Welcome to A Brief Introduction to VSTs and More. My name is Nicky and I am a music producer, sound designer and composer based in London. This blog is dedicated to demystifying the world of VSTs (Virtual Studio Technology) and other electronic music resources.
As a composer, I work mainly in one of two ways: either by using a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) such as Logic Pro or Ableton Live or by using notation software such as Sibelius and Finale. If you’re reading this, then there’s a good chance that you will be familiar with the latter but not with the former. If that’s the case, then please read on – it’s not at all difficult to use DAWs, it just takes a bit of getting used to!
In fact, the first time I used one was when I was 20 years old and starting my Master’s degree in Music Composition at the Royal College of Music in London. I was scared of computers at that point and had never used one before in my life (I know it sounds crazy now but it’s true!).
VSTs are virtual plug-ins that are designed to add effect and sounds to your music. Many people who create electronic music use VSTs to aid in their production. Some of the most popular VSTs include Serum, Massive, Sylenth1, Nexus, and Kontakt.
VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology. VSTs were created by Steinberg and first introduced in 1996. The first VSTs were simple MIDI sequencers that allowed users to create drum patterns via a keyboard software instrument. Most often, you will see VST used as an acronym for Virtual Studio Technology Instrument (VSTi).
A synthesizer (sometimes abbreviated as “synth”) is an electronic musical instrument that generates audio signals that may be converted to sound. Synthesizers may imitate traditional musical instruments such as piano, flute, vocals, or natural sounds such as ocean waves; or generate novel electronic timbres. They are often played with a musical keyboard, but they can be controlled via a variety of other input devices, including music sequencers, instrument controllers, fingerboards, guitar synthesizers, wind controllers, and electronic drums. Synthesizers without built-in controllers are often called sound modules. Synthesizers use various methods
A VST is a virtual instrument, a piece of software that emulates the sound of a real instrument. Many DAWs include VSTs, but there are plenty of others you can buy and download online.
A VST is an instrumental plugin, meaning that it is meant to be used instead of, or in conjunction with, other instruments. You can use them in the same way as you would use any other instrument; just load up the channel and play.
The difference between using a VST and using a real instrument is that with a VST, you don’t need to worry about setting up or recording anything; it’s all done for you. If you’re using a keyboard, then it’s as simple as hitting record in your DAW and playing along with the clicks.
If you’re using the computer keyboard, then you can use the mouse to play along with the clicks. If you have an acoustic guitar or bass, then you’ll need to set up your computer so that it can send MIDI data to your DAW via USB or MIDI cable (or both). This is called MIDI-over-USB.
Once you’ve got your computer set up properly, then all you have to do is play along with the clicks on your
VST stands for “Virtual Studio Technology.” Created by Steinberg, a German musical software and equipment company, VST was designed to be an open standard for the integration of software audio synthesizer and effect plugins with audio editors and recording systems. It was originally developed for Microsoft Windows but is now available on many different platforms (OS X, Linux).
VST plugins are modular programs that can emulate the functions of real analog gear, or in some cases can completely replace them. They use digital signal processing (DSP) to simulate real world instruments and effects. Some examples would be synthesizers (virtual synths), compressors, equalizers, limiters, reverbs, etc.
A huge variety of VSTs exist today as third-party plugins. They come in various price ranges, with some being free and others costing tens of thousands of dollars. While there are quite a few excellent commercial VSTs available today, there are also many free ones that sound incredible. In fact, some of the most popular commercial VSTs have free versions out there that have been around for a long time and still remain very popular among producers.
A digital audio workstation (DAW) is a computer program designed for editing, recording, mixing and mastering digital audio. DAWs are the modern equivalent of tape recorders/recording consoles and often contain virtual instruments, synthesizers, effects, filters and other tools that can be used to create and manipulate sounds.
Some of the most popular DAWs include Ableton Live, Cubase, Logic Pro, Sonar, FL Studio and Reason. A typical modern DAW will include a sound card or interface, a MIDI controller keyboard and various types of software plug-ins. Some manufacturers produce hardware controllers specifically designed for use with their own DAW (Ableton Push or Native Instruments Maschine for example).
VSTs are virtual instruments or VIs that are like “plug-in” software synthesi sers or samplers that run inside a DAW such as Ableton Live or Cubase. These can be used to create electronic music such as dubstep, drum ‘n’ bass or house music.
VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology – an audio plugin format standard that was developed by Steinberg in 1996 (when they first released their Cubase software). All modern VSTs use the same protocol so they should all
A VST is a software interface that integrates software audio synthesizer and effect plugins with audio editors and hard-disk recording systems. VST and similar technologies allow the replacement of traditional recording studio hardware with software counterparts. VST plug-ins are software modules that can take the form of real-time instruments or effects. Thousands of plugins exist, both commercial and freeware, and many audio applications support the VST standard.
The VST interface allows third-party developers to design virtual instruments and effects plug-ins, for inclusion in host applications. Virtual instruments are software emulations of traditional instruments or hardware electronic musical instruments. Examples include softsynths, software samplers, audio synthesizers, sequencers, drum machines, romplers (i.e., samples mapped to a keyboard) and sound effects. The first VST host application was Steinberg Cubase 3.0 in February 1996, but it was only “VST ready”, not fully compatible until later version 3.7 (December 1996).
Electronic Music and Sound Design – Theory and Practice with Max and MSP
Electronic Music and Sound Design is now available online for FREE!!!
Electronic Music and Sound Design is the first of two volumes of a complete course on how to create electronic music and sound effects with a computer. The first volume is a theoretical and historical survey of topics including sound, hearing, acoustics, psychoacoustics, electronic instruments, synthesis techniques, sampling, MIDI, digital audio, sound processing, granular synthesis, spectralism, spatialization techniques, as well as an analysis of classic electronic pieces. The second volume contains a series of tutorials that explain how to use specific software tools (Max/MSP), with an emphasis on sound design practice.
The book was written by Alessandro Cipriani and Maurizio Giri; it was published by A-R Editions in 2008 (ISBN 0895795933). Volume 1 can be downloaded here: Electronic Music and Sound Design – Volume 1.pdf (13.8 MB)
Volume 2 can be downloaded here: Electronic Music and Sound Design – Volume 2.pdf (29 MB)