What Does VST Mean? [2023]

If you’re a music producer or an audio enthusiast, you’ve probably come across the term “VST” at some point. But what does VST actually mean? In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of Virtual Studio Technology and explore its history, applications, and more. So, let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Quick Answer

  • VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology.
  • It is a software interface that allows plugins to be used in digital audio workstations (DAWs).
  • VST plugins can emulate synthesizers, effects processors, and other audio processing units.
  • They enhance the capabilities of DAWs and provide a wide range of creative possibilities for music production and sound design.

Quick Tips and Facts

  • VST was developed by Steinberg Media Technologies in the late 1990s.
  • It revolutionized the music production industry by enabling third-party developers to create plugins for popular DAWs.
  • VST plugins are available for various platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.
  • They can be used in popular DAWs such as Ableton Live, FL Studio, Logic Pro, and Pro Tools.
  • VST plugins come in different formats, including VST2 and VST3.
  • VST technology has evolved over the years, with VST3 offering improved performance and features compared to its predecessor.


Virtual Studio Technology, or VST, is a software interface that allows plugins to be used in digital audio workstations (DAWs). It was developed by Steinberg Media Technologies in the late 1990s and has since become the industry standard for plugin integration in music production.

VST plugins can emulate various audio processing units, including synthesizers, effects processors, and virtual instruments. They enhance the capabilities of DAWs by providing additional functionality and creative possibilities for music producers and sound designers.

VST Plugins

VST plugins are the heart and soul of Virtual Studio Technology. They come in various forms and serve different purposes in music production. Here are some common types of VST plugins:

  1. Synthesizer Plugins: These plugins emulate hardware synthesizers and allow users to create a wide range of sounds and textures. They often include features like oscillators, filters, envelopes, and modulation options. Some popular synthesizer plugins include Serum, Massive, and Sylenth1.

  2. Effects Plugins: Effects plugins modify the audio signal in various ways, adding depth, character, and texture to the sound. They can include reverb, delay, distortion, compression, and many other effects. Popular effects plugins include Waves SSL E-Channel, FabFilter Pro-Q, and Soundtoys Decapitator.

  3. Virtual Instruments: These plugins simulate real instruments, allowing users to play and record virtual versions of pianos, guitars, drums, and more. They often come with extensive libraries of sampled sounds and offer advanced features like key switching and articulation control. Examples of virtual instrument plugins include Native Instruments Kontakt, Spectrasonics Omnisphere, and EastWest Symphonic Orchestra.

VST Hosts

To use VST plugins, you need a compatible DAW that acts as a VST host. A VST host is a software application that provides the necessary framework for loading and using VST plugins. Some popular VST hosts include:

  • Ableton Live
  • FL Studio
  • Logic Pro
  • Pro Tools
  • Cubase
  • Studio One

Each VST host has its own workflow, features, and compatibility with different VST plugin formats. It’s essential to choose a DAW that suits your needs and integrates well with the plugins you want to use.


The VST standard has evolved over the years, with VST3 being the latest version. VST3 offers several improvements over its predecessor, including:

  • Improved Performance: VST3 plugins are more efficient and consume fewer system resources, allowing for smoother playback and lower latency.
  • Enhanced MIDI Integration: VST3 plugins have better MIDI capabilities, allowing for more advanced control and automation options.
  • Sidechain Support: VST3 supports sidechain processing, enabling more complex audio routing and creative possibilities.
  • Sample-Accurate Automation: VST3 plugins can receive and process automation data with sample accuracy, ensuring precise control over parameters.

While VST3 is the latest version, many plugins still come in the VST2 format. Most modern DAWs support both VST2 and VST3 plugins, but it’s always a good idea to check the compatibility of your plugins with your chosen DAW.


VST plugins often come with a variety of presets that serve as starting points for sound design. Presets are pre-configured settings that can be loaded into a plugin to achieve specific sounds or effects. They can be a great way to explore the capabilities of a plugin or quickly find inspiration for your music.

Many plugin developers offer additional preset packs that can be purchased or downloaded for free. These packs often contain a wide range of sounds and styles, allowing you to expand your sonic palette and experiment with different genres and moods.

Competing Technologies

While VST is the most widely used plugin format, there are other competing technologies in the market. Some of these include:

  • Audio Units (AU): Developed by Apple, Audio Units is a plugin format exclusive to macOS. It offers similar functionality to VST and is supported by popular DAWs like Logic Pro and GarageBand.

  • AAX: AAX is a plugin format developed by Avid, the company behind Pro Tools. It is primarily used in the Pro Tools ecosystem and offers advanced features and tight integration with the DAW.

  • RTAS: RTAS (Real-Time AudioSuite) is an older plugin format used in older versions of Pro Tools. It has been largely replaced by AAX but may still be encountered in legacy systems.

While these technologies provide alternatives to VST, it’s important to note that VST remains the most widely supported and versatile plugin format in the industry.

Programming Languages

VST plugins can be developed using various programming languages and frameworks. Some common choices include:

  • C++: C++ is the most widely used language for developing VST plugins. It offers high performance, low-level control, and extensive libraries for audio processing.

  • JUCE: JUCE is a popular C++ framework specifically designed for audio plugin development. It provides a comprehensive set of tools and libraries for building cross-platform plugins.

  • Python: While less common, Python can also be used for developing VST plugins. Python frameworks like PyAudio and PyDub provide high-level abstractions for audio processing and plugin development.

The choice of programming language depends on factors such as developer preference, performance requirements, and the specific features and capabilities of the plugin being developed.



What does VST stand for FL Studio?

VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology, and it is a plugin format that is fully compatible with FL Studio. FL Studio supports both VST2 and VST3 plugins, allowing users to take advantage of a vast library of third-party plugins to enhance their music production workflow.

Read more about “… The Ultimate Guide to VST Plugins: Free Downloads for FL Studio”

Are VSTs and plugins the same thing?

Yes, VSTs (Virtual Studio Technology) and plugins are essentially the same thing. VST is a technology that enables the use of plugins in digital audio workstations (DAWs). Plugins, on the other hand, are software components that add specific functionality to a DAW. VST plugins are the most common type of plugins used in the music production industry.

What is a VST MIDI?

A VST MIDI is a type of plugin that processes MIDI data within a digital audio workstation. It can receive MIDI input from a MIDI controller or another MIDI source and generate MIDI output or control other parameters within the DAW. VST MIDI plugins are often used for tasks such as arpeggiation, chord generation, and MIDI effects processing.

Can VST plugins be used in multiple DAWs?

Yes, VST plugins can be used in multiple DAWs as long as the DAW supports the VST plugin format. Most modern DAWs, including Ableton Live, FL Studio, Logic Pro, and Pro Tools, support VST plugins. However, it’s important to note that some plugins may have specific compatibility requirements or limitations, so it’s always a good idea to check the plugin’s documentation or contact the developer for more information.

Read more about “What is a VST for DAW? …”


In conclusion, VST (Virtual Studio Technology) is a powerful software interface that allows plugins to be used in digital audio workstations. It has revolutionized the music production industry by providing a wide range of creative possibilities for music producers and sound designers. Whether you’re looking for synthesizers, effects processors, or virtual instruments, VST plugins offer a vast library of options to enhance your music production workflow. So go ahead, explore the world of VST and unleash your creativity!

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.