Adding Plug ins such as VST and LADSPA

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rieger.simon
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Hi, me again. I've got the latest Ardour 2.8 with VST support now. I only have one problem: Where can I add the plug ins? I tried to add a folder usr/lib/vst, that worked so far. But I have no access to this folder, because the rights for the folder belong to root. So how can I get the rights for the folder (Ubuntu 9.04) and where's the rest of the plug ins, such as ladspa? There must be a folder containing it, but I just can't find it. Thx so far!

DrG
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Ladspa plugins should be installed system-wide, probably in /usr/lib/ladspa. You may have to set the LADSPA_PATH environment variable if it isn't already set - but if your distro set your system up properly this shouldn't be necessary and Ardour should find them automatically. You don't need write permission into this directory because you will probably be installing LADSPA packages from your package manager. Even if you build them yourself you should still install them as root.

For VST plug-ins, the usual way is to install them to ~/vst and then set VST_PATH to point to this directory. To install plugins, just use the install program that came with the plugin (if there is one) and make sure you use that directory to install everything into (i.e. don't put anything in 'Program Files'.)

To set environment variables, edit your ~/.bashrc; for example

VST_PATH=~/vst
export VST_PATH

peder
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And to become root in Ubuntu you open a terminal, type 'sudo su -' and enter your password.

rieger.simon
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if I try to set bashrc it says bashrc permission denied. What's wrong?

rieger.simon
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ok. I solved the bashrc problem. I set everything as you said, but no application seems to find the vst plugins. Weird...

peder
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You need to log out and in again for the chages in .bashrc to take effect.

rieger.simon
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I tried it several times. Could you give me a script what I exactly have to type? I tried it with
chmod 007 ~/.bashrc
VST_PATH=/usr/lib/vst
export VST_PATH

nothing happened. sorry, I'm a nubie with the terminal.

peder
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First: chmod should be 644 or at least 600

Second: did you manage to put the vst dll's in /usr/lib/vst? In that case you shouldn't have to do anything since Ardour by default searches /usr/local/lib/vst and /usr/lib/vst.
Otherwise change that to the dir you have them in (like DrG's suggestion '~/vst', meaning you put them in a 'vst' dir in your home directory)

Oh, and if you want a recipe on how to get the info into .bashrc the easiest way is probably to echo it into the file:
echo export VST_PATH=~/vst >> .bashrc
or use your favorite text editor.

rieger.simon
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I tried everything possible. I extracted and installed all of the vst plugins into the /usr/lib/vst. but no application realizes this fact. I don't know what to do.

peder
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What happens if you launch ardour from a terminal (type ardourvst)?
Among the startup info you should see ardour: [INFO]: detecting VST plugins along /usr/local/lib/vst:/usr/lib/vst. If it doesn't you don't have VST compiled in.

Also, what does ls -la /usr/lib/vst say? The dlls have to be directly in that dir, they can't be in any subdir (I think).

*Edit* : Oh, and make sure the dlls are readable by your non-root user: chmod 755 /usr/lib/vst/* (run this as root)

rieger.simon
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OK. Maybe we should talk about this point... ;-) Ardour 2.8 is with VST-Support. Or do I have to build the VST support? In that case: Is there any .deb package out there with built in VST? I can't build the package myself. I just quit windows and I am happy if I can handle the Terminal thing (I was a child last time I used DOS, so I don't really like the text-thing :-)). Ardour is a really great application, and I try to support It, If I can run my studio Linux-based. But for this it has to work perfectly with vst. Why am I telling you this...? I don't know, but it had to be said :-).

rieger.simon
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I've just had a look at qtractor, and it also doesn't find any VST plugin, although they are in their folder, with no subdirectories or such things. I did everything you told me. But no aplication finds the VST's.

and ls -la usr/lib/vst lists all the vst effects I have in this folder. So they are def. in there!

peder
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OK, back to basics: Can you start Ardour by opening a terminal and running ardourvst ?
If it says something like "command not found" you don't have the vst version.
A quick googling hasn't shown any .deb-package of 2.8 and getdeb.net only has for 8.10 and it doesn't mention if it was compiled with vst support.

And don't count on it to run vst's "perfectly" anyways. Some work fine but others don't and probably never will.

I don't think qtractor has vst support by default. It seems to use the Steinberg headers still so it can't be redistributed.

rieger.simon
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OK. It might become a little bit more complicated as I thought. I know that there's a .deb vst package for AV-Linux, but I don't know if i could get it for Ubuntu.

peder
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In theory the AV-package could perhaps work in 9.04.

But if you're really that dependant on perfect vst support I'd really suggest you go back to Windows. The vst support in Ardour is a hack and will be for the forseeable future. From what I understand dssi-vst is a bit better in that regard but adds another level of complexity and it's still not 100% compatible.

Another route would be to see if there are LADSPA/LV2 plugins that can replace your vst's. You haven't specified what vst's are of importance to you. If you do I'd be glad to recommend some native plugins, or you can look here: http://ardour.org/plugins

rieger.simon
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I tried several LADSPA plug ins. They sound horrible. No compressor is comparable to VST, and the EQ's are a joke. OK. It seems I have to wait another year until Ardour is usable for Studios. Sad. But thanks a lot for your help!

DrG
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"I tried several LADSPA plug ins. They sound horrible."

You're not using the right ones. :) I've got close to 100 LADSPA plugins installed. Of those there are about 10 that I use. The rest, as you say, are horrible.

"No compressor is comparable to VST"

You're definitely not using the right ones. Try the Calf compressor.

"and the EQ's are a joke."

I'm with you there. The Multiband EQ from SWH is quite good, and the TAP Multiband/BW EQ is nice, but they're CPU eaters.

You're right in that there is very little available for Linux that compares with the quality you get from VST plugins. But what do you expect for free? If you're careful in your choice and learn their limitations a lot of the LADSPA stuff is perfectly useful. A lot of it is perfectly awful too :)

peder
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I really like SWH Triple parametric with shelves EQ.
As for one sounding "better" than the other, here's one take of it : http://www.rhythminmind.net/presetblog/2009/03/digital-eq-fact-myth/

And the SC-compressors do their job, at least for my requirements which are to attenuate the output if the input reaches a certain level. In my world a compressor is a necessary evil that shouldn't affect the sound in any other way.

I'd really like some more detailed explanation what they lack (apart from an übercool retrolooking GUI) and that the VST's have.
On a side note, the LV2 plugins have fancier GUI's than the LADSPA's.

Now, if you had complaints about reverb or other modulating effects I could possibly understand since they require another set of mathematics to get "right", though as for reverbs you could use jconv and one of the many free impulse responses to get that prestine Lexicom PCM70 sound.

DrG
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"I'd really like some more detailed explanation what they lack (apart from an übercool retrolooking GUI) and that the VST's have."

For me, you can mostly keep the fancy GUI. I actually like the nice big easy to adjust sliders that Ardour gives for LADSPA. So much easier than turning a virtual 'knob'. What I do like about the GUIs however is those that give me a realtime graphical display of what's going on - but with LV2 we get that (Calf Compressor being my favourite example).

As for EQs... most of the ones I have, have fixed frequencies and bandwidths. That's just not useful. I can get the frequency response correct to that degree when I record it. What I want for mixing is very fine control. The SWH one gives me that.. but whenver I run it Ardour 'Loses connection to JACK because it is too slow' even though DSP load never exceeds 20%. That's not good.

There are a whole load of plugins I have that are obviously written straight from DSP cookbook examples... and they sound.. horrible. Then a lot of the others are buggy (the TAP Reverb crashes and silences all outputs if the input to it exceeds some level).. even my favourite Calf Compressor doesn't work properly if I use more than one at once (on different tracks). The supposedly 'LEET' plugins crash my system to the point where I have to physically power it off. This is what I mean.. there's a lot of talent out there but the quality is downright shameful. I feel bad complaining, cos these guys do it for fun and I'm grateful... but when you've become used to the rock-solid, great sounding Waves and TC Native plugins it's frustrating to be forever battling with unstable software. What I want to be doing is making music, what I end up doing is trying to figure out which plugin isn't working properly this time.

I've been using the stuff from LinuxDSP a lot recently. That stuff is *really* good. Sounds great, works great... it's not LADSPA or LV2... coincidence?

peder
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DrG, my question was more directed towards rieger.simon but thanx anyway.

Have you tried the SWH Triple parametric LADSPA? In my experience it shouldn't require that much CPU, using one each (with different settings) on four tracks took me from 4,5 to 7% DSP on a 2.7GHz Pentium4.
Just remember to set the freqs as per the info on http://ardour.org/plugins
And you get precise control of your frequencies...

The TAP ones have their problems but as you perhaps noticed in http://ardour.org/node/1465 compiling with -fno-strict-aliasing seems to fix some of them.

I agree that some are of "questionable" quality but to outright crash your system sounds weird. Are you sure you don't have other problems like bad RAM, flaky capacitors and whatnot?

Obviously what you pay for when you buy a professional VST is quality both sound and stability wise (though I'm not entirely sure about the latter all the time :) but for the price I'd say the LADSPA/LV2 are infinitely good.

DrG
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"but for the price I'd say the LADSPA/LV2 are infinitely good."

Well I can't argue with that, that's provably mathematically correct :)

Thanks for the tip on the triple parametric, I'll try that. The rest of the SWH plugins run fine, it's just the Multiband EQ (so far) that I have trouble with. My system's very stable in every other respect - I do a lot of video and audio work on it - and it's not as if it's a random occurrence, it's completely repeatable every time. Might just be some library problem in my distro I guess. Whatever, I can live without the ones that crash.

Oh, also, thanks for the pointer to jconv. I wasn't aware of that, looks like it might be just what I'm looking for (oh how I miss you, TC Native Reverb... :) )

peder
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"but for the price I'd say the LADSPA/LV2 are infinitely good."
Well I can't argue with that, that's provably mathematically correct :)

OTOH you could also argue that they are totally worthless.
Oh, maths...

GMaq
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reiger.simon,

I'm a little confused, you are using my AV Linux Ardour package and having all of these ridiculous permissions issues with Ubuntu, is AV Linux not working for you? I'd be glad to help if I can. It includes every LADSPA plugin available and a few that aren't readily available, LV2 Plugins, VST support via both FST and DSSI-VST, plus a host of great linuxDSP Plugins ready to insert. No silly permissions and the VST_PATH pre-configured. If there is an issue please let me know, I can't fathom how Ubuntu could be so much trouble?

rieger.simon
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to peder: I just didn't get that far, to complain about reverb and delay, but you're right: They are also not good. I have to support DrG's argument, that the eq's are simply to undefined and rough. No Q-factor and so on. The compressors are pretty hard to configure and then they sound, lets say acceptable. The only one that comes next to vst is C4. LADSPA is a nice tool for homestudios, but I try to take Ardour and Linux further on to professional usage. But for this I need perfect vst support. I also trigger the drums via a VST-Tool that translates audio-signal into a midi signal so that I can use every drum-computer to trigger the signal. But I guess that's also not possible in Ardour. Some of the VST components are pretty expensive, so they should work. I don't use that much hardware effects, so it's really important to me, that VST works. And as long as Ardour doesn't get to that point, I can't move from fucking windows to a Linux distribution, no matter if Ubunt, AV-Linux, Debian, Open Suse or whatever.
Thanks for all your responses.

peder
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the eq's are simply to undefined and rough. No Q-factor and so on

Say what?
OK, so there isn't a knob called Q, but there is a slider called bandwidth which, as every reasonably experienced engineer should recognize, is what Q really is. Try Steve Harris' Triple Parametric or Fons Adriaensen's 4-band parametric and see for yourself. Obviously the graphic EQs don't have a Q/bandwidth setting.

I don't know if there's any audio2midi program for linux. For drums it doesn't sound that complicated but I haven't had the need for it so I haven't looked. Perhaps somebody else can chip in.
ATM Ardour doesn't handle MIDI (it's in the upcoming 3.0 release) so you'd have to use Rosegarden or another sequencing program for that and sync it to Aurdour.

As I said before, if you're looking for perfect VST functionality for all your expensive plugins you really should stay in the Windows world. Even if it's gradually getting better I doubt Linux/Wine will ever run all Windows programs flawlessly (then again say one Linux binary that can be run unmodified on Windows...).
You really should use the tool that suits your needs best.

I have no problem about your complaining about VST imperfections, difficulties for a newbie to set things up perfectly and the quality about certain effects but when you start whining about things you obviously haven't taken two seconds to think about (the Q thing) I get really annoyed.

And FWIW Linux and Ardour are used in professional studios. Maybe not at the ones Metallica, Celine Dion or Garth Brooks choose to record at but OTOH I doubt they're your clientele either.

peder
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And though you haven't given any specifics about which reverb/delays you've tried and why they are no good (first rule of complaining: be specific), you should try Fons' jconv Impulse Response effect.
It's a bit cumbersome to set up ATM (I think he's working on a GUI version) but once you have it up and running you can use response files from any real effects processor or room and lots of them are free.

DrG
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"Some of the VST components are pretty expensive, so they should work"

No, that's not right. They're expensive yes, so they should work, yes - but only on Windows. To claim that they should work on Linux is to demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding. Windows is an operating system, Linux is a different operating system. Taking software written for one operating system and running it on another is something that doesn't usually work. VST plugin-ins are written for Windows and the fact they run under Linux at all is purely down to the skill and hard work of the people at the WiNE project, who do it for free. Nobody at Waves expects their plugins to run under Linux, nobody at Waves will give support if you use their plugins under Linux. As I say, the fact it works at all is down to the efforts of a few guys who do it for free. You cannot now, and probably never, expect Windows software to run perfectly under Linux. If VST plugins are your number one priority then you will have to stick with Windows. Or a Mac, maybe?

If you need your favourite plugins to work under Linux then you should be contacting the companies who write the plugins and asking for native Linux versions. I doubt you'll get much in the way of response, but the more people who ask, the more likely it will happen. It is not the responsibility of the Ardour developers to make VST plugins work - the support is there because, well, because it can be done but the complexities of running mixed operating systems mean it is unlikely ever to work as well as you need it to. I think perhaps you have not understood this.

rieger.simon
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To DrG: Misunderstanding: I didn't mean they should work on linux because they are expensive, I meant that they have to work so I can work with ardour. I know that they don't work perfectly now.

To Peder: I didn't want to start arguing about the quality of LADSPA effects. Some of them are quite good (I had one chorus and the c4 was acceptable). But for a stereo delay that get's sync with the tempo of the song, I should have some more parametres how I want them synced or in which way it should get balanced. Some of the reverbs aren't bad, too. But I don't want a "not bad" effect or a "acceptable" effect in a studio, people pay for. It's my task to use the best, available effect to reach the best quality of sound for my clients. And LADSPA didn't get that far, yet. It's like the first VST's. Not bad, but not comparable with real hardware effects. That's what VST builders reached now. I only want to use them. And that's the only point where Ardour should try to get fit. If VST ever works on ardour so I can work with my plug ins, I will move from windows to a less dangerous system, so I can make live recordings without getting sick of windows-errors and bluescreens. Don't get me wrong! For homerecording and projectstudios LADSPA is a really good alternative, but no plug in reaches trueverb or rverb from waves, or the L2 limiter and comparable. There's a reason why one of those plug ins costs 250 bugs!

peder
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See, now we're getting constructive.

The beauty with opensource is that, in theory, you could take the delay you like the most and add the missing pieces. I understand you might not have those skills (I for sure don't) but instead of paying for the VST you could pay someone to do the coding for you. Or simply ask the developer to add those features, he might very well do it for free (and even thank you for the suggestion in the Changelog!).

Just to make sure there's no misunderstanding here: there's nothing inherently "better" with VST compared to LADSPA or LV2, it's just the skill and know-how of the guy or gal doing the algorithms. And most likely a company with 10-20-100 employees and a R&D budget of a couple of millions is going to a better job than a single guy in his basement with a cup of coffee or two. That said I think some LADSPA/LV2 plugins could rival at least some VST's.
And if you got the source to your favorite VST plugin and wrote a LADSPA/LV2 interface around it it would sound exactly as good.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are (maybe even free) Impulse Responses for Trueverb or Rverb (there sure are for TC, Lexicon, Yamaha and others) you could use with jconv.

With the brickwall limited, crunched sound that everybody seems to strive for today, that's either played to drunks at a bar, through earplugs of varying quality or the PC speaker that came with the computer, I really doubt anyone can hear the difference between your $250 VST plugin and my $0 LADSPA one. I'm quite sure that if you showed your clients a really expensive Windows setup and then secretly mixed their record with Ardour they wouldn't notice anything special. But of course I understand the (not always exactly correct) impression of perception and market hype.

I also bet I could do a better job mixing Death Magnetic with (no cost) Ardour/LADSPA/LV2 than they managed to (not) do in their multi-million dollar Neve/Soundcraft/VST/whatnot-expensive studio.

So, to conclude, please check in on the Linux scene every once in a while, but expect no magic VST solution other than trial-and-error anytime soon.

peder
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On a side note to sound and pricetag I saw an interesting experiment on swedish TV a couple of months ago; a group of ten experienced swedish singers, musicians and music journalists were asked to listen to skilled performers playing a cheap Gibson copy and a real one from the 60's, a Steinway Concerto piano and an iPhone (yes the sampled sound that apparently the iPhone has) and a beginners violin and a Stradovarius.

Of those ten only three were able to pick out all of the expensive one and the piano thing was more or less a given since the iPhone version was played on the iPhone so the performance was far from as good as the Steinway one; I don't think anyone missed on that.

Also, these were solo performances. I imagine the difficulty would have been even greater if it had been in a band/orchestral environment.

DrG
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OK I think we're all on the same wavelength now :) I still think that if you are waiting for VSTs to work perfectly on Linux you will have a very, very long wait. I don't know how much you understand about the complexities involved. I understand a fair bit about it and I am completely amazed that it works at all. But given the rate of change in the Linux world, and the completely closed nature of VST source code I cannot envisage a day when you will be able to take a VST plug-in at random and expect it to work on Linux. It's asking a great deal. And it's not really anything to do with Ardour - Ardour builds in an interface that can be used to run VSTs. The actual work of running them is down to other projects - mainly WiNE.

All that said, I completely understand where you're coming from. I've had some success in using Native Instruments VSTis under Linux (with much lower latency than I ever got under windows). Someone else on here has got the Waves plugins running. But it takes effort, understanding, and patience. And frequently, a lot of swearing :)

I think peder's suggestion is a great one - if pros can engage the LADSPA community more, give them ideas and incentives and tell them what real studio people actually want then they will get exactly what they want. And that will be better than any off-the-shelf VST plug-in.

"There's a reason why one of those plug ins costs 250 bugs!"

Yes there is. It's called "300% mark-up" or "a rip-off" :)