VST and AU plugins are used in digital music production, but what is it what is the history behind this? In this article, we dive deeper into all the topics that are related to VST and AU plugins and we close with the best list for 2019 VST and AU plugins!
What are VST Plugins?
So, to start off we have a closer look at the meaning of VST and AU plugins. VST stands for virtual studio technology and AU for audio units.
VST = the format for Windows/Linux computers
AU = the format for iOS computers
In this article, we’re mainly focussing on VST plugins, since it’s the same as AU but then for a different computer system and a different programming langue.
VST can be seen as audio plug-in software that functions as digital synths or effects in a DAW (digital audio workstation). In the world, there are thousands of plugins with a function such as needed effects for a guitar and others are more experimental or without a function at all (just for fun, like Fruity Dancer).
There are free VST plugins available and paid VST plugins, if they are free they are named as freeware.
VST is an additional function to a DAW, see it as an app you can install on your phone. With that application, you have more functions within the same phone.
Different VST formats
There are a few different formats that indicate what kind of a VST it is.
- VSTi (VST Instruments) can generate audio such as a digital synthesizer.
- VSTe (VST Effects) processes audio instead of generating audio, such as reverb and delay plugins.
- VST Midi Effects processes midi langue for example an appreciator.
The History of VST Plugins
Steinberg is nowadays mainly known as the company behind the DAW Cubase. They released the VST format in 1996 together with Steinberg Cubase 3.02. After the release, they updated a few times and VST 3.5.7 was released in March 2017.
The VST plugin standard is the plugin standard created by Steinberg. It allows developers to create VST plugins for other host applications like FL Studio and Ableton.
Difference between VST and AU plugins?
Not that much besides technical terms and the way it’s programmed. The main thing you should know that VST mainly for Windows devices and AU for iOS software programs.
64-bit or 32-bit plugins?
Within plugin and computer world you probably heard of 64 and 32 bit. 64-bit and 32-bit can be used on more occasions then only within plugins, for example, the operating system you’re using can be in 32-bit or 64-bit.
Why do you want to run 64-bit software and plugins? With running 64-bit it’s easier to run applications in very large sessions such as a music project.
64-bit operating and plugins can use more memory that will result in fewer crashes within your DAW.
More info on 32-bit or 64-bit? Read this article by Izotope.
Best free download VST plugins in 2019?
ModulAir by Full Bucket Music
Polyphonic software synthesizer available in VST and macOS (VST/AU). Build for low consuming CPU usage. Please not this plugin is still in beta.
Wider by Polyverse Music
Easily transform a mono track to a stereo image on a single audio track with the Wider plugin.
DeEss by Airwindows
One of the best Dessers we used so far.
Youlean Loudness Meter 2 by Youlean
This plugin has everything that you don't expect from a free plugin. You can even export the visual spectrum to PDF, PNG and SVG. Used for loudness range, dynamic range an true peak mesurments.
Dragonfly Reverb by Michael Willis
An open source plugin for iOS and Windows with advanced reverb options.
LABS by Spitfire Audio
Multiple presets that can create wonderful sounds that you would not find in every synth. Sounds as strings, synth pads, choir, charango, electric piano, amplified cello quartet, drums and a soft piano but then all in a very smooth way.
Temper by Creative Intent
A state if the art distortion plugin that can add a warm and edge to a sound. Available for Windows and Mac OS X.
SSD 5 Free by Steven Slate Drums
A version on Steven Slate SSD drums for free! Experience the quality for yourself and only if you like it, you are able to upgrade it.
Vocal Doubler by iZotope
A wonderful plugin to double vocals immediately! Don't waste time on copy and past vocals to a new channel, but just use the effect with a great visualisation.
An open source effect plugin for pitch and volume fluctuation into incoming audio.
Subtractive hybrid synth with expensive functions for Windows and Mac.
A great open source virtual euro rack modular system.
TAL – Elek7ro
Virtual analogue synth with some unique features like oscillator hard sync and frequency modulation.
Ample Sound – Ample Bass P LITE II
A great quality bass guitar plugin! Digital Fender Precision Bass sound within your own studio.
Tytel — Helm Synth
Helm brings visualisation of synthesis to a new level with an inbuilt step sequencer and 3 LFO's you have extensive options to play with!
A virtual analogue synthesizer available in VST and AU.
Best paid VST plugins in 2019?
1. Serum VST/AU
Serum was the most popular synth in 2018 used all over the world!
2. Massive VST
Already very popular for many years developed by Native Instruments, for soundscaping and EDM productions.
3. Omnisphere 2
Very popular within the hip-hop scene and other genres.