What is a VST?
VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology. These are plugin software interfaces that you can load into your DAW (digital audio workstation) for professional music production. VST plugins use digital technology to recreate the traditional recording hardware that you can find in studios.
Nowadays, there are thousands of plugins available, ranging from free downloads to fully licensed commercial products. You will find that most of these are either instrument or effects based with a graphical interface that replicates the switches and knobs on the real hardware.
The most common types of plugin are VSTi (instrument based), Effects based, Metering and MIDI. If you don’t have the budget to buy the real instruments in hardware form, then the VSTi plugins are the next best thing.
Essential plugins for your effects would likely cover reverb, delay, EQ, compressor and limiter. However, there are literally thousands of these and you can start to build up an extensive collection of effects and instruments, all within your computer.
Meter plugins are mainly used for mastering and mixing, controlling the levels of the audio signals coming into the DAW or the signals being produced by the plugins inside it. MIDI plugins are useful for composers and can be used to make chord progressions and arpeggiators.
Some VSTs are popular because they are able to emulate the distinctive sounds of the more high-end synthesizers, allowing musicians and producers to recreate the sounds of old legendary synths and other expensive hardware through these affordable virtual instruments.