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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 1:04 pm 
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Plogue Bidule - Basic Guide

Quick links:

  1. Downloading and installing Plogue Bidule
  2. First view of Bidule
  3. Loading some bidules in the patchbay
  4. Setting Bidule preferences
  5. Using a layout
  6. Linking the Audio File Player and the Audio File Recorder
  7. Adding a VST plugin to the layout


Plogue Bidule is the software used by most methods on this site. It is a very intuitive, yet extremely powerful, tool used to model and connect all the steps in a sequence of operations on audio files: play, transform, record, automate,etc.

Think of Bidule as pieces of hardware and cables. For example, a stereo player has two output channels linked by cables to other pieces of hardware built to extract six channels. These channel cables go into a six-channel recorder.



In this example, "SPEC" is a custom group containing a large number of processes to convert two channels into six. Each one of these processes normally has some settings to customize their operation. The art and science of a method is in choosing and assembling processes and then using the settings that will produce the best results with the source being converted.


  1. Downloading and installing Plogue Bidule

    Bidule is a commercial software developed by Plogue Technologies: http://www.plogue.com/index.php. The current spam is $75 US. Free fully functional pre-release versions are sometimes available for download. These pre-release versions always have a fixed expiry date after which a license must be purchased for the program to remain functional.

    The standalone Windows version of Bidule can be downloaded here: http://www.plogue.com/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=31&func=selectcat&spam=1. Download and install it.

    Important note: If you are running a 64 bit OS and the 64 bit version of Plogue Bidule, the current SPEC 4.0 plugins probably will not work because they were compiled for 32 bits. In general, running the 32 bit version of Plogue, even on a 64bit OS, is recommended. Otherwise, you are going to run into the 64 vs. 32 bit issue again and again with any VSTs and/or plugins. We are not aware of any advantage to running the 64 bit version of Plogue Bidule for what we do on this site.

  2. First view of Bidule

    At the end of the installation, Bidule starts. Close the "Tip of the Day" window. The first view of Plogue after the installation shows the "patchbay" and the "palette".



    The patchbay is the gray window where components (bidules) and links are placed. The palette is a folder structure of bidules that can be added to the patchbay.

    Move the palette out of the way (without closing it). Next, let's clean up the patchbay. Keeping the Shift key down, drag the mouse pointer from the top left to the bottom right corner of the patchbay to select all the displayed bidules. Release the Shift key. Press Delete to get a clean slate.

  3. Loading some bidules in the patchbay

    On this site, you will find "layouts" that are used for specific methods. Layouts are assemblies of bidules and other external components named VST's. According to Wikipedia, "VST plugins are generally run within a Digital Audio Workstation, providing the host application with additional functionality. Most VST plugins can be classified as either instruments (VSTi) or effects, although other categories exist. VST plugins generally provide a custom GUI, displaying controls similar to the physical switches and knobs on audio hardware."

    Before you load a full layout, let us learn how to create a very simple layout containing a player, a gain adjustment and a recorder.

    In the Palette, expand "Audio File" and then "Player". Double-click "2 channels" to place an instance of a 2-channel Audio File Player on the patchbay.



    In the Palette, close the Audio File folder and open the Mixing folder. Double-click on Gain. In the patchbay, move the Gain instance under the Audio File Player.

    In the Palette, close the Mixing folder and open the Audio File folder. Expand the Recorder sub-folder. Double-click on "2 channels". In the patchbay, move the Audio File Recorder under the Gain instance.

    This is what you should now see on the patchbay:



    Close the Palette. We now want to connect the components.

    First, let's connect the two bottom (output) pins of the Audio File Player to the two top (input) pins of the Gain.

    • Click on the left output pin of the Audio File Player.
    • Keeping the click down, drag that pin to join the left input pin of the Gain: you should see a line between the two joined pins.
    • Release the click.
    • Repeat the same process between the right output pin of the Audio File Player and the right input pin of the Gain.

    To connect the output pins of the Gain to the input pins of the Audio File Recorder, repeat the same process. This is what you should now see on the patchbay:



  4. Setting Bidule preferences

    Before we start playing with our sample layout, let's set the Bidule preferences.

    In the top toolbar, click Edit and then Preferences. Go through the tabs and set them according to the following images:





    On the VST tab, pay close attention to the VST Plugins path. Assuming you installed Bidule in "c:\Program Files\Plogue\Bidule", you should have (or create) a sub-folder "VST" in the Bidule folder. The VST Plugins path should then be "c:\Program Files\Plogue\Bidule\VST". In the future, all VST's should be installed in that folder.









  5. Using a layout

    Now that we have set our Bidule preferences, close the Preferences window. Let's play with some of the controls to get familiar with them.

    1. Gain controls

      A Gain bidule simply increases or decreases the amplitude of a signal by a number of dB's. Practically every layout has Gain instances. The amplitude is controlled with a slider. Double-click on the Gain bidule to expose its amplitude control.



      You can move the slider by dragging it with the mouse. Or you can enter a value directly in the box at the right of the slider.

    2. Audio File Player controls

      An Audio File Player reads an audio file (normally with a .wav or .flac extension), changes the bit depth to 32bit float, and outputs one sample at a time to be processed by the rest of the layout. It does not produce any sound by itself.



      The source file is loaded by pressing the down arrow on the right. If the sample rate of the source file is not 44100 Hz, then the Sample Rate value in the Preferences DSP tab must be modified to match.

      Pressing the right arrow only starts playing the file if an Audio File Recorder or an Audio Device is connected at the bottom of the layout and if Bidule processing is On. Processing is turned On by pressing the Off button at the top of the Bidule window.

      You should get familiar with the functionality of the Audio File Player.

      • Load a .wav file
      • Turn Bidule processing On
      • Start and stop the Audio File Player
      • Seek inside the .wav by moving the slider
      • Turn Bidule processing Off by pressing the On button at the top of the Bidule window

    3. Audio File Recorder controls

      An Audio File Recorder saves the output of the Bidule layout in either a multichannel file or in multiple mono files.



      The main controls in an Audio File Recorder are:

      • Bit depth: Normally, you select 24bit for the final recording and 32bit float for intermediate files that require further processing.
      • File ...: This is where you enter the name of the file(s) to be recorded. If you select "Create multiple files" below, Bidule adds a different suffix to each mono, for instance: _0 for Front Left, _1 for Front Right, _2 for Center, _3 for LFE, _4 for Surround Left and _5 for Surround Right.
      • Create new files for each record: Normally this box is left unchecked.
      • Create multiple files: Check this box to record mono files (for DTS or MLP encoding, for example). Leave it unchecked to record a single multichannel file.
      • Channels per file: If you checked "Create multiple files", you normally set this value to "mono".

  6. Linking the Audio File Player and the Audio File Recorder

    Without any further setting, the recording needs to be started and stopped manually. For instance, the sequence would be:

    • Turn processing On
    • Start the Audio File Player
    • Start the Audio File Recorder
    • When the source file ends, the Audio File Player stops by itself
    • Manually stop the Audio File Recorder

    The problem with this sequence is that it is impossible to start the recorder fast enough to record the first few samples of music. The solution is to link two parameters: the "Play" button of the Audio File Player with the "Recording" button of the Audio File Recorder. This is how it is done.

    1. Click the Parameter button in the top toolbar. You get this window:



    2. On the Source side, expand Audio File Player and click on "Play".
    3. On the Target side, expand Audio File Recorder and click "Recording".
    4. Click on the Link button: this adds a link in the bottom section


    The sequence of operations to record is now:

    • Turn processing On
    • Start the Audio File Player (this automatically starts the recorder at the same time)
    • When the source file ends, the Audio File Player and the Audio File Recorder stop together

  7. Adding a VST plugin to the layout

    Adding a VST plugin to the layout is just as simple as adding any other bidule. For example, let's add an instance of destroyFX's RMS Buddy after the Gain.

    First, get RMS Buddy here: http://destroyfx.smartelectronix.com/news.php#news2003-02-25. Install it in the folder that you specified in Preferences, VST, VST Plugins path.

    In the Edit menu, run Scan Plugins.

    Open the palette and expand the VST folder and then the DestroyFX folder. Double-click on RMSBuddy to add a new instance of RMS Buddy in the layout.



    You must now remove the connection between the Gain and the Audio File Recorder. Drag the mouse pointer over the two existing connections and release it to select them.



    Press Delete to delete them. Now move the Audio File Recorder slightly lower and move the RMS Buddy between the Gain and the Audio File Recorder. As described in section 3, above, add two connections between the Gain and the RMS Buddy and two more between the RMS Buddy and the Audio File Recorder.


This article should help you get through your first conversion. Considering that all methods include a layout that is already built for you, your job is simply to load a source in the Audio File Player and follow the specific instructions of the method.


Click here for comments, feedback and discussion.


Change history

2009-09-12 Original article published (Fan51)
2009-11-05 Note added about 64 bit Plogue Bidule and OS (Zeerround and Fan51)

This guide is copyrighted by SurroundByUs.com.


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