Calf plugins stability

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sysrqer
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Calf plugins stability

Postby sysrqer » Tue Aug 18, 2015 3:35 am

I've yet again tried to do a project in ardour only to suddenly find myself getting frequent crashes. It seems that at least some of the crashes I am getting could be related to plugins, and the only ones I am using in this particular project are calf and one instance of tal dub. It seems tal dub is regarded as very stable while the calf suite are not and are known to cause problems.
So I'm wondering if anyone has any experience regarding the stability of the calf plugins? Any in particular that cause problems? A certain number of instances of the plugins? I haven't noticed any pattern myself, mainly because it all works find to a point and then I start losing work all of a sudden on occasion when recovery doesn't work so I give up. However, it is usually when I have quite a lot of instances loaded.

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davephillips
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Re: Calf plugins stability

Postby davephillips » Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:26 am

sysrqer wrote:... I'm wondering if anyone has any experience regarding the stability of the calf plugins? Any in particular that cause problems? A certain number of instances of the plugins? I haven't noticed any pattern myself, mainly because it all works find to a point and then I start losing work all of a sudden on occasion when recovery doesn't work so I give up. However, it is usually when I have quite a lot of instances loaded.


No problems with the Calf plugs here, but I build them from git sources, maybe makes a difference.

Used in Ardour4 (git) and Bitwig 1.1.10.

Best,

dp

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GMaq
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Re: Calf plugins stability

Postby GMaq » Tue Aug 18, 2015 7:52 pm

Hi,

I guess the first question is if you are using the latest 0.60 release (or recent GIT) versions of Calf? There were known issues with fftw in earlier Calf versions and also I think older versions of libcairo in Ardour (or in many Linux distributions) were not thread safe and could cause random crashes with multiple instance plugins that use gtk UI's. Please let me be clear that the bundled versions of Ardour from ardour.org have their own custom patched versions of libcairo so the random crashes would ONLY be a problem if you are compiling your own Ardour builds from GIT with an older version of libcairo or one that is not thread safe..

From what I've seen on brief visits to Ardour IRC it seems that problems and complaints with Calf also seem to become more apparent if you are using large numbers of instances. Also I personally use very little of Ardour's MIDI functionality so I have little experience with Calf's virtual instruments (ie Fluidsynth, Organ etc) so I can't comment if that has any bearing on stability..

I have used Ardour for years and I have found it to be VERY stable but I also prefer to use linuxDSP plugins for Compression, EQ, and Reverb, they are extremely reliable and tightly coded with very little CPU use. I may use one or two Calf plugins in an entire session but perhaps you may want to try some Linux alternatives if you are not interested in commercial choices like linuxDSP (or OverToneDSP as it is currently known) like the new X42 FIL plugin for EQ and some different compressors etc. and see if your sessions fare better..

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sysrqer
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Re: Calf plugins stability

Postby sysrqer » Wed Aug 19, 2015 3:57 pm

Well I have actually narrowed the instability down to using automation and found an easy way to reproduce it so with a bit of luck it will be fixed.

GMaq wrote:Hi,

I guess the first question is if you are using the latest 0.60 release (or recent GIT) versions of Calf? There were known issues with fftw in earlier Calf versions and also I think older versions of libcairo in Ardour (or in many Linux distributions) were not thread safe and could cause random crashes with multiple instance plugins that use gtk UI's. Please let me be clear that the bundled versions of Ardour from ardour.org have their own custom patched versions of libcairo so the random crashes would ONLY be a problem if you are compiling your own Ardour builds from GIT with an older version of libcairo or one that is not thread safe..


That's very interesting and I didn't know that about libcairo. After reading that I tried with the latest ardour nightly version and got the same thing so maybe it's not that this time. That's good to know though, certainly an incentive to purchase and use the official builds.
I was using the latest git version of calf but the problem I was having was also present in the 0.0.60 version too.

GMaq wrote:From what I've seen on brief visits to Ardour IRC it seems that problems and complaints with Calf also seem to become more apparent if you are using large numbers of instances.

I was actually wrong about the large number of instances being a factor with this bug, I was able to set up a new session with one audio track and one plugin. I only thought it was to do with large number of instances because it was late on in the project when I started to use automation and didn't think of that as a factor at first.

GMaq wrote:I have used Ardour for years and I have found it to be VERY stable but I also prefer to use linuxDSP plugins for Compression, EQ, and Reverb, they are extremely reliable and tightly coded with very little CPU use. I may use one or two Calf plugins in an entire session but perhaps you may want to try some Linux alternatives if you are not interested in commercial choices like linuxDSP (or OverToneDSP as it is currently known) like the new X42 FIL plugin for EQ and some different compressors etc. and see if your sessions fare better..

I do use the linuxdsp plugins too, they are very impressive and sound great. The thing I like about calf is it includes pretty much every effect you could ever want and has some advanced controls for most of them (like mid/side processing eq, wet/dry in the compressor, things like that) and a nice uniform, easy to use UI. That said, maybe looking at other options as default 'go to' would be better right now, the X42 eq does look very nice.

But anyway, I've reported the bug I found to the calf bug tracker. I think maybe I was being a bit hard on calf/ardour because things were pretty stable up until I started automating so maybe if that gets fixed everything will be rock solid, finally 8)


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