Windows PCs are from Mars, Macs are from Venus, Windows VST plug-ins won’t ever run on the Mac — wait, not so fast. Ornament Uncle writes with a solution for running Windows VSTs on the Mac as if they were native plug-ins. The tutorial describes a fairly meticulous process – if you’re expecting this to be plug and play, don’t. Hosts - VST, Mac Hosts - VST - Here you will find software which will allow you to host and use VST instrument and effect plug-ins. Hosts may be incorporated in production suites and sequencers or be stand-alone applications. For a large selection of VST plug-ins see the Plug-ins - VST and Plug-ins - VSTi categories.

VSTs revolutionized mixing music.

Instruments and effects that used to cost thousands became accessible to every musician with a computer.

If you produce music in a DAW, VSTs are probably a key part of your workflow.

But sometimes you want to use your plugins without launching a full fledged DAW. Maybe you just want your jam with your virtual synths, or play live with a VST rig on stage.

To run VSTs without the extra functionality of a DAW you’ll need a VST host.

In this article I’ll go through the 8 best VST host apps available today.

What is a VST host?

A VST host is a software program that can load VST instruments or effects plugins. A VST host can be a DAW or a dedicated software program just for running VSTs.

While a traditional DAW can be used for live performance, many musicians prefer the stability and ease of use that comes with dedicated VST hosts.

While a traditional DAW can be used for live performance, many musicians prefer the stability and ease of use that comes with dedicated VST hosts.

These purpose-built software programs don’t need the extra features and functionality of full recording apps.

That makes them simpler and more efficient for your computer to run.

Even if you’re just playing through a handful of instruments or effects, a VST host can help when a standalone version of the plugin doesn’t exist.

The 10 best VST hosts

With the basics out of the way, here are the 10 best VST hosts available today.

1. Apple Mainstage

Apple’s Mainstage is one of the most well-known VST hosts for live performance.

It includes many of the respected plugins, presets and effects from Apple’s flagship DAW app Logic Pro X.

Built specifically with live shows in mind, Mainstage has many impressive features for performers.

Guitarists will love the virtual pedalboards and amp rigs that come complete with tuner, tap tempo and spillover features.

And keyboardists can take advantage of the excellent built-in emulations of classics the Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes, Hohner Pianet and more.

Unfortunately, like all Apple software, Mainstage is only available on Mac OS X. But if you’re a Mac user looking to play VSTs live, Mainstage is probably your first option to try.

2. Topten Cantabile

Topten Cantabile is a high performance VST host that’s tailor-made for live playing.

With robust MIDI routing and impressive real-time features, Cantabile is an excellent choice for using VSTs on stage.


Cantabile was purpose-built for the stage, so it’s among the most stable and efficient hosts you can find.

If you’re a keyboard player looking to ditch a heavy hardware rig for simple laptop setup, Cantabile could be your best choice.

It comes in three editions, including a free tier with Cantabile Lite.

Unfortunately, Cantabile is Windows-only, so you’ll have to choose another option if you want to turn your MacBook into the ultimate plug-in based synthesizer.

3. Your DAW

Any application that can run VSTs is a VST host.

That means your DAW is a perfectly good option for playing VSTs live.

Any application that can run VSTs is a VST host. That means your DAW is a perfectly good option for playing VSTs live.

Mac

DAWs are more complex than basic VST hosts, so your system will naturally have to do a bit more to keep the gig running.

But there are some upsides to using a DAW as a live VST host. You won’t have to learn a new program to be able to build your stage setup.

And you can easily translate your projects from tracking and mixing to live performance.

Some DAWs are lightweight enough that they’re well suited for live performance. For example, Ableton…Live is often used as a performance DAW.

4. Audiostrom LiveProfessor 2

Audiostrom LiveProfessor 2 is another feature-rich option for live VST use.

It features impressive preset capabilities, performance-oriented cue lists, flexible signal chains and impressive hardware control.

LiveProfessor 2 was developed in collaboration with industry professionals to create an app rugged enough for live use.

It’s popular among front-of-house engineers for mixing live sets with VST plugins.

5. Niall Moody Pedalboard 2

Niall Moody Pedalboard 2 is a simple and effective VST host that’s designed to work just like a guitarist’s pedalboard.

Set your I/O, load your VSTs and patch between them to create a pedalboard-style signal flow.

The best part? Pedalboard 2 is free, lightweight and easy to use.

If you’re looking to chain together a few virtual stompboxes and amp simulators in a digital guitar rig, Pedalboard 2 is a great choice.

Vst Host Mac Os X

6. Hermann Seib VSTHost

VSTHost is a simple but effective hosting app created by independent developer Hermann Seib.

The project started as a plugin testing platform but became popular among keyboardists for playing live in the early days of VSTs.

It’s still a great choice for a simple and effective VST host.

VSTHost lets you load plugins, edit them, send MIDI and save your setups to recall later.

7. Kushview Element

Kushview Element is a modular plugin host that can run VST and AU instruments in flexible configuration.

Its unique matrix style patchbay and graphical editor lets you draw in complex effects racks and signal chains with ease.

If you’ve ever tried to use your plugins in a live performance, you’ll know the challenges that can arise.

Element features easy integration with hardware controllers and easy external sync to MIDI clock sources.

It’s also free and open-source for you to experiment with and shape to your needs.

8. Tone2 NanoHost

Tone2 NanoHost is the most lightweight VST host on this list—in fact it’s barely a host at all.

NanoHost acts as a wrapper to turn a VST plugin into a standalone application. Japanese train simulator free online.

If your favourite VST instrument doesn’t come bundled with a standalone app, NanoHost will do the job—for Windows users only.

It’s perfect for those who just want to boot up a single VST without the hassle of a complicated program.

Play VSTs live

VST hosts may seem like an extremely specific type of software, but they fulfill an important purpose.

If you’ve ever tried to use your plugins in a live performance, you’ll know the challenges that can arise.

Vst Host Mac Os X

VST hosts can help, and if you’ve made it through this article you’ll have a handle on some of the best options available today.

Coments are closed
Scroll to top