[2023] Is VST3 better than VST2? A Comprehensive Comparison

VST3 better than VST2? Uniphonic

Introduction

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When it comes to audio plugins, VST (Virtual Studio Technology) is one of the most popular formats used by musicians, producers, and audio engineers. VST plugins allow users to add various effects, instruments, and processing tools to their digital audio workstations (DAWs). Over the years, VST has evolved, with VST2 being the standard for a long time. However, with the introduction of VST3, there has been a debate about which version is better. In this article, we will explore the differences between VST2 and VST3 and determine which one is the superior choice for your music production needs.

Table of Contents

Quick Answer

VST3 is generally considered better than VST2 due to its improved efficiency, increased flexibility, and enhanced functionality. It offers benefits such as optimized CPU usage, support for multiple inputs and outputs, advanced MIDI and modulation capabilities, and a user-friendly parameter search filter. While VST2 still has its place in the music production world, VST3 is the recommended choice for future-proofing your projects and accessing the latest plugins.

Recommended Choice: VST3

Quick Tips and Facts

  • VST3 is the latest version of the VST plugin format, succeeding VST2.
  • VST3 plugins are more efficient and only use CPU resources when there is audio signal, unlike VST2 which remains active at all times.
  • VST3 plugins have increased flexibility and can be used with multiple inputs/outputs, eliminating the need for separate versions of plugins for different routing.
  • VST3 plugins have a dedicated event handler bus that allows for control over MIDI messages and modulation messages, as well as future adaptability to new control methods.
  • VST3 plugins support sidechaining and can take both MIDI input and MIDI data.
  • Hosts are starting to drop support for VST2, so using VST3 ensures compatibility with future updates.
  • VST3 plugins are recommended for future-proofing and accessing new plugins that are VST3 only.

Background

Before we dive into the differences between VST2 and VST3, let’s take a brief look at the history of VST and how it has evolved over the years.

VST was introduced by Steinberg in 1996 as a plugin format that allowed third-party developers to create virtual instruments and effects for use within DAWs. VST2 quickly became the industry standard and was widely adopted by plugin developers and DAW manufacturers.

However, as technology advanced and new requirements emerged, Steinberg released VST3 in 2008 as an updated version of the format. VST3 aimed to address the limitations of VST2 and provide a more efficient and flexible platform for audio plugins.

Key Differences Between VST2 and VST3

Now let’s explore the key differences between VST2 and VST3 in more detail.

Compatibility

Feature VST2 VST3
CPU Usage Active at all times, even when no audio signal is present. Only uses CPU resources when there is audio signal.
Multiple Inputs/Outputs Requires separate versions of plugins for different routing configurations. Supports multiple inputs and outputs, eliminating the need for separate versions.
MIDI and Modulation Limited control over MIDI and modulation messages. Dedicated event handler bus for advanced control over MIDI and modulation.
Sidechaining Limited or no support for sidechaining. Supports sidechaining and can take both MIDI input and MIDI data.

Performance

VST3 plugins are more efficient in terms of CPU usage compared to VST2. VST3 plugins only use CPU resources when there is audio signal, whereas VST2 plugins remain active at all times, even when no audio signal is present. This optimized CPU usage allows users to use a larger number of plugins without overloading the system.

Features and Functionality

VST3 introduces several new features and functionalities that enhance the overall plugin experience. Some of the notable features of VST3 include:

  • Multiple Inputs and Outputs: VST3 plugins support multiple inputs and outputs, allowing for more flexible routing options. This eliminates the need for separate versions of plugins for different routing configurations.

  • Advanced MIDI and Modulation Capabilities: VST3 plugins have a dedicated event handler bus that allows for control over MIDI messages and modulation messages. This enables more advanced control and modulation possibilities, as well as future adaptability to new control methods.

  • User-Friendly Parameter Search: VST3 plugins include a user-friendly search filter for parameters, making it easier to find and adjust specific settings within the plugin. This improves workflow efficiency and organization.

User Experience

VST3 plugins offer an improved user experience compared to VST2. The enhanced features and functionalities of VST3 plugins contribute to a more complete and less tedious experience. The user-friendly parameter search filter makes it easier to navigate and adjust plugin settings, saving time and effort.

Developer Support

While VST2 has been the industry standard for many years, VST3 is gaining popularity among developers. Many plugin developers are shifting their focus to VST3 and releasing new plugins exclusively in the VST3 format. As a result, the availability of new plugins in VST2 format may decrease over time.

Conclusion

In conclusion, VST3 is the recommended choice over VST2 due to its improved efficiency, increased flexibility, and enhanced functionality. VST3 plugins offer benefits such as optimized CPU usage, support for multiple inputs and outputs, advanced MIDI and modulation capabilities, and a user-friendly parameter search filter. While VST2 still has its place in the music production world, using VST3 ensures compatibility with future updates and provides access to the latest plugins.

If you want to future-proof your projects and take advantage of the latest plugin advancements, we recommend using VST3 plugins. However, it’s important to note that compatibility may vary depending on your specific DAW and plugin requirements. Be sure to check the compatibility of your DAW and plugins before making any decisions.

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