VST 3 support

Does ardour have vst 3 support on any of the operating systems, I saw some features like dynamic plugin usage that I’m wondering if ardour will ever use.

/me remembers using Ardour 0.9x on an old AMD k6 and having to manage resources…

/me feels old because he hasn’t thought much about resources on dual core machines…


I agree I rest my case, I do use a laptop with a dual core so that’s my main issue, if I had a more capable computer I would not care, good point, I need to just step get a more capable machine.

even when we support VST3 (assuming we do, one day), it is unlikely that we will support this feature. I believe it to be a hack to workaround a lack of CPU power, and one that has significant negative implications for users. Believe it or not, we really try hard to avoid hacks like this in Ardour, preferring to leave the improvement of available CPU power to the R&D wings of Intel and AMD (who have done an outstanding job over the last 20 years). Of course, there’s always “make it a user option” …

right paul I understand you already explained that, I thought since ardour didn’t do it I saw that vst 3 has it as a feature so I thought it was still possible thanks

You mean AudioUnit plugins on Mac have those features, I’ll look into it I didn’t know that

when I saw dynamic is if it only processes audio with the plugin unless there is audio instead of always running DSP no matter what

oh, that. Ardour is never going to do that. I explained why in another thread of yours, on August 13th.

This has been raised before. Ardour runs all it plugins continuously by design. It might be less energy efficient than switching them off when there is no input, but that way there are no surprises where your dynamic usage suddenly goes over the available CPU time in the middle of a mix.

There are no plans for VST3 support at this time.

Note that we already support “dynamic” configuration for plugins in the AudioUnit format, where it has always been a requirement/feature.

Sorry for bumping :sweat_smile: (that’s gotta be my most used emoji) but I have the need of answering this question I can’t seem to find the literal answer to: in the scenario that Ardour gets to support vst3 that would mean that it could load vst plugins even in linux?


Ardour already supports VST on all platforms (has for along time).


  • on Linux, only VST2 plugins made for GNU/Linux.
  • on Apples, only VST2 plugins made for macOS/X
  • on Microsoft Windows, only VST2 plugins made for Windows.

Also 32 bit Ardour only loads 32bit VSTs, and 64bit Ardour only 64bit VSTs.

You cannot load a Windows VST (.dll) directly into Ardour on Linux or Mac.
There are however some 3rd party software that allows to bridge OS and architectures.

When Ardour will support VST3 that limitation will remain.

A plugin made for Windows expects Windows infrastructure to be available and it is outside of Ardour’s scope to provide that.


Well, that’s very sad. There are already plugins, I want to use, which are effected by the fact that Steinberg no longer issues VST-2 licenses.


Over in surge land we’ve stopped distributing VST2 for our next release all platforms all synths/effects.

Our JUCE synths built with JUCE6 are working well as a VST3 in various hosts, as is the surge VST3. On Linux for VST3, “Various hosts” means Reaper 6, Bitwig 3.2 beta4 or higher, Carla with VST3 on, and the juce6 AudioPluginHost.

I built the VST3 branch of ardour just now (git clone from GitHub; git checkout vst3; git rebase master; ./waf configure; ./waf build) and was able to load our JUCE synth but it didn’t show a UI. Surge VST3 was tougher going. It scanned but it didn’t even show the generic UI, although it does have lots of params so perhaps something else went wrong. And clearly that vst3 branch is a WIP - I wasn’t expecting it to work of course!

But curious if either you have any ideas about when VST3 in Ardour may work, or if there’s any way we could help (although that is much less likely; but I have banged my head of the VST3 runloop stuff which is part of the protocol and we have helped test and debug other linux daw VST3 implementations).

Thanks for making great open source software. Be well

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Any chance you can sidestep this by providing a LV2 ?

For Surge we do have an LV2 but it kinda doesn’t work very well. The primary difficulties making it work reliably seems to impact ardour the most also. (Basically the difficulties are: LV2 assumes that the DSP engine never changes parameters; Surge assumes that the DSP engine can change parameters). falkTX and jpcima from over in LAD are looking at it and have some thoughts but it is hard going.

but with our JUCE6 plugins we don’t have that option. So things like our MPE-aware and micro tunable dexed and our tuning workbench synth and surge fx are gonna be VST3 only.

Also: With JUCE6 supporting VST3 on linux spitting out a linux vst3 in GPL code is easy as pie. I kinda feel like there may be more native VST3s on the horizon, and if you agree with that thesis, like I said, happy to help.

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Curious if you have any other thoughts on this? Our release this summer will not distribute a vst2 and Linux users occasionally ask what that means for them in ardour. My answer of “don’t upgrade to our new version; build a vst2 from source if you have a license; chip in and fix this list of issues for the lv2; or switch to reaper bitwig qtractor Carla etc… and use the vst3” is a bit of a bummer for them. With our juce synths we don’t even get the middle choice of fixing lv2 bugs either!


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