What Do Vst Plugins Do

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Compatibility of Marimba Virtual Instrument Plugins. Most digital audio workstations today support VST (virtual studio technology) — VST is the most common format today. However, if you use a DAW like Pro Tools, you may have to use a format known as AAX or RTAS.

VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology and is an interface for integrating audio synths and effects plugins with your digital audio workstation (DAW). In plain English you could simply say its a way to get all those cool hardware effects racks, keyboards and drum machines into your choice of music software such as Cubase, FL Studio or Logic Pro etc. It does not make much sense to go over 192kHz, but if you think it is a good idea, the plugin can do that. Extremely Fast, Optimised for Newest AVX Capable Processors Computers are now extremely fast, but the algorithms are more complex and projects bigger, so we still need to use the processing power with care.

What are VST plug-ins and how do they work ?

VST ( Virtual Studio Technology ) was created by Steinberg to make a complete software studio possible. This technology allows third-party software developers to create real-time effect, metering and instrument modules that can “plug in” to a Digital Audio Workstation(DAW).

What do I need in order to use VST plug-ins ?

The only piece of software you will need is a VST compatible host application (DAW, audio editor softwares, vst racks…). There are many of these available, here’s a list of free VST hosts. You will also need a fairly powerful CPU, since VST instruments and effects work in real time, and in some cases can be quite draining on your computers processing power. AnASIO driver compatible soundcard is also required to play or process sound in real-time.

What are the different types of VST ?

Generally speaking there are 3 types of VST plug-ins available:
VSTi (Instruments) – Various devices that create sound, be it through synthesis or through sampling (or both).
VSTfx (Effects) – Various devices which process sound, a few examples are reverberation, delay, phasers and distortion units…
VSTmidi – MIDI tracks plug-ins which manipulate or generate MIDI data (i.e. arpeggiators, controllers, chorders…).

How do I install a VST plug-in ?

VSTs can be some of the easiest programs to install, since they don’t have to be able to run by themselves. Usually all you have to do is drag the DLL file into your plug-ins folder, and the next time you fire up your DAW, the new plug-in should appear in your list of available VSTs or VSTIs. With the ones that comes as a EXE file, you will need to trigger the setup file in order to install them in your DAW plug-ins folder.

Rating: 5.0/5. From 3 votes.

You might wonder after what should you get to create the ultimate or perhaps a good music but don’t have any clue how to do it or you see producers create sounds that you didn’t know it exists. Whenever you are musician as a full-timer or not, creating music can be totally fun but confusing at the same time, especially VST plugins.

It depends, every musician have different taste and prefer either working with specific sound or a lot of variety. First of all, I suggest you try learning DAW’s stock plugins so you know what you are dealing with. Afterward, you can try out other FREE VST plugins to see if it suit your genre or music. These VST plugins typically get stored on a DAW or you can download them from websites such as splice.

Having experience with DAW and music plays a big factor and what your goal is. The Internet is a great place to download and try out freeware. This will give you a better idea what you like, and give you more option to make your music unique. This article is to help you to know what VST is a necessity for your music creation.

What is VST?

VST (Virtual Studio Technology) is a plugin you can download to your DAW and its purpose is to manipulate the sound. In the early days, you need to have tons of hardware to achieve extraordinary sound or different. The biggest problem is that you need to have lots of money and space to obtain it, Nowadays, you don’t need it and you can store all these on your computer ( hard drive.)

It’s true some does cost money, but this shouldn’t stop you from being creative, especially when you are starting off. There are many choices you can pick from but you shouldn’t get every plugin without knowing what it does.

What is the Disadvantage of Having Too Many?

The problem I see among beginners is when they learn about VST plugin. Usually, they tend to spend too much research to find the best VST plugins.

Having a few plugins rather too many VST plugins is my recommendation. This helps you to keep things simple and let you master things properly. The Internet is a great place to gain knowledge but there’s a catch, if you spend a good amount of times on research, the more difficult for you to see what is the right tool to use based upon your research instead of trying them.

The first problem of having many plugins would only take more space on your hard disc. The problem can affect the performance on your computer. If you RAM becomes full, it creates a file on your hard drive. If you don’t have enough space this prevent your computer to run smooth. This can also happen if your SSD is full since it needs to find empty blocks, and would take longer time to run.

For HDD, you should have between 10 and 15 percent of your drive empty to run smoothly for virtual memory and temporary files. As for SSD, it should be around 25 percent.

What is the Different Between Stock Plugin and Third-Party Plugin?

What Do Vst Plugins Do

Normally, when you purchase DAW, Audio Interface, or midi controller you would get plugins with it, this is what we call stock VST plugins. Nowadays most DAW offers them and usually the best way to give you an idea of how they actually work and how you can improve your music.

Third party plugin usually refers as VST plugin you or people download from other places that are not included in your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Third party plugin are not 100% compatible with your DAW.

To be sure your DAW is able to load VST plugin, you need to check several things such as what platform it requires, what plugin format it has (I have written about it in this article, but there are 4 types which are VST, AU, AAX, and RTAS).

There Are Two Main Types Of VST: VST Instrumental and VST Effect

VST instrumental is a software that generates sounds which are triggered in your DAW. While VST effect or VSTfx is mainly used to change or alter the input audio signal to your DAW. I’m going to tell you more how they work and why they are essential.

The First: VST Instruments/VSTi

Instead of having the real instrument such as a guitar, grand piano, harper or even a banjo, you can manipulate the sound. The technology is more advanced which makes it accessible for you and others to compose and create realistic sound from your Digital Audio Workstation.

There are software that requires payment for more presets or features but, you can also get or download free plugins. ( I put a chart at the bottom so you can see which website allows you to download.)

VST instruments it’s typically used for music producers to create beats, songwriters and composers. This allows them you to create sounds without touching the instruments. You play virtual software instruments with a Midi controller.

There are 3 types of it:

  • Softsynths
  • Samples
  • Drum Machines


Rather having the hardware in psychical, you have it stored into your computer. There are many types of synthesis out there you can use, but if you spending time researching you would sink in the mud instead of doing music. Yet, it’s useful to understand what is the difference between each other.

What types of synthesizers can you get?

At first, it looks a very complex tool, but once you learn how each parameter works to give you possibilities to design your own sound and pushing the boundaries. Since there are so many types of synthesizer you can get I will give you an idea what you should be aware of.

Here are 4 types and each of them has a special purpose:

  • Additive synthesizers – This method is used for blending the sounds together or combine simple waveforms together, by doing this you create something weird and wonderful sounds. To make sounds more exciting, most producer use this technique.
  • Subtractive synthesizers – To explain this the easiest way would be like this, first you start with a raw oscillator (it creates sounds) and use a filter to cut/ shape the sounds how you would like it. Another example is your voice is like an oscillator that creating pitch, while your mouth and throat act like a filter since it helps you to shape the sound, various speed that comes out of your mouth.
  • Wavetable synthesizers -This technique is used to create periodic waveforms. They are referred to a type of synthesis where the sound created in a modeled on the single cycle waveform of a sound source. In most cases, they are used for creating complex sounds, especially electronic music (EDM, Traps, Dubstep and future bass) since they use sequences and samples. The sound source can be natural like a voice, piano or drum kick.
  • FM (Frequency Modulation) synthesizers – It’s a synth that produces electrically or digitally by modulation that is created by the original sound wave that comes from an oscillator. What it does is either increasing or decrease the frequencies of the sounds of a simple waveform (such as square, triangle and sawtooth).

There are four synths you can use but it doesn’t mean you need to have all of them. For some, especially EDM producers tend to like Serum (Wavetable synths) since it helps them to produce unique sounds, while additive would help a producer to blend sounds together to make it more powerful.

Each plugin is different from each other, they either have a combination of these four synthesizers or individual which make them unique.

Remember, this is based on my research I have done in the past 2 months. These plugins I have put in the chart might not be the best compared to other, but if you are a beginner it’s a great way to get you going. It’s important for you to get started instead of getting stuck.

I have created a list below this article with a few websites you can download VST plugin.

Samples plugin

Another option you can do is using samples to create music. It means is simply taking recorded sounds and play them back. It works just like a normal VSTi expect it uses samples as noise. Be aware samples plugins tend to take large amount of GB space since it saves as audio file and stored in the system. You can use a midi controller to retrigger audio files in your DAW.

The other option is to download samples from websites that have no copyright. There are many websites that offer free sample you can use without getting sued.

Most popular sample packs you can get are from Loopmasters, Squadpack, Samplified, and Nodusk.

How do you sample if you don’t use Sample Plugins?

The simple way is to record with a microphone or with your phone then put your mp3 (or WAV file for a better audio quality) into your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and edit the part you want to use. Before you start recording sound, I recommend you to move into a quiet room to prevent unwanted sound to blend in. This prevents you spending too much time to get a “clean” sample later on.

It’s natural you are not allowed to take a part of the recorded song because you are copying their work and can get sued.

You can ask the label or the owner if you are allowed to use it, but some would charge you money (perhaps a lot of money) or never reply back. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use them. You can take a sample from another song and use it as long you are doing these steps:

  • Edit to the point it doesn’t sound recognizable.
  • Not using the sample as the primary groove or hood
  • Not using the title of the source music in the title of your songs

If you follow these steps you will reduce the risks from getting sued from recording labels.

Altering the sound from the original would prevent listener and music producers to hear any similarities would mean that you are safe for sample clearance.

In music, musicians and producers don’t only use instruments or taking samples of other songs, but sound outside the world as well such as bird tweeting, cars, cowbell, thunder, rain and etc. This is probably the safest way to get samples, but also creative since you can obtain unique sounds that are original and you are the owner of it. Sampling is what most producers tend to do when creating songs and making remixes such as traps, EDM or bass.

Drum machine

As you can probably tell this plugin is mostly to create a groovy beat, rhythms and loop. It works like synthesizers and sample but the difference is that you are using software that mainly focuses on drum, kicks. This appealing for people that create music genre like house, but it can apply to other music styles as well.

Just like other synthesizers, you can get free version as well, but they might not live up to your expectation since they offer few features. A good drum machine should have features like EQ and other effects that have the ability to change how it would sound, but you should be albe to create multiple loops you trigger so you add various sound in your track.

The Second: Effects/VSTfx

Effects are the most common tool to have in your DAW. It has the ability to change or customize the input and out audio of Digital Audio Workstation. These are essential if you want to produce any types of music.

Here are the essential VST effect I would recommend you should have or at least know about:

  • Reverbs – What Reverb does is adding more space and room to your audio just like if you are singing or playing in a large room or a small room for your desire. For vocals, it’s the most important element since it makes the voice sound more alive and powerful. A great example is Valhalla VintageVerb.
  • Delay – It’s an audio effect which let you play the signal or audio input multiple times or playing back which creating echoes.
  • Choruses – This is used for multiple your voice or instrument. Choruses make it sounds like there are more than one instruments or voice that being played back which can be a great effect if you know how to use it.

Dynamic VST Plugins

Dynamic VST Plugins are used to alter the sounds by boosting, decreasing or cut part of the frequency to change how it sounds.

Here are examples of dynamics plugin:

Vst Plugins Torrent Download

  • EQ – This is also referred to an equalizer, and is used to adjust the amplitude to the ranges of frequencies in your audio. A good example could be you want to lower the bass (some call it the end) to be either louder or softer. You can also use it to boost, decrease and increase the sounds to the audio. Many producers tend to use it in early stage and perhaps before finishing it.
  • Compression and Limiters – Compression is used to reducing the level of audio from reaching to a peak which is known as loud noise. When you record voice or instrumental there will be more dynamic range. In music, it is different between the quiet and loudest volume of the audio. To give you a simple idea how it does, a compressor makes loud sounds softer.

How Much Storage Does VST software Take?

Not every VST plugin is equal in features, functions or size of it. Some VST plugins can range from 300 MB up to 2 GB or even more. VST plugins are just like Digital Audio Workstation, it comes in different shape and size. Not all of them are the same and have their compatible with each software. Before downloading plugins I prefer to store them in a file and name it VST plugins, and I would recommend you to do so.

Does The File Size Of Plugins Affect Overall DAW Performance?

The size of the file doesn’t affect the performance, as long you have space in your hard drive it would be no problem. However, if you are planning to use one or more VST plugins in a project then you should be concern about the RAM (Random Accessory Memories).

Having VST plugin on a screen while working with your music project can be a bit of trouble if you don’t have enough RAM, especially if you are working more than a VST plugin at the same time. That is why producers recommended having 8 GB or more if you are thinking of using multiple plugins at the same time to avoid your software from freezing or crashing down.

Should You Store Your VST Plugin Onto The Main Hard Drive?

Of course, you can download it to your main drive but if you are thinking of having more in the future it might be a wise choice to place it on another drive to keep things clean. In the beginning, you wouldn’t have any problem with storage, but later on, it could cause problems. When you occur this problem you have to go and remove stuff you never use to free up space.

If you want to keep your computer or laptop clean, you can store VST files into another driver instead of an internal driver such as an external hard driver, portable HDD or HDD docking.

How Do You Know If VST Plugins Are Compatible With Your DAW?

Before downloading plugins into your device you should know if they are compatible or not. Not every plugin works every DAW so you should take look if so.

DAW is like VST plugin, they offer either on Windows or Mac only or maybe both.

Some plugins offer as VST 1,2 and 3 but this only tells you what version it is. If you ever have the option to choose between these three I recommend to go for VST 3 since it supports most of the DAWs out there. There is a long story behind VST 1,2 and 3 so to make this sort as possible it a newer version of other two since they were released in 1996 and 1999, but there a quiet few which offer old version.

There are four mainly plugin format that is compatible with specific DAW. Here is a chart about each plugin format and which DAW accept plugin format.

Plugin FormatPlugin LogoDAW that are compatible
VSTAbleton Live, Cubase, FL Studio, Studio One, Reason, Reaper, Nuendo and the rest.
Audio Unit (Mac Only)Logic Pro, Garageband, Abletion Live, Studio One.
AAXPro Tools 10 and later.
RTASPro Tools 10 and earlier.

Note: These logos are not 100% accurate since some website would have logos either colorless or different logo, but they would display the word so you know what plugin format it is.

Vst plugins.com

If you see these logos then it would be easy for you to spot which plugin vst you can use on your DAW.

Is There Any Difference Between 32-bit and 64-bit Plugins?

Yes, since this depends mainly on your 3rd party VST if want it to work on your Digital Work Station. So, if you want it to work on your Digital Audio Workstation it needs to have the same bit in order to operate. Example, 64-bit Digital Audio Workstation is able to load 64-bit and 32-bit Digital Audio Workstation can only load the 32-bit plugin.

The terms 32-bit and 64-bit refer how well Windows handles more effectively. The 64-bit of Windows version are better at handling information than a 32-bit system.

How do you know if you have a 32-bit or 64-bit?

Well, on Windows platform you can check your computer running a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Window by doing this step:

If you have Windows 7:

Open System by clicking the start button, right-clicking Computer, and then clicking Properties.

Under the system, you can view the system type.

If you have Windows 8, 10:

To open the system, simply press the start button and type in “system information” and click on it.

If you have Mac device:

Vst Plugins Folder

To see if your Mac’s processor is 32-bit or 64-bit, go to the Apple menu and choose “About This Mac”. After clicking on it you will open a new window “operating system”, here can you check below to see your processor. If it’s only an Intel Core Solo or Intel Core Duo then it’s only 32-bit.

Where Can You Get or Download Plugins?

There are many places you can download VST plugin. Since there are so many places that offer as third-party plugin. No website is better others, it mostly depends on reviews, how many stars it gets and how popular.

Here are some great website you can download free VST plugins. There are many other websites that offer great software so you shouldn’t think these are the best one, but give you an idea what you can get through website and see what other people thinks about it.

  • Splice – Offer free and paid VST instruments and effects.
  • Vstplanet.com – This site offers VST instruments, synthesizers, drums, piano, bass synths, and organ.
  • GTGsynths.com Offer great synth plugins
  • AMvst.com Free and budget-friendly VST plug-ins
  • VST4free.com Get brass, guitar, piano, strings, wind, drum synths, and free synth sounds

I can make the list even longer, but I want this to be as simple as possible since there are countless websites you can find that are perhaps better than I have listed.

Do You Have Any Good VST Plugin You Want To Share?

Vst Plugins.com

If you have any experience with any good plugin you wish to share, feel free to share it by leaving comments.