Is anyone using Mod Dwarf as a keyboard sound module?

I returned my Dwarf a year ago because it felt short in my estimation as a guitar-centered product (my main use case at the time). It seems like Dwarf improved in that regard since then despite trials and tribulations but at this point, I’m definitely not looking for more guitar gear.

That said, I’m getting a bit more serious about playing keys. I’m spending most of my time playing “in the box” and coming from the guitar world, “arranger keyboards” or “stage pianos” somehow, do not seem very appealing to me (something about a closed-off, proprietary way of doing things). I’d much rather base a rig on a midi keyboard with good action (these days, there are a lot of them out there) and do my sound design in a familiar way that I know and enjoy, so either using my computer, using a multi-fx unit, or using a sound module, and ideally a combination of the latter two.

While it could be successfully argued, that things like Zoia, Beebo from Poly Effects (which I don’t like due to comparatively high latency but people seem to enjoy, including beasts like Josh Smith), and countless other guitar multi-fx units, can compete with Dwarf, other than I think the first two, there are not that many multi FX boxes that have synths in them. On the other hand, sound modules aren’t that popular these days (so far I only managed to find some budget offerings from a company called midiplus) so it kinda looks like Dwarf is uniquely positioned in this regard.

Now, from what I can remember, Dwarf can be a bit rough around the edges when one actually tries to use it, so I’m wondering if anyone is actually utilizing Dwarf as a sound module for playing keys.

I know that effects wouldn’t be an issue, but I’m wondering about the ways to generate sounds:

  • How good and - more importantly - cpu/ram intensive is the sf2/sf3 instrument loader?
  • I remember there was a version of TAL-Noisemaker and Dexed inside the Dwarf, are there any other worthwhile synths available?
  • How about the rest of the sound generators? “Fluid Pianos”, “Fluid Strings” and such. How good/dsp intensive are they?

It’s still early days when it comes to my keyboard shenanigans, and I’m perfectly happy doing things in-the-box for the time being (especially with how good Ableton is) but in a similar way to how I’m using HX Stomp and a modest pedalboard to offload some DSP from my PC, Dwarf might be a cool way of achieving the same thing for other sounds.


Not the keyboard sound module per se, but rather a midi guitar sound module. I’m new to using Dwarf as a sound module, so I’ll listen to this thread for ideas and inspiration.
Having played around with Fluid Synth for one night I didn’t notice any significant CPU load, but I can’t pass my experience as any reliable statistics.


I will add that with usb host and anywhere to anywhere links it’s unique. I’m using it with the and really enjoying it.
I’m using fluid bass, amsynth and jx10 without any significant load, usually it’s the nice reverbs, delays and simulators that burn the CPU.


My favorite synth plugin is the JX10 because it can create vintage ambient sounds that I like while not using much CPU. The DX10 doesn’t use much CPU either. amsynth is more powerful and uses a little more but not so much.

At the moment, these plugins are enough for me to have fun but it’s not my main use. If you are serious about sound synthesis, you may prefer working with a computer as you will find more powerful synths like ZynAddSubFx and especially with a more user friendly GUI (ZynFusion, Helm).

In my opinion, the Dwarf is really cool for a guitar player who wants to use a MIDI keyboard for some drums and synths (super fun with a looper). I think its power is in its versatility. If you want to spend some time creating a few synths presets that you like, use the possibilities of other plugins to enhance your sound and then enjoy the portability of a little box, the Dwarf is a good option. If you want to go deeply into sound synthesis as a daily routine, a computer is more appropriate for the moment.


I use the OBXD a lot. Which sounds great, has a lot of presets (although you have to manual copy them from the desktop version, until someone has a converter for those config files) and is only fun with the custom ui.
I have uploaded my OBXD - Launchpad Pro Seq - MOD Audio

I use this with 4 midi channels of the sequencer with the Launchpad and get great stuff out of it. So should be a good starting point for keys. CPU is at 80% with 128 samples.

You can also check out Taktgeber D+ | Modern Metal Groovebox - MOD Audio
which uses the DIE Fluid Synth with a sf2.


Bonus when using the OBXD: Van Halen tones on OB-Xd (Oberheim OB-X FREE VST) - YouTube


Well, I initially invested in the Dwarf to replace my over sized guitar pedal board, which for a small back bedroom was getting unmanageable. But, to be honest I’ve used it more with my MIDI keyboards than my guitar, and linking it with my desktop synths. I’ve not noticed any latency issues with it.


Another fishman triple play user here, and frustrated by the fixed pitch bend on most of the generators.

From my experimentation The Calf Monosynth has pitch bend range up to 2400ct is that 24 semitones? Dexed up to 12 semitones. Calf Organ also up to 2400ct.

A generator with MPE capability would be a major feather in Mod’s crown.


Hi! I`m also a fan of Obxd, but wondering how you manually copy the presets? If you would care to give an explanation? Do you mean dialing in every value or is there an other way to copy the presets?


You can actually run ZynAddSubFx on MOD units!
Using the tool Zest you can then connect to an OSC address and control your instance remotely!

You can find ZynAddSubFx in the Beta section. It includes a few hundred presets that you can select from the dropdown as well.


jep, that means dialing in every value.
A conversion script should also be easy. It was faster for me to just do it manually as oppose to writing a script that would take me two or three days.


the best would be some integrated view via web-assembly. the lv2 and dpf parts are there to allow this, but the custom gui bits used in zyn-fusion make the build a bit complicated.

we should update zynaddsubfx first though, we have quite an old version in beta


Thanks. But this sounds a bit technical for me. I found the zest github repository and read a couple of readme files but that was like Chinese for me.

When you say “remotely”, do you mean you have to run the synth from a computer ?

I already saw it on the Beta store but I try to avoid beta plugins, especially the ones that modify the signal chain. Some of them are unfinished and with a complicated synth like ZynAddSubFx, you need a good GUI. But as @falkTX says, it seems we’re not there yet for Zyn-Fusion.

But your message made me want to try it anyway. I just saw that the parameters still don’t have proper names. They’re named slot 1, slot 2, etc. But I may find interesting sounds in the presets.

By the way, I would love to see Helm in the store someday. @falkTX, do you know if this synth, and I’m talking especially about its beautiful GUI, could be usable in the Dwarf, or would it be as complicated as Zyn-Fusion ?

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ZynFusion would be easier because it uses DPF :wink:
(difficulty there is that it depends on ruby, I guess)

With ‘remotely’ I meant that the synth runs on the Dwarf, but the UI runs on your desktop. So it’s remote-controlled.

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Thanks for your answer. If I understand well, you have to install the plugin on the Dwarf, then you can connect to it from the computer, allowing you to create presets using Zyn-Fusion and saving them on the Dwarf for a standalone use. Very interesting indeed.

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I still just have the “sardine can” graphics. Cannot seem to find an update the one you are using in the store. Did you port it yourself?

yeah I did a while ago: Datsounds - OB-Xd - #30 by spunktsch

it is only available if you install it manually.

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Would be quite nice to push this into beta for testing, though OBXD recently has seen some attention and I want to update the forked distrho port…
When you posted those modguis the company was in quite the difficult position, so there was little time to properly handle them.

Is it ok for you to push a pull-request of that modgui for review?
The static ttl used by MOD lives in mod-lv2-data/plugins/Obxd.lv2 at master · moddevices/mod-lv2-data · GitHub, so tweaking the manifest to “see also modgui.ttl” would be the way in.
Let me know if you need help on this.


yeah, no Problem. I’ll send you the PR.
What latest features of CSS are not compatible with mod-ui (or browsers in that regard)?
Do you have a guideline on what feature version of CSS I should go with?


I think anything past flex and align-items: justify-center is too much.
So no grid, min-content and other things that are a bit more fresh. If you test those in Safari and other WebKit based browsers, you will notice they do not work there.

modguis are typically not that complex, manually positioning elements with position: absolute is quite ok and has the best chances of being compatible.

In my personal opinion anything that needs to be more fancy than this, with animations, graphs, lots of meters and moving parts etc should not be done in HTML/CSS/JS combo but already in HTML5 canvas or webgl.