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VST 3.5 — a milestone in VST development

February 10, 2011

Steinberg is proud to release the new VST 3.5 development kit, which is the latest incarnation of the world’s most popular plug-in technology.

Since VST was introduced back in 1996, Steinberg always pushed back the boundaries of what is technically possible in virtual studio environments. Always offered as an open industry standard, VST enabled numerous plug-in manufacturers to develop effect plug-ins of every kind. Already back in 1999, Steinberg introduced VST 2. For the first time ever, it was possible to create virtual instruments. Products like The Grand and Groove Agent have revolutionized the way of creating music.

In 2008, Steinberg publicly released the VST 3 development kit, which has brought an extensive range of enhancements to the industry and again became the yardstick for all virtual interface technologies. Meanwhile, a growing number of VST developing companies, including Waves, Brainworx, SPL Software, VirSyn, FabFilter, Algorithmix and Vienna Symphonic Library, have climbed on board the VST 3 platform and are pleased to provide their customers with the latest in pro-audio technology.

2011 is another remarkable year for the world’s premier plug-in interface.

“VST 3.5 brings along many possibilities to create outstanding plug-ins and virtual instruments that will convince even those plug-in manufacturers, who still offer products based on the old VST 2.4 standard,” comments Timo Wildenhain, product marketing manager at Steinberg. “And, of course, we hope to also see more VST 3-capable DAW hosts on the market,” Wildenhain continues.

Beyond MIDI
Among the novelties of VST 3.5 Note Expression will most likely be of highest interest for virtual instrument enthusiasts. With Note Expression, each individual note (event) in a polyphonic arrangement can contain extensive articulation information, which creates unparalleled flexibility and a much more natural feel of playing.

“With Note Expression we break through the limitations of MIDI. Articulation messages are no longer bound only to channels, but can now be used for every single event,” comments Yvan Grabit, technical lead at Steinberg.

Some instrument plug-ins support key switching functionality, which allows switching between different layered sounds while playing notes, such as pizzicato, legato and tremolo. These key switches can be used in the Cubase/Nuendo VST Expression Map, allowing each key switch to be linked with a note. VST 3.5 offers the possibility to create such maps by defining a new interface type. When a VST instrument plug-in supports such an interface, the host will get the current set of used key switches from the plug-in.

Other technical improvements
VST 3.5 also provides a new, XML-based controller interface, allowing plug-in parameters to be exported, structured and grouped, which is beneficial in case of remote control. A more precise description of parameters is also possible.

In addition, a plug-in can ask the DAW host to create a context menu for a given exported parameter ID or a generic context menu. The host may pre-fill this menu with specific items like "show automation for parameter", but the plug-in can provide any additional, individual menu entries. Therewith it is possible to fully configure the settings of plug-ins according to individual needs.

The VST 3.5 SDK is available for download from the VST developer area.

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