One of the ongoing debates for Pro Tools users is the issue of having AAX compatible plug-ins for Pro Tools 12 and also hosting VST and AU plug-ins in earlier versions of Pro Tools.
There’s a lot of cool free plug-ins in VST and AU formats out there, so it’s worth exploring this. Here is our guide to the ways that it can be done.
Blue Cat Audio Patchwork
Patchwork is a virtual patch bay for plug-ins that enables users to create several plug-in chains in one simple to use GUI. Patchwork makes it easy to compare plug-in chains and even makes it possible to mix plug-in chains in parallel. Patchwork is also a very powerful VST and AU plug-in host application. Host VST and AU plug-ins within Pro Tools AAX plug-in format.
An extra feature that will be very useful for cross DAW collaborators is the save/load plug-in preset feature. Mix with plug-in chains within Pro Tools using Patchwork and load those plug-in chain presets within a different DAW such as Logic Pro X. Watch the video to see this in action
By far the most comprehensive and best integrated solution for thiose using VIs. Vienna VEP5 offer AU hosting of both plug-ins and instruments within Pro Tools 11 and earlier. The integration is almost seamless with some very clever tricks. It’s also one the most expensive. Supports Pro Tools 11 and below. Watch our video here
Native Instruments Maschine
Maschine needs no introduction as a complete rhythm production studio. It also hosts AU and VST plug-ins which can run within Pro Tools. Another one of the more costly options but if you already own one then you already have AU and VST support. Supports Pro Tools 10 and below. Watch our video here
REAPER is not as some would suggest a FREE product, it offers a generous unlimited demo but those wishing to use it should pay the $60 price tag. Via ReWire it hosts VST and AU instruments and of course effects can also be used in any insert on those channels. Excellent value and solution. Watch our video here
Bidule is a highly configurable hosting solution that offers both ReWire and support via aggregate devices for both VST and AU instruments and effects. It also has a generous demo period and a price tag of 99 Euros. Watch our video here
Metaplugin is a plug-in that loads other plug-ins. As simple as that. You can build your own effect networks with this plug-in wrapper using any VST/VST3 (and AU, if you’re on Mac) effect. To get you started, a Mid-Side matrix, a four-band crossover filter and a routing plug-in are included in the package. Of course, that’s only the beginning… let your imagination run free, from creating your own layered synth sounds to building whole sound generators from scratch using simple modules.
Another favourite use case for Metaplugin is to load VST plugins in Pro Tools or to load AudioUnits in Pro Tools if you’re on a Mac. Hence, you can use it as a VST to AAX wrapper or an AU to AAX wrapper. While we’re at it: you can also use Metaplugin to load VST plugins in Logic/LogicX (VST to AU wrapper).
VSTLord (Mac Only)
A free hosting solution which can be used via an aggregate device to host VST plug-ins. Watch our video here
Fxpansion VST/RTAS Wrapper
The Fxpansion RTAS to VST wrapper is one of the most used solutions for those wanting to use VST plug-ins in RTAS versions of Pro Tools. Supports Pro Tools 10 and below.