VST Plugin

How Do VST Plugins Work? Our 3 Best VST Plugins So Far

Have you ever wondered what VST Stands for and How do they work? They are actually  popular plugins that allow musicians to  simulate traditional recording equipment, which can help make your music sound more polished and professional. They’re also great for creating new sounds, adding effects, and mixing tracks together.

VST stands for ” Virtual Studio Technology.”

In this guide we’ll go over how VST plugins work, how they’re used, and how they can help you create high-quality tracks.

Today, the use of VSTs is very common for any producer, engineer, and recording studio. But for decades, the studios did not have this technology, and everything was done in very different ways. How do we get to them? Let’s see

What are VST Plugins?

Virtual Studio Technology or VST is a standard interface developed by Steinberg for connecting audio synthesizers and effects plugins to audio editing software, sequencing, and various recording systems. It allows you to replace traditional recording hardware with a virtual studio through the use of software tools through a digital audio workstation or DAW.

Short History of VST Plugins

Steinberg Research was born in 1984. The company made up of Karl ‘Charlie’ Steinberg, a musician and studio engineer, and Manfred Rürup, a keyboard player, had only one product in its portfolio: Multitrack Recorder, a basic 16-track MIDI sequencer developed for the CBM C64 computer (Commodore 64).

From then on, the partners improved and evolved the product, incorporating new technologies and developing software for Mac in 1990, and for Windows in 1992 to reach a greater number of users.

The year 1992 marked the arrival of Cubase Audio, the first version with support for audio in addition to MIDI sequencing, which was a blow to its competition at the time and positioned Steinberg at the top of the market. So after that great success, Steinberg Cubase introduced, in 1996, the VST.

In 1999 they released version 2.0, which made it possible to control plugins via MIDI and opened up the possibility of using VST instruments (called VSTi plugins). Also, they released the VST development kit, opening up the technology to other developers.

Picture of STEINBERG PRO-16 PROFESSIONAL SEQUENCER (Successor to the 1985 Multitrack Recorder)

How Do VST Plugins Work? And Why Does It Matter?

VST Plugins are tiny programs that add a specific effect or capability to your digital audio workstation. There are plugins for everything from EQs and compressors to reverbs and delays. Each plugin typically has a specific purpose or function, and they can be chained together in any order to create a custom signal processing chain.

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When you load a VST plugin into your DAW, it creates an instance of that plugin within your project. Depending on the plugin, you may be able to adjust various parameters to change the sound it produces. For example, you could increase the wet/dry mix on a reverb plugin to make it sound more present in the final mix. VST plugins typically use a combination of digital signal processing algorithms and synthesis techniques to generate their sound. The algorithms are responsible for the overall sound of the plugin, while the synthesis techniques are used to generate the individual sounds that make up the plugin.

Now let’s talk about why does it matter?

Why Does It Matter? Now that we know how VST plugins work, let’s talk about why they’re so important for audio production. As we just mentioned, VST plugins allow you to do things with your audio that would otherwise be impossible. But beyond that, they also give you a level of precision and control that would be otherwise impossible. For example, let’s say you want to add a subtle amount of reverb to your audio. With a hardware reverb unit, you would be limited to the units presets, which may not be exactly what you’re looking for. But with a VST plugin, you can dial in the exact amount of reverb you want, with complete control over the parameters. In other words, VST plugins give you the ability to fine-tune your audio productions to perfection. And that’s why they matter.

Different Types of VST Plugins

There are essentially two types of VST:

VST Effects:

These are effects that are applied to the audio. The most common effects are reverb, delay, distortion or EQ (equalizer). A VST effect plugin allows you to simulate one of these audio processors virtually.

VST Instruments:

With a VST instrument you can simulate any type of instrument virtually. You can add pianos, guitars, drums, bass or any instrument virtually. You do not need to have the physical instrument.

Also, there are different extensions that allow us to use them in different DAWs.


VST is the extension initially introduced by Steinberg that became famous in all DAWs. It works on Windows and macOS.


It is the new version of the VST. The biggest advantage is that it only consumes CPU when the plugin is in use.

Also we have AU, which is the extension provided by CoreAudio to work within macOS,

and AAX, which is the official Avid extension for running within your Pro Tools DAW.



Where Can I Find and Install VST Plugins?

Today we can find a large number and variety of VSTs on the web. Many of them are paid, and are made by large companies or developers such as Steinberg. There are also many free VSTs, developed by users or small companies. There are many specialized VST sites from where you can download both paid and free ones. Also, many times the VSTs are included with the purchase of a DAW, or a particular MIDI controller, or keyboard. Just googling you will find lots of them!

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The vast majority have a setup to carry out the installation, just as if we were installing any program on our computer. But, you must take into account which DAW you are using, since depending on it you will have to install it in one folder or another. So pay attention to it when installing your new VST.

How to Use/ Activate a VST Plugin?

After you have completed the installation, it is possible, if it is a paid VST, that the manufacturer asks you to register on their website, to give you an activation code that allows you to use the VST. This will also allow you to keep abreast of updates and news from the manufacturer and the VST itself.

If it’s a VST that doesn’t ask for registration on the web, then just open your DAW and start using it!

Can You Use Multiple VST Plugins Simultaneously ?

Of course!

However, before you start using multiple VST plugins, there are a few things you need to know.

First, let’s talk about CPU usage. When you’re using multiple VST plugins, your computer’s CPU has to work hard to process all the audio. This can cause your computer to slow down or even freeze if you’re not careful.

If your CPU usage is getting too high, you can try to lower the buffer size in your DAW. This will make your computer work less hard, and it might help you avoid slowdown or freezing.

You should also make sure that you have enough RAM. RAM is important for processing audio, and if you don’t have enough, your computer will start to slow down. If you’re using a lot of VST plugins, you might also want to consider upgrading your computer. A better CPU and more RAM will help you run multiple VST plugins without any problems.

Do VST Plugins work without a DAW?

Well, it really depends on the plugin that is being used. There are many that come with their built-in version, which can be run without the need for the DAW, and is used, among other things, to play live using associated midi controllers. Others, however, can only be used within the DAW.

My 3 favorite VST plugins

Among the large number of VSTs that I generally use, there are three that I have taken very good advantage of:

Arturia V Collection 9

Without a doubt, V Collection 9 offers one of the most complete ranges of professional quality instruments and sounds in software format. A very good emulation of pianos, keyboards and classic synthesizers, very intuitive and complete.

XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2

A very complete drum and percussion emulator, easy to use and very, very customizable. From the drum kits, to each drum models, the position of the microphones, room simulation, and a very advanced mixing panel from where you can achieve a very good and real drum sound.

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Native Instruments Supercharger

A brilliant compressor, very easy and intuitive, with an impeccable sound. Very good results are obtained on drums, bass, and even keyboards, guitars and voices. At first glance this VST looks like just a stripped down plugin for beginners, but it is actually an excellent compressor that can be used for all sorts of tasks. Plus you can get it for free!

Benefits of Using VST Plugins

As an audio engineer, producer, or musician, you’re always on the lookout for new ways to improve your craft. One way to do that is by using VST plugins. VST plugins are virtual instruments or effects that you can use in your digital audio workstation (DAW). They offer a wide range of sonic possibilities and can help you take your music to the next level.

Now let’s talk about some of the major benefits of using VST Plugins.


One of the main reasons why VST plugins are so popular is because of their versatility. There are VSTs available for just about any purpose you can think of, whether you’re looking for drums, bass, guitar, or even vocal plugins. This means that you can easily find a VST that will suit your needs, regardless of what genre of music you’re producing.

Ease of Use

Another great benefit of VST plugins is that they’re typically very easy to use. Most VSTs come with an interface that is easy to understand and use, which makes them perfect for those who are just getting started with music production. Additionally, many VSTs come with a variety of presets that can be used to get started with your track, which can save you a lot of time in the long run.


Compared to other types of music production software, VST plugins are relatively affordable. This is especially true if you’re just getting started with music production and don’t have a lot of money to invest. Additionally, there are a variety of free VSTs available, which can help you get started without spending any money at all.


One of the final benefits of VST plugins is that they’re compatible with a variety of different DAWs (digital audio workstations). This means that you can use them in conjunction with just about any DAW on the market, which can make your workflow a lot smoother. Overall, VST plugins offer a variety of benefits that make them perfect for those who are just getting started with music production. If you’re looking for a versatile, easy to use, and affordable music production solution, then VST plugins should definitely be at the top of your list.

For more information On VSTs and Music Production, please visit our VST section.

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