VST3 marks an important milestone in virtual studio technology and
incorporates many updates, enhancements, changes and new features. The
following is a brief overview of the major new features included with
Some current plug-ins are known to be heavy on CPU load. Managing large
plug-in sets and multiple virtual instruments on typical project 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. So instead of always processing input signals, even
when there is only silence present, VST3 plug-ins can apply their
processing economically and only when it is needed.
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. For example, the new VST3
plug-ins in Cubase 4 can work in stereo-mode when inserted into a
stereo channel, but switch to 6 channels when inserted into a 5.1
channel. In any case, each audio channel is processed independently.
Interaction between channels depends on the type and design of the
plug-in. While it is still eligible to have dedicated surround
plug-ins, basically any VST3 plug-in can be surround-capable with true
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 control methods.
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.
Plug-ins can be connected to
the host environment in many different ways: Future VST3 Instruments
can have audio inputs. As an example, a synthesizer that offers a
built-in vocoder will be able to directly receive an audio signal to
control the effect. A VST3 plug-in may have multiple MIDI inputs at the
Handling – Tree Structure
In general, parameter handling did not change with the integration of
VST3. However, there are some improvements to the handling of
parameters. Parameters can be organized logically in a tree structure
to improve handling of complex plug-ins or instruments with a large
number of parameters. It’s now a lot easier to locate
specific parameters, for example on an automation track.
VST instruments become more flexible and complex, which results in
bigger editor windows. Some instrument edit windows may fill up more
than half of the entire screen. In VST3 editor windows can be resized.
As a result, multiple windows can fit on a single screen without
overlapping each other.
Plug-in Test host
A new SDK will be available by the end of 2011 and allow 3rd party
developers to produce updates and new plug-ins for the VST3 standard.
In order to facilitate
design and testing of VST3 plug-ins, Steinberg has developed a VST3
test host application, which offers audio and MIDI playback to test any
VST3 plug-in in a simple host environment. One special feature of this
test host is a “unit testing” section. It allows
testing of the plug-in’s stability and consistency and
executes automatic stress tests designed by Steinberg developers.
More information on
Plug-in Interface Technology by Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH.
a trademark of Steinberg Soft- und Hardware GmbH. All other trademarks
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