CLAP - a new plugin format with polyphonic expression in mind

u-he and Bitwig came up with a proposal for a new plugin format: CLAP: The New Audio Plug-in Standard | Bitwig
Sounds promising, particularly the MIDI 2, poly-modulation and per-sample modulation stuff! If the companies who are mentioned in the “interested” list jump on train this could indeed get some traction!
Here a video from u-he, showing some features: Introducing CLAP, the new open standard for audio plug-ins and hosts - YouTube
Will be interesting how much advantages it brings in practice to warrant a new standard besides vst3/au (my guess would be Cubase and Logic might be reluctant to jump on train unless everybody else does)

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yeah, this was announced a long time ago…
almost feels like they decided to try to get some ‘user momentum’ behind it… rather than just developers.

honestly, I think the first step is for Bitwig/U-he to convince JUCE to support it.
it needs to be another ‘check box’ you can tick in JUCE to output a CLAP format plugin for it to really take off - apparently juce are ‘considering it’, so some hope, perhaps.

as you say, whilst its a nice idea… I think Cubase/Apple are not going to play ball…

Cubase, will argue VST3 is open source/gpl… supports per note expression, blah blah
Apple, created AU to control standard, so they just won’t care :wink:

I just think that many/most plugins dont want yet another plugin format to support… VST2/3, AU, AAX.
let’s remember we have had LV2 for years (decades?) which is open source , and look how much support that has had !

also the list of companies ‘evaluating’ means little , as devs we are constantly looking at new apis/tech/engines … (remember ‘SOUL’? which has now quietly been pretty much abandoned)
Im sure they just said to u-he/bitwig ‘sure, we’ll take a look’, consider it for our ‘roadmap’

even u-he, would be amazing brave/foolish… for them to say, we will only support CLAP. my guess is the best hope is, they find a way to show their plugins performing better/more functionality with CLAP, whilst ensuring they are not seen as ‘crippling’ their vst/au implementations.

all that said, u-he and Bitwig are respected, if they can demonstrate benefits, and if JUCE can make it ‘little cost’ to developers, perhaps it might get some traction.

(also call me cynical, but Cubase control VST3, Bitwig control CLAP… is there huge difference?)

There is a JUCE CLAP extension in the making: GitHub - free-audio/clap-juce-extensions
It’s inofficial atm. though.
The plan of u-he is to circumvent the expected Steinberg/Apple resistance by providing wrappers, so CLAP plugins can run as VST3/AU/AUv3/younameit. If this works well it might be an option. And at least Avid seems to be on the list of evaluators. Let’s see…

I dont think its as simple as ‘Bitwig control CLAP’ either, but we’ll have to wait till more details of the governance system emerge before making bold claims about that. eg this which I am quoting from the announcement:

“As we proceed beyond the initial set of extensions, we are committed to establishing a transparent process to govern the standard which allows participation from the entire audio software community. We welcome participation from the development community today, and we will share details of these processes and governing models over the second half of 2022.”

Open source license type is another issue, eg I’m under the impression that existing plugin formats licenses are problematic for game engines, and so they are interested in CLAP. But again the devil is in the detail and Im a bit too rusty to start going on about the intricacies of differences between different types of open source licenses.

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As for SOUL, that was ambitious and probably didnt exactly benefit from what happened to Roli.

I’ll reserve judgement on that side of things until its clearer what Julian Storer does next. It seems like he is half of sound stacks, and they are interested in audio platform technologies and are part of that Soundwide entity that is also the parent of NI, iZotope and Plugin Alliance these days.

As for CLAP, I will evlauate it (initially from a user perspective) and I hope it does well. The per note modulation stuff might help it gain traction, as might the better multi-threading performance. So although the odds are normally stacked against these sorts of initiatives maintaining momentum, I’ll be positive about it for nw rather than skeptical.

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oh, Im positive about it - with tech, we need to constantly be reviewing ‘standards’, and improving / replacing them…but on the flip side, we also need to understand what is needed to get adoption, and also where we are in that process.
clap currently feels like its at ‘technology demo’ phase, hopefully this’ll provoke enough interest from other developers - who can give critical feedback, and push it forward - the more this happens the more ‘buy in’ there will be.

to this end, I just think the current social media buzz is to early… chasing the next, potential, big thing… how long ago were we promised by same voices that midi 2.0 was going to solve our woes? are we there yet? :wink: … again, it’ll get there , but it’ll take time.

so im not skeptical, just realistic about challenges.
in fact, id say hopeful, not only might clap become something… but if it starts to prove successful, it may get cubase reviewing its approach to the VST3 standard.

but for sure, for now…
as a plugin developer, Im already looking at it… looking to see what it provides me over vst3.
as a user, Ive active Bitwig license and u-he so no doubt I’ll try it, and also compare it to vst3 version of u-he plugin in same host (bitwig).


By the way, during discussions about their CLAP beta versions, u-he have said they they are going to support MPE in full as part of their updates this summer.

And here is an example of someone using per-note modulation:

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