25 Mar 2023, 09:35

Decent Sampler on Linux

I recently stumbled upon the Decent Sampler Plugin and excellent free sample library available from Pianobook. Keen to try out some of the samples, I downloaded the plugin for Linux. There are 3 options for using Decent Sampler (which all come in the download package) - standalone player or VST2 and VST3 plugins. I didn’t have a DAW installed and didn’t really want to use one just to try a few samples out, but quickly discovered that the Decent Sampler standalone player is quite limited and seems to be a bit buggy too. For example, clicking Options -> Audio/Midi Settings didn’t work - no settings dialog appeared!?* As such, I was unable to configure my MIDI keyboard as an input device. I then proceeded to try the VST plugin option.

I spent quite a bit of time without success messing with different audio programs for Linux (Qtractor, Element) in an attempt to use Decent Sampler as a VST plugin but found they crashed when loading the VST. I eventually found Carla - an audio plugin host - which did the job. Using Carla, I was able to quickly load Decent Sampler as a VST, then hookup my MIDI keyboard as an input device to it, and off I went. To get acceptable latency I had to reduce the buffer size from the default 1024 to 64 (any lower resulted in audio glitches). I couldn’t see how to do this from within Cara itself. Instead it can be done by setting the environment variable PIPEWIRE_LATENCY when starting Carla e.g.

PIPEWIRE_LATENCY=64/48000 carla [<carla project file>]

* I’m using Fedora 38, your experience may vary.