Cardinal - DPF-based Rack wrapper (VST, LV2, JACK, WASM)

Cardinal is software project that integrates Rack with DPF to provide VST/LV2 plugins and a JACK app. It comes with a set of compiled-in rather than downloaded modules, and the LV2/JACK builds allow use of those systems native software CV ports.

There’s a few rough edges still being worked out, but things are mostly working. Because various Rack assets currently have a Non Commercial licence, no Linux distribution can provide a binary package for it, though that has already been the case for Rack itself. Arch and Arch-derived distro users can check the AUR.

For chat there is an IRC channel on libera that is also accessible via Matrix.


Someone suggested adding a screenshot;


A more standard style screenshot from the latest KXStudio monthly report;


It’s great that this exists and I really like what falktx has done with it. As a VCV Pro user I don’t really have a lot of use for it but it has some great features and I love the MI dark skins!


That screenshot is from a user. I asked falktx for an actually not lossy PNG;


Even sharper now;

Edit; replace upload (that gets compressed) with direct link


thanks for posting about this! it helped during my heavy research with cardinal to determine if its usable in a classroom/teaching context. i can say even the current cardinal beta is really quite stable. and quite affordable considering most of my students have no money ;]

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A few more screenshots;

That last one a few weeks old, is sans NC and ND assets.

Newer is this doc; Cardinal/ at main · DISTRHO/Cardinal · GitHub

Subscribe to Project related news (was: Gathering interested people) · Issue #1 · DISTRHO/Cardinal · GitHub for updates


That’s the first release out now.


Forgot to mention before, Cardinal is now available on MOD Devices hardware.

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Work on redoing the fundamental UIs has finally been done (non NC/ND).

Also an audio to CV pitch module, which is based on GitHub - DISTRHO/PitchTrackingSeries (aubio) has been added;

866 modules total atm.


922 modules total atm

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that’s pretty cool. Does it all run on the main browser thread?

Afaik, Cardinal itself runs in a single thread.

What’s the latency like?

There is no audio (or midi) input (yet), but the responsiveness and load is what you can expect from a browser :stuck_out_tongue:

i have found the cpp code cross compiled like this runs pretty well in the browser. I have worked on commercial products that do this. But never any that require super low latency.

Oh, just tried it today, I really needed modular stuff done inside Maschine and I don’t own VCV Pro.

My experience :

I opened a patch, half of modules missing (a few premiums and @Squinky’s stuff not available). So i opened the library, (very slowly, uhh) and I typed to… wait typing doesn’t work. So I scrolled in a few categories to find replacements, and as I never used all these legacy modules, it made me mad angry, couldn’t recognize stuff, I just wanted to sketch something fast and record it, didn’t find good replacements, then I searched a light mode and changed every bogaudio module to white (apparently they deliberately made everything grey/black cuz they wanted a dark mode in VCV), and was not enjoying anything

So at this point I was literally MELTING, so I rage quit, I went online, and I bought VCV Pro x)

Thanks Cardinal, you made me a happy customer of VCV. My patch worked as intended, and I could make my stuff without trouble

Now, more seriously, I know there is no comparison possible, as it is really barebones (functional, but barebones) and VCV is a finished, commercial product. I think I’ll try when I’m not in a rush to reach some result I have in mind, as I think it could be nice to test modules I can’t have in VCV. But the few things I did inside the VST, well, I could play the keyboard without latency, connect modules, the typing thing is very annoying tho, sometimes it works but rarely. Overall it feels clunky but it’s somehow cool to have an alternative to VCV

Edit : Oh crap, you were talking about the web version, my bad


I just noticed that squinky modules are not available as well. Why is that, I guess it’s a license issue?

I can echo the typing issue, unless you type at grandma speeds letters are missed.

For sure a dark/light mode would be helpful. I like dark modules most of the time but I do find it a bit much with Cardinal somehow. I feel like a lot of UI stuff could be improved, I’m really not a fan of the Fundamental re-skin both in terms of looks and usability (there’s a reason the VCV VCA has the in and out next to each other).

I’m very glad this exists though, I bought Pro without a thought because I really want to support the brand/product but about a month later it stopped working in Bitwig for me. Cardinal works so I am using that but there are many modules I miss. But something is better than nothing and there are a lot of great modules available.