DISTRHO - Cardinal Mini

Hi everyone, starting this topic to discuss a plugin I am pushing to beta - Cardinal Mini.
It is very much the same as main Cardinal DISTRHO - Cardinal but with only a few selected modules and integrated/embed GUI directly on the MOD web interface.

Still to be considered beta, specially since it is the 2nd plugin using web-assembly for the GUI that gets pushed to the plugin store (first one being Wolf Shaper).

By only having a few selected modules, in theory things will be more stable as there are only a few modules to pick from and so only a few that need to work well.

There are quite a few VCV Rack and Cardinal tutorials out there to explain how this works, but in short:

  • use “Host Audio”, “Host MIDI” and “Host CV” to get data from the host (in our case, the side cables on the pedalboard)
  • right-click opens the module selector
  • middle click on the background rack moves it around
  • click and drag a jack IO inside Cardinal to create connections
  • you can fullscreen the Cardinal modgui using “View → Fullscreen” menu action, or F11 if Cardinal is in focus (only works in some browsers)
  • not possible to copy&pate or download patches from this plugin version yet

I have added 2 example synth patches accessible through “File → Open Demo / …” menu action.

General testing and feedback is very much welcome!
I hope to get this one to stable at some point, so knowing how bad/good it works for you is essential, thanks!

PS: the very same plugin is possible to run online at https://minicardinal.kx.studio/ if you want to experiment and play around with it without a MOD unit.


An example pedalboard to try Moogy - MOD Audio

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Should this use the included Moogy patch? because here it just opens the default patch inside Cardinal Mini.

It should yes… so something is not right.
I think the patch is being loaded properly (as the CPU load is higher than the default patch), it is just the GUI not being updated.

I hear the default patch, not your Moogy patch. When I switch to that it sounds … moogy :slight_smile:

Updated the patch, now works!

There seems to be an issue encoding the json file given to the host when a text editor module is inside the Cardinal patch. The newlines trigger some json decode error, will investigate more later.
For now we can just avoid having notes/text inside Cardinal :person_shrugging:


Thank you FalkTX! One of my fav plugins just got better! Just the simple fact of being able to play Plaits with MPE using my Linnstrument thorugh my MDX or Dwarf
almost itself justifies the price of the whole pedal. And that`s not even scratching the surface of what is possible!!!


Does it require updating to 1.13 for this to work?

My DuoX is still on the latest release of 1.12 and Cardinal Mini GUI is showing only a text “Bulk Memory Operations unsupported” on a black background.


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No :slight_smile:
On 1.13 the GUI will load faster, and be cleaned up after removal properly, but it still mostly works on 1.12

The “Bulk Memory Operations unsupported” error means your browser only partially supports web assembly, it is unlikely for the GUI to work correctly so it errors out instead of showing broken graphics.

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Huh, I thought that the wasm stuff only worked on 1.13?

I considered restricting it, but since it is a beta that needs general feedback more than anything, best to try and have it available for the most people possible.
The performance difference between building with the older vs newer toolchain was not that much different that makes >=1.13 restriction worthwhile.

I think by the time this mini variant is considered stable and tested, we will have 1.13.1 or even 1.13.2 and most people will have updated by then.


Forgot to say, I have https://minicardinal.kx.studio/ setup with the same exact codebase as the one running in MOD, but audio and MIDI happens through the browser.
Both Firefox and Chrome (plus Edge and others based on it) now support WebMIDI, use “Engine” → “Enable MIDI” to activate. If you plug new devices just trigger the same menu again.

You can use it to play around with synth making, it is more approachable vs the full Cardinal as only a tiny set of modules are included.


Hey this is quite cool, thanks!

Sometimes the scaling is a bit weird, the gui is kinda locked in a weird zoom setting. For the rest its definately an improvement being able to patch in the mod gui.

I couldnt really do what I want with module selection. I miss a more simple AD envelope and I didnt really like the filters. So I’ll stick to the other cardinal versions for now.

How does this compare to the other cardinal versions? Does it use less or more cpu?

cpu consumption should be about the same it not equal.

I am open for suggestions on modules to add on this mini variant.
they just need to be polyphonic and not have advanced controls (hard to explain, but a randomizer button for example)

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ok good to know!

I mean I made this particular patch, that I love to run guitars and loops through:

It’s inspired by the Idea of plugging things into the filter input of your analog synth. I didn’t really get the euclidean sequencer to work on my mod dwarf though. Is there a reason why this one wouldnt work on mod?

I tried to rebuild this with your selection of filters, but I didnt really like how they responded to modulation, and one of the filters only goes till 8k which is not enough for this use case.

Also I miss AD envelopes, much nicer if you’re shaping percussions/percussive sounds or working with simple sequencers that will spit out simple gate triggers, with no held notes anyways.

From a strategic point of view I would include the mutable instruments modules, these are all time classics that are well known and loved. This could help draw more synth/modular enthousiasts to mod.
Overall this is a super great project with lots of potential!


Thank you so much for your work on this so far. I’ve used it live a few times and it’s been fantastic.

As a data point, I was looking for simple effects like distortion and reverb in the mini variant. However I haven’t yet checked if any of these are available in the large version.

Wow, this is surprising to me as a user. I assumed the increased number of modules and IO would affect CPU usage. I didn’t notice anything in the info saying otherwise.

I will probably upgrade to the large version at the next opportunity :raised_hands:

It all depends which, and how many, modules you load. The larger version has a lot more modules that can be quite heavy or unpredictable. Or they rely on features that do not make much sense on MOD (like loading external files, which is not possible because there are no file dialogs). The mini variant is mainly meant to give a more concise set of modules that “cover all the basics” and are polyphonic so that there are less surprises or inconsistencies.

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That’s awesome so I can just make patches in my browser, save them and open them in Cardinal Mini on the mod?

eventually, yes. for now there is no way to copy&paste into the MOD plugin, or import a file. but something I hope to figure out soon.