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> Cardinal 23.02 released
On 2023-02-28 by falkTX

Hello again everyone, it is time for another Cardinal release.
Cardinal is a free and open-source virtual modular synthesizer plugin.
It is based on the popular VCV Rack but with a focus on being a fully self-contained plugin version.

The main change for this release is the introduction of a "Mini" variant.
This is a special variant with a very small, hand-picked module selection and limited IO (2 audio ports plus 5 CV).
There are 2 main reasons for this variant to exist:

  • make it easier for users new to the modular world to get a working setup, by only having some of the best possible modules available to choose from
  • hand-pick modules that are simple enough to work reliably in a remote setup

For now the list of selected modules is quite small, intentionally. We will add a few more as the need appears.
All included modules support polyphony, reducing confusion for new users not yet used to mono vs poly approach in Rack/Cardinal.

The 2nd reason (only having simple modules) is needed in order to support DSP/UI separation.
Having this in place means we can run the DSP on a different machine than the UI.
This is particularly interesting for running Cardinal on embed systems, being controlled remotely via web browser or native desktop application.
Already doable with LV2 from 23.02 onwards, used for MOD Audio builds (as seen in the screenshot).
Later on this will be made possible on standalone too.


There are a few module updates too, and some important bug fixes too, see the changelog below.


  • Add Mini variant (very few hand-picked modules, with separate DSP/UI under LV2)
  • Add wasm-noopt build, needed for some web browsers
  • Add CardinalMIDI variant for AU (same as CardinalFX but has different tag)
  • Allow to build without SSE optimizations (using `NOSIMD=true`)
  • Check /usr and /usr/local directories for existing Carla tools on macOS
  • Do not reset Host MIDI pitch when receiving an all-notes-off event
  • Fix display of Host CV in non-main variants
  • Fix LV2 not reacting to buffer-size changes
  • Fix VST3 "SDK" versioning to be more officially compatible
  • Remove the `NOPLUGINS` build option
  • Several performance optimizations

Module changes

  • Update Grande Modular to 2.7.2
  • Update Surge XT to 2.1.3


The source code plus Linux, macOS and Windows binaries can be downloaded at https://github.com/DISTRHO/Cardinal/releases/tag/23.02.
Cardinal is released as LV2, VST2, VST3 and CLAP plugin, plus AudioUnit and JACK/Standalone for certain systems.