Music production can be confusing when you are first learning the navigation between different DAW’s and plugins. In this article, we will break down VSTs, AUs, AAXs, and RTAs so that you will know exactly which plugin format you need with your platform and DAW.
While there are various audio plugin formats, it is essential to note that the most popular format is currently VST or (virtual studio technology).
As you will need a DAW to use plugins, you will want to see if your DAW is compatible with a particular platform or plugin.
Always make sure before purchasing VSTs that you are purchasing a plugin that is compatible with your DAW.
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The most common plugin formats with Windows are VST/VST3; however, you can also see AAX and RTAs.
Mac could only run AU(audio units) until recently, but now Mac can run VST/VST3, AAX, and RTAs. This being said, it is common to see Mac users on Logic Pro X, so you can expect to see more AU.
Virtual Studio Technology is by far the most popular plugin format used in the world of music production.
VST plugins were created in 1996 with Cubase 3. VSTs then went on to become the industry standard as they are compatible with most DAW’s.
Upon release in 1996, they only worked with Windows, but now they work with Windows and Mac.
The latest version of VSTs is VST3, and the most significant change here is that VST3s only apply processing when the audio signal is present. As some plugins are still VST 2.0 and 2.4, these can still be used; however, the 32-bit versions are slowly becoming obsolete as they don’t work with updated DAW’s properly. It’s wise to use 64-bit versions whenever possible and also to start to adapt to the VST3 format.
AU stands for Audio Units, and it’s Apple’s proprietary audio technology. AUs work with MAC X OS, and they are part of the operating system, so they provide low latency and system-level support for the interface.
Logic Pro X supports AU and is the main DAW for Mac products. Logic Pro only utilizes AU; however, other DAWs like Ableton Live can also support AU.
Avid Audio Extension was originally introduced as Avid created a 64-bit version of Pro Tools. AAX only works with Pro Tools, no other DAWs.
Do VSTs Work With Logic Pro?
VSTs do not work inside of Logic Pro. Logic Pro uses AU, so you will need to find AU plugins for Logic Pro. Should you be utilizing a Logic Pro alternative, you may be able to use VSTs.
What’s The Best Plugin Format?
Currently, the best plugin format is VST3, as these work with Mac and Windows and almost every major DAW.
It comes down to your DAW and what that DAW is compatible with when it comes to plugin formats.
If you are using a DAW that you enjoy, you should try and find the correct plugin formats rather than switching your DAW.
Having an understanding of the different plugin formats is vital for knowing which type of plugin you need to purchase for your DAW.
I hope this helped you figure out exactly what you need!