Re: [linux-audio-user] Your synth wishlist?

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Subject: Re: [linux-audio-user] Your synth wishlist?
From: Dave Robillard (
Date: Fri Jul 30 2004 - 21:22:43 EEST

On Fri, 2004-07-30 at 06:12, Steve Harris wrote:
> > FWIW this ladspa only softsynth is something I've been itching to do for ages,
> > I think it's a really good idea. Maybe it would require some specialist LADSPA
> > plugins that would be needed for a softsynth, but I think this is where the
> > functionality belongs, rather than in client code.
> To be brutally honest I'm not sure its needed, AMS, SSM and Galan are all
> good LADSPA hosts in thier own ways. But, hey, I'm not going to
> encourage anyone to not write code. It could be theres some really neat
> things that haven't been thought of yet.

I have a document entitled "do we really need another modular synth?"
waiting to go along with the release for just this. :D In short:

- polyphony this is the big one, it eliminates all but ams

- performance - ams is a _terrible_ CPU hog, especially when it goes
polyphonic. I assume this is because it does everthing at audio-rate.
Whatever the reason, ams is too much of a CPU hog to be useful to me
personally, and the audio code is so intertwined with QT I gave up on
hacking it long ago.

plus, I have had minor talks on the ams list about this stuff, and those
developers are heading in the exact opposite direction of myself - less
generic, special inter-module data paths hidden from the user (which I
think is an awful idea for the record), and a special ams-specific
plugin format with all the bells and whistles.

I wish them nothing but the best, but their goals don't coincide with
what I need. "Scratching an itch" and all that. I need a good
flexible, polyphonic LADSPA-using modular synth, and one doesn't exist.
> > After my recent experiments I'd recommend leaving the GUI out of the picture
> > for as long as possible, and implementing it in a scripting language instead
> > of C++ - I find it a much more productive way of developing, plus your
> > software is availible for people who don't want or can't use GUIs with no
> > extra work.
> +1
> Its a bit of extra work at the start, but I find most complex code gets
> refactored in that direction eventually anyway.

Done and done, thanks to you and liblo.

> Not to detract from the importance of good UIs, especially in something
> like a modular synth, I dont think any of the linux offerings have really
> got close to the standard of things like the nord modular editor
> ( yet - it makes a massive difference
> to the usability.
> One of the key things in the nord software is the consistency and
> compactness of the module UIs though - and thats going to be a lot of work
> to get with arbitrary LADSPA plugins as the modules.

Well.. we need a way to have LADSPA plugin GUIs... DSSI is a LADSPA-like
plugin format with GUIs.... 2 and 2. I never understood why you chose
to make DSSI "soft synth" specific to be honest. Can DSSI not solve
this problem?

I've considered taking a look at those old xml ladspa gui proposals from
Paul, but I assume there's some reason noone supported them.

For the record, the fact that DSSI UIs talk to the _HOST_ via OSC is
very, very cool for me, because that means my synth engine can still run
over the network and not deal with GUI issues, which I don't think VST
can do.

Anyway. on plugin GUIs are alright, but for complicated patches they
simply take up too much room. I admittedly work at a lower level than
your average nord user probably does though. I planned on going the
galan build-your-own-custom-control-panel route - I've never actually
found the "buncha sliders" LADSPA GUI approach to hinder productivity
anyway, sliders work for me. GUI's would be nice though..


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