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VST vs AU – Audio Plugin Differences?

For the production of contemporary music, plug-ins are essentially necessary, and as producers, we all have our go-to favorites. It’s likely that plugins are crucial to you as a producer regardless of the DAW you use, be it Ableton Live, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, Reaper, or Cubase.

It is important to consider the connection between these utilities and their operating system compatibility when engrossed in this enthusiasm for plugins.

The topic of audio plugin formats, specifically the idea of Audio Unit vs. VST plugins in the contemporary production environment, will be covered in this article.

What Are Audio Plugins?

Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) use modules called audio plugins to simulate the actions of instruments, effects, and sequencers. The three most often used plugin formats are VST, AU, and AAX. Production of music was purely analog for many years. Beautiful analog consoles, tape machines, and racks of outboard equipment were used by engineers and producers to polish their trade and release their products into the world.

Eventually, as the use of digital technology increased, it made more sense to have computers handle these jobs. Initially, we saw digital rack equipment, but by the 1990s, home computers had advanced to the point where we could find the same processing capability in our personal computers.

Nowadays, a single computer occupies a lot less space than the entirety of the equipment it can imitate. There will undoubtedly always be debates over whether digital copies of analog equipment sound as good as the original.

What Is VST?

Virtual Studio Technology (VST) is a term coined by Steinberg Media Technologies (now owned by Yamaha). VST plugins, like AU plugins, can be MIDI processors, instruments, or audio effects.

The vast majority of VST format plugins are made to work with Digital Audio Workstations and are typically more closely related to PCs than Macs. It is important to note that VST2 and VST3 plugins are both available. The most recent version, VST3, is more widely used. The primary distinction is that VST3 format plugins shut down more effectively to conserve CPU when not in use.

However, regardless of whether there is an audio signal or not, VST and VST2 format plugins are always processing. Common VST plugins supported by Ableton, Sonar, Cubase, and others.

What Are AU plugins?

For this reason, it is OK to forgo VST plugins on a Mac setup and just rely on AU plugins, assuming your DAW supports them. It is worth noting that AU plugins are compatible with Ableton, with the only major DAWs on Mac not supporting AU being Pro Tools and Cubase.

VST vs AU Plugins – What’s The Difference?

AU plugins are “Mac-only” due to Apple having created the format. The majority of popular DAWs and Logic and Garageband function well with AU plugins. VST plugins are more flexible and independent of an operating system.

The structure of an audio plugin is essentially just a container for code; what matters is how you use these incredible tools in your creations.