How do I load Windows VST plugins?

Is it possible to load Windows VST plugins in Ardour? I notice in my process list that there’s an ardour_vst.exe. It’s not clear to me how to attempt this.

If I can, or at least have the option of trying (I accept that at least some of them won’t work if this is possible), that’d be cool.

Thanks for the tip! That sounds useful.

I’d like to make a feature request: recursive directory scanning for ardourvst. That way, users can organise their VST files and still expect them to work. Currently, VSTs must be in the documented dirs, and subdirs thereof will not work. This will also be useful for VST bundles. Entire dirs can be put in the main VST path, keeping bundles and their docs, readmes, etc. intact.

The best way to install windows VSTs is to install them via wine exactly as you would on windows then point the VSTPATH (think that’s what it is) to the /program files/Steinberg/vstplugins (or whatever.) The trick is tracking down the requisite /system32 dlls and installing them correctly, usually by executing the .exe supplied by microsoft rather than just copying the .dll right from a windows distro or off the 'net. You can do it by running them with fst or vsthost from the command line and it will tell you when it crashes what dll’s are missing and then it’s a process of elimination.

Thanks! I found that page earlier, but wasn’t sure it applied.

Does this mean that I could at least copy Windows VSTs - that is, VST files with a .dll extension - into /usr/local/lib/vst to see if it works? I just tried this and couldn’t find the plugin in Ardour. I don’t know if that means I did it wrong, missed a step, or that particular plugin won’t work in Ardour.

/usr/local/lib was in place; I had to mkdir /usr/local/lib/vst before copying my .dll there.

EDIT: I just tried another VST and this one does show up, so that answers my own question: some simply won’t work. The documentation does say so!

Skip the building info here:

In the middle is info on how to get VST plugins installed/accessed correctly. In every other way, they are identical in use to LADSPA plugins, as documented in the manual at