DISTRHO - Cardinal

Hi everyone.
I just pushed a little new plugin to beta, named Cardinal and Cardinal FX.

It is not your typical plugin, it requires the use of a desktop application/plugin to actually make it do something.
You can find more information about the project here GitHub - DISTRHO/Cardinal: Virtual modular synthesizer plugin

In short, this is a free and opensource plugin version of VCV Rack, but fully self-contained.
It does not load external modules or connect to the VCV library, the modules you can use are all built-in (around 624 right now).

If you are not aware or never heard of Rack, it is a basically virtual modular synth, following a eurorack-style workflow approach.
The MOD plugin acts as a remote listener (though only the first instance), mostly because I couldn’t make the full GUI work on the browser, not yet anyway. When you run the native/desktop version of Cardinal on your PC you can use the File->Deploy to MOD option (or F7 key) to push the current patch to the MOD unit via USB.
A screenshot is taken from the desktop view and sent over to the MOD side too, so it can be displayed on the modgui, serving as a preview of the patch.

The intention here is to have it alike the MOD, where you build stuff with your PC connected, but can save patches on the unit and then use if offline without the PC connected.
With Cardinal you can use plugin presets to save and later recall your patches. There is a “comment” section as a helper to leave arbitrary notes, and the patch screenshot is also saved in the plugin preset.

It is not the typical workflow, but I am curious to know if it is easy enough to understand.

If you want to try it out, make sure to install 1.11.2 first, as otherwise the plugin will crash when receiving a patch from the desktop side.
Checkout this wiki page for instructions on installing the Cardinal desktop version.

Since Cardinal is a sorta VCV Rack special variant, pretty much what applies to one applies to the other. The way to add modules, connect cables, etc
I will be documenting the Cardinal specific modules in the next few days.

A very cool bonus is that sharing a pedalboard containing Cardinal will, for obvious reason, contain the patch you are using with it. Which makes it quite handy to share and download patches from the community, as it all goes through the pedalboard feed.
As a test you can try to load this pedalboard testing generating sinewave - MOD Audio that outputs a simple sine wave. The 1st parameter of Cardinal controls the frequency of the sine.

Have fun and let me know what you think about the whole thing!
Here are some possible useful links:

PS: The plugin is called “Cardinal Mini” because it is the first variant of 2 pushed to MOD. This one has only 2 IO plus MIDI. Later I will make a bigger version with 8 audio IO plus 10 CV IO, also with MIDI.


Wow, this isn’t your regular plugin!
This is a Universe within a plugin!


Very, very happy about this.

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I’m very curious about this plug-in. But I’m a hardware-based dumb-ass musician not familiar with GitHub. “Download the desktop version” is too brief a description for me to pull off on my own.

I’ve downloaded the desktop version of GitHub. Didn’t create a GitHub account. (Do I need to have one?) Don’t understand what ‘repositories’ are and whether I’m at all on the right track.

If someone has some pointers on this (or a link to a GitHub idiot’s guide) that would be wonderful. If your pointer would be to keep my amateur hands off of this if I cannot pull off the installation by myself, I would appreciate that advice, as well.

Thanks in advance!


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If you do not have a github account, there are no downloads available for you at the moment.
Just wait 2 more days, then I will tag a release and upload binaries ready to use on desktop.

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Even though it is not that complex to build, I dont think most people will be up for that.
The install has instructions to follow, but until the release is tagged there are no builds to use unless with github.

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Thanks for your very quick reaction. I’m happy to wait a couple of days and see what is available then. And thanks to you all for all of this continuous and dedicated work!



Uauu really looks impressive! Probably out of my reach… But I gave it a go just for a simple test with Chowdsp and Rackwindows guitar effects.

Download a nightybuild from GitHub and try it with an old avlinux laptop. The standalone just didn’t start, but with Carla it showed a message about Glibc 2.9… so I tried with a newer Linux pc and it worked nice. I deployed a simple test to Mod and it seems to work…

Next step would be to try to map the ChowDer knobs within the mod… Is this possible? I found some midi cc map engine.

Tomorrow I will play a little more…


some mapping is possible with the host params module.
mapping those parameters to knobs inside cardinal is not possible yet. but sure, you can use midi map to do so via midi cc


Are CV I/O connections also planned for the Cardinal in a future version?

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They are! Of course the mod-ui layout will need some work.

The full plugin has 8 audio i/o and 10 cv i/o, not sure how we best fit that on the limited MOD gui …


This is HUGE! It is giving us endless extra pedals with one plugin. This is not the plugin of the month or year - its the plugin of the century! Thank you for all the work you put into this project.
I just tested Cardinal on my old Linux Mint laptop and it worked fine. Very cool to have an real open source fork of vcv.

Now I am waiting even more for my dwarf… Its a dream within a dream!


It’s not a fork :slight_smile:

Cardinal uses upstream repositories directly, and combines them in a way to have a tightly integrated plugin.


Ok, even better. :slight_smile:

While that was certainly the case at the start, I begin to wonder if we can still call it that way.
There are only a couple of files changed, but there are files changed :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t see installation for MAC on github yet and was wondering if this was normal.


Scroll down to the artifacts here and you will see it :wink:

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great Thanks!

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two questions, i managed to install the mac version but i can only open it via ableton as vst (i don’t see standalone version). From Ableton selecting deploy on MOD fails to make any copy of the rack on MOD (should I be able to see a correct print screen?)