Live audio processing

I’m looking for a replacement for MainStage which has become too unstable in recent years. I’ve seen a few VST Live tutorials but none of them talk about processing live audio. Eg: playing my guitar through effects in real time. Can VST Live do this? If so can you do things like parallel processing using sends to FX tracks?



Yes! :wink: u can insert and send (to 4x sends / channel). Consider demoing, choose “pro” version, and try out “STACKS” or “Global stacks”…
(note: I dont use STACKS self contained FX busses, using channel mixers sends, groups, inserts, etc)

Thanks. 4 sends is nowhere near enough for a lot of ambient and electronic music. Is there a way to increase that by having more than one input channel assigned to the same input source? Or some other work around. Coming from MainStage which has unlimited sends and unlimited aux/groups for live audio inputs I’d find VST live too restricting if there isn’t a work around. I’d need a minimum of 6 sends from a live input.

Also can you assign controllers to the send levels and FX plugin parameters? And can you change the shape of the control signal, start and end point etc? So eg a controller pedal during its full throw moves one plugin parameter from 0-127. While at the same time moving another parameter from 127-50 (in the opposite direction). Is this kind of flexibility possible?


VST Live features Stacks. A project is comprised of Songs, and each Song can have several Parts (like verse, chorus etc), each of which can contain an arbitrary number of Stacks. Stacks are fed by audio inputs (like guitar, vcocals etc) and each has 4 insert slots, and 2 fx channels, which are summed to a mixer channel; mixer channels of Stacks, Layers, and Tracks also feature insert slots plus sends to other (Group) channels, so there are actually multiple ways to acheive this.

Thanks. So if I’m playing guitar through it live what I would need would be 6 simultaneous sends each going to an FX channel. Some of the channels would have a single plugin like reverb but others would need 3 or 4 plugins in series some might need 6 or 7 plugins in series. For the next song I’d need a whole new setup (but with about the same number of plugins). I’m used to DAWs like cubase, logic and protools where you can just keep adding sends, and stack plugins to your hearts content without really thinking about it. All 3 of these DAWs work pretty much the same way in this regard. It sounds like VST Live has a somewhat different architecture. Or am I misunderstanding?

No, it is pretty similar, but has some additional features like Stacks, which are sub-mixers inside the mixer. VST Live Mixer Channels feature 4 inserts and 4 sends, but you can chain some by routing a Group into another Group; also, each Stack has 4 Inserts and 2 send channels incl. one fx slot.
As for switching, a VST Live Song is practically an entire DAW project plus Layers, Stacks etc, and there are preload function to allow for fast switching and many more.

Thanks for this info. I’m still struggling to understand how this works coming from a typical DAW background. Can I do the example below as a single patch/song section using some combination of Stacks and Groups?

  • Live audio input with 6 sends
  • Each send goes to an FX channel
  • FX 1 channel has 2 plugins: Reverb and ducker
  • FX 2 channel has 3 plugins: Delay, pitchshift and ducker (with sidechain to audio input)
  • FX 3 channel has 6 plugins: muliple delays, reverb, granular and modulation
  • FX 4 channel has 6 plugins: EQ, reverb, two pitch shifters, compression, EQ
  • FX 5 channel has 8 plugins: a long list of plugins
  • FX channel 5 needs to have a send to FX channel 2

Is this setup possible?


As said, VST Live channels have 4 sends.
You can create a Stack with no further processing, or an audio track with monitor engaged. In either case, set its input to guitar or whatever.
Both will create a mixer channel, let’s call it Source Channel.
Then create a Group Channel (let’s call it “Send Extension”) and send to there from the Source Channel. Now you have 7 sends (3 from the Source Channel, and 4 more from the Send Extension).
Now create Group channels (up to 7) for each of your fx and insert fx plugins. Then you can send from the Source and Send Extension channel to those fx.
There is no direct sidechain, but it looks to me as though you would be better off to use inserts directly, also check Stacks, as those provide 4 Inserts themselves.
Groups are global, Stacks can be both per Part or global (using the Global Part), tracks are per Song. Hope that helps.

Thanks a lot for this.
If Groups are global does that mean they won’t change when I change the setup/patch for a different song or different part of a song?

I’m not sure what you mean by direct sidechain. It sounds like there isn’t the ability to sidechain the input signal to group FX?

Think about like an “iron” mixer, where u use sends to aux or sub, they remain during the show. While here you can change their levels (send & ch level) within the application via built in vMIDI (like an internal midi controlling feature) so feel free to create additional midi track / song and write parameter changes there.

So it sounds like if I had a setup as listed below for one song, I wouldn’t be able to load a completely different setup for a different song. I’d only be able to change the amount I sent to each of those groups (FX chains) and the groups would remain the same. Is that right?

You can set the project file several ways, including different setup for different song.
VSTLive is like having multiple running computers+DAW for each of your songs and they are routed to a digital mixer, while there are option to use “GLOBAL” instances also.

Did you download/installed/tryed out?

Thanks. I thought when musicullum said “global” above it meant the same for all songs. But I think I misunderstood. It must mean global for all stacks maybe?

There are two other possible deal breakers I need to check before I invest the time in trying it out (would mean learning it).

  1. Can you link a controller to any plugin parameter (including 3rd party plugins)?
  2. Can you shape the controller curves like in these screenshots. So you can change the start and end point etc? So eg a controller pedal during its full throw moves one plugin parameter from 0-127. While at the same time moving another parameter from 127-50 (in the opposite direction). Is this kind of flexibility possible?

First: each Song has Parts, and each Part is entirely self contained unless referencing global objects. Apart from Part objects, there are Song and Track related objects like Notes, Chords, Lyrics etc.
Output and Group Channels are global, as well as all assets in the Global Part.
Every Layer plugin instance can be shared across the entire project; that plugin instance will then receive pgm chg, volume etc when its Part Layer gets activated.
Stacks cannot be shared yet, but we are working on that too. Each Layer and each Stack have their own Mixer Channel, so those are not global either (unless they reside in the
Global Part).

Yes, if the plugin exposes that parameter. There are 8 Quick Controls (QC) for each plugin instance and you can program those in “Devices/Actions and Shortcuts”.

No. Each Layer has its own Controller Map/Filter, and you can route MIDI quite flexibly using built-in virtual MIDI “cables”, but apart from that, such operators are not possible yet. But we are also working on MIDI Inserts which then shoulkd allow such functunality.
Did you try the demo yet?

That’s correct, Output and Group Channels are global.
But all Layers, Stacks, or Modules have their own channels, which change per Part (except for those inside the Global Part).

Sidechain is defined as feeding control signals to additional (extra) inputs of an audio process other than its “regular” inputs.
VST Live channels have sends, you can send to Group or Output channels and there, insert plugins, so you can send signals to Group FX and thus, the plugins in there. The signal goes to the first plugin input and from there to the next insert etc (guess you knew that already). This is like pretty much every DAW does it. You just cannot send to extra inputs of a plugin (ducking, sidechainig) in VST Live yet.

So many setups require inverse relationships between controller throw and parameter. Also the ability to decide at what position in the throw of a controller a parameter value happens (especially for parameter switches) is essential for so many things. I’m afraid this is a complete show stopper for me. Any idea when the midi inserts might happen?

Presumably you can attached more than one parameter to the same controller?


yes, you can control the same action with multiple controllers.