Let’s talk about VST!

VST, VST Effects, VST Instruments

Have you ever tried a VST? No?

Have you ever wondered what do you need to use it?

If the answer is yes then continue reading because I will try to explain the VST basics to open the doors to the vast world of VSTs.

This world is full of free and high quality resources for the modern musician with outstanding synths.

So… let’s start with the basics!

What’s a VST?

A VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology. You can also call it “virtual instruments” and it is an audio plug-in software interface that integrates software synthesizers and effects units into digital audio workstations (DAWs).

VST instruments use digital signal processing to simulate the sound generation, allowing musicians, producers, and audio engineers to create music.

Here are some key points about virtual instruments:

  • VST is a widely used standard in the music production industry, allowing for the seamless integration of virtual instruments and effects into DAWs.
  • VST plugins can be used to generate sounds, emulate instruments, apply effects such as reverb and delay, and enhance the overall audio quality of recordings.
  • VST plugins are available in various formats, including VST2 and VST3, and can be used on both Windows, macOS and, albeit with some limitations and with a lot of patience, also on Linuxoperating systems.
  • There are numerous plugins available from different software companies, offering a wide range of virtual instruments, synthesizers, effects, and sample libraries.
  • VST plugins can be used in real-time during music production, allowing for immediate feedback and adjustments to the sound.
  • Many DAWs come with built-in support for virtual instrument plugins, while others require a separate VST host software to load and manage the plugins.
  • VST technology has revolutionized the music production process, providing musicians and producers with a vast array of creative tools and possibilities.

Overall, VST is a powerful tool that enhances the capabilities of digital audio workstations, enabling users to create professional-quality music.


Now that we know what a VST is, how can we use these plugins?

Even if some plugins are provided standalone (without the need for a VST host program) we are going to see the most common scenario, where you need an host software to load and run your plugins.

Let’s start with the simplest solution using a free VST host software, a program that can load VSTs and let you play them with your MIDI keyboard or emulating a MIDI keyboard with your computer keyboard.

Trying to use a DAW, for those that never used these programs, can be a bit overwhelming even if the concepts are the same.

Here are some popular free VST host software options:

  • Cantabile Lite: Cantabile Lite is a powerful and free VST host with a beautifully designed and touch-friendly user interface.
    It allows you to play VST plugins in real-time and is suitable for performing musicians.
    For a newby can be a bit complex to start with this program for the amount of available options.
    But it is very powerful and configurable to the user needs.
vst host : Cantabile
  • NanoHost: NanoHost is a minimalist host application.
    It is free to use and is great for live performances, testing, and sound design.
    Very good choice to start with for a beginner.
  • Hermann Seib’s SAVIHost : at first glance this program seems a bit dated, with a not very refined graphical interface, but in reality it is a very complete free host software with advanced functions and quite simple to use.

There are many other software available including free and paid ones, and with various features oriented towards live performances.

It’s easy to retrieve a complete , just do a search yourself on any search engine, the aim of these articles is to bring beginners closer to the world of VSTs without scaring them.

This series of articles is dedicated to beginners, we will consider the simplest of the three, namely NanoHost by Tone2.

In the next article we see see how to install it, and how to load a free virtual instruments.

We are going to have some fun with a virtual instruments!

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