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> Carla 2.0 beta6 is here!
On 2018-01-25 by falkTX

Hello again everyone, I am glad to bring you the 6th beta of the upcoming Carla 2.0 release.
It has been over one year since the last Carla release, it was about time. :)
This should be the last beta for the 2.0 series, as next one is planned to be release candidate 1.

There were quite some changes under the hood, mostly in a good way.
The trade-off for users is that this means losing some features, the biggest ones being VST3 and AU plugin support.
The way audio and MIDI devices are handled on Windows and macOS also changed, no longer having dynamic MIDI ports.
See the previous post about Carla to get more details on the "breaking changes".

But let's move on with the good stuff!
Here are some of the highlights for this release:

transport

Transport controls and Ableton Link support (experimental)

Previous releases of Carla had basic time controls already, but it was quite basic and lacked options for JACK transport and BPM control.
Now JACK transport is optional, transport works for non-JACK drivers and BPM can be adjusted manually.
Ableton Link support was added in was well, as another way to sync transport. It was not extensively tested though.
Also note that, due to compiler support, the current Carla macOS builds do not support Link.

Transport can misbehave when rolling back or forwards, so this feature is still classified as experimental.
The plan is to have transport stabilized when the final 2.0 version is released.


settings

Tweak of settings page

Carla's settings dialog received an overhaul.
Everything that was deemed unstable was moved into a new 'experimental' page, and disabled by default.
So in order to use plugin bridges for example, you need to first enable experimental features, then the bridges.
The (experimental) features mentioned on this article all have to be enabled in the same way too.
Last but not least, a page dedicated to Wine settings (wine-prefix, wine startup binary, RT variables) was added.


jack-apps

Load of JACK applications as plugins (Linux only, experimental)

This is a big one... :)
Initially just an idea that became an ugly hack/test for private use only, I soon realized it had great potential.
So I split the code used for plugin bridges and made it more generic so it could be re-used for such features.
And here we have it, JACK applications running as regular plugins inside Carla - including showing/hiding their main interface.
Applications also receive JACK transport as rolling in the host.

In this mode Carla basically becomes a self-contained JACK server, and exposes a special libjack to the client.
The client connects to Carla believing it's actually connecting to "JACK", as Carla implements libjack API through its plugin bridge mechanism.
Within Carla you first define a fixed number of audio and midi ports at the start.
Ports are allocated dynamically on the plugin side, but get mixed down at the end to the number of outputs selected.
This is a nice workaround against clients that dynamically register their ports, sometimes with random names too.
With Carla jack-apps-as-plugins method, the client ports are persistent.

The full libjack API is not implemented though, only the important parts, in order to get most applications running.
The most notable missing calls are related precise timing information and non-callback based processing.
Also no session management is implemented at the moment.
But, even without this, stuff like audacity, lmms, hydrogen, renoise and vlc work.

This is a work in progress, but already working quite well considering how new it is.


export-lv2

Export any loaded plugin or file as a single LV2 plugin (experimental)

Another big feature of this release is the possibility to export any plugin or sound file loaded in Carla as its own self-contained (LV2) plugin.
This can really be any regular plugin, a sound bank (e.g. an SFZ file), a plugin bridge or even JACK application.
The exported plugin will run with the smallest amount of wrapping possible between the host and the carla loaded plugin.
Carla will not appear at all, triggering the "show ui" on the host will show the actual plugin UI.
***Note that the exported plugins are not portable! They require Carla to be always installed on the same location.***

Audio, MIDI, transport information, custom UI are fully working already.
The only missing feature at the moment is LV2 state, which needs to map to DSSI configures, VST chunks and other stuff.
Although working for non-Linux systems, this was not tested.
Testing of this feature in general is very appreciated.


freebsd

FreeBSD and other non-Linux systems

After the removal of the juce library from the code-base (as discussed before), Carla was free to support more than just the big 3 OSes.
With the help of the community, Carla is now available to install on FreeBSD through its ports system.
I was able to build and install it myself as well, and actually make good noise on a BSD system. Neat! :)
It's also now possible to build Carla for GNU/Hurd and HaikuOS as well, and I imagine for even more systems if one so desires.
If this is something you're interested in and need some help, let me know.


Other changes

There are quite a lot of other smaller changes made in Carla since beta5, these include:

  • Added artwork and license to about dialog
  • Added carla-rack no-midi-out mode as plugin
  • Allow drag&drop of plugin binaries into Rack view
  • Add "prevent bad plugin behaviour" option (experimental, Linux only)
  • Auto-detect wine-prefix for plugin bridges
  • Expand usable MIDI keyboard keys a little (Z-M plus Q-P for 2 full octaves and 5 extra keys)
  • Implement parameter text for plugin bridges
  • Implement "Manage UIs" option for macOS and Windows
  • Place more parameters per tab in editor dialog
  • Show active peaks and enable keyboard for carla-rack group in canvas
  • Knobs are now controlled in a linear way
  • Previous experimental plugins removed, and carla-zynaddsubfx no longer exported
  • Rack view can handle integeter knobs properly
  • Save and restore canvas positions (standalone only for now)

Special Notes

  • Carla as plugin and Carla-Control are still not available for Windows, likely won't be done for v2.0.

Downloads

To download Carla binaries or source code, jump on over to the KXStudio downloads section.
If you're using the KXStudio repositories, you can simply install "carla-git" (plus "carla-lv2" and "carla-vst" if you're so inclined).
Bug reports and feature requests are welcome! Jump on over to the Carla's Github project page for those.