post by danboid »

I wonder if mididings may be able to solve my problem here and enable the command buttons on my MIDI controller to act as one push MIDI channel selectors? I've never tried middings before so I don't know its capabilities. Obvs middings would need to sit between Carla and my ALSA/JACK MIDI in for it to be able to do that so there will likely be some (small) latency penalty for doing so.
Are you new to Linux Audio? This manual explains how to install KXStudio, set up and use JACK, mimimize latency, lists the best Linux AV apps and much more all in a concise and easy to understand format.

http://wiki.linuxaudio.org/wiki/kxstudio_manual

danboid
Established Member
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:28 am
Location: England

Re: Linux-friendly multi-plugin host for live use

Post by danboid »

Unfortunately MIDI learn doesn't work under Zebra(lette) under Carla (1.9.6 / 2.0b4) so Carla isn't an option for me yet. In fact I believe Carla has no support for MIDI learn full stop so even if mididings was able to solve my channel switching issue I'd still be left wanting.

I'm going to see what I can get working under wine REAPER next.
Are you new to Linux Audio? This manual explains how to install KXStudio, set up and use JACK, mimimize latency, lists the best Linux AV apps and much more all in a concise and easy to understand format.

http://wiki.linuxaudio.org/wiki/kxstudio_manual

progwolff
Established Member
Posts: 44
Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:08 am
Location: Lübeck, Germany

Re: Linux-friendly multi-plugin host for live use

Post by progwolff »

Carla itself does not have MIDI learn (yet).

But Carla can forward MIDI CC messages to any VST. You have to enable "Send Control Changes" in Carla.

danboid
Established Member
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:28 am
Location: England

Re: Linux-friendly multi-plugin host for live use

Post by danboid »

I've got a nice, workable config for using plugins live with my current MIDI controller under (wine) REAPER now. The secret was to enable 'Automatic record arm when track selected' under Options -> Prefs -> Track / Send defaults -> Record config first before creating my softsynth tracks and then under the Action list I had to assign my MIDI controller keys to 'Track: Select Track 01', 'Track: Select Track 02' etc.

I've had a look at getting Ardour 5.3 to do the same but Ardour doesn't seem to have bindings for just selecting tracks and nor does it seem to have a 'Toggle automatic record arm when track selected' equivalent mode to use with MIDI track selection shortcuts so it doesn't seem possible to recreate this config under Ardour currently.

There is also the SWS Project Loader/Selector REAPER extension which I've not tried yet but should make it possible to easily switch between different REAPER sessions quickly. SWS is FOSS so it should be portable to Linux REAPER when its ready.

http://forum.cockos.com/showpost.php?p= ... tcount=655
Are you new to Linux Audio? This manual explains how to install KXStudio, set up and use JACK, mimimize latency, lists the best Linux AV apps and much more all in a concise and easy to understand format.

http://wiki.linuxaudio.org/wiki/kxstudio_manual

User avatar
noedig
Established Member
Posts: 168
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:39 am
Location: South Africa

Re: Linux-friendly multi-plugin host for live use

Post by noedig »

Unfortunately MIDI learn doesn't work under Zebra(lette) under Carla
Like progwolff mentioned: In the plugin properties in Carla, select "Send Control Changes", see if Zebra(lette) now allows midi learn?
The secret was to enable 'Automatic record arm when track selected' under Options -> Prefs -> Track / Send defaults -> Record config first before creating my softsynth tracks and then under the Action list I had to assign my MIDI controller keys to 'Track: Select Track 01', 'Track: Select Track 02' etc.
That's a nice tip for Reaper. Alternatively, SWS Live Configs is also an option.

Something on a similar basis that you could try for Ardour: https://github.com/noedigcode/ArdourSongSwitcher
It allows you to unmute different tracks with MIDI bindings, similar to the record enable/track selection you have in Reaper.
(Note that this is for Ardour 4, the OSC messages must still be updated for 5, but it should be a minor fix.)

Just a side note: when using mididings with Carla, instead of using different MIDI channels, it might be simpler to use different Jack MIDI ports instead as it might eliminate some potential channel related encumberances.

danboid
Established Member
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:28 am
Location: England

Re: Linux-friendly multi-plugin host for live use

Post by danboid »

Thanks for the tips noedig!

I can't see a Send Control Changes option under Carla 2.0b4. Zebra(lette) doesn't work under Carla 1.2.4.

Good to hear mididings could solve my key binding prob but is there an easy way to switch between Carla sessions without writing a script? I'd like to avoid having to use the terminal after every song to switch sessions.
Are you new to Linux Audio? This manual explains how to install KXStudio, set up and use JACK, mimimize latency, lists the best Linux AV apps and much more all in a concise and easy to understand format.

http://wiki.linuxaudio.org/wiki/kxstudio_manual

Frank Carvalho
Established Member
Posts: 363
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2012 3:36 pm

Re: Linux-friendly multi-plugin host for live use

Post by Frank Carvalho »

I will suggest MidiLayer in combination with Carla. I have been using this setup for two keyboard setups during the past year. There are several threads about this:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=15167&p=68086&hilit ... yer#p68086
viewtopic.php?f=48&t=15320&p=69242&hili ... yer#p69242

It uses separate MIDI channels per hosted instrument in Carla, but since MidiLayer can remap MIDI channels for you, you can have your keyboards on MIDI channels 1,2,3 ... and have MidiLayer re-route MIDI to the relevant instrument MIDI channels. Per patch, that is. That is what I do. I play my weighted main board on channel 1, and the secondary keyboard on channel 2. Then each patch is programmed to route each keyboard to the relevant instrument. I usually have a couple of patches per song.

/Frank
Vox, Selmer, Yamaha and Leslie amplifiers. Rickenbacker, Epiphone, Ibanez, Washburn, Segovia, Yamaha and Fender guitars. Hammond, Moog, Roland, Korg, Yamaha, Crumar, Ensoniq and Mellotron keyboards. Xubuntu+KXStudio recording setup.

danboid
Established Member
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:28 am
Location: England

Re: Linux-friendly multi-plugin host for live use

Post by danboid »

Thanks for your suggestions Frank!

I've actually got a nice config under REAPER with having to use the SWS/S&M or any other extensions. All I had to do was open my sessions simultaneously within REAPER tabs then I used the REAPER Actions menu to create MIDI bindings for the 'Next project tab' and 'Previous project tab' actions. Done!
Are you new to Linux Audio? This manual explains how to install KXStudio, set up and use JACK, mimimize latency, lists the best Linux AV apps and much more all in a concise and easy to understand format.

http://wiki.linuxaudio.org/wiki/kxstudio_manual

Post Reply