So, what does VST3 have to offer that we can make use of with Reaktor 6.5

Studiowaves Member Posts: 450 Advisor

What can we do now that we couldn't do before?



  • Sunborn
    Sunborn Member Posts: 2,190 Expert

    Everything! But much better.

    I already wrote here 4-5 times the reasons for the total superiority of VST3 as a format and the new features and improvements that it brought... but it seems some people can not understand. So, i will do it once more, and then once more and once more until finally everyone sees it! 😊

    I will also write again that VST2 is a practically dead format that, next year, maximum, nobody will support it anymore (most major developers already stopped support it)... i did that 4-5 times and it also seems that some people do not understand that either. They think we are some kind of Steinberg agents, sworn to promote their software... 😋

    They say however that "repetition is the mother of knowledge", so. here we go again!

    1. More efficient processing

    VST3 is designed so that it only performs processing when there is an audio signal present. This means that CPU resources aren’t wasted during silences, unlike VST2 which would keep processing active regardless of whether there is any actual audio signal at that point in time. This makes VST3 more resource-efficient and potentially increases the number of plugins you can use in a project without overloading your system.

    2. Adaptive input/output

    Traditional VST instruments featured a fixed number of inputs and outputs. Separate versions of plugins had to be implemented for stereo and surround sound processing. Multi-output instruments usually took up a large number of channels even if not all of them were being used. This again would lead to the wastage of resources. VST3 addresses this limitation by allowing plugins to be dynamically adapted to however many inputs or outputs are needed. The same plugin can be put on a stereo channel or a 5.1 channel and it will automatically adapt its channel routing accordingly. This allows for increased flexibility and efficiency.

    3. Enhanced MIDI handling

    VST3 plugins can provide a dedicated event handler bus, which allows for a wide variety of control and modulation messages beyond traditional simple MIDI messages. In fact, support isn’t only limited to the MIDI protocol, and other future control methods may utilize these functions. Advanced control of MIDI at a note level is now supported. For example, a particular event like a pitch bend can be associated with a specific note with a unique note ID, so that the modulation is applied to only that note, even in a polyphonic context like playing a chord.

    4. Support for multiple MIDI I/O

    With VST2, a particular plugin could only be assigned to single MIDI input and output. Now with VST3, plugins can support several MIDI ports at once which can be switched on the fly. This opens up a lot of possibilities while performing music live and allows for more flexible routing.

    5. More organized automation parameters

    Earlier, trying to find a particular automation parameter could get annoying when having to scroll through potentially hundreds of parameters in a VST2 plugin. Some DAWs provide an option to search for parameters from the list, but VST3 has added the ability to categorize automation parameters within the plug-in itself. For example, all filter-related parameters can be sorted under the ‘Filter’ category, rhythmic and time-based parameters can have their own category, and so on. This streamlines the automation process and helps keep projects organized.

    6. Audio inputs with VST Instruments

    We usually associate VST instruments with MIDI input only, but VST3 adds the ability to route audio to plugins, which opens up new possibilities. For example, a synth plugin with an inbuilt vocoder can now take an audio signal as an input as well as the MIDI data for modulation. This also makes sidechaining and cross-modulation possible independently from the DAW’s built-in capabilities. Sidechaining has been implemented for a long time with VST2, but it usually depended on the DAW’s particular routing capabilities to achieve it.

    7. Resizable GUI <----READ AGAIN! ---> Resizable GUI !!!

    A small but significant improvement, this allows for VST3 plugins to be scaled in size as required, to free up or take up screen space as required. Though this seems like quite a small change, it can make working with big crowded sessions much smoother.

    8. Sample accurate automation

    This means that VST3 can read and write automation data at a very high resolution down to sample level, entailing that automation remains highly accurate even for very rapid and minute changes.

    9. Remote control of plugins via VSTXML

    With the increasing popularity of portable control surfaces being used in music production and live performance, VSTXML provides enhanced flexibility for remote controlling plugin parameters from various control surfaces.

    10. Multilingual support

    VST3 uses text in the Unicode (UTF-16) format, which allows for special characters and non-English characters. This means that it is easier to localize plugins in various languages for developers.


    What more can anyone ask for?

  • colB
    colB Member Posts: 755 Guru

    It sounds amazing by your description. Which makes it difficult to understand why it took so long to be adopted, so much that Steinberg tried to use to pretty nasty licencing tricks to try and force 3rd party vendors to start using it (they ended up having to partially backtrack).

    It's also interesting that there was at least one very long thread on kvraudio involving quite a few industry gurus, the general consensus was overwhelmingly negative, most felt that vst2 was still better overall, and that while 3 did introduce some good features, most of these were already possible in 2, and 3 also brought some restrictions that made some thing more difficult or even impossible.

    The main reason for supporting vst3 in Reaktor is that any new vendors producing DAW type software would not be able to licence vst2 support libraries, so would have to completely reengineer vst2 support using 'clean room' methods. Which is expensive, so only vst3 support will be available in some hosts.

  • Sunborn
    Sunborn Member Posts: 2,190 Expert

    "Which makes it difficult to understand why it took so long to be adopted"

    The old saying, "people are afraid of changes, that's why the world remains the same and the same, making the same circles and the same mistakes all over" should answer to your question... :-)

    On a personal level i use VST3, fully since 2017 and every year i remove more and more VST2.... right now i have only 5 left so finally i will leave all this madness and disorder behind me, really soon...

    You know... 15 different VST folders, 32bit/64bit, etc etc etc. Finally everything is under one folder!

    Not to mention the infinite number of bugs, for years, the horrible CPU manipulation and few more things...

    ...and one of the most important things.... resizable GUI! I almost got blind of their tiny plugins all those years, though i have a big screen for over a decade...

    ...about KVR and its old "dinosaurs" well... i never took them seriously because they learned to work in a specific way and change was inconvenient for them.... that is what is all about... the good developer evolves!

    You want example? DiscoDSP, reFX (they brought back Vanguard!), Synapse Audio, Tone2, LennarDigital, XFer, GForce! They all evolved and they make some of the best synths... if the others don't want to follow, they will simply, disappear... Progress can not be stopped, for anyone.

  • colB
    colB Member Posts: 755 Guru
    edited January 30

    Nope, the criticisms were not based on fear of change. They were based on experience and detailed technical analysis. With explanations of exactly what was possible in VST2 that would not be possible in VST3, and exactly why. And also what were being claimed as new feature that were already possible in VST2, but without prescriptive control over 'how' by Steinberg.

    If Steinberg had not removed the option to continue licencing VST2, VST3 would still be a small minority format.

    (iirc, at one point, take up of VST3 was so bad amongst developers that Steinberg updated their licencing terms with small print that meant anyone licencing VST3 would automatically void their licence to use VST2. Then they tried to retroactively enforce that clause on existing licensees... something like that anyway... really shady, and then after being called out on it, they had to backtrack)

    From my very cursory investigation at the time, I got the impression that the main driver behind the changes and licencing manipulation was to enable Steinberg to tighten their grip over the whole VST ecosystem. Fair enough, they created it, but it had been comparatively open and flexible, which was why it was so successful. VST3 is bigger, more difficult to use, less flexible, over specified, and with less freedom for developers to do things their way. That really doesn't prevent bugs or incompatibility (bad programmers will always find a way to cause problems), it just limits the opportunity for innovation. It reduces the chances that anyone will come up with a better way than Steinbergs way of using the tech, that Steinberg then wouldn't own and be able to control.

    It's a shame, because it could have been so much better, and I think that's part of the reason for the extremely negative reception it got. Instead of prioritising to make the best possible format for plugin development and innovation (which is what VST 1&2 had attempted), they segued somewhat to prioritising their licencing opportunities and potential future exploitation of their intellectual property. So we ended up with something that could have been great, but was in some ways a step backwards, sweetened by the inclusion of a few new features that would have been in a better version anyway, lots of marketing hype obviously, and some strong arm licencing tactics to push it through and eventually force it on everyone.

    That GUI resizing thing is great though - how well does that work with Reaktor now that it supports VST3?

  • Sunborn
    Sunborn Member Posts: 2,190 Expert

    I think you are referring to, how was the situation about VST3, 2-3 years ago, or more... not as is today...

    Why Steinberg would make something worst, to replace something better, i can not understand...

    What i know, the facts, on a personal level, that after 12-13 years of constant problems (not with every developer of course), since i invest on VST3 i have not even the slightest problem, no bugs, no re-installs, no manual fixes on the registry, nothing! Everything is working perfect.

    And it is not just that.

    Before, I had (for example, but accurate enough), 16 to 20 VSTs and my CPU could be up to 70-80%, especially during export many times i had to "freeze" instruments to make a successful export.

    Now, i can easily have minimum 32 VSTs and my CPU rarely reaches that 70%.... and i have no export problems anymore, since 2020 (as far as i can remember).

    About Reaktor: I can not separate it and speak only for this. I see (and i criticize) VSTs as a "family", not as individual programs. Be sure that you will see a lot of things in future updates, things that would simply not be possible to be done with the VST2 format. When Reaktor become resizeable it will become only because it is VST3.

    Apart of that, i see no logic on having the entire NI instruments collection offering VST3, but not Reaktor, don't you think?

  • Studiowaves
    Studiowaves Member Posts: 450 Advisor

    Sounds live vst3 is more efficient and resizing reaktor on the screen is about the only new feature. But vst3 doesn't allow us to do anything new. Am I wrong? I was hoping we could report a variable plus or minus latency to the daw.

  • Studiowaves
    Studiowaves Member Posts: 450 Advisor

    Well, thanks for the explanation but "Everything! But much better" doesn't really answer my question. Think about it, does vst3 allow us to do "everything" that we can already do. I really didn't want anyone to explain VST3 in depth again. No biggie, I like to write stuff too and do the same thing. Resizing sounds like something we can that we couldn't do before. Maybe VST3 plugins are now in their own window, that makes more sense than trying to squeeze it all in one daw window. That would make it real easy to switch between plugins. Otherwise you have to close something big in order to open something else up. Hopefully they at least put that feature in VST3. Talk Later

  • colB
    colB Member Posts: 755 Guru

    Apart of that, i see no logic on having the entire NI instruments collection offering VST3, but not Reaktor, don't you think?

    Obviously to remain current, every plugin must offer a VST3 version. That doesn't mean it's all sweetness and roses. It just is what it is.

    Why Steinberg would make something worst, to replace something better, i can not understand...

    Whether something is worse really depends on the perspective you take. They replaced something worse for them with something better for them. Their marketing narrative is that it's also better for everyone else. The slow uptake and the need for arm twisting licencing tactics to force the update through suggests otherwise.

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