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.
On 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
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 space.
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 languages.
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.
information on VST3
VST is a trademark of Steinberg Soft- und Hardware