What are Plugins? What is VST, VSTi, RTAS, and AU?
Audio Plugins Explained
Plugins are addons to your DAW or other audio software that give additional functionality. Whether it be new capabilities like reverb or echo effects, additional instruments to play on your songs, sound effects, or tools for mixing, such as more powerful mixers or dynamics processors, you’ll find a plugin to help you with whatever it is that you want to do. There are thousands of them, and many are totally free (See http://www.kvraudio.com/). However there are a few different formats, and not all software accepts all plugins. The table below compares the major plugin formats.
|Plugin Type||Full Name||Creator||Notes|
|VST, VSTi||Virtual Studio Technology/instrument||Steinberg||Popular format.|
|DX, DXi||Direct X/instrument||Microsoft||Old format but still used.
|RTAS||Real Time Audio Suite||Digidesign||Popular format/ProTools only|
|Audio Suite||Audio Suite||Digidesign||Like RTAS but doesn’t
make audio changes on the fly.
|AU||Audio Unit||Apple||Mac only.|
|TDM||Time Delay||Apple||Mac only.|
|Rewire||Rewire for Reason||Propellerheads||Technically not a plugin per se, but allows Reason to be used as a plugin in other software.|