Vitalium - any usage recommendations?

are there any advice for using Vitalium on zynthian? I just started learning about synths and my impression so far is, that it is a good idea to learn Vital(ium).

I’m running zynthian on a headless Raspi 4 (8GB). So I have VNC enabled to use zynthian. When I add a Vitalium layer, then almost half of the CPU is eaten up even without playing a single note. I guess zynthian is busy with rendering the Vitalium UI, right? Playing a chord immediately produces xruns.

What is the current state of Vitalium on zynthian? Should I consider it to be “experimental”, or did I just select very resource intense presets? Or is there a trick to decrease its hunger for CPU by disabling the UI or something like that?

The thread about Vitalium in this forum is really enthusiastic about having this synth. I also want to jump on that boat! :smiley:

Yes - we were very excited at Vitalium. It is a great synth and fits nicely with us old farts who can consolidate its modern synthesis techniques with old school subtractive synthesis. It is a resource hog and can be challenging to tame. The UI is very active so will use some resources so disabling UI during performance is always recommended but most of the resources will be used by the synthesis. You need to be prudent with the presets. Some processing (or combinations) will eat more resources than others. This is an issue with many of the modules in Zynthian. They can provide very useful features but can also drag the whole thing down. We have the dilemma of deciding whether to exclude everything that might cause an issue (and leave a rather sparse selection of modules) or accept that some configuration will break the device. Currently we err to the latter unless the module is plainly unusable. (Actually even beasts like Surge remain but maybe more through hope than judgement!)

Thank you for you quick reply - again! :slight_smile:

That helps me to understand what I can expect. I also prefer to have at least a chance to use Vitalium.

But one more question: How do I actually disable the UI? I tried removing the checkbox “Enable VNC Server” in webconf but after clicking “Save”, the checkbox is set again! Is this because I don’t have a display connected?

Greetings from an old rocking fart, who bought a MIDI keyboard :wink:

I suspect that is a bug. It used to be the case that disabling VNC also disabled GUI for many engines, particularly the LV2 plugins. (We run them with a gui/non-gui host.) We made a lot of changes to the VNC system and I suspect this may have got broken in the process. You may wish to report it as a bug or make a feature request.

yep, I double checked it again after a reboot. The checkbox always comes back.

I will report it as a bug.

Thank you!

I think it may result in a feature because VNC is just a way to present the two screens (main UI and desktop for plugins, etc.) We may wish to be able to disable engine GUI separate to VNC and also present the desktop on a physical output. These are all related features that might want to be reviewed at the same time.

VNC takes CPU, Vitalium takes a lot of CPU and its GUI, that is very “nice”, takes its piece of the cake too. You will have more CPU for audio processing if you disable VNC, this is a fact., but you need a display. You could also try to overclok your RBPi4. If you have a good heat dissipation you could go up to 2GHz and beyond . That’s a 25% gain.


just too many buttons…


thanks for you reply! I actually would try to free some CPU by controlling zynthian via MIDI (only Program Change for example), rather than overclocking.

Naa… I cannot resist having a look at overclocking anyway :smiley:
Thanks for the advice!

I guess, that in a live situation most users could perfectly control zynthian from a web interface: Simply browsing and selecting presets/snapshots/sub-snapshots and activate them. Or sending PC commands from their MIDI controller and just review on a mobile website, that the current patch/preset/… has changed.

My Raspi is hidden in a rack. I have to control it by a mobile device (and VNC in a browser) anyway. With a small web interface zynthian would not have to render any UI, encode and transfer it.

@riban Do you think, that this could be a feature request?

Just to ensure: This is the CPU used while idling:


Playing a single note already kills it. Is this really the same for you?

With RBPi4 overclocked to 2 GHz and VNC disabled, i can play several notes before getting XRuns.
CPU usage is about 20% when idle and it grows to 40-60% when playing a single note.

Anyway, this preset “Dark Ambient” is quite heavy. I get much better result with other presets not so heavy. With “Koto”, for instance. i can play hard and CPU doesn’t go beyond 35%.


Thank you for that information! That gives me a good idea about what’s possible! :+1:

Is there any chance for me to disable VNC as well? As I have reported, I can not disable it from webconf.

Are you using stable branch? I think this bug is solved on testing.


OK! I just found the 1-line commit on testing and cherry-picked on stable :wink:


Thank you, Flash! :smiley: :+1: :+1: