Hi guys, it’s Andre.
Plugins are essential for every DAW. All complex audio manipulation, processing and of course all software instruments are plugins. When I’m showing a certain plugin, I often getting asked: ‘What formats does it feature? Does it work on my DAW as well?’ A question which I have to answer for myself, too. Especially when I’m thinking about using another DAW at the moment.
Time to make it clear! Here you’ll get an overview over all plugin formats and the DAWs they support.
Audio Units (AU): Apple’s own native plugin format is coming with every version of OS X and working in Apple’s audio applications like Garage Band, Final Cut Pro, Soundtrack, MainStage and Logic. Also supported by third-party audio software for Mac like Ardour, Ableton Live, Reaper and the pro version of Studio One. Pro Tools does not support AU plugins.
DirectX: DirectX is developed by Microsoft and Windows exclusive and is featured in ACID Pro, Adobe Audition, Cakewalk Sonar, FL Studio, Reaper, Sony Vegas and Steinberg Wavelab. DirectX is used less, now, so the dominant plugin format on windows is VST.
Virtual Studio Technology (VST): Steinberg’s VST plugin format is one of the most popular formats and more or less replaced DirectX as plugin format standard on windows. Most known DAWs are compatible to VST, but Pro Tools and Logic don’t support VST.
Real Time AudioSuite (RTAS): Digidesign’s plugin format is exclusive for Pro Tools LE and HD systems. To use VST plugins on Pro Tools you can use FXpansion’s VST to RTAS adapter to convert VST plugins to Pro Tools’ RTAS plugin format.
Time Division Multiplexing (TDM): Another Pro Tools exclusive plugin format is bound to Pro Tools HD interfaces.
Avid Audio eXtension (AAX): Avid’s new plugin format since Pro Tools 10 is probably going to replace RTAS and TDM and combining them. Of course, it’s Pro Tools exclusive.
VST plugins can also be used in Pro Tools but by using FXpansion’s VST to RTAS adapter to convert VST plugins to Pro Tools’ RTAS plugin format.
Same is for VST plugins in Logic. Use the FXpansion VST to AU adapter to convert VST plugins to AU
Being a Pro Tools user is pretty hard when it comes to plugins. Many third-party VST plugins have to be converted with expensive software and with the new AAX format, Avid is one step closer to set itself apart from other DAWs. Moving from home studios to only professional users with big budget. We’ll see if that’s the right step for Avid.
Cheers and have a great day,