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Vienna Ensemble Pro Setup

Author housekeeper Thu, 11/19/2015 - 15:29

This content is for an older version of Synfire. The current version is more streamlined and advanced, but most of the functionality shown here still exist.

Learn how to set up Synfire with one or more Vienna Ensemble Pro (VEP) servers in your local network.

Vienna Ensemble Pro (VEP 5) is a powerful distributed hosting and mixing system that runs your VST/AU plug-ins on one or more computers in your local network. Synfire hosts an Vienna Ensemble Pro plug-in, which sends all MIDI data to the connected VEP Servers. Audio generated and mixed by the VEP Servers is streamed over the network, back into the Vienna Ensemble Pro plug-in, where it plays back in Synfire.

By distributing the plug-ins of a large Synfire rack over multiple computers in your network, you are able to host many more plug-ins at the same time, which is especially useful for large orchestral setups.

Setting Up a VEP Server

VEP Servers do not require audio hardware to be installed, because audio is streamed over the network. You need to install all plug-ins that you want to run on a server computer and provide access to the sound libraries these plug-ins may load. 

VST 2 and AudioUnit plug-ins only support 1 MIDI port with 16 channels. Synfire also supports only 1 MIDI port with 16 channels per each rack module. To be able to address more than one plug-in with up to 16 channels each, a VEP Server provides multiple MIDI ports for input. In order to address these, you can use the following setup:

How to set up:

  1. Install and run a VEP Server instance according to Vienna's documentation. The server may run on your Synfire computer in the background, e.g. to leverage additional CPU cores, or on another computer in your network.
  2. Load one instance of the VEP Server Interface plug-in into the Synfire rack and connect it with the VEP Server. This will dispatch all MIDI data generated by Synfire to the VEP Server's MIDI input 1. 
  3. For the second and all following rack modules, load an instance of VEP Event Input and connect it with the other MIDI inputs on the VEP Server.
  4. Now go to the VEP Server and add a channel strip for each plug-in and connect it with the respective MIDI input.
  5. Now in Synfire's rack, select or create a device description for each rack module as usual. Basically there is no difference as if the plug-in was loaded into the rack directly. 

While this looks quite elegant, it's merely a workaround for the single port limitation. In the diagram above, notice how all audio is only streamed through the first rack module. With this setup, you can't control the audio mix in Synfire. Since the VEP Server provides powerful mixing capabilities however, this downside is not really a problem.

Tip: While you can launch any number of servers on a single computer, running a single VEP Server instance per computer, populated with multiple plug-ins, is superior over running multiple VEP Server instances that accommodate only one plug-in each. Therefore the above workaround is a good tradeoff.

Synfire Rack

An example rack in Synfire may look like this (open image in a new tab):

This example rack consists of three modules. The first module loads a VEP Server Interface, the second and third modules load a VEP Event Input, each connected to a unique MIDI port on the server. All audio is delivered over the network, received by by the first module. Each rack module is associated with a device description, as usual.  

Tip: Do not attempt to extract a device description from the VEP Server Interface plug-in, as this will associate the device description with the VEP plug-in rather than the remote plug-in containing the actual sounds.

*) Trademarks: VSL, Vienna Symphonic Library and Vienna Ensemble Pro are trademarks of Vienna Symphonic Library GmbH, Austria. Cognitone is not affiliated with or endorsed by VSL in any way. These instructions are published for your personal use only.