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What is a VST and how to use it

VST stands for Virtual Studio technology. Basically, it does the work connecting the sounds, like strings and drums or any other effect, to your DAW (fl studio, Pro Tools etc) The DAW as I mentioned in previous posts, is the virtual studio – Digital Audio Workstation.

The company responsible for releasing the first VST is SteinBerg. They released the first VST in 1996 compatible with Mac and PC. Honestly, no one has a better description of the VST origins and functionality. You may want to read their details here:

So, it is like a connector

In short, The VST will allow you to play sound libraries of piano or voices into your DAW (virtual studio). Example of VSTs are:

Some of them include more items like the following

One of the things you will notice when you visit the above sites, is that these VTS are only the connector to your DAW. Some of them are preloaded with instruments, sounds, virtual libraries. For example, I installed the eastWest VST. Without a membership or libraries, I only have the connector or player. I still need to buy the sounds, either all of them or in portions. I may, for example, buy the horns library. This means that I would be able to play only the horns through the VST.

This allows you to record the horns, through the VST onto your DAW (virtual studio) using a midi device.

Not to be confused with…

A VST is not a music library. Although some VSTs may come loaded with some sounds, this doesn’t mean that that’s what they are. A music library, like strings and tubas, is only the data residing in many folders. This is only data and it doesn’t do anything on its own. Every company that sells sound libraries issues a VST that can be used to play these libraries.

So, each company requires you download their VST so that you can extract these library sounds and record onto your DAW.


Installation of a VST is simple. I’ve never installed a VST that resulted in crashes or malfunctions. Most reputable companies have a quick VST download. Beware that these companies may call their VSTs different names. Some call them players. Don’t get caught up in the confusion. If the software connects your sound library with your DAW, then it is a VST.

The installation is rather simple for most. And most companies will include these players in the sound library installation packs. For example, EastWest libraries will download a zip file containing not only the sounds but the VST player

Features of VSTs

Each company decides what features and goodies they want to add to their VSTs. Some of them keep it simple and light. Other VSTs are bulky and take tons of ram. Please check the specs before committing to a particular player VST.

How to use a VST

After installation, most VSTs will be recognized by your midi and DAW. For most of my installations, I had to search the VST plugin in the DAW. That is, in your DAW system, you have to activate the VST. This is done by initiating the scanning in your DAW system and it takes care of it. Once activated, more than likely you’ll see it on your list of instruments and pugin. Every software has a variation of this procedure, but it is basically the same for all.

The next step is to add the VST onto your DAW tracks and done. The VST opens up and whatever instruments were purchased and activated will appear within that window. When selected, the sounds will be activated with your MDI device.

As an example, I have the strings library of EastWest. When I open the EastWest player (VST) and add it to one of my tracks, a list of instruments appears that can be loaded in RAM to be played with the MIDI keyboard.

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