My plugin has so many output ports – which ones do I use?

My plugin has so many output ports – which ones do I use?

Input and output ports in Gig Performer blocks

If you’re already a Gig Performer user, you know that you can easily route audio and MIDI between AU (Mac only), VST3 and VST plugins by just connecting them visually. However, you may have wondered why some plugin blocks display so many ports.

Although most plugins have just a couple of input ports on the top and output ports at the bottom (orange ports are for MIDI, blue are for audio):

Gig Performer blocks, orange ports are for MIDI, blue are for audio. VST plugins  Gig Performer blocks, blue ports are for audio. VST plugins

others can have many more ports.

Blue3 has four output ports

Blue 3 plugin in Gig Performer, 4 output audio ports

The VST version of Kontakt 5 came in several configurations. You could have 8 audio outputs

The VST plugin version of Kontakt 5 in Gig Performer, 8 audio outputs

or 16 audio outputs

The VST plugin version of Kontakt 5 in Gig Performer, 16 audio outputs

Kontakt 6 is out of control – I’m not even going to count them!

The VST plugin version of Kontakt 6 in Gig Performer, 64 audio outputs

Gig Performer 3 does let you set a maximum number of pins as a global option…

Gig Performer Options, Set a maximum number of pins as a global option

…and Gig Performer 4 also allows you to control the maximum number of pins on each plugin individually

Maximum audio channels for a plugin block in Gig Performer

However, what are all these ports for? Do you really need them all?

The answer of course is, it depends.

Let’s take a look at some of these ports and see what they’re for. If you’re lucky, the plugin developer will have properly named the port inputs and outputs in which case just moving your mouse over a port will tell you what it does.

Here’s the wonderful Hammond Organ emulator, Blue3 from GG Audio

VST Plugin, Hammond Organ emulator, Blue3 from GG Audio, in Gig Performer

As you can see, the first two outputs are a regular stereo pair. The second two, which say, “Direct” are audio ports that do not include the Leslie effect. So if you wanted to use a different Leslie effect plugin, you might use the second pair of output ports rather than the first pair.

Here is the amazing physically modeled piano, Pianoteq from Modartt

VST plugin Pianoteq from Modartt, physically modeled piano, in Gig Performer

This plugin has five outputs. The first two are the expected stereo pair. The last three, called Aux1, Aux2 and Aux3 respectively. Pianoteq lets you virtually position up to five microphones at different locations of the piano (see image below) and you can then mix the audio from each microphone and send to up to 5 output channels which represent those two stereo channels plus the three aux channels.

Pianoteq plugin, virtually position up to five microphones at different locations of the piano, mix the audio from each microphone and send to up to 5 output channels (2 stereo + 3 aux channels)

Here’s an instance of Kontakt 5 from Native Instruments

Native Instruments Kontakt 5 VST plugin in Gig Performer, audio plugin host

The first two ports are the usual normal stereo pair. However, Kontakt is multi-timbral, meaning it can load multiple “instruments” and if you wish, you can have each instrument come through a different set of ports. Below is an example where I have loaded three instruments, Bassoon, Flute and Bass (go write a song for that collection of instruments!) and as you can see at the bottom, those instruments show up as stereo pairs using the first 6 output ports of the plugin,   1|2 (Bassoon), 3|4 (Flute) and 5|6 (Bass)

Kontakt 5 plugin, 3 virtual instruments loaded (Bassoon, Flute and Bass)

Happy routing!


Related topics:
Blue and orange colored connections and pins

Scaling Curves

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.