Newbie question about compiling plugins for OSX

Hey all.

I’m wanting to use Ardour for a remix project I have. So far, it seems promising. I have some questions about available plugins. Bear with me as I’m not new to mac, but am a complete newb where Linux/terminal is concerned.

The plugins page lists a bunch of plugin sites. I’ve had a look at a few of the recommended ones but they all seem to need to be compiled. I’m not quite sure what this means. I gather it’s a way of building the plugin into a usable state?

My questions are:

  1. Why can’t these plugins be available already compiled?
  2. Are there compiled versions available? if so, where can I find them?
  3. If compiled versions aren’t available, could someone point me to a good, newb-friendly resource to learn a bit about compiling and how to do it.

Ardour looks very promising, so I’m hoping with a bit of info I can get some decent effects working.

Thanks in advance

@bkpr: On any distribution of Linux worth using Ardour on, almost all of those plugins are available as regular packages, waiting to be installed by that distribution’s package management tool (See the main menu on your desktop and find something like System -> Admin -> Add/Remove Software). On my system (which runs Fedora), the packages all have “ladspa” in the name, and I currently have these installed:


On OS X, Ardour already includes 126 or more of the plugins shown in that list. Compiling others and making them available is mostly a function of time and whatever extent to which the plugin developer created a build system for them that will actually work on OS X.

Hi Paul. Thanks for your quick response.

If Ardour on OSX already includes some plugins, where can I access them? This surprises me a little, since the plugins page of the Ardour site site says "Ardour does not come with any built-in signal processors of its own (other than volume faders) and it also generally doesn’t ship with any plugins. "

So far, I haven’t paid for Ardour as I’m trying to test it. I understand that AU plugins will not work until a donation is made. Is this the same for other plugins?


@bkpr: i would suggest that you read the manual, specifically:

We don't consider the plugins we distribute to be "Ardour's" (they will work in any LADSPA host) and they are certainly not built into Ardour itself.

AU plugins work fine in the free version. The only thing they do not do is save their state - when you load the session next time, the plugins will be back in their default setting again.

As for compiling plugins, Jesse has posted instructions here:

Maybe we should add a OSX plugin compilation guide to the floss manual? I’m not going to do that now as I’ve not actually tried it yet and to be honest I’d rather not have to bother - I’ve never compiled anything under OSX and I’d like to keep it that way for myself and others so I’d like to bump above question - has anyone compiled and packaged up additional LADSPA and LV2 plugins for OSX? I’m after Invada, TAPS and Fons’ plugins such as his graphic EQ LV2 and zita at.

Another thing that seems to be absent from the plugin pages is a list of the plugins included with the OSX package.

Maybe we should add a OSX plugin compilation guide to the floss manual?

I would strongly disagree with this. The FLOSS Manual is great because it covers the basics and is a great place to direct newcomers to. Compiling ANYTHING cross platform on OS X is not for newcomers, especially when most won’t even know what a compiler is.

I have no problem with a separate guide being written about it, but would strongly discourage it being included in the FLOSS manual, or even in the tech ref really.

has anyone compiled and packaged up additional LADSPA and LV2 plugins for OSX?

LADSPA: Compiled yes. Packaged, not so much, at least not at this time. Of course packaging LADSPA plugins is rather simple since it is a matter of dropping the plugin into the appropriate folder (/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/LADSPA)

LV2: There are no hosts that support LV2 on OS X at this time, and even if there were, compiling them for OS X is significantly more difficult than compiling LADSPA. You have to fully port many LV2 plugins due to the external UIs, I believe Robin worked on this some IIRC, not sure how far he got, as getting the DYLD functions of the host working correctly with the linker step of compiling the plugins was apparently giving some problems.

All that being said, I would like to see LV2 supported on OS X at some point in Ardour. It is somewhere on my personal TODO list, but considering my personal TODO list length vs the amount of time I actually have, and how far from the top this is, I encourage someone else to feel free to start that work;) Note that porting at least a basic collection of LV2 plugins is probably going to be a requirement for this on Ardour as well.

Another thing that seems to be absent from the plugin pages is a list of the plugins included with the OSX package.

Rather simple to find out, download the package and look in the resource folder for the plugins:) Really I believe it is just all the plugins that can be downloaded separately from Ardour’s website, so no LV2 plugins if that is what you are wondering. The ones Jesse originally compiled IIRC.


Hi SB!

I definitely see why you wouldn’t want this info in the FM although I still think we need it somewhere a bit more permanent and visible for reference if this isn’t documented properly already elsewhere.

I’m disappointed to hear I can’t use LV2s with UIs under OSX yet- I wasn’t aware of this limitation under OSX until you mentioned it here. I’d like to think that’d make it into 2.8.12 then- Drobilla? Paul?

If you or anyone else has compiled any LADSPA FX for 32bit Leopard x86 or earlier that are not included in the default setup then I’d be very grateful if we could get them shared somehow.


My own personal opinion is that you won’t see it in 2.8.12 no sorry. For one thing what would the benefit be seeing as there aren’t any LV2s compiled for OS X to my knowledge? I do agree eventually I would like to see LV2s on OS X(You know how much I have been wanting to take LinuxDSP’s plugs for a spin? Or IR?) but at this time there is little benefit to putting in that work.


Personally, if I was going to port my plugins to OS X I would probably do them as AU instead of LV2. Ardour supports AU on OS X and this would also have the benefit of making them compatible with other host applications. They are LV2 on linux primarily because that’s the format currently adopted by the most popular host applications on linux. In the same way, if I was to port plugins to windows, I would likely use VST as that’s the most widely supported format on that platform.

sorry didnt mean to suggest that you would port to OS X, was just giving an example of an LV2 plugin suite I wanted to try out.


@seablade: no problem, I was just making a general observation really - there are no plans yet to port any of my plugins to OS X (I doubt very much that it would make commercial sense at the present time). I’m not sure about how the licensing for developing AUs works (or not) with regard to open source, but for a commercial developer it just seems to make more sense to use a format that is supported by most if not all of the major hosts on that OS.

I can certainly see and agree to the logic in that of course;)