This document describes the differences between Rack Pro plugin and Cardinal.
It is not possible to know all the internal details of the official plugin due to it not being open-source, so more technical details are best-guesses based on its behaviour.
The obvious big difference is that the official plugin is a commercial, closed-source product while Cardinal is free and open-source.
Also, the official plugin works pretty much like the free standalone where you login and download modules.
This is intentionally not allowed/enabled in Cardinal, as the target is to make a self-contained plugin binary. Online access is also not allowed.
Bellow follows a list of features comparing the official plugin to Cardinal.
|Feature||Rack Pro||Cardinal||Additional notes|
|Free (of cost)||No||Yes|
|Officially supported||Yes, if you pay||No, but you can fix it yourself|
|Contains internal modules||Core only||Everything is internal|
|Loads external modules||Yes||No|
|Supports closed-source modules||Yes||No|
|Supports physical devices||Yes||No||Audio + MIDI only through the DAW/Host or via JACK in standalone|
|Plugin in AU format||No||Yes|
|Plugin in LV2 format||No||Yes|
|Plugin in VST2 format||Yes||Yes|
|Plugin in VST3 format||No||WIP|
|Plugin inside itself||No, will crash||Yes||Technical limitations prevent Rack Pro from loading inside itself|
|Multi-threaded engine||Yes||No, uses host audio thread||Intentional in Cardinal, for removing jitter|
|Supports ARM systems||No||Yes||This means Apple M1 too, yes|
|Supports BSD systems||No||Yes||Available as FreeBSD port|
|Synth plugin variant||16 ins, 16 outs||2 ins, 2 outs|
|FX plugin variant||16 ins, 16 outs||2 ins, 2 outs|
|Raw-CV plugin variant||Unsupported||8 audio IO + 10 CV IO||Available in JACK, LV2 and VST3 formats, not possible in AU and VST2|
|Arbitrary parameter automation||Yes||No||Unsupported in Cardinal, tricky to do for many plugin formats at once|
|Integrated plugin host||No, Host payed separately||Yes, using Carla or Ildaeil|
|Host sync/timing||Using MIDI signals||Using dedicated module|
|Linux/X11 event handling||Runs on 2nd thread||Runs on main/GUI thread|
|v1 module compatibility||No||No, but with less restrictions||Module widgets can load resources at any point|
|Online phone-home||Yes||No||Online access is strictly forbidden in Cardinal|
|Proper dark theme||No, only room brightness||Yes||All dark panel variants have explicit permission when required|
|Proper Linux headless mode||No, always requires X11||Yes|
Additionally, Cardinal contains the following built-in modules not present in the official plugin or standalone: