VSTs (Virtual Instruments)

resources and installation guide

VSTs (Virtual Instruments) are effects or instruments that can be used within your DAW (in this course, we'll be using Ableton - but they can also be opened in other DAWs). They can be a little bit particular about how they're installed so as well as a list and links to the VSTs we're going to use on the course - there's also a guide to installing. 

OBXD - Synthesizer

Yooz BL-303 - Synthesizer

Valhalla Supermassive - Delay effect

Tal Chorus LX - Chorus effect

Old Skool Verb - Reverb effect

Full Bucket Phaser - Phaser effect

Molotok - Compressor effect

Klanghelm IVGI - Saturator effect

Pitchproof - Pitch shifter effect

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Virtual Instruments

VSTs come in a few different forms - what we'll be using is VST effects and VST instruments. A VST instrument is like a synthesizer or other kind of digital instrument that exists in your computer (as opposed to a real life thing you can touch). A VST effect is the same principle, but an effect that runs in a chain to affect the sound. We'll discuss this all more in detail in the course so chill if you're a bit lost. I'll be updating this page with new links and I'll do a little announcement on the Discord each time that I do. Depending on what version of Ableton you're running, you might have a pile of stock VSTs (Standard & Suite versions). Some of these are great and we'll talk a bit about them - in the interest of making this as accessible as possible, we'll be using these free VSTs which can be used in any version of Ableton. Also- free definitely doesn't mean shitty. Some of these VSTs are really really good and arguably better than the ableton stock VSTs but we'll also talk more about that later.

OK - sorry to say, installing plug ins isn't exciting and can feel a bit clunky but once they're installed you'll be able to access them whenever you want.

First thing you want to do is check whether your Operating System is running 32-bit or 64-bit. From what I understand - most computers nowadays run at 64-bit but if you're in doubt, have a check. This is significant only in that some VSTs will offer a 32-bit version and a 64-bit version (and some only run on one).

Windows

Mac

Next open up Ableton and click the options menu and then click preferences.

Click on the side tab that says 'plug-ins' 

Have a look at the folder it has for 'VST2 custom plug-in folder' and 'VST3 custom plug-in folder'. Take note of that folder or feel free to create your own folder somewhere on your computer (that's what I did) and direct it there. THIS IS WHERE YOUR VSTs WILL LIVE. 

 

Once you've installed your VSTs in this folder, you'll come back to this menu and click the 'rescan' button for ableton to locate your VSTs. You will only have to do this once (or each time you get a new VST) as Ableton remembers from the last session what VSTs are there. 

Your VSTs will be found in the 'plug-ins' tab on the left hand side

 

See the vid playing below for a demonstration.

 

Next, check out the links below for the VSTs. Start getting excited about using and exploring these things because this is like the digital version of kitting out your studio with toys to play with AND THEY'RE FREE, BABY - ALL YOURS.

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Setting  these up might seem a pain in the arse  but worthwhile doing and you only have to do it once. Download them all or just pick the ones you want - up to you.

 

OB-XD

I'll introduce this synth properly in our first class on Subtractive Synthesis so would be a good idea to install this one ahead of the class if you'd like to be able to play about with it as we learn together. 

This is a digital version of the Oberheim OB-X - a polyphonic analog synthesizer from 1979. It's a really nice emulation and the presets are pretty cool. We'll be using it as a common interface to learn the basics of subtractive synthesis and basically what those knobs do - on this synth and others.

This download comes with an installer. Just open it up and follow it through but make sure you install it in your designated VST folder (the one you selected in ableton).

Download here

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YOOZ BL-303

This is a digital emulation of the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer. The TB-303 is the synth that came to define Acid House. We'll learn more about the 303 in our class about sequencing and use this very simple synth to explore creating sequences and also the significance of the 303 in general. 

This vst is free but they ask for your email address and then they send you the link. Check your 'promotions' section of your emails - thats where mine landed.

Once you download and extract the folder, open up the sub folders according to what's appropriate to you (Win/mac, 32-bit/64-bit) and then you will find a .dll file. Copy this file and paste it in your designated VST folder.

Download here

 

Valhalla Supermassive

Listed as a 'reverb' but functions more like a delay. This one is quirky in that it has the option to do some pretty weird stuff with it beyond a simple delay but definitely too good to miss. We'll cover it in the effects class.

Once you've extracted the file - copy the .dll file into you designated VST folder

Download here

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tal chorus.jpg

TAL-CHORUS-LX

This is a digital emulation of the chorus effect found on the Roland Juno 60 synthesizer from 1982. It's limited in what it does but it's pretty lush and sounds pure nice.

Once you download and extract the folder, copy the .dll file and paste it in your designated VST folder.

Download here

 

OldSkoolVerb

Not that attractive looking compared to some of the other reverb VSTs out there but actually a really great interface and, most importantly, sounds really good.

This one comes with an installer - make sure to install in your designated VST folder.

Download here

(Link to download is at top of the page - make sure you dont download the wrong thing.)

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FULL BUCKET PHASER

This is a digital emulation of an analog phaser - If I was to guess which one, I think it would be the EHX Small Stone (judging by the font used). It's simple and does the job of phasing (we'll learn more about this in effects class). 

Once you download and extract the folder, copy the .dll file and paste it in your designated VST folder.

Download here

 

MOLOTOK Compressor

This is a pretty basic but nice 'Glue' compressor. We'll talk more about this but compression is responsible for gluing sounds together to make them sit tight in a mix. I tend to use the compressor built into Ableton (Standard and Suite versions) just because that's what I'm used to using but wanted to include this for those who don't have access to that one. 

This one comes with an installer or just the .vst2/vst3 files - make sure to install/copy-paste in your designated VST folder.

Download here

molotok compressor.jpg
 
klanghelm.jpg

KLANGHELM IVGI

I thought I better find a free saturation VST for you too and saw this one had good reviews. I've been playing around with it and it's actually really really nice - I'll probably use this in my own music. It emulates the natural saturation of sound overdriving through analog gear.

Comes with an installer - install it in your designated VST folder.

Download here

 

Aegean Music Pitchproof

This is an emulation of an old-school pitch-shifter.

This one's more a question of taste than some of the other more general utility VSTs but it's pretty cool for weird effects and particularly if you want to get those kind of Jon Hasell style 4th intervals - and it's free. Sounds cool on vocals too.  

 

Make sure to copy-paste the .dll file in your designated VST folder.

Download here

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Remember to click 'Rescan' in the Plugins options menu after you've installed any or all of the plug-ins so that Ableton updates it's registry of what's there.

We're not going to get bogged down in the particular details of any of these instruments - instead we'll be using them as archetypes of a kind of instrument or effect to get us familiar with how they work. We can then transpose that knowledge to other VST equivalents or to hardware setups (which I'll also be using to demonstrate).

Ok, cool!