Virtual Studio Technology

Virtual Studio Technology (English for Virtual Studio Technology ), short- VST, is the brand name of a software protocol for music and sound production. Designed VST, the company Steinberg Media Technologies originally for his sequencer software Cubase in 1996. It established a few years later as the industry standard. When a developer creates a plug-in for a great audio program, he equips it typically made with VST protocol.


VST serves the developers of digital instruments or effects access to the main program ( "Host", English for " host " ) to enter, with the composition or production is generated. Formulated Technically enables VST dialogue between a VST host and virtual instruments ( VSTi ) and effects that can also be operated within the sequencer program as a plug- in.

The technology to load the plugin as a DLL package directly into the host that offers a very efficient connection to this - what in the 90s ( due to low computational power of the computer ) represented a priority development objective at the time of development of VST. A disadvantage of this approach is (compared to eg DirectX based plug-ins), however, that the crash of a VST plug-ins also destabilizes the host in the rule.


The VST interface is today the most widely used on all platforms. It is basically for developers open and available for free, but locked into proprietary license terms. The Software Development Kit (SDK ) is the licensor Steinberg in C for Windows, Macintosh and BeOS operating systems as a 32 - available and 64-bit version. In addition, there is both an official and an unofficial version for Linux, a Delphi VST SDK and an open- source Java VST SDK.

Together with Cubase 4 Steinberg introduced before the third version of the VST standard, which now introduces the qualitative labeling of plugins in addition to some technical innovations.

Areas of application

VST plug-ins were developed as part of the VST, in order to expand the VST host software, usually a MIDI sequencer plugins. These are common not only in home recording, but also in the professional recording studio.

As an instrument

Frequent application of a VST plug-in is to provide a virtual instrument that is used for sound production. This can be an imitation of a real instrument be (such as a guitar), a software sampler, but also a synthesizer that produces different sounds by means of synthesis.

As an effect

VST software can also interact with the audio signals. Thus, it is possible to realize various audio effects, such as reverb, delay (music), the equalizer or compressor. Many hosts also allow the chaining of different VST effects, so that the original sound can be modified almost at will. Typical application of these digital sound change is also changing pitch, such as Auto-Tune. For many areas of music production, for example in the mastering process, digital effects are almost indispensable.

It is also VST effects possible to intervene directly in the MIDI transmissions and thus influence individual parameters, such as transposition.


In addition to the VST interface is available for many systems, interfaces that perform a similar purpose:

  • Audio Unit is an integrated interface for software instruments and effects in Mac OS X.
  • DirectX is a Windows API that allows the operation of software instruments and effects, along with many multimedia features.
  • DSSI / LADSPA or LV2 are free plug-in interfaces for audio applications on GNU / Linux.