Home KXStudio > News

KXStudio : News

> Cardinal 23.07 released
On 2023-07-15 by falkTX

Hello yet 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.

There are quite a few nice changes this time, from finally allowing global user settings to improved audio plugin hosting.
Let's go throught the main changes...

Global user settings

As per user request Cardinal now defines a user directory for patches, modules settings and other details.
This came as a necessity for the updated Ildaeil module, which needs to store plugin cache between runs.
With this now in place, many things that Cardinal was missing compared to VCV Rack are now enabled, including:

  • Allow modules to save and load settings in a known location
  • Allow to save, list and load module presets and general files from a known location
  • Menu action "File" -> "Open recent" is now enabled
  • Menu action "File" -> "Overwrite template" is now enabled
  • Menu action "Help" -> "Open user folder" is now enabled
  • Save and load user settings globally

Please note that user settings are saved per-variant, so e.g. CardinalSynth and CardinalFX will have differnet settings.
This is 100% intentional, and found to be generally useful - we want to have different base templates and favorites on Synth vs FX.

Also, something not done on VCV Rack side, a "File" -> "New (factory template)" is now available.
This allows to load the Cardinal's original template instead of the user-saved one.

Ildaeil plugin hosting

The Ildaeil module allows to load audio plugins (such as LV2 and VST3) inside Cardinal.
With this update, Ildaeil will automatically scan and list binary plugins, bringing support for LADSPA, DSSI, VST2, VST3 and CLAP.
When supported by the plugin Ildaeil will also show the list of available presets.


AIDA-X module

This releases introduces a new module, a port of the AIDA-X audio plugin (also available separately as a standalone plugin).
AIDA-X is an Amp Model Player leveraging AI and machine learning, with a target of providing high fidelity simulations of guitar amplifiers.
It is also possible to run entire signal chains consisting of any combination of amp, cab, dist, drive, fuzz, boost and eq.

The module loads AIDA-X files that have been trained to match a desired sound output.
Right-click on the module and select "Load model file..." to load an AIDA-X model file from disk.

A quick model pack can be downloaded from AIDA DSP's Google Drive folder.
Check out the MOD Forum's Neural Modelling section for an online place for discussion, sharing and all things related to Amp Models.


Web browser persistent storage

A nice little addition to the Cardinal's online web version (running at cardinal.kx.studio or easily self-hostable) is browser-side peristent storage.
This means we are able to locally save patches and user settings on the web version of Cardnal, making it a little bit more useful and not purely a test tool.
Previously saved patches can be accessed via "File" -> "Open local patch" menu.

Also on the web version, it will now automatically detect lack of Web-SIMD support and load a non-optimized version of Cardinal.
This allows to load Cardinal on Safari and other WebKit based browsers, or any other that does not support Web-SIMD.
Worth noting that latest WebKit has finally added support for Web-SIMD, so this is more of a temporary measure until the update is rolled out everywhere.

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


  • Add AIDA-X module
  • Add Bogaudio AD to mini variant
  • Add (binary) plugin scanning to Ildaeil plugin hosting (LADSPA, DSSI, VST2, VST3 and CLAP)
  • Add plugin presets to Ildaeil, when exposed on the plugin side
  • Add VST2 plugin folder option to Windows installer
  • Allow custom URL for remote instance connections
  • Allow usage of local user directory and configs, expose related options
  • Fix focus to input text dialogs
  • Fix missing menubar cpu usage
  • Invert scroll X direction
  • Rework file menu
  • Update base VCV Rack to v2.3.0
  • Update Sapphire to v2.2.2 (adds Tube Unit)
  • Update MindMeldModular and SurgeXT, for Rack 2.3 compatibility

Build related changes

  • Bump minimum required macOS version to 10.15
  • Fix build with GCC13
  • Fix missing `make install` of mini variant
  • LTO no longer enabled by default for release builds
  • Only enable remote OSC control in headless builds
  • Remove `NOPLUGINS` build option
  • Remove use of `mingw-std-threads`
  • Several optimizations and build tweaks

Web version related changes

  • Add persistent storage (automatic on save, can be manually triggered via File menu)
  • Add local (browser-side) patch loading via File menu (under "Open local patch")
  • Automatically load no-simd version on browsers that do not support web-simd
  • Disable cursor lock by default


The source code plus Linux, macOS and Windows binaries can be downloaded at https://github.com/DISTRHO/Cardinal/releases/tag/23.07.
Cardinal is released as LV2, VST2, VST3 and CLAP plugin, plus AudioUnit and JACK/Standalone for certain systems.