[ubuntu-studio-devel] Audio plugins

Len Ovens len at ovenwerks.net
Wed May 4 14:18:06 UTC 2016

On Wed, 4 May 2016, Set Hallstrom wrote:
> tisdagen den 3:e maj 2016 kl. 20:41:56 CEST, Len Ovens <len at ovenwerks.net> 
> skrev:
>> A basic LV2 plugins package with gate/compressor/limiter/EQ/reverb (think 
>> mixer input strip) would be nice. A package that is just intruments too, 
>> though there are fewer to begin with, would be nice.
> what took me time to understand with software-music made in linux is its 
> absolute modularity. yes there are DAW's but in our realm, they are merley 
> one module in the loop. i don't see this lack you describe, but i'm an 
> optimist who thinks a hit can be made with a voice and a handclap. my point 
> is that i believe the question of navigating and finding one's 'at home' in 
> the existing plethora of plugs we distribute, yet again, boils down to 
> documentation.

Probably documentation is the key. It is unfortunate that the best videos 
of using things uses either poorer free plugins or non-free.
> on a side note, i'm not sure it's lv2 but i've used calf 
> conpressor/limiter/eq/reverb extensively in many tracks published on my site. 
> i think calf is remarkably good. this might mean i'm a bad producer, i'd say 
> at best it means i have a bad taste. but do we realy want to discuss taste?

I think you would find Calf's EQ/comnpressor/reverb/etc. is sound wise on 
par with other math only based units. However, a big part of what made 
people love certain input strips (certain consoles) was how the analog 
circuitry was put together. As Ralf mentioned, Fons DSP bits are probably 
the best out there. However, any of his plugins are ladspa and have no 
easy to use gui or they are standalone. The good thing is that other 
people have taken his code and put it into LV2 plugins and added GUIs. 
Fons famous parameteric EQ can be had with a GUI from the X42 set of 
plugins which adds HPF,LPF and high/low shelving as well. Zam plugins has 
one of the best limiters (if you get the git version) as well as 
somethings not available elsewhere. It is true x42 plugins do not come 
with rack mount ears and so may fall out of your screen or over heat 
whatever plugin they are sitting on top of.....

There are very few people who can properly model DSP bits to not only do 
the math right, but also really sound musical. Having been part of some of 
the development work and watching other people struggle to not only get 
things working, but tweak things till it actually works right (whatever 
the math says). [1] The problem with Calf for me has been that the energy 
that was originally put into making them nice to use and look at, seems to 
have melted away when it has come time for bug fixing. There are bug fixes 
that happen, but they are slow coming (some bugs have been there for over 
2 years now).

To set the whole idea of math based and model based DSP in context, take 
Mixbus as an example. Mixbus is proprietary plugins installed into 
Ardour. The common DSP in every strip is carefully modeled after 
Harrison's Analog Consoles. On the other hand they do offer an EQ plugin 
(for yet more money ;) ) that can only be math based as you can draw any 
eq shape you want. What is interesting is the use case suggested. The 
modelled DSP is used for every day mixing in the input/buss/master strip, 
but the math based DSP is used for odd problems where only math based DSP 
can do the job. That is, the modeled DSP is what gives the overall mix the 
"warmth" that people want. This why people buy Mixbus even though they can 
have Ardour for free with free plugins that make the input strip have the 
same functionality.

> however, i welcome any suggestion of extra plugins. 
> Set

I have been thinking about this. There are some new plugin sets out there, 
some of which we have packages for and some we don't. It seems to me that 
the old ladspa plugins just get in the way and are most often available as 
LV2s anyway. So my first thought was why still have them? However, there 
are Applications out there that do not support LV2s. LMMS, Non-mixer, 
other proprietary DAWs. So perhaps what is needed is an applet that 
disables plugins we don't want to see. I don't know if merely setting 
executable off would do the trick or not. In any case this would allow one 
to pick the strong plugins from each plugin bundle. (yes Calf does have 
some strong plugins too, they have the only plugin that plays sound fonts 
for example)

So to my list of projects to work on I will add a plugin manager... unless 
someone can find one already available.

[1] Note: my work is not in DSP what so ever. I have worked only with 
control surfaces and startup scripts. I have been working both on my own 
physical control surface and it's sw as well as both MIDI and OSC control 
code in Ardour (so my surface has something to control).

Len Ovens

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