What is a VST plugin?

The VST (Virtual Studio Technology) system (developed by Steinberg) allows third-party developers to produce real-time effect modules and synths that could 'plug in' to the host application.

Such effects are called VST Plugin Effects. The synth plugins are called Vst instruments or VST plugins or VST Synth.

What do we need to run a vst instrument?

All the major sequencers – paid, shareware and freeware – support VST instruments and effects.

CPU and RAM requirements

When we us a VST instrument, the sounds are made real time by using the power of the CPU. More the number of notes we play at the same time, more the number of calculations the CPU does.

We will be running the VST plugin and the sequencer at the same time.

The power of CPU used = VST instrument needs + the need of our sequencer. 

For our needs, the CPU and RAM needs are met by most of the laptops and desktops that we use these days.

How to install and use a plugin VST

VST instruments and effects are easy to install since they don’t have to run by themselves. Most VST plugins have a set up run through these days. Else you will be given a dll which you can drag and drop or cut and paste into the VST folder of your sequencer. The new plugin will appear the next time you launch your application.

How you Select and connect the vst depends on the particular sequencer, which is easy to find from the respective manual or their dedicated forums.

What kind of sounds can we use a plugin VST instrument for?

Many programmers all over the world, including myself, rely completely on VST instruments and samples to produce elaborate arrangements.

Here are a few VST instrument plugins which I use and recommend, and the associated sounds.

Synth sounds VSTi instruments :

Atmosphere : for pads, string pads, swells, ambient sounds and much more available as a huge library to select from.

Albino : Small in size, but very good arpeggios, synth leads, light weight pads.

Orchestral instruments VST plugins

Other than synth sounds, there are VST plugins which use real samples of instruments.

Garritan Personal Orchestra is a well acclaimed VST instrument plugin which provides sample based sounds for the whole Western Classical orchestra. Very realistic keyboard instruments, violins, violas, cellos, double bass, reeds, woodwinds, all in an affordable package. Especially useful since getting live players for these instruments is not very easy.

I love the flute and piano from GPO, which has been a staple sound in many of my compositions.

Bass, Drum and percussion VST instrument plugins

We can reproduce Indian instruments, African instruments and other native instruments using sample directly in the sequencer or using a VST sampler.

Trilogy Bass VST plugin with lot of options for acoustic bass, electric bass, fretless, DI ed etc.

Stylus A very big library of rhythm loops which can be sliced to use the individual samples. Drums, ethnic instruments, loops.

Propellerhead Reason This is a different kind of software instrument. After we open our sequencer, we open an instance of Reason, which opens as a separate program. Reason can be operated through our sequencer (Nuendo, Cubase, Logic etc) through a system called Rewiring – again from Steinberg.

Reason is an exceptionally good software instrument with its own array of synth instruments, samplers, rhythm programmers and effect plugins.