Basic parameter engine suitable for VST and AU audio plugins
C++ CMake C
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Permalink
Failed to load latest commit information.
include
test
.gitignore
.gitmodules
CMakeLists.txt
LICENSE.txt
README.md

README.md

PluginParameters

PluginParameters is a simple library used to keep parameter information for an audio plugin, such as a VST or AudioUnit. The need for this arises from the fact that most plugins have a number of parameters they need to maintain, and this information needs to be sent to various parts of the plugin's processing code. The VST or AudioUnit side of things also needs to query this information in a more structured manner, and this can lead to plugin code getting very messy with huge switch blocks to get/set the correct value.

Features

  • Provides a parameter database which supports the following data types:
    • BlobParameter
    • BooleanParameter
    • DecibelParameter
    • FloatParameter
    • FrequencyParameter
    • IntegerParameter
    • StringParameter
  • For all parameter types, you can get the raw value (ie, the thing you probably need in your code to do useful stuff), or a scaled value between 0.0 - 1.0. This makes PluginParameters ideal for use in VST plugins, which need a 0.0 - 1.0 representation of all data.
  • The decibel parameter is represented internally as a linear value, which is more convenient for most audio processing work. Additionally, it is logarithmic, which is useful when fitting it to a knob or fader control.
  • The frequency parameter uses logarithmic scaling for its value, so it is easier to select higher frequencies. This is particularly convenient for filters where one MIDI step would otherwise mean a difference of several hundred hertz.
  • All parameters provide a minimum, maximum, and default value.
  • All parameter types also have a function to get the displayable value as a string.
  • Parameters have string unit suffixes for pretty-printing the value. For example, DecibelParameter automatically adds "dB" to the printed value, and FrequencyParameter adds "Hz" or "kHz", depending on the frequency.
  • Parameters can have an unlimited number of observers, which will receive a callback when the parameter value is changed. Observers can be added or removed to a parameter at any time.
  • Lookup of parameters can be done either by index or by name, with either the get() method or the square brackets (ie, parameters["frequency"]).
  • Small! Just a few hundred lines of code, and only one CPP file to add to your project (tinythread.cpp, which is from a third-party library). Simply include PluginParameters.h and you've got the whole library at your fingertips.
  • Threadsafe! PluginParameters can be built to run in a multi-threaded environment ideal for audio plugins, with one high-priority audio thread and multiple low-priority threads for background tasks or GUI.
  • The multi-threaded implementation is based on lock-free queues, and is completely mutex-free for high performance in realtime audio applications.

Usage (Single-Threaded)

Note: As of PluginParameters version 3.0, the multi-threaded implementation is the default. To use the single-threaded implementation, you will need to define the following preprocessor definition in your project:

#define PLUGINPARAMETERS_MULTITHREADED 0
#include "PluginParameters.h"

Assuming that you've pointed your source to include PluginParameters.h and everything compiles fine, your next step is to make a ParameterSet and add some parameters to it. This should probably be done in your plugin's constructor:

MyPlugin::MyPlugin() {
  // Assumes that there is a ParameterSet member named "parameters" in
  // the header file.
  this->parameters.add(new BooleanParameter("Awesomeness", true));
  this->parameters.add(new FrequencyParameter("Frequency", 20.0, 20000.0, 10000.0);
  this->parameters.add(new DecibelParameter("Gain", -60.0, 3.0, 0.0));
}

For a VST plugin, a ton of boilerplate code regarding parameter values can be eliminated and replaced with the following:

float MyPlugin::getParameter(VstInt32 index) {
  return this->parameters[index]->getScaledValue();
}

void MyPlugin::setParameter(VstInt32 index, float value) {
  this->parameters[index]->setScaledValue(value);
}

void MyPlugin::getParameterName (VstInt32 index, char* label) {
  vst_strncpy(label, this->parameters[index]->getName().c_str(), kVstMaxParamStrLen);
}

void MyPlugin::getParameterDisplay(VstInt32 index, char* text) {
  vst_strncpy(text, this->parameters[index]->getDisplayText().c_str(), kVstMaxParamStrLen);
}

When you actually want to use the parameter data in your code, it might look something like this:

void MyPlugin::processReplacing (float** inputs, float** outputs, VstInt32 sampleFrames) {
  if(this->parameters["Awesomeness"]->getValue()) {
    for(int i = 0; i < sampleFrames; i++) {
      *outputs[0][i] = *inputs[0][i] * this->parameters["Gain"]->getValue();
      *outputs[1][i] = *inputs[1][i] * this->parameters["Gain"]->getValue();
    }
  }
}

Note: The above example code may look a bit different than your actual implementation. It's just to give you a general idea as to how the library should be used. For real-world examples of PluginParameters, check out the source code for any of the Teragon Audio plugins.

Usage (Multi-threaded)

If you intend on using PluginParameters in combination with a plugin GUI, then you will need to use the multi-threaded features of PluginParameters. Attempting to use the single-threaded version in a multi-threaded environment may result in priority inversion (and thus, occaisional stuttering on the audio thread), or race conditions caused by multiple objects attempting to get/set parameter values.

The multi-threaded mode must be enabled at compile-time like so:

#define PLUGINPARAMETERS_MULTITHREADED 1
#include "PluginParameters.h"

Note: As of PluginParameters version 3.0, the multi-threaded implementation is the default; it is not necessary to force this definition anymore. Simply including PluginParameters.h is enough.

Some dependencies of the multi-threaded implementation require C++11 support, so you may need to enable this for your compiler as necessary. Likewise, you will need to add tinythread.cpp to the list of files compiled by your project.

When a ConcurrentParameterSet (which should be used instead of the standard PluginParameterSet) is created by your plugin, it will create a new low-priority background thread for asynchronous parameter events. This thread will be automatically shut down and destroyed when the ConcurrentParameterSet is destroyed.

In multi-threaded mode, you may not directly modify parameter values. Instead, you must schedule changes via an event dispatcher. Therefore a full implementation would look something like this:

In VST plugin's audio processing code:

MyPlugin::MyPlugin() {
  // Assumes that there is a ConcurrentParameterSet member named
  // "parameters" in the header file.
  this->parameters.add(new BooleanParameter("Awesomeness", true));
  this->parameters.add(new FrequencyParameter("Frequency", 20.0, 20000.0, 10000.0);
  this->parameters.add(new DecibelParameter("Gain", -60.0, 3.0, 0.0));
}

void MyPlugin::process(float** inputs, float** outputs, long blocksize) {
  this->parameters.processRealtimeEvents();
  // Other processing code follows...
}

float MyPlugin::getParameter(VstInt32 index) {
  return this->parameters[index]->getScaledValue();
}

void MyPlugin::setParameter(VstInt32 index, float value) {
  this->parameters.setScaled(index, value);
}

void MyPlugin::getParameterName (VstInt32 index, char* label) {
  vst_strncpy(label, this->parameters[index]->getName().c_str(), kVstMaxParamStrLen);
}

void MyPlugin::getParameterDisplay(VstInt32 index, char* text) {
  vst_strncpy(text, this->parameters[index]->getDisplayText().c_str(), kVstMaxParamStrLen);
}

void MyPlugin::suspend() {
  this->parameters.pause();
}

void MyPlugin::resume() {
  this->parameters.resume();
}

In plugin's GUI code:

// This code will be highly implementation-specific, but basically let's
// assume that some GUI code is ready to set a parameter value after user
// interaction. However in this example we'll assume that the GUI also wants
// to be notified about updates to the parameter, so it therefore would
// implement PluginParameterObserver.
MyGui::onValueUpdated(int index, float newValue) {
  // We must pass "this" as the last argument so we don't notify ourselves
  // when sending parameter changes to the audio thread.
  this->parameters.set(index, newValue, this);
}

bool MyGui::isRealtimePriority() const {
  return false;
}

void MyGui::onParameterUpdated(const PluginParameter* parameter) {
  // Update widget to reflect parameter's new value
}

You can also have parameter observers on the realtime thread. This can be useful to recalculate cached values based on parameter data (like filter coefficients, for example).

Note that ConcurrentParameterSet cannot fully guarantee that the asynchronous event thread will be ready to process events after the parameter set itself is finished being constructed. In other words, never do this:

// Assumes a member of type ThreadsafePluginParameterSet*, and a
// PluginParameterObserver* named observer.
void MyPlugin::initialize() {
  parameters = new ThreadsafePluginParameterSet();
  Parameter *p = new BooleanParameter("test");
  p->addObserver(observer);
  parameters.add(p);
  parameters.set("test", true); // BAD! Here we cannot guarantee that the
  // observer will be called. The easy fix is to simply call set() elsewhere
  // after this constructor exits.

  // Also never do this:
  parameters = new ConcurrentParameterSet();
  delete parameters;
}

The reason that this code is bad is because the low-priority event thread may not be fully started when the call to set() has been made, and therefore the parameter change would not be correctly scheduled on that thread. The only way to guarantee this behavior would be to have a mutex within both set() and processRealtimeEvents(), which has performance consequences for the audio thread.

That said, as long as you don't attempt to schedule parameter changes or destroy the parameter set immediately after construction, ConcurrentParameterSet should be safe and reliable to use. Also it should be noted that all Parameter subclasses provide a constructor which allows you to set a default value, so it shouldn't be necessary to schedule parameter changes immediately after constructing the parameter set.

Testing

PluginParameters comes with a small test suite which is used to develop the library as well as fix bugs. If you think you've found a bug in PluginParameters, then please build the test suites and run it before reporting a bug for your platform. The test suites are built using CMake, and generate two executables, pluginparametertest and multithreadedtest.

PluginParameters is built with CMake and should compile cleanly out of the box. Building on unix platforms (including Mac OSX) is simply a matter of running cmake . ; make. On Windows, one can run cmake.exe -G "Visual Studio 12" to generate a Visual Studio project file which can build the project.

License

PluginParameters is licensed under the BSD licnese. See the file LICENSE.txt provided with the source code for more details. If built in multi-threaded mode, then code from TinyThread++ and readerwriterqueue is used. Please see the respective license files for each of these libraries, which can be found in the include directory.

Finally, a big thanks to the authors of TinyThread++ and readerwriterqueue for making this library possible. Writing multi-threaded code is hard!