[2023] The Ultimate Guide to VST: Everything You Need to Know

Are you ready to take your music production to the next level? Look no further than VST, the game-changing technology that has revolutionized the way we create and manipulate sounds. In this comprehensive guide, we'll dive deep into the world of VST, exploring its history, functionality, and the best plugins and hosts available. Whether you're a seasoned producer or just starting out, this article will equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to unleash your creativity. So let's get started and explore the wonderful world of VST!

Table of Contents

Quick Answer

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VST, or Virtual Studio Technology, is a software interface that allows you to integrate virtual instruments and effects into your digital audio workstation (DAW). With VST, you can access a vast library of high-quality plugins to enhance your music production. VST plugins can range from virtual synthesizers and drum machines to audio effects like reverb and compression. To use VST plugins, you'll need a VST host, which is a software application that acts as a bridge between the plugins and your DAW.

Quick Tips and Facts

  • VST was developed by Steinberg Media Technologies in the late 1990s.
  • VST plugins can be used in various DAWs, including Ableton Live, FL Studio, Logic Pro, and Pro Tools.
  • There are thousands of free and commercial VST plugins available, offering a wide range of sounds and effects.
  • VST plugins can be categorized into instruments (synthesizers, samplers, etc.) and effects (reverb, delay, etc.).
  • VST hosts can be standalone applications or integrated into DAWs.
  • VST technology has become an industry standard and is widely supported by both software developers and musicians.


In this section, we'll provide a comprehensive overview of VST, covering its history, functionality, and industry impact.


VST was introduced by Steinberg Media Technologies in 1996 as a way to integrate virtual instruments and effects into their flagship DAW, Cubase. The technology quickly gained popularity among musicians and producers due to its ease of use and versatility. Over the years, VST has evolved into a standard format supported by a wide range of DAWs and plugins.

VST Plugins

VST plugins are the heart and soul of the VST ecosystem. They allow you to add virtual instruments and effects to your DAW, expanding your sonic palette and creative possibilities. With VST plugins, you can create realistic emulations of analog gear, experiment with unique soundscapes, and fine-tune your mix with precision.

There are thousands of VST plugins available, both free and commercial, covering a wide range of musical genres and production needs. From classic synthesizers and drum machines to cutting-edge effects and processors, you'll find a plugin for every musical style and taste.

Popular VST Plugins:

VST Hosts

To use VST plugins, you'll need a VST host. A VST host is a software application that acts as a bridge between the plugins and your DAW. It provides the necessary framework for loading and processing the plugins, allowing you to control them within your DAW's interface.

Most modern DAWs come with built-in VST hosting capabilities, allowing you to use VST plugins seamlessly. However, there are also standalone VST hosts available, which can be useful if you want to use VST plugins without a full-fledged DAW.

Popular VST Hosts:


VST follows a set of standards defined by Steinberg, ensuring compatibility between plugins and hosts. The current standard, VST3, introduced several improvements over its predecessor, VST2. These include enhanced performance, improved MIDI capabilities, and better support for surround sound.

While VST3 is the latest standard, many plugins still use the older VST2 format. Most modern DAWs support both VST2 and VST3 plugins, but it's always a good idea to check the compatibility before purchasing or installing a plugin.


One of the advantages of using VST plugins is the ability to save and recall presets. Presets allow you to save the settings of a plugin and reuse them in different projects or musical contexts. This can be a huge time-saver, especially when working on multiple tracks or collaborating with other musicians.

Many VST plugins come with a wide range of presets, covering various musical styles and genres. These presets serve as starting points for your own sound design and can be a great source of inspiration.

Programming Languages

VST plugins are typically developed using C++ or other programming languages that support the VST SDK (Software Development Kit). If you're interested in creating your own plugins, Steinberg provides the VST SDK, which includes the necessary tools and documentation to get started.

Developing VST plugins requires a solid understanding of audio processing, digital signal processing (DSP), and programming concepts. It's a complex task that requires time and dedication, but the rewards can be immense.


The music producer Jacob Sells, using the Techivation T-De-Esser Pro while tracking a guitar track in his home studio.

How do I install VST on my computer?

Installing VST plugins on your computer is a straightforward process. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Download the VST plugin file from the developer's website.
  2. Locate the VST plugin folder on your computer. The location may vary depending on your operating system and DAW.
  3. Copy the VST plugin file (.dll on Windows, .vst on macOS) into the VST plugin folder.
  4. Restart your DAW or scan for new plugins within your DAW's settings.
  5. The VST plugin should now be available within your DAW.

What is a VST vs plugin?

VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology and refers to the software interface that allows you to use virtual instruments and effects within your DAW. On the other hand, a plugin is a piece of software that extends the functionality of your DAW. VST plugins are a type of plugin that follows the VST standard.

How do I get VST in FL Studio?

FL Studio, like many other DAWs, supports VST plugins out of the box. To use VST plugins in FL Studio, follow these steps:

  1. Open FL Studio.
  2. Go to the "Options" menu and select "Manage Plugins."
  3. In the Plugin Manager, click on the "Add Path" button and navigate to the folder where your VST plugins are located.
  4. Once you've added the plugin path, click on the "Find Plugins" button to scan for new plugins.
  5. FL Studio will detect the VST plugins in the specified folder and make them available for use.

Does Audacity support VST?

Audacity, a popular open-source audio editor, does not natively support VST plugins. However, there are workarounds available that allow you to use VST plugins in Audacity. One such workaround is to use a VST host application, such as Blue Cat's PatchWork or jBridge, to load VST plugins and route the audio to Audacity.


VST has revolutionized the music production landscape, providing musicians and producers with a vast array of virtual instruments and effects. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced professional, integrating VST plugins into your workflow can take your music to new heights.

In this guide, we've explored the world of VST, covering its history, functionality, and the best plugins and hosts available. We've also answered some common questions and provided tips and facts to help you navigate the world of VST.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive into the world of VST and unleash your creativity like never before!

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