VST, an acronym for Virtual Studio Technology, is a technology that makes use of digital signal processing for stimulating traditional recording studio. Alternatively, we can consider them as add-ons in digital music workstations. So, basically, it is an audio plug-in software interface, which is utilized for integrating software synthesizer with effects in digital audio workstations. These plug-ins are used for a variety of purposes like providing effects like Reverb to live instrument simulations and complex synthesizers.
There are three kinds of free VST plugins available:
VST Instruments: VST instrument is used to create audio and they are either samplers or virtual synthesizers. These plug-ins are used to emulate the sound and appearance of prominent hardware.
VST Effects: This processes audio rather than generating it. These effects work similar to hardware audio processors, which include reverbs and phasers.
VST MIDI Effects: These plug-ins processes MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) messages like transpose or arpeggiate and route this MIDI messages to other hardware and VST instruments.
Why Are VST Plug-Ins Used?
VST plug-ins are used for emulating hardware outboard gear inside a digital audio terminal. These include maximizers, expanders, compressors, and equalizers. These plug-ins can be considered as an ideal way to convert the sound of your home studio into something totally professional and costly commercial operation. There are many types of plug-ins available like there are some for vintage compressors and then there are splitting sample that can be used to split a mini chord into different channels. For example, you can slice the sample clips into individual hits using Reaper. If you want to load a sound sample and play it from different positions, then download Beat Chopper.
How to Install a VST Plugin on Your Computer?
- The first step is to locate your VST plug-in directory. Though some software has this built into the program file and you don’t need to follow this step, some like Ableton requires you to do it manually. Here’s how you can proceed for manual process.
- Navigate to the menu “Options” and select “Preferences”, and under that “File Folder” menu. In this, find VST Plug-In Custom Folder and click on “Browse” next to it. It will allow you to select the desired folder you want to use for the VST Plug-In. Ensure that the option “Use VST Plug-In Custom Folder” is turned on.
- Next download the needed VST plug-in.
- Most of these plug-ins come in the form of a Zip file. So, move that Zip file to your plug-in directory and extract it there by right-clicking on it and choosing “Extract Here” option.
- Now open the audio software and confirm that the plug-in you downloaded is functional. If the software was already open when you installed the plug-in, then you might need to restart.
There are numerous free VST plugins available today that can be categorized into five broad categories. These are:
- Guitar Effects
- Plugin hosts
Using the Virtual Studio Technology plugins as your tools, you can build the perfect sound, use audio effects to shape it the way you prefer, and mix all together to suit your taste. There are best Bass VSTs, Synth VSTs, VSTs for extra Analog Warmth, Drum VSTs, Vocal Plugins, VSTs for performing some strange things and the best part is that most of them are available for free.