I see that there are 2 ways to load a VST instrument. My standard way has always been via the VST instruments panel. Now, I see that you can load an instrument track, but the VST instrument does not show up in the VST instruments panel.
Why are there 2 ways to do this and are their benefits to each?
Instrument Tracks are typically easier to manage. E.g. MIDI Ports and MIDI Channels are non-existing (as far as user control is concerned) for this track type.
The VST Instrument Rack can be a bit more involved. E.g. the same MIDI interface is used for both VST instruments and external hardware MIDI synthesizers.
As to why, I would say, why not? I like options.
Old geezers like myself with a load of antique synthesizers often goes with the Rack. After some initial time, however, I myself started using Instrument Tracks. One is not better than the other, just different.
With instrument track midi data is on one track, you cannot send midi from other tracks to VSTi on instrument track. You can work with Midi lanes though, and define midi channels for multitimbral instruments on level of individual notes.
With VSTi on instrument panel, you can feed it with many midi tracks, that have different midi inserts, and you can also use lanes within individual tracks.
Automation fro VSTi is different in both cases.
Sometimes I start on track and later wish I started in panel, so I miss the ability to quickly convert VSTi from track into panel, and vice versa, but I guess that’s impossible to implement easily because of different approaches to automation in both cases.
I did an experiment with VST instrument tracks vs instrument channels using the panel. I found that using the panel mode allowed me to obtain lower latency and buffer settings for live recordings. For example instead of using 50 separate VSTi track instances of Halion 4, and 16 of Kontakt 5 player, I simply plugged in one Halion 4 and one Kontakt 5 player in the VST panel, then routed all midi tracks to the appropriate banks of the instruments. Easy enough…only 2 VST instruments loaded, instead of 66.
For me on my Win 7 system, ASUS G74 laptop, I noticed that the ASIO average load was lower, and the overall audio latency was much better. This latency improvement was greatly noticed during a live set when singing with the headphones on. This is what worked best for me.