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Virtual Studio Technology

An audio plug-in software interface that integrates software synthesizers and effects units into digital audio workstations.

Virtual Studio Technology (VST) is an audio plug-in software interface that integrates software synthesizers and effects units into digital audio workstations. VST and similar technologies use digital signal processing to simulate traditional recording studio hardware in software. Thousands of plugins exist, both commercial and freeware, and many audio applications support VST under license from its creator, Steinberg.

VST plugins generally run within a digital audio workstation (DAW), to provide additional functionality, though a few standalone plugin hosts exist which support VST. Most VST plugins are either instruments (VSTi) or effects (VSTfx), although other categories exist—for example spectrum analyzers and various meters. VST plugins usually provide a custom graphical user interface that displays controls similar to physical switches and knobs on audio hardware. Some (often older) plugins rely on the host application for their user interface.

VST instruments include software simulation emulations of well-known hardware synthesizers and samplers. These typically emulate the look of the original equipment as well as its sonic characteristics. This lets musicians and recording engineers use virtual versions of devices that otherwise might be difficult and expensive to obtain.

VST instruments receive notes as digital information via MIDI and output digital audio. Effect plugins receive digital audio and process it through to their outputs. (Some effect plugins also accept MIDI input—for example, MIDI sync to modulate the effect in sync with the tempo). MIDI messages can control both instrument and effect plugin parameters. Most host applications can route the audio output from one VST to the audio input of another VST (chaining). For example, the output of a VST synthesizer can be sent through a VST reverb effect.

There are three types of VST plugins:

  • VST instruments generate audio. They are generally either Virtual Synthesizers or Virtual samplers. Many recreate the look and sound of famous hardware synthesizers. Better known VST instruments include Discovery, Nexus, Sylenth1, Massive, Omnisphere, FM8, Absynth, Reaktor, Gladiator, Serum, and Vanguard.
  • VST effects process rather than generate audio—and perform the same functions as hardware audio processors such as reverbs and phasers. Other monitoring effects provide visual feedback of the input signal without processing the audio. Most hosts allow multiple effects to be chained. Audio monitoring devices such as spectrum analyzers and meters represent audio characteristics (frequency distribution, amplitude, etc.) visually.
  • VST MIDI effects process MIDI messages (for example, transpose or arpeggiate) and route the MIDI data to other VST instruments or to hardware devices.

Key Terms

audio plug software interface
digital signal processing
effect plugins
effects units digital audio workstations
example
similar technologies
software synthesizers
virtual studio technology
vst
vst instruments

Additional Resources

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Acronymn

VST

Synonymns

Virtual Studio Technology
(none found)

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Sources & Credits

Last modified on May 20 2020
Content adapted from Wikipedia
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