Instruments and effects that used to cost thousands became accessible to every musician with a calculator .
If you produce music in a DAW, VSTs are probably a key contribution of your work flow .
But sometimes you want to use your plugins without launching a full fledged DAW. Maybe you good want your jamming with your virtual synths, or play be with a VST rig on stage.
To run VSTs without the extra functionality of a DAW you ’ ll need a VST host .
In this article I ’ ll go through the 8 best VST master of ceremonies apps available today .
What is a VST host?
A VST server is a software program that can load VST instruments or effects plugins. A VST host can be a DAW or a give software program barely for running VSTs .
While a traditional DAW can be used for exist performance, many musicians prefer the stability and ease of use that comes with consecrated VST hosts .
While a traditional DAW can be used for live performance, many musicians prefer the stability and ease of use that comes with dedicated VST hosts .
These purpose-built software programs don ’ t need the extra features and functionality of full recording apps .
That makes them simpler and more efficient for your computer to run .
even if you ’ re just playing through a handful of instruments or effects, a VST host can help when a standalone version of the plugin doesn ’ t exist .
The 10 best VST hosts
With the basics out of the way, here are the 10 best VST hosts available today .
Apple ’ randomness Mainstage is one of the most well-known VST hosts for hot operation .
It includes many of the respect plugins, presets and effects from Apple ’ s flagship DAW app Logic Pro X .
Built specifically with live shows in mind, Mainstage has many impressive features for performers .
Guitarists will love the virtual pedalboards and ampere rigs that come complete with tuner, solicit tempo and spillover features .
And keyboardists can take advantage of the excellent built-in emulations of classics the Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes, Hohner Pianet and more .
unfortunately, like all Apple software, Mainstage is alone available on Mac OS X. But if you ’ re a Mac exploiter looking to play VSTs survive, Mainstage is probably your first option to try .
Topten Cantabile is a high performance VST horde that ’ s bespoke for know play .
With robust MIDI route and impressive real-time features, Cantabile is an excellent option for using VSTs on phase .
Cantabile was purpose-built for the phase, so it ’ south among the most stable and efficient hosts you can find .
If you ’ re a keyboard musician looking to ditch a fleshy hardware rig for childlike laptop apparatus, Cantabile could be your best choice .
It comes in three editions, including a free grade with Cantabile Lite .
unfortunately, Cantabile is Windows-only, so you ’ ll have to choose another option if you want to turn your MacBook into the ultimate circuit board based synthesist .
Any application that can run VSTs is a VST host .
That means your DAW is a perfectly good choice for playing VSTs live .
Any application that can run VSTs is a VST host. That means your DAW is a perfectly good choice for playing VSTs live .
DAWs are more complex than basic VST hosts, then your system will naturally have to do a moment more to keep the gig prevail .
But there are some upsides to using a DAW as a be VST host. You won ’ t have to learn a newfangled program to be able to build your stage apparatus.
And you can easily translate your projects from tracking and mixing to live performance .
Some DAWs are lightweight adequate that they ’ rhenium well suited for bouncy operation. For exemplar, Ableton…Live is often used as a performance DAW .
Audiostrom LiveProfessor 2 is another feature-rich option for live VST consumption .
It features impressive preset capabilities, performance-oriented discriminative stimulus lists, flexible signal chains and impressive hardware control condition .
LiveProfessor 2 was developed in collaboration with diligence professionals to create an app rugged enough for live use .
It ’ randomness popular among front-of-house engineers for mixing alive sets with VST plugins .
Niall Moody Pedalboard 2 is a simpleton and effective VST server that ’ sulfur designed to work fair like a guitarist ’ s pedalboard .
Set your I/O, load your VSTs and bandage between them to create a pedalboard-style signal flow .
The best part ? Pedalboard 2 is absolve, lightweight and easily to use .
If you ’ re looking to chain together a few virtual stompboxes and ampere simulators in a digital guitar rig, Pedalboard 2 is a bang-up choice .
VSTHost is a simple but effective host app created by freelancer developer Hermann Seib .
The undertaking started as a plugin testing platform but became popular among keyboardists for playing live in the early days of VSTs .
It ’ sulfur still a great choice for a simple and effective VST host .
VSTHost lets you load plugins, edit them, send MIDI and save your setups to recall later .
Kushview Element is a modular plugin host that can run VST and AU instruments in flexible configuration .
Its unique matrix style patchbay and graphic editor program lets you draw in complex effects racks and signal chains with ease .
If you ’ ve ever tried to use your plugins in a be performance, you ’ ll know the challenges that can arise .
element features easy integration with hardware controllers and easy external synchronize to MIDI clock sources .
It ’ s besides free and open-source for you to experiment with and shape to your needs .
Tone2 NanoHost is the most lightweight VST host on this list—in fact it ’ randomness barely a host at all .
NanoHost acts as a wrap to turn a VST plugin into a standalone application .
If your favorite VST legal document doesn ’ t come bundled with a standalone app, NanoHost will do the job—for Windows users only .
It ’ mho arrant for those who barely want to boot up a single VST without the fuss of a complicate program.
Play VSTs live
VST hosts may seem like an highly specific type of software, but they fulfill an significant determination .
If you ’ ve ever tried to use your plugins in a live performance, you ’ ll know the challenges that can arise .
VST hosts can help, and if you ’ ve made it through this article you ’ ll have a handle on some of the best options available today .