Using Carla and Ardour

I am a newb to Linux digital recording. I have plenty of experience with Windows and OSX but I’m chasing my tail here. I want to use my Windows VST instruments in Carla. I have a VST added to Carla. (FM8 synthesizer) I can open the GUI and play around with it but cannot get sound. I can record audio input (multi-track vocals) in Ardour and hear it playback and when I look at a track I can see the FM8 plugin there via Carla but have no idea how to get sound from it. Can someone give me a step-by-step guide on adding a track to Ardour, tying a Carla-based VSTi to it, recording it and playing back sound? I’d imagine this is asking a lot but it’s better than not asking at all. Thanks in advance for the help.

There is absolutely nothing to be gained from trying to use Windows plug-ins on linux. Even if they appear to work, the complexities of running software for a completely different OS is inevitably highly dependent on a lot of quirks, and therefore fundamentally less reliable / predictable than most of the native linux plug-ins (which some might say is actually quite an achievement in itself)

The best OS to use for Windows plug-ins is Windows (it comes free with most PCs) and now Ardour runs on Windows too - so if for some reason you must use Ardour, the best place to do so with Windows VSTs would be on Windows.
I’m not trying to be anti-linux or pro-windows, but believe me (as someone who develops professional audio software for - and uses - Linux, Windows and Mac) you will save yourself a lot of pain.

(You will also most likely find that any Windows plugins which rely on copy protection methods - especially hardware - will likely never (legitimately) work successfully and / or reliably on Linux)

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You can try zynadsubfx, its amazing synth!!!
If you want, for instance triggger all 16 midi channels of that synth from
ardours 16 midi tracks, and load for every midi chan. separate programm/bank or fx. inZynaddsubfx!!!
If you like Wendy Carlos work ( listen, dont watch :slight_smile:
zynadd… is your tool man.

see this vid :slight_smile:

Sorry see also bristol,
its amazing, you dont need FM8

Check out Hexter or Dexed if FM -Synthesis is what you need, both can read Yamaha DX7 and similar program banks and sysex data.

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I know this is an old conversation, but I’d like to add the answer here because I was figuring this out today.

  • In Ardour, create a MIDI track, and select -none- for the plugin.
  • Open the Mixer view
  • In your newly created track, in the plugins area (at the top, below where is says Fader), right click > New Plugin > By Category > Plugin > Carla Rack
  • The Carla Rack will now open, where you can load your VST like you would in the stand-alone Carla application.
  • I had to set up the audio routing manually for this plugin. To do that, in the Mixer view, right click the Carla Rack, and select Pin Connections…
  • Click Manual Config in the top left, and add two Audio Out channels. These will appear as green boxes at the bottom of that window.
  • Drag two lines from the “Instance #1” box to the new audio outputs to connect them.
  • To make the Fader work properly, make sure that it sits below the carla-rack plugin in the Mixer view (drag to rearrange).

It should now work :slight_smile:

Good luck!


It’s even simpler now.
open carla (stand alone app)
enable experimental features
enable export to lv2
load plugin
Right click > export as lv2
open ardour and search for the plugin

Make sure you have all the proper carla bridges installed ofc.
Small gotcha : presets aren’t exported to the lv2, at least not the last time I checked.


thanks for that info Rghvdberg,
how well does that work? Is this dependend of which wine version etc i m running or is it all built in carla?

I just tried that a couple of times but got these errors in the Ardour Log…

[WARNING]: Ignoring LV2 plugin “Big Meter” because its buffer-size requirements cannot be satisfied.
[INFO]: Loading bindings from /etc/ardour5/ardour.keys
Loading menus from /etc/ardour5/ardour.menus
[INFO]: Loading 88 MIDI patches from /usr/share/ardour5/patchfiles
[INFO]: Loading history from /home/javier/Ardour/MIDTest/MIDTest.history
[INFO]: MIDTest: no history file “/home/javier/Ardour/MIDTest/MIDTest.history” for this session.
[WARNING]: Ignoring LV2 plugin “Big Meter” because its buffer-size requirements cannot be satisfied.
[INFO]: VST Blacklist:

Which version of Ardour and Carla did you use? I have Carla 2 and Ardour 5.12 on UbuntuStudio 19.04 The plugin I tried to use was JAM Origin MIDI Guitar 2, it works fine in the standalone Carla.

I’m using carla from kxstudio on mint 18 (=16.04)
and the windows plugins loading depends on the wine your using.
But if it works standalone it should export to lv2 without problem.

Oh and 5.12 from

I tried it again after a few hours of usage and it is working fine with the Jam Origin Midi Guitar 2 exported as LV2, this is good stuff.


I tried exporting Sampletank 2.5 as an LV2 plugin but that would crash when trying to play a note via MIDI. It works well when mounted through Carla Rack though.