Cannot edit Calf plugins natively on Ardour 8.6

I just updated to Ardour 8.6 and cannot edit Calf plugins on their native GUI anymore. (Clicking them won’t open anything.) Their generic controls and other plugins work natively though.

Linux Mint 21.2

EDIT: just found out about the GTK2 deprecation. I guess I’ll have to stick with Ardour 8.2 for a long time with my current projects…

That’s entirely expected and is due to it using the deprecated GTK2 framework.

See for instance

Calf isn’t recommended anyway, because of its audio issues, so you should look for alternatives such as the x42 or LSP plugins.

Yeah, just found out. But since a lot of my projects have relied on Calf plugins it’ll take a long time for me to take a transition out of them. Then I’ll use Ardour 8.2 in the meantime and check updates later.

Same here. Lx Mint, Cinnamon.


Rolled back to 8.2 and worked again. I use most of Calf plugins.
ToneLib same effect.

Salut Frank

If you have old projects with the plugins you can still edit them by right clicking the plugin in the strip and clicking “edit with generic controls”

I know, but they lack visual feedback and I still need to learn mixing with beginner friendly plugins.

What plugins are you using out of the CALF plugins? The audio quality of those suffers due to decisions made with them, so there may be better options out there for you that people can suggest. For instance obviously the ACE plugins are good simple replacements for several of them, and what I use to teach my students on. Other options likely exist depending on what you are looking for.


Calf plugins I’ve mostly used: EQs, compressor (+multiband and sidechain), limiter, gate, sidechain gate, filter, reverb, vintage delay, pulsator, crusher… I guess it’s clear I won’t make a transition overnight.

At least ACE compressor seemed to be pretty ok replacement but if I remember correctly their EQs didn’t have visual graphs and some of the options. I’ve been slowly trying to learn LSP plugins and I think I can handle some of their stuff already, but especially their EQs work differently I’ve used to and I’m still hoping to use a visually helpful EQ with easy-to-use L/R mid/side options. Overall LSP plugins are promising, but still hard to tame.

So first let me say that is incorrect, there is a GUI so long as you don’t choose not to install it (As it uses non-libre code some people choose not to install the GUI IIRC).

Now all that being said, let me warn you that one of the hardest things, but yet best things, to force yourself to do is to learn to work without the GUI. It forces you to listen and hear the changes you are making. Don’t get me wrong the GUI is a tool, but to often it can easily become a crutch as well, and stop you from growing more as a mixer by depending on it.

Now in as far as alternatives, yes LSP is definitely one set I would look at, though I admit they can be a bit intimidating. Reverbs can include things like the dragonfly reverbs. Delays obviously there is one built in with ACE, but there are other options out there as well. Some of the more odd ones like Pulsator might take some thinking, so I will let others weigh in on it.

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I also thought this. I was used to calf EQ too and find it more intuitive than ACE. LSP is a great alternative that looks intimidating at first. but once you tame it becomes intuitive too, and sometimes they even have more options I think.
I haven’t tried this one and am not sure if it would work properly, but isn`t it possible to use the calf as a standalone thing with the GUI and then send the signal through jack (or carla, or similar) out of ardour, and then back in? It is a big workaround, but if you really want to work with the Calf GUI that might make it possible?

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I guess in theory that’s an option but if I’d had to connect every plugin signal manually one by one and come up with a solution how to keep those signals saved to next sessions without worries about broken connections (or reconnect everything manually in every session again), it’s likely not worth the effort. Best I could do is trying not to add new Calf plugins to my projects anymore but with my ongoing projects I’m still stuck with them for time being – and thus stick with Ardour 8.2 until those projects are finished.

So first let me say that is incorrect, there is a GUI so long as you don’t choose not to install it (As it uses non-libre code some people choose not to install the GUI IIRC).

Good to know, I have to re-check ACEs, my memory is foggy. Although, I want to keep mixing as light-weighted as possible for personal reasons.

This is the approach I chose. I also, used Calf plugins for several projects years ago. But when I started reading about the audio concerns documented in these forums, I decided to switch to LSP for critical plugins wherever possible. I’ve only learned a few so far - Artistic Delay and Graphic Eq - but I found that the YouTube videos are quite good and the support from the author via these forums is excellent.