For Beginners

What Are VST Plugins?

As a beginner to music production you will come across the term ‘VST Plugins’ often.

However, what are VST plugins? What are they used for? How are they made?

In this article we will cover VST Plugins entirely. At the end of this article you should have a full understanding of the benefits of this great tool.

So, let’s just jump straight into it.

What are VST Plugins?

VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology. These are small pieces of software that can be additionally added into your digital audio workstation (DAW). Look at it this way, VSTs are basically extensions or ad-ons to your digital audio workstation.

However, some VST plugins come as standalone applications. This means you don’t need a DAW to use them. However, most VST plugins are specifically built to work inside of DAWs.

Most VST plugins can be broken into two categories. Effect plugins and Instrument Plugins.

What are Effect VST Plugins?

Effect VST plugins are designed to apply new effects to your audio.

For example, let’s look at autotune. Simply put autotune is an effect that allows you to alter the pitch of your audio. It’s mostly used on vocals.

However, most DAWs don’t come with autotune built in. So, how can you apply autotune to your audio? In this case you’d simply download an autotune effect VST plugin. Once you install the plugin you’d be able to use it inside your DAW. After that you’ll be able to apply autotune easily to your audio.

What are VST Instrument Plugins?

In simple terms, VST instruments are basically digital instruments.

Let’s take the piano for example. Before VST instruments were made if you wanted to make a song with a piano you’d have to go buy or rent a piano. This would cost you several hundreds of dollars. However, thanks to VST instruments you don’t have to do that anymore. You can simply download a VST piano instrument.

These VSTs try to replicate instruments to the best of their ability. So with VST instruments you can play any instrument digitally inside of your DAW.

How are VST Plugins Made?

Like I said above, VSTs are pieces of software. Therefore VSTs need to be coded and developed by software developers. Most are coded using the code language C++.

Effects VSTs usually use code algorithms to create specific outcomes. On the other hand, VST instruments need to go through a more in depth process. For Instruments developers need to first sample the original instrument. This is done by simply recording each key and tone of an actual instrument. Once the samples are captured and edited the developer then codes and builds the software.

We can go deeper into this. However, this explanation should give you a basic understanding of how VSTs are made.

Do I Need VSTs?

As a beginner you may not need third party VST plugins right away. Most DAWs come with a small selection of their own plugins built in. So, I would recommend working with those first. Then once you get a feel for them you may want to look at third party VSTs.

Third party VSTs usually provide you with better options in terms of effects and instruments. Most advanced music producers only use third party plugins instead of DAW plugins.


VST Plugins are a great tool for music producers. They give you more options and more control over your audio. As you continue your music journey you will most likely find yourself looking for new ones. Hopefully this article gives you a better understanding of what these pieces of software are.

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