Cantabile as plugin (again :))


A broader market is an understatement. It’s a huge market. it’s a cross platform market.
And it’s a market which introduces those who may never have conceptualized the creative impetus, stimulus and inspiration that results from gaining fast access to plugins in configurations that, in most DAW situations, are just a PITA to create.
This is the first thing one notices when Cantabile enters your world… how FAST you can get playing these marvelous configurations.

Not only does the Cantabile plugin serve the interests of existing Cantabile users, it also brings non users into the sphere of ALL versions of Cantabile.

Those who claim they can do this via MIDI and SPDIF are not being complete in their overview. I do that now, and it is a FAR cry from what a plugin would achieve.,
For one thing, you can run multiple instances of a plugin.
For another, you can run on one machine.
For another you can render or freeze the output easily.
For another, the entire project is recalled in one go.
For another you can have multiple outputs without the need for expensive interfaces with ADAT ports.

I could expand on the huge difference between hardwiring an external computer and a host, but the above suffices for my point.

We have already discussed the benefits for existing users who have put time and effort into perfecting patches. Those setups now become available with tremendous speed and playability. Playability . This is a key word.
Cantabile is what it is because of the playability it offers to the user. That’s why it was targeted at live performers. The idea is to get you the fastest and most reliable way to stand in front of an audience and make great sounds, utilizing the truly astounding palette of plugins that 21st century developers have given us. And recording into a DAW is simply the modern studio - and in that environment, one performs. If you record in your studio, at some point, you are dealing with performance.

Brad is not a heavy DAW user. OK. I am. Also have a fair smattering of live performance under my (slightly wider than it used to be) belt. Do I want the level of playability and ease of access to my configurations when I’m playing live or in the studio? You bet I do. The criteria are identical. I want to be able to get to the meat and potatoes as quickly as possible - and be inspired by these Cantabile creations when I have my composing hat on.

Cantabile as a plugin will create:

  1. A potentially massive new market with a new income stream, protecting Cantabile’s future development.
  2. Opens creative doors for existing and new users, and obviates cludgey hardware hookups which cannot be recalled with ease, or allow for multiple use
  3. Gets around the issue of reproducing the studio sound in a live situation, or vice versa.
  4. Has no technical downside, as confirmed here by Brad. Absolutely nothing to lose - especially with the Mac market opening to Cantabile users soon. Cantabile could become the go to software for moving setups between different studio platforms and the live stage.

As a footnote, I was also very excited by the network approach, as marketed successfully by Vienna in their VEP product. I own it, use it, and it handles large orchestral templates well. But is it a creative environment like Cantabile? Absolutely not. It is a lump with a mixer. Cantabile’s architecture could really bite into that market too.


So it seems there’s two competing views here.


I guess one way to find out would be to try to crowd fund it.


Thunderdome…2 men enter, 1 man leaves.


And TBH, all of these are pretty niche - too complex for the casual user, mostly used by sound designers and a few sophisticated power users. Not really a mass market out there…

I’m sure he’ll correct me if I’ve misunderstood but I read that as Torsten saying that the plugins like Bidule and Metaplugin are not for the faint hearted. I agree.
And that’s why Cantabile does not fit into that niche. I think it’s very important that we’re precise here. We wouldn’t want to be talking at cross purposes. :smiley:

So even though I love Cantabile to death - and I would really appreciate being able to use the “instruments” I create in Cantabile in Cubase - I don’t see much beyond a niche market for the plugin version outside the Cantabile community.

I see this quite differently. I see this as a major profile builder for Cantabile. I think it would become part of the toolbox of film composers in the same way VEP has, but with the added bonus that Cantabile is a vastly superior performance environment. I could continue to write lists of plus points, but I have seen that there is a real demand for a portable, cross platform, environment that helps bridge the gap between collaborators using different DAWs, especially in the film music world.

Cantabile is a niche product as it stands. Any development, regardless of the approach taken (rewire, plugin, network) is going to break that niche.
Cantabile as a plugin would be my favored option. Any VEP user can then use their networking utility with Cantabile instantiated within VEP. No point in reinventing the wheel,
I would certainly actively promote this to friends and acquaintances in the LA area.
‘Playability’ is not a niche requirement. Few DAWs offer such an experience as they are modeled on different criteria.


OK, I don’t want to get into a protracted battle-of-beliefs here - in the end @brad needs to decide if the additional market potential justifies his development efforts. I like the crowdfunding idea - problem may be getting sufficient visibility for the campaign, though…

Just a few thoughts to @Ade’s arguments:

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in and with start-ups and private equity investment companies, so I’ve seen a number of businesses succeed - and fail. One thing I’ve learned: it’s NOT about function and features, it’s about fulfilling a market need - or creating one. The second thing: unless you’re selling consumables, you don’t sell to your existing customers - you sell to people who DON’T use your product yet.

In this, I applaud @brad for asking exactly the right question: how do you get someone who doesn’t use VST instruments live, but only a DAW to produce music, to get excited about Cantabile?

Now there are a number of key differences between live use and studio production, and a lot of Cantabile’s differentiating features are precisely what makes it such a killer platform for live use. Essentially, in live usage, everything happens real-time, so Cantabile shines when it comes to:

  • recalling pre-created songs and scenes
  • controlling complicated setups using multiple instruments and effects at the same time with multiple controllers and zones
  • modifying this performance with all kinds of real-time controllers and event-driven reactions

Within the DAW environment, there are essentially two key scenarios:

  • “virtual tape machine” - recording a studio performance by a and then producing the finished song by applying mixing and effects - mostly audio processing, although the field is getting blurry, due to the use of MIDI drums or keyboards in classic recording scenarios

  • “desktop production”, which is essentially building songs track by track, adding individual instruments (audio or virtual) one at a time. The broader market is certainly dominated by that scenario, with the professional market becoming a hybrid of “tape machine” and “desktop production” - depending on the genre…

Now the main difference between desktop production and live use is that in this production scenario, you don’t need the “real-time” aspect that much; you can build your sound step by step, add automation curves, sprinkle in effects to taste, etc, which all is part of the creative production process. You tend to make decisions on the instrument plugins and effects to use very much individualized to the song. One example: for live use in Cantabile, I pretty much only use Addictive Keys as my piano sound, but in productions, I’ll try five or six different massive sample libraries before I’m satisfied the sound fits the song.

Regarding “real-time” sound modifications, these are usually added in DAWs using automation - a procedure well-known to any bedroom producer.

Re playability: most VST instruments are optimized for individual playability (see e.g. NKS controller assignments) in a production workflow, not controlled as a complex setup like in Cantabile. But given the “track-by-track” workflow, this is mostly what desktop producers require. They simply build their songs one track / instrument at a time - like painting a picture.

So, essentially, Cantabile’s key strengths (real-time control of complex plugin arrangements) aren’t really what the run-of-the-mill bedroom producer (and that’s the mass market for VST plugins!) will require on a daily basis. They essentially need a broad palette of instruments and effects - and they’ll work with their respective DAWs to put everything together.

Cantabile does have a pretty steep learning curve until you really get the full benefit of its capabilities - I believe most bedroom producers invest more time in the handling of their DAW.

Re the market for VEP: this is a completely different beast. Its key capability is to spread out processing load across multiple machines. That is something that film producers need because of the massive sample libraries that would overwhelm one single machine. And its market is accessed pretty easily: all the users of the big VSL libraries who regularly overwhelm their machines (who sells VEP again? - talk about creating a market for a new product :wink: )

Yes, there may be some DAW users (I would guess especially in the complex sound design segment) who would appreciate Cantabile’s ease of creating complex setups - although it’s not sooo difficult to do similar things with Metaplugin - would be interested in the sales numbers of this tool! And given it costs only $44, this could give an indication of a market value of a Cantabile plugin…

I just fail to see the “huge” market in terms of users and license fees. My feeling is that the broadest market in terms of numbers is the bedroom producers market - and they mostly get by quite nicely within their DAWs and those plugins that already allow you to create pretty complex soundscapes (say: Kontakt, Omnisphere, VSL,…)

Last: about there being no technical downside: there definitely is one, namely that it would split @brad’s capacity to further develop Cantabile between the stand-alone and the VST version. A plugin version would create its own dynamic of user demands and features, and @brad would have to allocate significant time first to build the plugin version and then to satisfy the specific requirements of the plugin customers…

I’m definitely open to be convinced of the market potential, but NOT on the basis of features and functions, but rather on “who specifically would be the people buying the plugin, why would they buy it, and how many of them are there?”

So maybe a Kickstarter campaign would be the most effective way to find out…




Thanks for the detailed response, @Torsten.
You wrote:

Within the DAW environment, there are essentially two key scenarios:

  • “virtual tape machine” - recording a studio performance by a and then producing the finished song by applying mixing and effects - mostly audio processing, although the field is getting blurry, due to the use of MIDI drums or keyboards in classic recording scenarios

  • “desktop production”, which is essentially building songs track by track, adding individual instruments (audio or virtual) one at a time. The broader market is certainly dominated by that scenario, with the professional market becoming a hybrid of “tape machine” and “desktop production” - depending on the genre…

These would appear to be the essential scenarios for the wider market, but they are far from the only scenarios. I think we have an essential differing of view point and experience when it comes to what happens in a recording environment. You have missed the essential common factor to both the studio and live context, and that is ‘performance’,
Does anyone dispute that the fastest, most creative route to getting a performance recorded is always the most satisfying? No one likes to waste time configuring setups that get the idea from one’s head onto the recording format, whatever that is, as quickly as possible.
To create certain keyboard setups, guitar setups, change the order of plugins and how they’re routed, be able to store that as a preset and recall it instantly, is certainly not a strong point of the most popular DAWs.

These are the selling points. Speed. Clarity. Storability and Recallability. Transportability. Cross Platform and DAW. And, the most obvious, take your sound from the studio to the stage and back again. This is a real issue for bands touring at a professional level.

I would also venture that when technology is applied in accessible ways, people who previously would not have considered battling the existing technology suddenly find they are inspired to do so.

In this, I applaud @brad for asking exactly the right question: how do you get someone who doesn’t use VST instruments live, but only a DAW to produce music, to get excited about Cantabile?

Wrong question, with respect. Everyone who uses a DAW wants quick access to performance., and the ability to collaborate …perhaps not be shackled to the desktop.
There was a time when we wondered how we would be able to use this technology live without incurring huge risks. It’s because Cantabile (or Main Stage or ‘other’) exists that your horizons expanded.

In closing, these days, I would say there is FAR more commonality between studio and stage The audience expects a production sound. That’s why you use Cantabile. They used to be two very different disciplines. I think it’s a little anachronistic to hold that view in these times. The things that make Cantabile a killer live app apply equally to the studio environment.

Re the market for VEP: this is a completely different beast. Its key capability is to spread out processing load across multiple machines.

I’m sorry Torsten, you’re off the mark. That is ONE of the abilities of VEP. The other ‘key’ capability is to keep a template locked into the RAM of a 128 GB machine so that the template does not have to be reloaded - and you do not need to have a other slave computer within a square mile. Having considered that approach for Cantabile, I’ve pretty much crossed that off my personal preferences list. VEP already does that job and a Cantabile plugin would sit very nicely within VEP if one wanted to use a network.

Re ‘learning curve’. Cantabile has a steep learning curve if you want to use it like Torsten. :smiley:
If you want to throw some plugins into it, re-order, channelize, split and transpose - or apply a chain of FX that can be recalled in an instant, it’s a piece of cake. And if you’re already a live player or a DAW user, you’re already familiar with the concepts. If ‘learning curve’ were a real factor, we’d never buy another piece of technology.

In this discussion, I really want to try and be as precise as I can, while not making assumptions about how ‘everyone’ works, or what people want or don’t want - with this one exception; We want to play and produce in the most efficient possible way.

although it’s not sooo difficult to do similar things with Metaplugin

But totally undesirable. I own it, like it for what it is. It is not Cantabile and becomes a rats nest. Apples and oranges.

So, this really comes down to whether Brad’s time/money are well spent in producing a plugin version of Cantabile and bringing its delights to a wider market. One thing is for sure - where it is now is always going to be a ‘niche’.


let’s just agree to disagree…

I look at this in terms of a business case: “how many DAW users would buy this” - you come at it from “what a great concept Cantabile as a plugin would be” - both valid points. Personally, I’ve seen too many great products fail because their inventors had an unrealistic view of the market demand and potential.




Fortunately, we’re talking about a plugin for which all the design feature work has already been done.
It results in no unsold boxes on shelves.
Are you suggesting that creating a plugin version could cause the entire Cantabile endeavor to fail?
I also can’t agree with your summation of my position, so please let me clarify.
If I didn’t think that this could be a significant commercial boon for Brad, I would not have opened up this discussion. If you want to know my position, read my opening post. :wink:


All I’m saying is that you claim that this would open up sales in a significant way, but then you discuss features and capabilities, i.e. the value to an individual user. I haven’t seen any statement in your posts that gives any indication of how large this market could be. And that was the angle I was following in my view - how many DAW users are out there and how many of them are likely to purchase a Cantabile plugin - that’s the business case we’re talking about.

And I sure hope Cantabile is here to stay - I don’t believe it will fail due to an attempt to market a VST version. All I am saying is that a realistic estimate of how much additional revenue @brad can generate is essential to justifying the effort of building the plugin version.

Now I’ll quit this thread - don’t believe this discussion will add more facts to @brad’s decision making…



All I’m saying is that you claim that this would open up sales in a significant way, but then you discuss features and capabilities,

I know you’re out of this discussion now, and I totally appreciate your input to the conversation so far. There is, arguably, no more prolific and methodical user of Cantabile on this forum than you, and I hope you know the great respect with which I hold your contributions.
My background and experience does give me some insight into how products are prepared to come to market and, over the years, in addition to my historical connection to Roland, I was also a consultant to Yamaha, Fostex ,New England Digital (Synclavier) and have beta tested for Steinberg since 1995. All of the above involved providing opinions on the market and how worthwhile new possible features were, or not,

Since moving to the US in 98, I have moved more into the film world. I have come to see that the cross-over between these various disciplines and art forms has become ever broader.

I was taking risks with computers on stage in front of significant audiences from the mid 80’s on… trying to make as faithful a reproduction of our studio albums as I could. The demands I place on my technology today are more, not less, uniform, than in pre DAW days. The technology is the bridge between studio and the stage. The laptop allows you to appear with more firepower than most high end studios could muster three decades ago, while they were burning enough electricity to power a street of domestic appliances.

We are talking about a plugin.

I am not clairvoyant and cannot predict the market any more than any stockbroker, but I will make this wild claim: @brad will not decrease his market by bringing a plugin version of Cantabile to market.
Only Brad knows how much time and effort it will take, and whether the resources could, and should, be made available to make it happen. Every post here has contributed to how Brad will make his decision.


I can see some of the benefits but a couple of things concern me:

  • Performance in a daw won’t be as strong as ‘bare-metal’ C3. I use Reaper and even though it’s claimed to be one of the best cpu performers, maybe that’s for daw scenarios but I’ve found that that doesn’t apply to live setups. For complex setups live tweaking could stutter or lag when working with C3vst even though the live version was joyous.
  • Automation parameters will be hidden in C3vst and would have to be exposed to the daw.

As an alternative, I’d prefer to see C3 increase it’s userbase by adding functionality like midi looping, piano roll editor and vst parameter recording/automation.
(@brad, it was great to see your developing piz’s work. His awesome but buggy midi-looper is also open-source :pray: )

Fl studio or another vst for midi editing

Most fellow-keyboardists that I meet, if they use plugins, use a DAW and are not even aware of Cantabile. I always tell them how great Cantabile is and how it will change their lives and how it makes playing live so much more fun.

Looking at things from this angle, there are two things that come to (my) mind:

  1. Cantabile’s user base could be expanded by looking at the marketing angle.
    Personally, I think every keyboard player who uses plugins and/or any combination of hardware and software for their live setup should at least know about Cantabile, so that, when they decide to use software for playing live, Cantabile will always be one of the options for them to consider. In other words, Cantabile should be made more “visible” to its target group. I’m not a marketeer, but there are many many ways to do this (and not all of them cost a lot of money). As one of the actions points, I think the Cantabile website should be given a facelift. As it is, the website is factual, no-nonsense and to-the-point, which is good enough for many Cantabilists in this forum, but it lacks the modern, flashy and dynamic look that really hooks people up and reels them in. In this respect, the macOS port will open many great opportunities for attracting new users. But before launching the macOS port, I urge you to update and modernize the website, @brad!

  2. If Cantabile were available as a plugin, this might just convince existing DAW-using keyboardists to start using it. We all know how flexible and versatile and stable Cantabile is – and how quickly it becomes the core of your setup once you start using it. (One doubt I have about a plugin version is the question how easy it will be to make Cantabile work within a DAW and how much this will add to the existing learning curve.)

And yes, for existing users, a plugin version would make it so easy to use our carefully constructed soundscapes in our favourite DAWs (without having to re-create them from scratch). I will probably use the plugin in my DAW if and when it becomes available but I’m an existing Cantabile user…


Horses for courses.

Cantabile and Mainstage are geared to live performance, so have capabilities that make running a live show Stupid Easy.

Whereas Pro Tools, Cakewalk (RIP) etc make editing and looping dead simple, but are simply a PITA to use live.

For my usage, I can see more of a case for running Cantabile as an MIDI slave on a separate computer, thus offloading the sound source from the audio recording engine.

It feels a bit like using Ableton Live as a plugin . . sure you CAN . . .but there’s no problem I have that this solves, and on the computers I can afford makes things quite a bit worse than running them separately.


What irritates me is that Mainstage has become a real industry standard, and not unlike ProTools it’s SUBstandard. I bet 10,000 churches use Mainstage because they all use Mac and you can get setups direct from Hillsong and Passion and all those people. I can preach until the cows come home how a PC is better, cheaper, more configurable and running Cantabile is 100x more versatile and runs more VSTs and better sounds than MainStage but then they say “Yeah, but Windows…” and that’s that. I tend to think if Brad really wants to open a HUGE market- go get Hillsong to use Cantabile :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: (The Mac port may really help there.)


And that is a reason the Cantabile as VTS idea might make sense- Cantabile + Ableton + Church = $$$$ and that’s because people are going to put out preconfigured setups to cover their songs. The problem then is MainStage is self-contained and Cantabile depends on what other VTS software you have. Maybe Cantabile needs a bundle of basic free synth stuff with it.


DAW’s handle CPU load in a totally different way that an app geared to live performance does.
Any CPU hog plugin running in, say, Cubase, gets the heat taken off in three ways I can think of straight off the bat:

  • You can freeze
  • You can use ASIO guard so that as soon as you come out of live monitoring the buffer for that plugin is multiplied into a ‘safe’ zone;
  • During mix you can simply up the ASIO buffer.

Your DAW will be as good as it is now. Cantabile as a plugin has little to do with that. What you run has everything to do with it.


I was directed to this thread from one I started about an opposite problem, of importing another DAW into Cantabile. That DAW is pretty much the only one that allows itself to be used as a VST, and that is a differentiating feature.

I am new to Cantabile but I think that is not a bad thing when it comes to market research. My biases are fresh and my expectations are not colored by any long identification with this product. So on that basis please accept my comments.

Electronic music production is very susceptible to the “feature matrix” psychology, and it is not just a herd mentality that encourages this state of affairs, it is reasonable to try to discriminate between very similar products.

So when a potential customer asks “can it do X” it is much better to be able to say yes. Look at the Admiral Bumblebee DAW matrix weighted scoring site - it is a huge masterwork of feature matrix scoring. And it is very helpful to users.

So in the aggregate, when I see that Cantabile Cannot - load VST3 plugins, run on Mac OS, run as a plugin in another product, sync MTC, sync SPP (those are of course somewhat obscure but important to me), and whatever the other list of Cannot features may be, it weighs on my evaluation of Cantabile.

Outside of that set of concerns, I see VST integration as a positive because I can reuse my existing setups in Cantabile in other products. I use Reaper, FL Studio, Ableton and Logic at different times, mostly Logic right now when I am writing music down to try to create a piece to save as sheet music. I also use a DAW to record. But I want to reuse the Piano setup I have in Cantabile, or the Roland D50 setup in Cantabile which is exactly what I used to write a certain song that I want to develop more by recording it.

So while VST integration does not showcase Cantabile’s strongest features, it is highly convenient and reduces repetition which is very important to me.

I would also say in general that integration and routing is a very good story when it comes to selling to unknown users. An example is the area of synchronization between different hardware and software. The solutions tend to be expensive, hardware based, and rarely with a software component. I need this, but it is hard to evaluate the different solutions, and hard to cobble together a solution. Cantabile could help raise its profile in this area by offering more synch and routing features such as:

CV/Gate - modular - help integrate analog and modular gear
Synch conversion - convert MTC, DIN, Beat Clock and route through the corrected signal
Rewire - maybe it can already talk these protocols, I am not very experienced with Cantabile
SMPTE or other Audio sync protocols.

If you could say “load Cantabile into your DAW as a VST and it will FIX your DAW’s buggy Midi sync” you would get some attention. Especially if this can be had “for free” along with all other Cantabile features.

There is probably more I could say along those lines but hopefully that serves as an illustrative example of the power of “yes we can do that” and also the power of being able to offer absurdly better integration, compatibility, and routing compared to competitors - and the damage when you have to say “no we can’t do that”


Hey George,

In addition to your post try also proposing your ideas like all of us, at the Trello site that is associated with the forum. The link is at the top of the page, We introduce ideas there and invite folks to vote on their relevance to the development path the product takes. It has been well explained from the outset of the product development that that was how it would work for feature development and that live stage work was the focus. DAWs are usually bloated creatures so the lack of features you point out I look upon as bloat I don’t want. To each his own. Hot ticket items are currently VST3 and MacOs version so when these advancements get introduced for beta testing it might help on some of your problems you are trying to solve in your setup. Since you are new to this product, take a little more time to see the details and then see if you want to participate at Trello for your deeper feature requests you mentioned.




thanks for that information - I won’t make many posts like that, though. I am really enjoying using Cantabile so far.


Hi there
Just to clarify, this thread is not really about new features. It’s about ‘where’ can I get access to Cantabile’s features. As a plug-in, the answer is ‘in just about every DAW on the market.’