How to install a VST plugin on a DAW? The Easy Step-by-Step Guide with Pictures:
VST Plug-ins do not always work alone. They are intended to complement a music software that is called a “VST host”, or a “DAW”. It is this DAW software that will allow plugins to be used and that will provide an environment to manage them. If you encounter some difficulties to install a VST plugin, read the guide!
There are many VST hosts. While most known DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) are paying (Fl Studio, Ableton Live, Cubase…), but you can find free ones. Indeed, there are several free DAWs for Mac and PC environments.
The first thing to do after you download the plugins is to dezip them.
If they are in .zip format and are equipped with a PC, this should pose no problem: simply right click on the file allows you to access the menu offering to decompress it.
If they are in the .rar format, you will need a decompression software adapted to this format. If you do not have one, I suggest you Filezip or WinRAR which is free and does the job perfectly.
Once unzipped, you simply have to drag the .dll file into the folder of the host have reserved for plug-ins.
How to Find Your Plugins
If they are in the .exe format, it is automatic installers. Simply double-click the file and follow the instructions.
Then, you must find where your VST plugin .dll file has been installed. If you aren’t sure, the straightforward way would be to do a windows search for the file.
If this doesn’t help, uninstall the plugin, then reinstall it again and pay close attention to the installer. In most cases, the installer will ask you what location on your computer to install the plugin.[stextbox id=’info’]Tip: put all your VST .dll into the same folder. It’s extremely useful especially if you work on several DAWs[/stextbox]
How to find VST plugins on a DAW:
First, as in the previous version of Fls, we have to open Fl option: option > file setting.
In the “plugin” tab you have to select the VST folder of your plugins (1) then click on “refresh plugin list” (2)
Then, in “refresh plugin list” ( a nice novelty of Fl Studio 12) you can add more files into the “scanner plugin” (plugin search paths> add path)
Sweet ! Fl has found all your plugin … those are now in the browser, in “plugin database”.
In my example, I’ve installed Cthulhu:
1 – Plugin Database
2 – Installed
3 – Add to plugin database
And voila! After having done all that you can find your VST finds it in the “generator” section and also in your list of VST (over those of Image Line):
The process is almost the same for previous versions of FL Studio, but you can check our guide on how to install plugins on Fl Studio.
On Ableton, the idea is the same. You must put the .dll of your VST into a specific folder.
Click on Options (1) > Preferences (2)
After that, you have to click on Use VST Plug-ins Custom Folder (1) (if not activated) so that you can browse your VST folder (2)
When you find the folder, just click on OK:
Finally, create a fresh session with and load your plugins from the Waveshell VST menu.
Mac Users: Live > Preferences(b) Select the File/Folder tab, and under Plug-In sources, toggle Use VST Plug-In Custom (Win)/System Folders (Mac) off and on again.(c) Hold down the [Alt/Option] key and click Rescan.
Nice video made by HyperProductionTV where they show how to download and install 3rd party plugins VST in Logic Pro X. I’ll also be explaining the difference between different file types and where the specific folders are located.
This (old but always accurate) video will show you how to install and use a VST instrument within Cubase. This covers specifically VST’s you may find out and about freely, and will generally come as a ‘*.dll’ file.
Go into Options> Preferences> Plug-ins> VST. Click the Add button and choose the folder that your plugin is installed.
Sibelius 7 :
Install the plugin into C:\Program Files (x86)\Avid\VSTPlugins. You can also locate the .dll file and manually copy and paste it into that folder.
Go to Utilities> Cakewalk Plug-in Manager. In the VST configuration section, click on Options then click Add and select the folder your VST plugin is installed to. Press OK and click the Scan VST Plug-ins button.