[linux-audio-dev] Is ladspa actually la-dsp-a? Is JACK the ultimate solution?

Steve Harris S.W.Harris at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Tue Jun 8 04:18:58 EDT 2004

On Tue, Jun 08, 2004 at 11:45:53 +0200, Marek Peteraj wrote:
> VST plugins tend to be rather complex, offering tons of features and
> eyecandish GUIs, while LADSPAs usually offer limited functionality, no
> GUI at all(hosts usually provide simple ones to control the parameters).
> But what's interesting is that each LADSPA plugin usually implements
> exactly one type of DSP technique, for example, an oscillator, or a
> delay. This basically leads to a situation where a certain DSP technique
> is 'isolated' in a separate plugin.

I think thats down to two factors (and its not a good thing)

1) LADSPA developers are few in number and short in time. The basics are a
   good place to start.

2) The lack of a UI standard makes complex plugins a bit pointless.

There are a few counter examples (e.g. my VyNil plugin wraps a lot of
different bits), and infact if you look in many LADSPA plugins you will
see theres really more going on than there appears to be.

[OT] - my canned plugin writing experience - all generalisations and IMHO
       of course

  Time breakdown: 10% writing code, 10% maths and optimising, 80% tweaking
  and tuning.

  Mapping the controls 1:1 with DSP parameters makes plugins crap - people
  say they want that if you ask them, but they dont mean it ;)

  Fewer controls is better.

  Affordance, appearance and usability has as much affect on the perceived
  sound quality as the DSP code (posivly and negativly). Some of this can
  be achieved without a custom UI.

You mentioned JAMin - true that does use LADSPA plugins - but of the total
ammount of code the LADSPA plugins are a tiny fraction. I just reused them
because I hate fixing bugs in two places :)

[OOT] I used to think that a UI spec for LADSPA (to make it competetive
with VST) was a technological problem. I now thinks its a manpower issue
(I think Paul Davis pointed this out a couple of years ago :). Games
develpment has moved to the point where the graphics work is more
expensive than the software development, and I bet its not far off in
plugin / eyecandy app development. We have no, or almost no, graphics
people here.

There are plenty of graphics people working on Free Software projects, but
they all seem to be working on games projects. What a waste. I guess
drawing goblins is more fun than sliders and LEDs. Who knew? ;)

- Steve 

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