GStreamer SoC Midterm Summary

Apologies for not blogging along the way for those who are interested in this project. I'm more into actually doing things rather than blogging about doing things ;)

So, LV2 in Gst, where are we? Well, I've had LV2 plugins working with the same functionality as LADSPA plugins for a while. The main downside was shared by LADSPA: no support for multi-channel streams.

Some background for those unfamiliar with LADSPA or LV2: LADSPA and LV2 plugins are very simple in terms of I/O. A plugin has a collection of "ports" which contain either a single floating point value (control) or an array of floating point values (audio). LV2 extends this to any types but that's not important here. This is simple but causes problems in the face of stereo and other multi-channel streams: if a plugin has 3 audio inputs and 2 audio outputs, for example, what is what? Some kind of 3-channel audio input with stereo output? 5 completely unrelated ports? A stereo input and stereo output with a "sidechain" (common with e.g. compressors)? This information is not available in LADSPA, the best you can do is guess (which is practice means it just doesn't work).

GStreamer works with multi-channel streams as a single interleaved stream, so this is a problem. Thankfully, LV2 makes it trivial to add whatever information you like about plugins without having to touch a line of code since plugins are described in RDF (see the LV2 site for more information). All that needs to be decided is how to actually model that information. A specification for this is called an "ontology" in general/theory, and an "extension" in the LV2 community.

So, the problem is we need(ed) a good multi-channel ontology for LV2 plugins to work well inside Gst, since most things in Gst are at least stereo. The difficult thing with creating ontologies is making sure anything anyone might want to describe in the future is accounted for. Here's my best shot at this so far: LV2 Port Groups, based largely on earlier work by Lars Luthman and some input from the LV2 community. This extension isn't final, but expresses all the information needed by Gst for multi-channel (and more). (I also wrote the documentation generator that created the aforementioned specification page in the hopes that more user friendly documentation will encourage adoption by plugin and host authors).

I've created patches for the popular SWH and Calf plugin packages to add this information. When the extension goes final they will be included in these projects, but in the mean time are included in my git branch of gst-plugins-bad (see

This is, as far as I know, the first time coherent multi-channel information has been available about plugins from the "LAD" community (e.g. LADSPA, DSSI, LV2). Coincidentally, this information is required for recent work on Ardour, among other things. In hindsight, this was a pretty glaring hole in the general state of LAD plugins, but back to GStreamer...

I've rewritten quite a bit of the GstSignalProcessor class (used by the LADSPA and now LV2 wrapper elements) to support multi-channel plugins. In code terms this means creating a set of buffers for non-interleaved data used by the plugin, and interleaving/deinterleaving buffers to/from Gst, respectively.

In summary: many LV2 plugins now exist with useful multi-channel information, and stereo LV2 plugins now work correctly in GStreamer. It should now be simple to add support for other audio plugin interfaces (VST? AudioUnits?) that also works with multi-channel streams.

Next up:

Where to go from there is pretty open-ended. Unlike LADSPA, LV2 can theoretically support any kind of data, or any feature (non-realtime and non-audio things included). Extensions just need to be made to bridge the gap. What sort of functionality would you like to see bridge the GStreamer/LV2 gap?