A VST3 (Virtual Studio Technology 3) file is a plug-in that is used when running a DAW. It contains information about instruments or sound effects. This information is applied when composing music with the participation of modern software. VST3 files are saved in the VST3 standard. The developer of the plug-in was the German company Steinberg, whose hero was the famous program for writing and editing music Cubase.
The VST platform is Steinberg’s own development. When the developer entered the market with this software back in 1999, he was a monopoly. The introduction of the VST format in 1999 changed the music world forever – technology presented the ability to transfer real instruments and effects into a virtual environment, and turned the computer into a powerful recording studio. In subsequent years, other formats of plug-ins for sound processing appeared on the market – AU, RTAS, ReFill and others, which somewhat complicated the entry into the world of music for aspiring musicians.
It’s hard to imagine the modern industry without plug-ins – special programs that connect to DAWs and simulate the work of real analog effects and musical instruments. Plugins have made the entrance to the industry easier: to set up a production studio, you no longer need to spend money on expensive special equipment, because any processing has become available right on the computer.
In the years since the introduction of the VST format, the industry has received several more plug-in formats that perform the same task of simulating real instruments and equipment in a computer environment.
VST3 is the most popular plug-in format that runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux. VST3 plugins are directly dependent on computer resources – they are native applications that connect to music programs. Plugins work in real time and process sound at the expense of computer resources (mainly the processor). Unlike the first and second version, VST3:
• exists only in 64-bit format;
• Supports more virtual audio inputs and MIDI inputs and outputs, which allows you to create instruments that can generate more complex sounds;
• Offers improved handling of MIDI events for articulation, strength and note dynamics, offering better optimization and less demand on computer resources.
64-bit versions of VST3 plug-ins can use all the RAM available in the system, while the operating system will be more flexible in using computer resources, distributing them among all the tools and plug-ins used in the project.
Despite the discontinuation of support for VST2 and the advantages of the third version of the format, many developers still release processing and tools in the VST2 format. For DAWs, all three formats are supported for maximum DAW compatibility.