Vst Plugins... “What Can They Do For YOU?”


Vst Plugins are essential tools for (sound effects producers/music producers), who use a pc… (Personal computer or Macintosh) based virtual SFX/music studio.  (When I refer to pc...  I mean pc or mac... As a Macintosh is a personal computer also).

Plugins are virtual music instruments (Vsti`s), or effects software (Vst Fx). These are loaded (plugged) into a host program such as Cubase Vst or Pro Tools... Also known as Daw (digital audio workstation).

Loading A plugin Into Cubase

For the full screen (click on the bottom right corner of this video)


I use many vst plugins for creating sound effects and to transform and enhance audio signals. There are three distinct categories. These include…


  • Vst instruments
  • Vst effects
  • Vst midi effects


Vst effects and instruments are quite easy to learn and use. They rely on vst (virtual studio technology) to work. Many software and hardware equipment manufacturer`s support vst, and obtain a license from Steinberg (German producer of musical software and equipment) to build their devices around the technology.

Hear what VST plugins sound like in action...

  • pitch shift

  • flanger

  • delay

  • chorus

  • filter

  • enigma

  • mysterizer


See also...



Vst plugins save you time because they are digital...


I like the fact that plugins allow you to save pre-sets, (a saved set of the controls that you have adjusted).

Move sliders, turn knobs and press switches, then save it as a pre-set that you can name. Then later…

Magically recall these exact settings by clicking on your pre-set from the list.


 “Wow…   Every button, switch, dial and slider just went back to… exactly the way I had them set earlier”.

 This trick allows you to switch projects mid-way through, go back later and start again exactly where you left off, with total/instant recall of all settings.


 “Imagine the possibilities…  and the time you save.”


 The pre-sets can be saved individually, or as a bank (multiple pre-sets stored in a list), using very little memory.

 Total/instant recall can also be achieved in digital hardware (ex…digital mixing consoles with motorized faders).


When I am working with Vst plugins I like being able to change the order of them in the host program. Here is an example…                                                  

       Order - 1

  1. Delay
  2. Filter
  3. Equalizer
  4. Reverb

       Order - 2

  1. Equalizer
  2. Delay
  3. Filter
  4. Reverb

This is very quick and easy to do… (signal/routing is taken care of automatically), once you load the plugins in the order you want. This means…

  • No cables to plug/un-plug
  • No patch bays to worry about
  • No manual lifting of hardware
  • No worrying about damaging equipment… (You can`t break software)




“Vst instruments and effects save you money”...

 Vst Plugins are much cheaper than their hardware equivalent. This is because they are cost effective to produce as they are digital clones of the original produced software, and there are no moving parts, just software coded instructions that tell a computer processor what to do.  Heck…

You can even get good quality free vst plugins.  Also…


A lot of plugins are original (designed from scratch and not based on an original hardware device). This means expensive tests to try and get the exact sonic signature of the original hardware device is not required. Although a lot of work still goes into making them, the cost is offset by mass production.


There are exceptions though…


High end VST plugins such as Waves plugins, from Waves Audio (professional audio effects developer), can cost several hundred each. However, if your budget allows it, you will not be disappointed. These are top notch, with a stunning sonic quality that will leave you speechless. I use several waves plugins. They are easy to use and all sound incredible. “Highly recommended”.



TV graphic showing the Waves Doppler plugin

TV graphic - Waves Doppler plugin

Screen shot of Waves Doppler plugin (Courtesy of Waves Audio)



Here are some great plugins cloned from their hardware cousins…


  • Pro-53
  • Fm-7   
  • Jupiter 8v       


  • Prophet-5
  • DX-7
  • Jupiter-8


  • Sequential Circuits
  • Yamaha
  • Roland


Easily accessible...  They are easy got hold of (downloads etc.).


“Save some space”...  They will only ever take up the space of your computer and monitor.


And if they do come on a disk, once you load it on to your pc/mac, you can put the disk bye, instead of trying to find space for physical hardware.


What the heck…


Cd`s are small and light. You could store hundreds or even thousands of them. This would only be possible with hardware if you owned a large warehouse. Now…


“I`m not getting into a  Software verses hardware  battle here”.


I like and use both.


Advantages over hardware...


  • Saves time
  • Saves money
  • Saves space
  • No expensive repairs or shipping to manufacture`s
  • Software updates
  • No audio or midi cables to buy
  • No stuck, missing or broken buttons or switches
  • Energy efficient
  • No discontinued parts
  • No warm up time
  • No signal interference such as mobile phones
  • No liquid spillage damage
  • No knocking over, dropping or breaking
  • Light weight and portable
  • Fully time synchronized and sample accurate to host software
  • Short latency, if any (timing lag)
  • Noise free signal (unless it is intensional)
  • Multiple instances of the same plugin in one host


Disadvantages over hardware...


  • Computer ram and processor speed, can limit high plugin usage on slower pc`s
  • Some effects can be less pleasing to the ear, such as distortion.
  • Computers can crash especially when pushed to the limits. (No pc, no plugin).
  • Can be frustrating to control sliders and dials with a mouse and keyboard. 

They are now almost more popular than hardware effects/instruments...


There are thousands of plugins/virtual effects available, commercial and freeware. It is therefore almost limitless possibilities when it comes to producing sound effects with them.


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