VST vs VST3 Plugins

VST vs VST3 Plugins
6 min read
19 October 2022

One of the great advantages of DAWs (digital audio workstations) over physical hardware is their flexibility. The easiest way to get a new effect is to load a plugin and use it instead of purchasing a new piece of equipment.

VSTs can help with that.

By using VSTs, you can easily choose which effects or instruments you need. The VST acronym stands for Virtual Studio Technology. Sound processing makes it easier to edit a podcast, record audio for videos, or work in music production.

VST Technology: What Is It?

You can load VST plugins into your DAW. Virtual Studio Technology is what VST stands for.

Steinberg Media Technologies introduced the original version of VST - or more accurately, the VST standard - in the mid-1990s. VSTs can be developed without paying a license fee because the standard is open-source.

A new version of VST was released in 1999, called VST2. A VST plugin is usually referred to as a VST2 plugin (which is confusingly just called a VST).

A VST is a software program that reproduces physical hardware. Digital signal processing (DSP) is used to accomplish this.

An audio signal is received by the VST plugin, processed, and then output as a digital audio signal. The VST does this automatically and does not require any user intervention.

So, what is the difference between VST and VST3?

A comparison of VST2 and VST3

Because VST2 has worked well so far, plugin developers and users have been reluctant to completely replace it. Due to Steinberg's decision to stop supporting and licensing VST2, many developers are now including VST3 versions of their plugins or only providing VST3 versions, such as Celemony's Melodyne 5.

The following are some of the most useful improvements in VST3:

Processing that is more efficient

When an audio signal is present, VST3 only performs processing. Unlike VST2, which would keep processing active whenever there is no audio signal, CPU resources aren't wasted during silences.

You can use more plugins in a project without overburdening your system because VST3 is more resource-efficient.

The ability to adapt inputs and outputs

The inputs and outputs of traditional VST instruments were fixed. The stereo and surround sound processing plugins had to be implemented separately. Even if not all of the channels were in use, multi-output instruments usually took up a lot of space. As a result, resources would be wasted again.

With VST3, plugins can be dynamically adapted to the number of inputs or outputs they need. This plugin will automatically adjust its channel routing based on whether it is put on a stereo or 5.1 channel. Flexibility and efficiency are increased as a result.

Handling of MIDI has been improved

A dedicated event handler bus can be provided by VST3 plugins, allowing for a variety of control and modulation commands beyond simple MIDI commands. Future control methods may utilize these functions in addition to the MIDI protocol.

You can now control MIDI notes at a note level. It is possible, for example, to associate events like pitch bends with specific notes by creating unique note IDs, so that the modulation is applied only to the note associated with that particular event.

Multiple MIDI I/O support

VST2 only allowed plugins to be assigned to a single MIDI input and output. Now that VST3 plugins support multiple MIDI ports simultaneously, they can be switched on the fly. The flexibility of routing allows for more possibilities when performing live music.

A better organization of automation parameters

In VST2 plugins, searching through hundreds of parameters could be annoying when trying to find a particular automation parameter. The VST3 plug-in categorizes automation parameters within the plug-in, which some DAWs do not offer.

For example, all parameters related to filters can be organized under the 'Filter' category, rhythmic parameters can be organized under the 'Rhythm' category, and so forth. As a result, the automation process can be streamlined and project organization can be improved.

Using VST instruments for audio input

VST instruments are usually associated with MIDI input only, but VST3 allows audio to be routed to plugins, which opens up a world of possibilities. MIDI data and audio signals can now be used to modulate a synth plugin with an inbuilt vocoder.

It also enables sidechaining and cross-modulation independent of the DAW's built-in functionality. It has been possible to sidechain with VST2 for some time, but it depends on the routing capabilities of the DAW.

GUI that can be resized

It allows for VST3 plugins to be scaled in size as needed, freeing up or taking up screen space according to requirements. Working with crowded sessions becomes much easier with this small change.

Automated sample with accuracy

In other words, VST3 is capable of reading and writing automation data down to the sample level, which means that it remains highly accurate even for rapid and minute changes.

Via VSTXML, plugins can be controlled remotely

VSTXML provides enhanced flexibility for remote control of plugin parameters from various control surfaces with the growing popularity of portable control surfaces in music production and live performance.

Support for multiple languages

Text in VST3 is in Unicode (UTF-16), which supports non-English characters as well as special characters. As a result, plugins can be localized in multiple languages more easily.

In case you have found a mistake in the text, please send a message to the author by selecting the mistake and pressing Ctrl-Enter.
Edgar Ulif 2
Joined: 1 year ago
Comments (0)

    No comments yet

You must be logged in to comment.

Sign In / Sign Up