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KXStudio : Applications : Carla

Carla is an audio plugin host, with support for many audio drivers and plugin formats.
It has some nice features like automation of parameters via MIDI CC (and send output back as MIDI too) and full OSC control.

Carla currently supports LADSPA (including LRDF), DSSI, LV2, and VST plugin formats, plus GIG, SF2 and SFZ file support.
It uses JACK as the default and preferred audio driver but also supports native drivers like ALSA, DirectSound or CoreAudio.

There are 3 types of engine processing:

  • Multi-client: (JACK driver only)
    Every single plugin is exposed as a new JACK client. Audio and MIDI ports are registered as needed.
  • Single-client: (JACK driver only)
    Same as Multi-client, except that all JACK ports belong to a single master client.
    This is needed when a setup doesn't support multi-client JACK apps, such as LADISH.
  • Rack:
    Plugins are processed in order, from top to bottom.
    Plugins with non-stereo audio channels are not supported, but a forced-stereo option is available for Mono ones.

Note: The internal patchbay does not save/restore connections yet, so you'll want to run Carla under some kind of Session Management. LADISH level 1 and NSM are implemented.

The Interface

By default Carla uses its own internal theme, a screenshot of it follows along with some plugins:
The user can keep the custom theme but use system colors, or simply disable the custom theme altogether.
The result may not be as nice though.

The 'Patchbay' uses the same canvas engine that Catarina, Catia and Claudia do: carla-patchbay.png

The last tab "Log" simply prints debug info from time to time when an internal error occurs, in a way that doesn't disturb the user.
This tab is not available in the Windows version.


The first time you run Carla you'll most likely want to scan for plugins.
You can configure your plugin folders in the settings if needed. When done, use "Add New Plugin" in the toolbar, then press the "Refresh" button.

Because Carla is a somewhat complex application, a single page is not enough to cover it entirely.
(We're currently writing the rest of the pages so be back soon!)

Release Notes

The following are the release notes for 1.2.x:

  • Canvas does not save or restore connections.
    You need to use external session management for now.
  • LADISH does not support multi-client JACK applications.
    To prevent any issues Carla will switch to single-client mode automatically.
  • Rack mode is still a bit experimental, specially on non-JACK drivers.
  • LV2 plugin support is incomplete (although already in a good state).
    Plugins that use CV ports, multiple MIDI ports or Worker extension will not work right now.
  • Carla will not work with non-native LV2 Plugin UIs that require the instance-data extension.
    This is by design and not a bug.
  • OSC control seems to work well, but has not been tested in great detail.
    Be sure to report any issues.
  • Carla "PRO" theme, Carla-Control and ZynAddSubFX internal plugin are not available for Windows at this point.


Carla is available in the KXStudio repositories and ArchLinux AUR (both with 'carla' package name).
ArchLinux (AUR)
Debian/Ubuntu (via KXStudio repositories)

Pre-compiled binaries are available for Linux and Windows (version 1.2.4).
Linux 32bit
Linux 64bit
Windows 32bit

The latest source code is hosted on github, together with bug reports, feature requests, etc.
Source code
Bug reports / Feature requests