CLAP Audio Plugin Format: Will It Join The Current Industry Standards?

When we talk about plugin formats, we’re talking about AU, VST, and AAX, but there’s a new kid on the block: CLAP.

CLAP is the brainchild of Bitwig (Bitwig Studio) and U-He (Zebra 2, Diva, Repro), and both developers recently gave creators some insight into the potential of the new format.

The new format offers a few exciting features that could enhance performance and expand creative limits.

Whatever system we are running, we always want to work at optimal performance, and we often fall short of that for several reasons. The most obvious reason is that our system could be dated or just not well-equipped to run the stuff we want to run smoothly. It’s also possible to have a powerful system that isn’t working in the most efficient way.

By providing an interface between DAWs and plugins that aims to make the most of multi-core CPUs, you should get closer to optimal efficiency/performance.

CLAP also comes with a new metadata system (making plugin scans faster) and an extension that allows plugin data to be saved straight to the project file. These features might not read like the most exciting concepts, but they enhance performance, improve your workflow, letting you focus on creativity with fewer problems and less waiting time.

Going further into the creative side of things, CLAP supports MIDI 2.0 with per-note modulation and automation options. This particular feature should be music to the ears of polyphonic virtual instrument developers.

Bitwig and U-He have made CLAP future-proof by ensuring easy implementation of new standards.

Of course, compatibility is key; Whether it’s a new OS not supporting third-party products or missing out on a macOS/Windows-only plugin, we’ve all encountered compatibility problems. So, ultimately, CLAP will only be as good as the compatibility it can offer.

It’s still early days, and some of the most prominent players aren’t yet on board (Native Instruments, iZotope, Spectrasonics, Ableton, etc.), but there is much to be optimistic about already.

While some huge names are still on the fence, others are already interested, like DAW developers Avid, Image-Line, Cockos, and PreSonus. The list of interested parties also includes some giants of the plugin world, such as Arturia, ValhallaDSP, and Fabfilter.

I’m not a Bitwig Studio user, but I know it has some hardcore fans, and I’m a big fan of U-He; I love their virtual synths, and they also make some of the best FREE synths available.

Free CLAP Plugins

Since this is BPB, let’s mention some of the currently available CLAP plugins.

We recently featured a free FM synthesizer called Fluctus, available both as a CLAP plugin and an FL Studio add-on. One of the best free virtual instruments, the Surge XT synthesizer, is also available as a CLAP plugin. Full Bucket Music also offers their fantastic freeware synths like ModulAir and FB-7999 in CLAP format (thanks to BPB reader Igor for the tip).

But CLAP is not all about synthesizers. Chowdhury DSP offers several freeware audio effects in CLAP format, including the popular BYOD and CHOW Tape Model plugins.

Early days, but exciting things to come, I’m sure.

More info: CLAP Plugin Format

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