Open-source alternatives for plug-ins.



Are there any open-source alternatives to VST/AU/RTAS that work across multiple OSs and can be used in host-programs such as Ableton's Live that are either in development or fully functional?


Posted 2011-01-02T19:31:21.850


No, the best you will be able to find will be some VST that can proxy audio in from another application, but the VST API part of the source still requires Steinberg's SDK, which is protected by NDA. – Brad – 2011-01-03T01:26:53.583

Heads-up: the question title doesn't really describe the question. "Do open-source, cross platform alternatives to AU/VST/RTAS exist?" might be clearer. – Warrior Bob – 2011-01-03T06:39:44.273

Fixed the title. - Cross-platform plugins is something that is very rare, if not unavailable at all. Waves for instance creates plugins that run on OS X and Windows, but they use different builds for their plug-ins, i.e. you are not using the same plugin. So: could you please say something about why you are looking for these plug-ins? – None – 2011-01-03T09:44:26.790

Is it a problem that the API isn't "open source"? Do you have to pay license fees to use the API's, or? – Lennart Regebro – 2011-01-03T11:26:37.363

@Lennart - the VST API isn't "open source", but you don't have to pay any license fees – Mark Heath – 2011-05-10T06:19:38.153

Well as long as it's published and can be used for free I don't see the problem. – Lennart Regebro – 2011-05-10T06:30:02.130

Tim Post - please migrate to Sound – Rory Alsop – 2014-02-15T09:15:03.273



Unfortunately, no. Programs like Ableton Live only host certain kinds of plugins. In the case of Live, these are VST and AU. So even if someone had come up with another format for plugins, your host program wouldn't be able to load them.

Warrior Bob

Posted 2011-01-02T19:31:21.850

Reputation: 8 524


Audio Units is an API which is compatible with Open Source Software licenses. There can, in theory, be open source plugins released in AU format. In practice, there are not a lot of high quality ones available (that I know of), but here are some that I found:

Of course, AU is not cross platform, so maybe those won't work for you. VST and RTAS, on the other hand, seem to be incompatible with OSS licenses. :(


Posted 2011-01-02T19:31:21.850


The fact that you can have open-source plugins in these formats is an excellent point. +1! – Warrior Bob – 2011-01-05T07:06:44.217

it is simply not true that VST plugins can't be OSS. the only issue is that you can't distribute the VST SDK. So to compile them you have to get your own copy of the SDK, which is not too hard to do. – Mark Heath – 2011-05-10T06:18:51.053


There are at least 2 open-source standards for audio plugins in the Linux world, LADSPA and its erstwhile successor LV2. They were designed for Linux, but at least LADSPA has been ported to Windows and Mac OS, and there are cross-platform hosts such as Audacity that support LADSPA plugins on all 3 platforms.

If you aren't stuck on a particular DAW platform (I don't think any of the commercial ones support LADSPA plugins), you might look into it. There are a lot of good free plugins for dynamics and EQ; the reverb options are limited but there are several good ones; and if you prefer "bang" over "bling" in your plugins you will find a very high bang/bling ratio in the open source world.

Bill Gribble

Posted 2011-01-02T19:31:21.850



There are a many open source VST plugins. Many of these can be compiled cross-platform. Here's a few of them:

Mark Heath

Posted 2011-01-02T19:31:21.850

Reputation: 2 969

discoDSP Highlife Sampler (Bliss) is a commercial plugin now. – Rokit – 2018-05-10T14:16:50.787

Actually, this looks like the open source version, but there are no releases. It looks like you have to compile everything yourself:

– Rokit – 2018-05-10T14:28:34.787


Don't know if that is what you want, but it may be pertinent: Juce which allows parallel development of plugins for AU, VST, RTAS... (if you already have VST, RTAS [...] SDKs).

François Becker

Posted 2011-01-02T19:31:21.850

Reputation: 181