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VST 3 SDK explained

The VST 3 SDK (Virtual Studio Technology Software Development Kit) is a collection of software development tools included in one package. This allows plug-in developers to create plug-ins in VST 3 format and host developers to load VST 3 plug-ins into a DAW or audio editor.

What is included

The VST 3 SDK package contains:

The VST 3 API

This is a C++ interface defining how a VST 3 plug-in communicates with a host and vice versa. The heart of VST 3.

Check the folder "pluginterfaces/vst" of the SDK!

VST 3 Implementation Helper Classes

Some helper classes are provided, implementing some VST 3 interfaces for hosting and for creating VST 3 plug-ins. Simply derived your plug-in C++ classes from these helper classes.

Check the folder "public.sdk" of the SDK!


AAX, AUv3, AU and VST 2 wrappers

These wrappers allows you to create versions of your VST 3 plug-in in other plug-in formats with minimum effort:

  • AAX format used by Pro Tools®

  • AUv3 and AU (Audio Unit) on Apple platform

  • VST 2 (deprecated)

Check the folder "public.sdk/source/vst/aaxwrapper" of the SDK!

VST 3 Plug-ins Examples

The SDK includes some Plug-ins implementation examples. The Legendary AGain and ADelay, thanks Paul Kellet the Open-source mda Plug-ins, a basic "Note Expression Synth" supporting "Note Expression Event", an example of pitchnames support Plug-in, a VST3 Host Checker which checks if a host is VST3 compliant and more...

Check the folder "public.sdk/samples/vst" of the SDK!

VST 3 Plug-in Test Host

The SDK provides a test application called VST3PluginTestHost for Apple Mac OS X (i386/x86_64) and Microsoft Windows (32bits, 64bits).
This application allows you to load a plug-in, simulates some inputs (Audio and Event) and acts like a small VST 3 host application based on an ASIO driver.
Included in this application is a test module which allows you to check your plug-in in regard to the VST 3 standard.

Check the folder "bin" of the SDK!

Validator command line

as Cross-platform source code

The validator is a small command line host application (source code included) which can be used to check your plug-in for VST 3 conformity. You can also write your own test code and let the validator execute it. Very nice for automatic build server integration.

Check the folder "public.sdk/samples/vst-hosting/validator" of the SDK!

AudioHost

as Cross-platform source code

Simple cross-platform (only tested on Linux) host application allowing you to register a VST 3 plug-in with Jack Server. First, you have to download the Jack Audio SDK and application server (http://www.jackaudio.org).

  • Windows (not tested): audiohost.exe "C:\PATH_TO_PLUGIN"
  • macOS (not tested)
  • Linux: audiohost PATH_TO_PLUGIN

On Windows and macOS, you can also drag and drop a VST 3 plug-in on the executable via Explorer/Finder.

Check the folder "public.sdk/samples/vst-hosting/audiohost" of the SDK!

EditorHost

as Cross-platform source code

Simple cross-platform (Win/macOS/Linux) host application allowing you to open the editor of a VST3 plug-in (with HiDPI support on Windows/macOS). Call it from the command line: Windows: editorhost.exe "C:\PATH_TO_PLUGIN" macOS/Linux: editorhost PATH_TO_PLUGIN

On Windows and macOS you can also drag and drop a VST 3 plug-in on the executable via Explorer/Finder.

Check the folder "public.sdk/samples/vst-hosting/editorhost" of the SDK!

VSTGUI

This is a user interface toolkit mainly for audio plug-ins (VST, AudioUnit, etc). Based on the XML definition of the plug-in UI, VSTGUI includes an embedded editor (UIDescription Editor) which allows the developer to create a plug-in UI just by drag & drop of the UI element.

First developed in-house by Steinberg Media Technologies (around 1998) for their first VST plug-ins. Later added as binary libraries to the official VST SDK. Since May 2003, VSTGUI is open source, and is hosted now at GitHub https://github.com/steinbergmedia/vstgui.

The last official release version of VSTGUI is always included in the VST 3 SDK.

Example of the VSTGUI UIDescription Editor

Example of the VSTGUI UIDescription Editor (embedded editing WYSIWYG)

Check the folder "vstgui4" of the SDK!

VST 3 Project Generator

This small application (Win/macOS) allows you to generate easily a new VST 3 plug-in project by just entering in a GUI some parameters.

Check the folder "VST3_Project_Generator" of the SDK!

iOS Inter-App Audio support

iOS InterApp-Audio application out of your VST 3 plug-in

VST 3 Licensing

Steinberg VST 3 Plug-In SDK Licensing Agreement

Please sign this License Agreement if you want to develop, release or host VST 3 plug-Ins.

Download link

Important links you will need for working with VST 3

Change History

All released versions of the VST 3 SDK with changes and dates.


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