Standard for Virtual Studio Technology
VST3 marks an important
milestone in audio technology with a completely rewritten code base
providing not only many new features but also the most stable and
reliable VST platform ever.
With VST (Virtual
Studio Technology), Steinberg established the world’s leading and
most widely supported standard for plug-ins and virtual instruments
in 1996. With VST3 Steinberg releases the next major revision of
Steinberg’s Virtual Studio Technology to the audio industry. VST3
marks an important milestone in audio technology with a completely
rewritten code base providing not only many new features but also
the most stable and reliable VST platform ever. This combination of
latest technology and new features is the result of Steinberg’s
twelve years of development experience as the leading plug-in
interface provider. VST3 has been designed to provide a
technological and creative basis for many innovative and exciting
new products for the audio industry, offering a new world of
creative possibilities for instrument and effect plug-in users.
its release in January 2011, the VST3 SDK will,
of course, be available as a free technology,
open in use for any developer.
About the VST standard
The Virtual Studio Technology (VST) interface is nothing short
of a revolution in digital audio. Developed by Steinberg and first
launched in 1996, VST creates a full, professional studio
environment on your PC or Mac. VST allows the integration of virtual
effect processors and instruments into your digital audio
environment. These can be software recreations of hardware effect
units and instruments or new creative effect components in your VST
system. All are integrated seamlessly into VST compatible host
applications. These VST modules have the sound quality of the best
hardware units, yet are far more flexible. All functions of a VST
effect processor or instrument are directly controllable and
automatable; either with a mouse or with an external hardware
controller. VST also allows easy integration of external equipment,
allowing you to put together a system tailor-made to your needs.
Being an open standard, the possibilities offered by VST have
steadily been growing over the past decade. New virtual effect
processors and virtual instruments are constantly being developed by
Steinberg and of course dozens of other companies. Leading third
party VST instrument creators include renowned software companies
such as Native Instruments, Arturia and Spectrasonic as well as
known hardware manufacturers like Korg, Waldorf or Novation.
Companies such as Waves, Sonnox, Antares and TC Works have
contributed virtual effect processors.
New VST 3 Features
Managing large plug-in sets and multiple virtual instruments on
typical studio computer systems can often be difficult because of
CPU performance limits. VST3 helps to improve overall performance by
applying processing to plug-ins only when audio signals are present
on their respective inputs. Instead of always processing input
signals, VST3 plug-ins can apply their processing economically and
only when it is needed.
Multiple Dynamic I/Os
VST3 plug-ins are no longer limited to a fixed number of inputs
and outputs. Their I/O configuration can dynamically adapt to the
channel configuration they’re inserted in, meaning that any VST3
plug-in can be surround-capable with true multi-channel processing.
For example, all the new VST3 plug-ins in Nuendo 4 can work in
stereo-mode when inserted into a stereo channel, but switch to 6
channels when inserted into a 5.1 channel. Each audio channel is
processed independently. Interaction between channels depends on the
type and design of the plug-in. In addition to their flexible audio
bussing capabilities, VST3 plug-ins may also offer a dedicated event
bus. Typically, this is a MIDI input for control/modulation but
these busses are no longer restricted to MIDI standard only. Future
plug-ins may replace the common MIDI interface with alternative
methods of control.
A typical issue with current virtual instruments is their audio
output bussing system and how they’re connected to the mixer after
loading. Especially virtual samplers with multiple outputs often
occupy more mixer channels than need. The VST3 interface offers the
possibility to deactivate unused busses after loading and even
reactivate those when needed. This cleans up the mixer and further
helps to reduce CPU load.
Resizable Edit Windows
VST3 introduces a new approach to plug-in GUIs though window
resizing, allowing for extremely flexible use of valuable screen
VST3 also features vastly improved parameter automation with
sample accuracy and support for ‘ramped’ automation data, allowing
completely accurate and rapid parameter automation changes.
Logical Parameter Organization
The plug-in parameters are displayed in a tree structure.
Parameters are grouped into sections which represent the structure
of the plug-in. Parameters like “Cutoff” and “Resonance” could be
grouped into a section called “Filter”. This makes searching for a
certain parameters easier e.g. on an automation track. This also
allows assigning a group of parameters to a specific MIDI Channel
input and audio output bus.
Optional VST3 / SKI combination
As a direct result of the modular interface design of VST3, the
Steinberg Kernel Interface (SKI) can be combined with VST3 plug-ins.
SKI is an additional SDK that allows extremely close integration of
a plug-in with a Steinberg host application, and allows functions to
be carried out almost from within the application. This extends to
the ability to create tracks, copy, cut, paste or process events in
the Steinberg host application. SKI is provided to selected industry
partners upon request.
VSTXML for Remote Controllers
Remote controllers for audio and MIDI software applications have
become increasingly popular. With VSTXML, VST3 offers far more
flexible control of VST plug-ins by remote controllers. Using the
knobs and faders on the control surface, parameters can be recorded,
renamed and edited in many ways. Parameters that cannot be edited
can be routed for display purposes to the control surface, for
example to show Gain Reduction on compressor.
UTF16 for localized parameter naming
In VST3, all strings that can be displayed to the user are in
Unicode (UTF16) format. Usage of this universal character base
allows the host application to display characters in localized
No MIDI restriction for parameter value transfers
VST3 has a dedicated interface for event handling that carries a
much wider range of functionality than standard MIDI events would be
able to provide. This opens up a big range of opportunities for
musical use cases with very high potential for innovative product
design. For example with VST3 some controller events (e.g. pitch)
can be referred to a note event (using a note unique ID). This
offers the possibility to e.g. modulate only a single note which
itself is part of a chord.
Audio Inputs for VST Instruments
The VST3 interface expands VST instruments by adding the ability
to create audio input busses. As a result, audio data can be routed
to an VST3 instrument. A synthesizer which has a built-in e.g.
vocoder effect is able to process audio data coming in from other
sources as well.
Multiple MIDI inputs/outputs
Unlike with VST 2.x,, a VST3 plug-in can have more than only one
MIDI input or one MIDI output at the same time.
64 Bit processing
VST3 plug-in are generally able to process audio data in 64 Bit.
Plug-in Interface Technology by Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH.
a trademark of Steinberg Soft- und Hardware GmbH. All other trademarks
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not imply owner's endorsement of this product, or guarantee full
compliance with owner's standards.