When set up digital recording studio, aside from core hardwares such as computer, audio interface, studio monitors, studio headphone, studio microphone, others like Mixer, EQ, Reverb, Compressor,… can be replaced by softwares called audio plugins, these plugins are “merged” into DAW software in order to use, this means they will run in DAW softwares.
What is the Audio Plug-In?
Audio Plug-In is extended softwares from the third parties, which mean these are written for being able to run on DAW softwares in order to supplement functions, power to DAW without connecting more external hardwares.
(MEqualizer by Melda Production)
When you purchase DAW software, usually it is attached with default audio plug-in of the brand for you to work all the basic steps relate to recording, mixing or even mastering without buying any extended software from the third parties.
In fact, sometimes we need to buy and install extended plug-in from the third parties in order to supplement advance functions for our work to run more efficiently.
Why Do We Need the Audio Plug-In?
Why Do We Need the Audio Plug-In? Because audio plug-in help you have the most convenience as possible.
- First, if you use external hardware to supplement functions for your DAW software you have to connect many complicated wires. But with audio plugin, you just need some clicks.
- Secondly, when you purchase external hardwares such as EQ or Compressor, this EQ and Compressor is used only with one audio channel while plugin can be used with many different audio channels and you just have to pay once. Therefore, talking about what you’ll receiver for what you pay, plugin is better.
Sound Quality of Audio Plug-Ins
And one of the controversial problem is that sound quality between audio plugin and external hardwares, which is better?
One plugin which runs the work of EQ and one external EQ hardware, which works better? Be assure, till now, the technology of audio software has been developed so much, softwares can compete with hardwares now.
Additionally, because audio plugin is software so it has many benefits relate to digital, some functions that hardwares can never have.
Some Popular Format of Audio Plug-In
Next we’ll talk about some Format of Audio Plug-In from the third parties for you to consider.
- RTAS & AAX: This is two standards from Avid, in which AAX is the next generation and more modern than RTAS and both can only run on Pro Tools.
- AU: AU standard is developed by Apple, this standard support many DAW softwares which run on Mac like Logic, Studio One.
- VST & VST3: Audio plugin standards developed by Steinberg, of course they supports all Steinberg DAW software like Cubase, Nuendo, and these are open plugin so they can run on many different DAW software. In which, VST3 is the next generation, more advanced functions, more efficient.
Moreover, there’s another standard like MAS of MOTU, but this you won’t see in normal audio plugins.
Types of Audio Plug-Ins
Next we discuss other definitions like DSL plugin, TDM plugin and Native plugin.
- DSP plug-in: Plugin that runs on DAW software but it uses hardware chip like outboard card which is placed in computer for processing, which means while running, it doesn’t take cpu of the computer. Typical DSP plugin is USA plug-in runs with its own cards.
- TDM plug-in: TDM plug-in is similar with DSP plug-in but it just runs in hardwares from Pro Tools.
- Native plug-in: Plugin that runs independently, not with any hardwares from any brands. While running, it requires cpu instead of chip on outboard card.
Note: Each native plug-in will require different parameter of each systems, some plugins run very light but some others require much system resource of your computer. Therefore, each plug-in produce different latency (delay) and DAW softwares automatically cover for this.
Don’t think that softwares always simulate the sound from hardwares. Softwares or hardwares, plugin or external hardwares, you should know them as separate entity and produce different sound.
Like which one use that one, no one will criticize you for being mistaken. Which one serve you well with rational investment, just use that one, no problem with it.
In short, audio plugin is more and more used in digital studios because of its fair price and flexibility.