Au vs VST

Hello all, I am using a MACbook Pro, hefty box, and I recently installed KOMPLETE 8. During the installation I noticed that Ableton uses both AU and VST. I installed bot, but was wondering which is better or is there a difference at all with Ableton?


zencurry 5 years ago | 0 comments

9 answers

  • geraldcole
    1 answer
    4 votes received
    4 votes

    It's a myth that VST is universal. VST is a proprietary format invented and owned by Steinberg for use with Cubase. However, it was easily reverse engineered and became commonplace. It is NOT a standard and it is NOT an open platform, let alone open source. There are large parts of the VST spec that are undocumented or only known to Steinberg. 3rd-party developers have built their own custom extensions to that. Most famously Native Instruments has built a plugin empire on top of wild deviations from the VST spec.


    You'll notice that Ableton software can control some parameters on some plugins but is blind to them on others. This can lead to glitches, compatibility issues, etc. This is where AudioUnits plugins come in. AU plugs are designed by Apple Computer, Inc. to be an open standard (for Macs only, of course). Apple's Logic Pro, for example, is AU-only. Propellerheads (makers of Reason) have gone a step further and partnered with the major plugin makers to make proprietary Reason-only plugins that act like native Reason devices. These will likely never be ported the way VSTs were hacked and AU was meant for.

    5 years ago | 1 comment
  • Ableton_Support Ableton staff
    20 answers
    155 votes received
    4 votes

    Hi there,

    Which format you choose to use is up to you, bearing in mind the following tips:

    • If sharing projects with Windows users, it's better to use VSTs. If the other user also has that plug-in installed they should be able to open the project with no issues. See our recommendations for transferring Live projects.
    • Some AU plugins may have different preset handling than the VST, or vice versa. See our article on AU preset handling.
    • AU plug-ins do not support a direct MIDI out. If you wish to route MIDI from a plug-in you need to use the VST version instead. See this article for info on how to access the MIDI outputs of a plug-in.
    • Avoid using the AU and VST versions of the same plugin in a Live set. Mixing AU and VST versions of different plugins should not be a problem however.
    More info in our article:
    7 months ago | 0 comments
  • ButsaBoy
    1 answer
    2 votes received
    2 votes

    I have been a life-long VST user, but recently I am considering switching. When you get into building your user library, storing custom parameters and presets, AU offers more direct access. Building your user library is actually a fairly arduous task, so when I found out that AU (at least with live) offers quick access to hot-swapping and browsing. For each VST, you need to create a rack, map macros, etc. I normally would do this anyway, but it seems ridiculous that VST instruments don't offer every advantage that proprietary Ableton instruments do.

    library-building is the most obnoxious task to undertake. Anything that makes that process easier is worth a look

    1 year ago | 0 comments
  • mylkoa
    21 answers
    24 votes received
    1 vote

    I use Massive with Ableton, and like you, it installed as both a VST and AU. I noticed one teeny-tiny little difference:

    The VST version shows a pull down menu with the names of the patches in the "Program List" (what Massive calls a bank of patches). While the AU version does not. 

    There may be more differences, but I haven't found them yet. Cheers!

    2 years ago | 1 comment
  • DaWrecked1
    5 answers
    3 votes received
    1 vote

    I've noticed a HUGE difference between the 2 for the 1st time today. Some Native Instruments synths come with their own FX versions. For example Absynth will also install a "Absynth FX" version. Essentially allowing you to use That synths effects on any other sound sent threw it. Today I tried loading Absynth FX vst into a empty Ableton midi track. Wouldn't work. Ableton WILL NOT accept the vst version of any of NI's "synth effects"......but The AU versions of the exact same type will load up with absolutely with zero problems. I've been producing for afew years and just noticed this. I've never really used NI's "synth effects" bc I have a slew of 3rd party dedicated fx. Today I was tinkering around and thought I'd explore with "Absynth FX" just out of curiousity. To my surprise Live said it wasn't compatible.

    ***My bad.  I figured out what the problem was.  To save time looking through all my plugins i created a "Custom VST Folder" and within it created 2 separate folders for "instruments" and "Audio Effects".  I moved all the VST's installed on my Mac into the 2 folders that suited them. Absynth went into "Instruments" and AbsynthFX went into the "Audio Effects" folder. Problem is you can't separate the Native Instruments "instrument" vst's from their "fx" variants.  Meaning Absynth (the instrument) and AbsynthFX (the effect version) have to be place in the same folder for the FX version to work   


    If you want to sort your VST's on Mac be sure to use aliases.  Create aliases for all you plugins and then move those into your custom sorted vst folder.  You can sort and move things as you like into different folders with no problems.  Ableton will show the file structure of the aliases in your custom VST folder that you created.  It works because the aliases themselves will reference the actual VST's (not aliases) that are all stored in the original VST folder upon installation.  Every now and then you may have to delete and recreate an alias if you install a major update for a VST....but it's a quick and easy thing.  I typically just recreate a alias after I update a plugin.  Only takes afew seconds.

    2 years ago | 0 comments
  • unkewl
    1 answer
    1 vote received
    1 vote

    The AU version of Kontakt as multi-out is MUCH easier to route than the VST counterpart.

    2 years ago | 0 comments
  • Blip
    2 answers
    2 votes received
    1 vote

    Related to your question:

    I search for AU only because it makes finding Mac plug-ins easier. Most Mac plug-ins have a PC version, but the reverse is not true, so if you search for VSTs you might end up getting the PC version.

    2 years ago | 0 comments
  • Vladimir Naumov
    7 answers
    13 votes received
    0 votes

    I'm on Mac. Do I have to install both AU and VST versions of the same plugin or this is a waste of disk space? In which scenario I should have both?

    2 years ago | 0 comments
  • Near Earth Object
    820 answers
    826 votes received
    -1 votes

    Don't think it makes a difference. VST is a universal system that was invented by Steinberg. It has been used for PC systems since many years. AU is Audio Unit, and is used by Mac computers.
    Since Live runs on both Mac and PC, it can also use both types. So both should work exactly the same.

    5 years ago | 0 comments

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