Although VST plugins are the most popular, they are not the only format available, there are various types of audio plugin formats, each compatible with different digital audio workstations (DAWs).
Audio plugins are extensions of your DAW, adding effects like compression and reverb or software instruments triggered via MIDI, on a keyboard or as MIDI notes on a track. When looking for new audio plugins, you need to make sure that they are compatible with your host software.
To help you out, we created a little table of the most common plugin formats you will find on Eric’s Plugins as well as some of the DAWs compatible with them.
VST Plugins OS Compatibility
When you get new VST plugins or virtual instruments, you have to make sure it is designed for your specific operating system, as VST plugins are supported on both Mac and Windows. The same goes for AAX and RTAS that also support both platforms, so you have to take care that it is the right version for your OS to avoid confusion later at the installation stage.
32-bit or 64-bit
Audio plugins can either be 32 or 64-bit and this has nothing to do with the bit depth of your audio files, which are typically 16 or 24-bit. This refers to the way your computer’s processor handles data, 32-bit processors can only access 4GB of RAM while 64-bit processors can handle 16EX (Exabytes) or 16 million of Terabytes.
If your computer’s processor is 32-bit, the same goes for your operating system, your DAW and your Plugins. Before buying a plugin be sure it is compatible with the DAW you’re using.
There are several things to check out before getting any new audio plugins.
For this example, let’s pretend we are using Cubase as our main DAW.
- What plugin formats are supported by our digital audio workstation?
- Cubase only support VST plugins.
- Is our DAW 32 or 64-bit?
- Although it can be used in 32-bit mode, Cubase is a 64-bit application.
- On which operating system are we using our DAW?
- Let say we’re using Cubase on a Mac.
Based on the information provided above, we can conclude that we’re using Cubase on Mac OS X, so we need to make sure the plugin we want to buy is a VST plugin, Mac version and 64-bit.
This is a simple example using Cubase but wether you are using Logic, Pro Tools or any other DAW, you have to be careful when choosing your plugins and ask yourself the 3 questions above, that way you save yourself time and a lot of frustration.