Windows FAQ

How do I add a VST plugin into a Windows DAW?

What is a VST plug-in and how do I use it?

In this guide, we will describe what VST plug-ins are, where VST plug-ins are installed, and also how to add them in your DAW. Follow the sections below to get started.

What are VST plug-ins?

VST, which stands for Virtual Studio Technology, is a plug-in format that was created in 1996 with the release of Cubase 3. Since then, VST plug-ins have become an industry standard and are compatible with most DAW’s. VST’s were initially only compatible with the Windows OS, but they are now compatible with Mac as well. The latest version is VST 3.0.However, some VST 2.0 and VST 2.4 are still compatible with most DAW’s.

  • While VST 2.0 and 2.4 can still be used, 32-bit versions are becoming obsolete; particularly with newer     versions of DAW’s. 64-bit VST 3 versions are recommended for compatibility.

What folders are my VST plug-ins installed?

Unless you have installed your VST plug-ins to a custom folder, the standard installation path for plug-ins can be in one of many locations on Windows. If you can’t seem to find a plug-in or virtual instrument VST within your DAW, the first thing to do is check the folder locations below and see if the .dll or .vst3 file is there. If the VST plug-in is there, but still isn’t loading in your DAW, it may not be compatible, and you will need to re-install the correct version of the plug-in.

VST 2 plug-in location (.dll file extension):

  • Local Disk C:\Program     Files\VSTPlugins
  • Local Disk C:\Program     Files\Steinberg\VSTPlugins
  • Local Disk C:\Program     Files\Common Files\VST2
  • Local Disk C:\Program     Files\Common Files\Steinberg\VST2
  • Local Disk C:\Program     Files (x86)\Steinberg\VstPlugins (For 32-bit plugins on 64-bit version of Windows)

VST 3 plug-in location (.vst3 file extension):

  • Local Disk C:\Program     Files\Common Files\VST3
  • Local Disk C:\Program     Files (x86)\Common Files\VST3 (For 2-bit VST 3 plug-ins on 64-bit versions of Windows) 

Studio One Users - place the VST plugin here (C:\Program Files\vstplugins\)

If you do not see a VST Plugin folder in your current system folder, you will need to create one called VST2 and/or VST3 and then move the file(s) to that new folder.