Plugins are very useful resources for the work of any musician, music producer or audio engineer.
They make it possible to emulate sounds from real instruments, process sounds and even create entirely new sounds.
Nowadays you can emulate analog equipment that was previously inaccessible with a high degree of precision, or develop a musical identity for your work.
There are a multitude of plug-in formats and even more equipment and software to apply them to music productions. Most of them are commercial formats, which are expensive and do not allow modifications to your code.
Therefore, an increasing number of artists and producers are turning to open source plugins, looking for cheaper options that offer complete creative freedom.
How about getting to know this alternative better to get that unique sound you are looking for?
The different formats of plugins
There are several plug-in formats available on the market. The best known are VST, VST3, AU, RTAS, AAX, LV2, LADSPA, DSSI, ReWire and UAD.
Of these, only the LV2, DSSI and LADSPA formats are open source. It is them that
we will address in this article.
Acronym for Linux Audio Developers Simple Plugin API, LADSPA is a standard that allows software audio processors and effects to be connected to a wide variety of audio synthesis and recording packages.
It was originally designed for Linux through consensus on the Linux Audio
Developers mailing list, but it also works on a variety of other platforms.
It is used in many free audio software and there is a wide range of LADSPA plugins available.
Its scope is limited, but its code is simple and plugins written with it can be easily inserted into many other programs.
This pattern has changed very little over time, so compatibility issues are rare.
It allows, for example, a developer to create a reverb effect and group it into a library of plugins.
From there, ordinary users can use this same reverb in any LADSPA-compliant
They were designed for Linux, but at least LADSPA has been ported to Windows
and Mac OS, and there are cross-platform hosts such as Audacity that support LADSPA plugins on all 3 platforms.
DSSI (pronounced “dizzy”) is an application programming interface (API) for audio processing plugins, particularly useful for software synthesis plugins with user interfaces.
DSSI is an open and well-documented specification developed for use in Linux audio applications, although portable for other platforms. It can be considered as an LADSPA for instruments or something comparable to the commercial VSTi standard.
LV2 is like a “version 2” LADSPA. It was developed to address the limitations of Ladspa and also replace the DSSI infrastructure, adding features such as MIDI connectivity, custom interfaces and a system that allows the extensibility of the initial standard.
The LV2 has a simple central interface, which is accompanied by extensions that add more advanced functionality. Many types of plug-ins can be built with LV2, including audio effects, synthesizers and control processors for modulation and automation.
The standard includes support for digital and analog (CV) audio synthesis and
processing and offers a free alternative to audio plug-in standards such as Virtual Studio Technology (VST) and Audio Units (AU).
As with other open source plugins, not all digital audio workstations (DAWs) support LV2.
The great advantage of this format is the availability to find thousands of free plugins and, for music geeks, the complete freedom to make changes to the code.
Meet the MOD family, the best platform for open source plugins
MOD Devices chose the LV2 format to work with open source plugins, its innovative
line of digital audio processors.
Even though it is aware that the VST or AU commercial formats are more widely adopted, the company strongly believes in the power of open source and the community that supports it.
On devices such as MOD Duo, it is possible to load any LV2 plugin, in addition to saving each user’s patch creations and uploading them to a cloud, where they will be shared with an ever-growing open source community.
The company intention is that its users can use the products in the way they see fit, hacking and adjusting them as they wish.
You can load your own MAX / MSP effects and LV2 plugins to use directly on any MOD device, as well as save, send and share your patches online for instant access, wherever you are.
With two inputs and two outputs, the device offers quick fine-tuning in real time, while entire strings of effects can be precisely tuned via a USB connection.
The great difference of MOD Duo is to combine these features of emulation by
plugins with the practicality of using a traditional effects pedal.
A growing gallery with over 300 free plugins As part of the MOD Cloud, a huge number of different plugins in the open source LV2 format are available, created not only by the developers themselves, but also by the users of their equipment. In the Gear Gallery of MOD you have access to more than 500 free audio and MIDI plugins, in a collection that keeps growing.
There you will find emulations of all the famous effect pedals, synthesizers,
sequencers and amplifiers that have marked the history of music.
Plus exotic synthesizers, sequencers and custom effects to create original sounds you’ve never heard before.
In addition, there is a wide variety of audio and MIDI utilities that allow you to split, switch, amplify and loop with any audio signal. You can use a variety of MIDI tools to send and receive notes, sequence onboard and external synthesizers, or synchronize all of your devices.
As soon as the MOS Duo is connected USB to a PC, tablet or smartphone, all
effects from the gallery are available. You can use them to create chains of effects on a virtual pedalboard. All in an easy and simple way, through a drag & drop interface that can be accessed in a standard browser.
If you were interested, check out our wiki page with all the steps to create effects and deploy them to your MOD device.