Virtual Studio Technology

From Academic Kids




VST is an acronym for Virtual Studio Technology and refers either directly to some <math>versions<math> of the Steinberg Cubase program or VST plug-ins.

VST plug-ins

VST plug-ins are software modules that can take the form of instruments or effects. Competing technologies include LADSPA and DSSI for Linux, Apple Computer's Audio Units, Microsoft's DirectSound, Digidesign's AudioSuite, Real-time AudioSuite, and TDM.

VST instruments

A VST instrument (or VSTi) is a type of VST plug-in that is generally used to synthesize sound or play-back sampled audio. Types of VST instrument include (among others) virtual synthesizer devices and sampler devices.

VST instruments can be played in real-time when used with an appropriate software and hardware configuration.

VST effects

A VST effect is a type of VST plug-in that is generally used to process audio. Types of VST effect include (among others) reverb processors or phaser effects.

VST effects can be used in real-time when used with an appropriate software and hardware configuration, such as a sound card that supports ASIO, software that bypasses Windows' sluggish audio engine and so offers much lower latency times, allowing for effective real time playing.

VST plug-in standard

The VST plug-in standard is the audio plugin standard created by Steinberg to allow any third party developers to create VST plug-ins for use within VST host applications. The VST plug-in standard is cross platform and allows developers to create VST plug-ins for Microsoft Windows or Macintosh platforms.

The VST 2 plug-in standard was released in around 1999 and allowed more functionality to be added to the VST plug-ins.

Linux support

Kjetil Matheussen's vstserver first provided a mechanism for loading and using VST plugins via his k_vst~ object for the Pd synthesis environment and his ladspavst "plugin to host plugins" for the LADSPA Linux audio plugin API. Kjetil has added his vsti to his list of vstserver clients, providing a way to use VSTi plugin instruments under Linux. See also Free audio software.

A newer project enables Linux users to use native Windows VST-plugins by using parts of the WINE emulator, and is named FreeST (fst). It is nowadays supported by such programs as Ardour and JACK Audio Connection Kit. This requires the Steinberg SDK, which can be found here (

The competing Linux standard DSSI can use VSTi instruments by wrapping them into DSSI instruments. This mechanism also uses WINE.

VST hosts

A VST host is a software application or hardware device that allows VST plug-ins to be used in a logical context, interacting with digital audio and MIDI elements.

Examples of VST host applications include Steinberg Cubase, Fruityloops, Cakewalk's Sonar and Ableton Live.

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External Links

  • Steinberg (
  • kvr (
  • jVSTwRapper ( - The Java VST SDK
  • Syntheway (

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