VST Plugin : What is a VST Plugin?
First of all VST Plugin stands for Virtual Studio Technology and it’s an open and free audio plugin created by Steinberg in 1996 that allows any thirdy party developer to create their own VST software plugin for free or commercial use.
VST instruments (VSTi) generates audio and are also called virtual instruments but exists also VST plugins able to process audio signals applying effects like the Chorus and Reverb, just to mention the most commons.
VST instruments and effects cannot be used standalone but instead they need a so called “host application”, an application that can make use of them, an application able to open and expose the plugin interface so the user can change the available parameters and make sounds using a midi keyboard connected to the PC, using the PC keyboard or using the mouse.
A VST host application is an audio software (a DAW, Digital Audio Workstation) with VST support but if you are just looking for a simple and effective host to play your VST instruments and effects in, you should use the VST Host program by Hermann Seib.
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.
Virtual 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.
Virtual 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, output of a VST synthesizer can be sent through a VST reverb effect.
Most Virtual instruments specialise in one type of sound, the most popular being analogue synth simulations, but you can find simulations of Hammond tonewheel organs, Mellotrons and Wavetable synths, and many more. It’s perfectly possible to design them using physical modelling as well.
How to install VST’s differs from VST plugin to plugin, but usually it is very simple, you have to unpack the dll files in the right directory so that the host application is able to find the plugin automatically.