Compared with physical hardware, DAWs (digital audio workstations) offer great flexibility. Plugins make it easy to create new effects without having to buy new gear.

The use of VSTs can help in this regard.

VSTs allow you to easily select the effects and instruments you want. Virtual Studio Technology is the acronym for VST. The use of sound processing makes editing podcasts, recording audio for videos, and making music easier.

What Is VST Technology?

VST plugins can be loaded into your DAW. The VST acronym stands for Virtual Studio Technology.

The first version of VST - or more accurately, the VST standard - was introduced by Steinberg Media Technologies in the mid-1990s. Due to the open-source nature of VST, developers are not required to pay a license fee.

In 1999, VST2 was released, a new version of the software. In general, VST plugins are called VST2 plugins (which are sometimes referred to simply as VSTs).

In VSTs, physical hardware is reproduced by software. A digital signal processor (DSP) is used for this purpose.

The VST plugin receives audio signals, processes them, and then outputs digital audio signals. This is done automatically by the VST and does not require any user intervention.

Comparing VST2 and VST3

Users and plugin developers have been reluctant to replace VST2 completely because it has worked so well so far. In response to Steinberg's decision to stop supporting and licensing VST2, many developers now include VST3 versions of their plugins or only provide VST3 versions, such as Celemony's Melodyne 5.

VST3 offers a number of useful improvements, including:

A more efficient method of processing

Only VST3 performs processing when an audio signal is present. The CPU does not waste resources during silence, unlike VST2, which would keep processing active whenever there is no audio signal.

Since VST3 is more resource-efficient, you can use more plugins in your project without overburdening your computer.

Adaptability of inputs and outputs

As far as traditional VST instruments were concerned, their inputs and outputs were fixed. It was necessary to implement stereo and surround sound processing plugins separately. Multi-output instruments usually take up a lot of space, even if not all of their channels are in use. Therefore, resources would be wasted again.

VST3 plugins can adjust their inputs and outputs dynamically. If you put this plugin on a stereo channel or 5.1 channel, it will automatically adjust the channel routing. The result is an increase in flexibility and efficiency.

Improvements have been made to the handling of MIDI

With VST3 plugins, an event handler bus is provided, allowing for more control and modulation options than are possible with simple MIDI controls. As an alternative to the MIDI protocol, these functions might be incorporated into future control methods.

A note level control is now available for MIDI notes. The modulation will only be applied to notes associated with specific events, such as pitch bends, by creating unique note IDs.

Support for multiple MIDI inputs and outputs

There was only one MIDI input and output for each plugin in VST2. VST3 plugins now support switching between multiple MIDI ports simultaneously. Live music performances are more versatile because of routing flexibility.

Automation parameters should be organized better

If you try to find a particular automation parameter in a VST2 plugin, searching through hundreds of parameters can be a bit tedious. Plug-ins compatible with VST3 categorize automation parameters, which is not available in some DAWs.

Parameters related to filters could be grouped under the 'Filter' category, rhythmic parameters could be grouped under the 'Rhythm' category, and so on. This can streamline the automation process and improve project organization.

For audio input, use VST instruments

VST instruments are typically associated with MIDI input, but VST3 allows audio to be routed to plugins, opening up a world of possibilities. The inbuilt vocoder of a synth plugin can now be modulated using MIDI data and audio signals.

The DAW's built-in functionality is not affected by sidechaining and cross-modulation. For some time, it has been possible to sidechain with VST2, but routing capabilities of the DAW determine whether it is possible.

A resizable GUI

In this way, VST3 plugins can be scaled according to their requirements, freeing up or taking up screen space as needed. With this small change, it becomes much easier to handle crowded sessions.

A sample that is automated and accurate

Furthermore, VST3 is capable of reading and writing automation data down to the sample level, which means it remains highly accurate even when changes are made rapidly and minutely.

Remote control of plugins is possible via VSTXML

Since portable control surfaces are becoming increasingly popular in music production and live performance, VSTXML allows plugin parameters to be controlled remotely from various control surfaces.

The ability to support multiple languages

VST3 supports non-English and special characters in Unicode (UTF-16). This makes it easier to localize plugins in multiple languages.