VST2 or VST3. What's the Difference?

When it comes to audio plugins, VST (Virtual Studio Technology) is a widely used standard that allows software synthesizers and effects to be used within digital audio workstations (DAWs). VST plugins come in different versions, with VST2 and VST3 being the most common. But what exactly is the difference between them? Let's explore.

What is VST2?

VST2, or VST version 2, is an older version of the VST standard that has been around for many years. It was introduced by Steinberg, the company behind Cubase, in 1999. VST2 plugins have a long history and are still widely supported by various DAWs and audio software.

What is VST3?

VST3, on the other hand, is the newer and more advanced version of the VST standard. It was introduced by Steinberg in 2008 as an improvement over VST2. VST3 plugins offer several enhancements and additional features compared to their predecessors.

Key Differences

There are several key differences between VST2 and VST3 plugins:

  1. Improved Performance: VST3 plugins are designed to be more efficient and optimized for modern computer systems. They utilize multi-threading and better resource management, resulting in improved performance and lower CPU usage.
  2. Enhanced MIDI Capabilities: VST3 introduces advanced MIDI capabilities, allowing for better integration of MIDI controllers and more precise control over plugin parameters.
  3. Sidechain Support: VST3 plugins have built-in support for sidechain processing, making it easier to create dynamic effects such as ducking and pumping.
  4. Sample Accurate Automation: VST3 plugins support sample-accurate automation, ensuring precise control over parameter changes throughout the audio signal.
  5. Improved GUI: VST3 introduces a more flexible and customizable graphical user interface (GUI) for plugins, providing a better user experience.


While VST3 offers several advantages over VST2, it's important to note that not all DAWs and audio software fully support VST3 yet. Some older systems and plugins may only be compatible with VST2. However, many popular DAWs have embraced VST3 and provide seamless integration and support for both versions.


In summary, VST2 and VST3 are both versions of the VST standard used for audio plugins. VST3 is the newer and more advanced version, offering improved performance, enhanced MIDI capabilities, sidechain support, sample-accurate automation, and an improved GUI. While VST3 is the future of the VST standard, compatibility with older systems and plugins may still require the use of VST2. It's important for audio professionals and enthusiasts to understand the differences between these versions to make informed decisions when working with audio plugins.

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