VST how to?

Hi all.
Can anybody suggest me good VSTs for Linux? The ones I need the most are orchestras and pianos/organs.
I saw some sites like Garritan and Versilian Studio’s, behind the wonderful (and costy) East West but, is it something that can play in Ardour just been driven by my keyboard through MIDI input? I’ve read somewhere somebody used some VST through Linuxsampler but I don’t know if I have to use it as well, if, in case I have to use it, I need to compile it or I can use it out of the box.
I say this because I’m pretty noobie at this.
Also. I’ve downloaded some VSTs, a sfzXylophone, a Salamander Grand Piano v2, a Harp and a Yamaha acoustic gran piano, and they are .sfz and .sf2 files. I tried to copy the .sf2 files in my /usr/share/sounds folder but it’s not possible.
How can I use them? Do I have to copy them in the sounds folder or I can open them from inside Ardour?
Sorry for the silly questions and thanks for the help,

First, let's try to stick with clear terminology.

VST: Virtual Studio Technology which is a trademarked term owned by Steinberg, used to describe a specific plugin API used on Windows, MacOS (nee OS X) and recently Linux.

I think that you're really asking about plugins not "VSTs", which are a specific subset of all possible plugins. Moreover, I think you are specifically asking about instrument plugins, as opposed to effect plugins.

SF2/SFZ: SoundFont 2 and SFZ, names for file formats used to information/data for synthesizers that play back existing audio files.

SF2 files can be used by a few synthesizer plugins, notably a-fluid (based on FluidSynth, an open source synth engine). They are not plugins themselves - you have to load them into a plugin like a-fluid. At this time, FluidSynth (and likewise a-fluid) cannot load SFZ format files, only SF2. Linuxsampler can load SFZ files, but using Linuxsampler as a plugin can be quite tricky, depending on who built it and what options they decided to use when they did so.

Companies like Garritan, Versilian and East-West generally do not release plugins for Linux in any format. In fact, when they can, they prefer to avoid plugins and convince people to use their own playback engines outside a DAW. But market pressure makes it impossible for them to completely avoid providing their stuff as plugins. You cannot use these plugins (written for Windows (or MacOS)) on Linux without jumping through some hoops. I have written more about that here: http://manual.ardour.org/working-with-plugins/windows-vst-support/

Thanks alot Paul

to use sf2 the easiest is using the a-fluidsynth plugin. Drop that in a midi track and then use the plugin gui to select the .sf2 file you want.

Using the salamander grand or other sfz files you will need linuxsampler. There is a good guide (and many others) for that here: http://libremusicproduction.com/tutorials/linuxsampler-and-ardour-using-them-together

Thank you ssj.
I downloaded the Yamaha piano or Yamaha grand piano in .sf2 and put in my sounds/sf2 folder.
Finally I was able to find it, even though the volume is a little low, so I’ll have to work on the final mixing if I’ll keep this.
I’ll check also the guide above, though I’m a newbie so it’s not easy to understand some process.

Just like me to be months late to the party… :slight_smile:

Anyhow, telover! Apart from a-fluidsynth and linuxsampler, there are other plugins you can use. When we are talking about sf2 files, a-fluidsynth is a good place to start. Another good SF2-based plugin forms part of the Calf plugin suite, and like a-fluidsynth is also based on the Fluidsynth framework. Confusingly this is also called “Fluidsynth”, just as well the Ardour project decided to pre-pend their plugins with “a-”! :slight_smile:

With regards to SFZ files, Linuxsampler was listed as the option, and it remains the most powerful one. It does come with a steep learning-curve, though. If you want something that “just works”, you can try to use Carla. Carla can function as a stand-alone VST/LV2/SF2/SFZ host, and can also function as a plugin for Ardour. Just point Carla to the folder where you have your SFZ files, and each individual SFZ file will be made available as an individual “sub”-plugin. The SFZ engine behind Carla is based on Linuxsampler, so it will at least sound as good as Linuxsampler.

Even so, a one-size-fits-all solution is never really a “one-size-fits-all” solution for absolutely all situations, so it would be a good idea for you to get to grips with all the options available to you.

Just to point out linuxsampler can also play gigasampler files if you can happen to find any. Also, the windows VST Sforzando can be used with carla lv2 as an alternative way to play SFZ. Some SFZ files use extensions that Sforzando supports which linuxsampler does not. I have read that Garritan samples are SFZ and can be played by Sforzando rather than Garritan’s player which probably does not work in linux. However, I do not have direct experience with this.

It is really not that LinuxSampler has a huge learning curve. It is mostly due to lack of good instructions and documentation. I spent days upon days trying to figure it out, and finally did. The biggest differences between versions, which Paul spoke of, is mostly all about the channels. Some dists will have 32 channels immediately upon adding the plugin, and some will have only 2. It is easy to turn off the 32 channel mode. The biggest challenge with learning LS was understanding the relationship between (in my case) LinuxSampler plugin and QSampler. How they interacted. It is actually pretty cool in the end, but basically, once you load the LSPlugin into an Ardour/Mixbus track, you use QS to add the instruments. One added, QS has no more purpose really. You no longer need it, as the plugin itself is what keeps track of the whole score, instruments and master levels and MIDI channels. Not QS. I use it so much, I even converted my entire ancient Ensoniq EPS collection to .gig format, and still use those sounds frequently! Yes, I still have a working Ensoniq EPS with SCSI HDD, and I still love it! It is so freaking heavy however, that I always use the .gigs I made from it instead. It is mostly used as a MIDI controller now days. lol

If you want something that "just works", you can try to use Carla.

Carla does make it very easy to load SFZ files as if they were plugins. Just be aware that one disadvantage of using Carla like this is that behind the scenes it seems to use one instance of LinuxSampler per SFZ file. This is fine if you have a small number of SFZ instruments, but I found that I quickly ran out of memory when trying to load an entire orchestra, as each instance used more than 200mb.

Using the LinuxSampler plugin plus JSampler/QSampler to configure it, you can make a single instance of LinuxSampler play 16 different SFZ instruments, one per midi channel. So if you have 32 SFZ files, you only need two LinuxSampler instances, with an overhead cost of less than half a gigabyte of memory.