How to offload the processing of audio plugins to remote computers using AudioGridder

How to offload the processing of audio plugins to remote computers using AudioGridder

In this article you will learn how to offload audio plugin processing to remote computers on your network using AudioGridder.

What is AudioGridder and how does it work

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AudioGridder
is a free (donations are accepted) network bridge application for audio and MIDI, that allows you to offload the DSP processing of VST, VST3 and AudioUnit (Mac only) audio plugins to computers on a network running macOS or Windows.

AudioGridder consists of:

a) The AudioGridder server component, that hosts effect and instrument plugins and makes them available across the network,

b) The AudioGridder plugin, a client component that accesses audio plugins that are hosted on the AudioGridder server. MIDI and audio data from Gig Performer will be streamed over the network, processed on the server and streamed back to the client.

AudioGridder and Gig Performer, audio plugin host (AU, VST3 and VST host) for live performance

The AudioGridder server is capturing the user interface of its hosted plugins (or just plugin parameters, available via their host automation functionality) and streaming it to the client. Mouse and keyboard events are also synchronized between client and server so all changes to the plugin parameters are reflected both on the server and on a client.

To learn more, the AudioGridder website provides useful documentation about How does it work, the Server and the Plugin.

The benefit of this concept is that the DSP code of the loaded remote plugins is executed on another computer in the network, taking advantage of its processing power.

Alternatively, you can use AudioGridder locally (i.e. on the same computer), where you can take advantage of your CPU cores, as AudioGridder servers run on separate CPU cores.

How to install AudioGridder and prepare computers for seamless communication

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Since Gig Performer is a cross-platform audio plugin host for live performance, we decided to build a testing environment that consists of a Mac computer running macOS Monterey and a Windows 11 PC, with both computers on the same local network.

Both the “Server installer” and “Plugin installer” are installed on both machines after downloading them via the AudioGridder’s Download page (the latest beta: 1.2.0-beta12), so the following scenarios can be tested:

– Mac is the server and PC is the client,
– PC is the server and Mac is the client,
– PC is both server and a client,
– Mac is both server and a client.

Install the desired setup file using the standard installation procedures:

AudioGridder installer, MIT License

After you install the AudioGridder server on a Mac, you need to enable permissions for both Screen Recording and Accessibility (AudioGridder needs the Accessibility permission to remote control plugins):

AudioGridder Screen capture and Accessibility permissions on Mac

Open System Preferences -> Security & Privacy and on the Privacy tab check AudioGridderServer as on the screenshots above.

On the Windows 11 computer, you need to allow the AudioGridderServer application through the Windows Firewall, otherwise another computer cannot establish the communication with the server:

Allow AudioGridder through the Windows Firewall

Open the Windows Firewall, click on the Allow another app… button and locate the AudioGridderServer executable in Program Files, as shown on the screenshot above.

Important note: make sure that your computers are connected using wired ethernet cables. Although Wi-Fi connection is also possible, in our tests wireless turned to be too slow for this kind of application. You’ll get far too much latency, along with CPU spikes and dropouts etc.

How to configure the AudioGridder server

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When you install the AudioGridder server and run it, it will first scan your plugins in the default VST folders:

AudioGridder Plugin Scanning process

The AudioGridder’s Available Plugins window is very similar to Gig Performer’s Plugin Manager:

Available Plugins hosted in the AudioGridder server

In this window you can Activate or Deactivate plugins that you want the server to host or not host respectively using the right mouse click. If you don’t see the desired plugins in this list, click the AudioGridder server icon in the notification area and then click Settings:

How to configure AudioGridder Server Settings

Give your server a meaningful name (e.g. I named it AudioGridderServer on the PC and AudioGridderMacOS on the Mac) and add VST3 and VST2 custom folders.

If you want to run multiple servers on a single computer, you will have to assign a different server ID to each instance. Leave the value at 0 if you run only one server. Click on the Save button to save your configuration.

How to use the AudioGridder plugin in Gig Performer

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Insert the AudioGridder plugin into the Wiring view, as you would any other plugin. In the plugin editor, click on the server button:

AudioGridder plugin in Gig Performer - select Server - Windows and macOS

If everything is configured properly using the guidelines in this article, the AudioGridder plugin will automatically search and discover all available servers in your local network. To connect to a server, simply click on the desired server and then click on the Connect menu item.

Afterward, you can select the desired Buffer Size:

Choose the Buffer Size in the AudioGridder plugin in Gig Performer

The actual values in this list depend on the buffer size setting in Gig Performer’s Audio Options. Of course, higher buffer size means more latency, as indicated in the screenshot above.

Finally, click on the plus symbol (indicated with the red rectangle) to add the desired plugin that is available on the AudioGridder server. You can type in text to filter the results, e.g. “spring”; double click on “Stereo” and you’ll see that the bundled DevilSpring plugin is loaded and that its plugin interface is streamed from the server:

AudioGridder plugin in Gig Performer, loaded remote plugin on the server

If you create a simple plugin chain in Gig Performer and wire the AudioGridder plugin, you’ll notice that the reverb is applied to your sound:

AudioGridder plugin in a simple plugin chain in Gig Performer

Alternatively, if you don’t need to stream the plugin’s editor (the whole GUI), you can just retrieve the plugin’s parameters (which will result in the better performance):

Generic Editor in the AudioGridder plugin in Gig Performer

Click on the Settings icon (indicated with the red rectangle) and then select Generic Editor. Afterward, move the sliders to modify the parameter values.

To share your feedback and to see more tips about AudioGridder, please visit this Community thread.

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Share this article it to support Gig Performer and spread the word! 🙂

Own The Stage® with Gig Performer®

Nemanja Pudar



Scaling curves allow you to control the shape of the output of a widget or convert an incoming note velocity to a new velocity. Various predefined curves are available and they can be tweaked as necessary. You can also just draw your own curve as well to achieve the effect you require.

 

MIDI File Player Plugin


You can load up to 128 MIDI song files in a single plugin instance. Switch from one song to another, mute tracks and/or change their channel numbers. Tempo can be controlled by individual songs or you can use the global tempo and tap tempo to control the BPM interactively.

 

Favorites and Presets


Create a sound by placing and interconnecting your desired plugins, such as a synth, some effects and perhaps a mixer. Select them all and then save the selection as a named favorite. The favorite will subsequently show up in all plugin insert menus, making it easy for you to recreate that configuration whenever you need it again. This feature is also very powerful for creating your needed sounds on your studio computer and then transferring them to your touring laptop.

 

Probabilistic Sound Designer


Parameters you select in an open plugin are captured into the Probabilistic Sound Designer dialog window. When you click Randomize, you're only adjusting those selected parameters. Each entry in the PSD dialog has a curve but unlike widgets where the curve controls scaling, in the PSD the curves are used to define the probability of particular values being selected. Make sure the filter cutoff never gets too slow so as to block all sound. Perhaps adjust the max range of the VCA attack parameter so that the sound doesn't have too much delay. Constrain the octave ranges of the oscillators, perhaps ensuring that 1/3rd of the time we select 8' and 2/3rds of the time we select 4'. The possibilities are endless.

 

More Widgets


Numerous new widgets are included in Gig Performer - a new sustain pedal, plastic knobs, drum pads and more colored sliders. Shapes can be colored with different borders and fill colors and morphed from rectangular to circular. Your creativity is now the limit to creating fabulous front panels in Gig Performer.

 

MIDI Message Helper


Select MIDI devices by name. Choose the MIDI message type and adjust the appropriate parameters for the specific type

 

  

Layout management


Gig Performer supports arbitrary resizing. Layout your widgets the way you want - resize the main window and the widgets will grow or shrink as necessary to maintain the same interrelationships. No matter what size screen you have, your front panels will still be neat and usable.

 

Undo Support


If you move your widgets around and/or resize them, or even delete them by mistake, the Undo facility will correct your mistake. Minor moves to a widget by mistake will no longer spoil your design

 

Plugin Channel Count


Some plugins support a large number of outputs and they depend on the traditional channel strip to control how many ports should be available.   When you only need a stereo pair, it is convenient not to have a large horizontal block. In Gig Performer, the number of available ports  is controlled by the channel count override, which can be applied to individual plugins and will be remembered when the gigfile is reloaded or if the plugin is saved as a favorite.

 

Input muting and output fading


Rather than a single audio length tail, Gig Performer 4 gives you the ability to control input muting and output fading separately. Input muting controls how much time it takes for audio input to be silenced when you leave the rackspace. Output fading controls how much time will be taken for audio to fade out when you leave the rackspace.

 

Faster Plugin Finder


Instead of searching through menus of perhaps hundreds of plugins (you know who you are!), the Quick Plugin Finder makes it easy to find the plugin you need by simply typing partial strings. For example, as shown here, to find the Modartt Pianoteq 7 plugins, it's enough to type pia mod 7 (in any order, by the way)  to restrict the list of available plugins to those matching your query. The Quick Plugin Finder also knows about manufacturers, presets and favorites.

 

  

Touch Friendly Input


Any entry field can be changed by either dragging your mouse (or finger) up or down, or by using the large popup touchpad where you can just tap on the squares to enter a value. The large popup keypad also does validation so you can't enter an invalid value. You can also just tap the BPM field to pop up a larger view where you can quickly change tempo, tranpose, trigger Tap Tempo and enable Ableton Link, the last allowing you to synchronize Gig Performer with any other application that also supports Ableton Link.

 

New Tuner Display


The tuner view makes it easy for guitarists to quickly check and adjust their tuning. You can toggle into the tuner view from any other view and toggle right back as soon as you're done. All output will be silenced automatically while you're in tuning mode. You can adjust the concert reference pitch from its default of 440 Hz to suit your own needs. The tuner view fills the entire screen so you can easily see it from a distance.

 

GP Script Enhancements


GP Script adds new language improvements such as multiple initialization sections, initialization with declarations and enhanced callbacks. The WidgetValueChanged callback now supports multiple widgets. Sysex messages are now built-in with numerous supporting functions. String array handling is much faster. Integer bit manipulation is now built-in. A new global GigScript allows incoming MIDI messages to be modified and redirected on the fly. It also allows you to define keyboard macros for your computer keyboard to control Gig Performer itself. For complete information, please review the GP Script Language Manual available through the Help menu.

 

Scriptlets


Scriptlets make creating custom MIDI processors easy. You don't have to be a programmer to use them - you can just download scriptlets from our ever-growing collection on our website and drop them right into your rackspaces to use them. Use scriptlets for simple operations such as turning your single notes into chords, modifying, duplicating or converting one kind of message into another, automatic chord latching (AutoSustain), threshold detection, sysex manipulation... imagination is the limit.

 

Other Improvements


  • System Actions plugin
  • MIDI Out to OSC converter
  • Comment plugin
  • New GUI dialog to define MIDI events to send on song part change
  • MIDI Out blocks can automatically send multiple MIDI events
  • Open/close a plugin editor from a widget
  • Choose default startup view
  • Quick find for plugin parameters
  • Large collection of startup hints
  • OSC Patchbay mode
  • Plugins now default to stereo I/O
  • Dragging presets into the wiring view will automatically create the required plugin
  • Numerous other minor (but nice) usability and workflow enhancements

Numerous other enhancements and optimizations serve to make Gig Performer 4 a superb platform for performing artists.

 

Songs and Setlists


You can organize your rackspaces into songs and your songs into setlists and then just select the setlist you need for a show. Then simply cycle down through the parts, or use your control surface or a MIDI Guitar pedal controller to select individual parts directly.

 

Predictive Loading


Predictive Loading™ is an advanced feature that reduces your RAM and CPU resources by only loading rackspaces (or songs) as needed.

 

 

The Global Rackspace


The Global Rackspace can receive audio from whatever rackspace is currently active. Instead of inserting effects in every rackspace, simply insert them once in the Global Rackspace and all your local rackspaces will have access to them. The Global Rackspace can also send audio to the currently active rackspace. So you can insert a looper that receives audio directly from your guitar (say) and then send the looped audio to different effects in different rackspaces. If a particular instrument such as a piano or organ is needed everywhere (or almost everywhere), put it in the Global Rackspace.

 

   

Zoomable Wiring View


Gig Performer 4 provides a virtual view allowing you to spread out your blocks and connections to make them easier to see and manage, even if you have a very small screen. You can zoom in or out and you can use the Auto-Fit option to position your blocks to fit in the available space.

 

 

What's new in Gig Performer 4.5


  1. Record what you play, complete with all effects - multiple channels of mono or stereo wave files
  2. The Follow Hardware feature lets widgets update automatically to match your controller values when you switch rackspaces
  3. Plugin blocks can now be easily dragged to insert them between other plugin blocks
  4. Widgets can be hidden when not in edit mode.
  5. Widgets support various CC relative modes
  6. The MIDI Thru option lets widgets respond to messages while allowing them to pass through to plugin blocks
  7. The Global MIDI Monitor now displays outgoing MIDI messages
  8. Audio options can now be exported and reimported to make it easier to support multiple audio configurations
  9. OSC now supports named targets
  10. Song Part OC assignments can now be globally changed and applied
  11. GP Script has a new Timeline callback, a MIDI connect/disconnect callback and many new system functions
  12. New parameters in the System Actions plugin now provides even more global control of Gig Performer

Click here to see the complete list of release notes for Gig Performer 4.5