Monday, April 25, 2016

How to organize our vst library (a guide for dummies)

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are covering a topic which is crucial especially when installing a new DAW, because once we have our vst folder already clogged in rubbish it becomes almost impossible to make order.

In order to improve greatly our workflow, we need to be able to find exactly the plugin we need very quickly, and in order to do this we need to keep our vst folder clean and organized.

If you are a mix engineer that likes to experiment and follows websites like this one you will probably have downloaded a million plugins, some free and some paid, to try them out (and then you forgot to uninstall them, even if you'll never use them), because often producers have somehow this sort of software bulimia that makes them amass huge amounts of plugins.
The result is that probably you will have your vst folder full of dodgy .dll downloaded from some vst repository in 1998 with a crack that doesn't even work with your latest version of windows, but you'll never know because you never run it.

Here's a few guidelines that will make your workflow faster, your hard disc cleaner and your vst scan much quicker:

1) Know every plugin that's in your vst folder: this is the toughest: if you have 500 plugins, you will hardly know 10% of them. The others were just downloaded because they were free for a short time, and you never actually tried them. Try to spend a hour into opening all of them and trying them out to see if they will EVER be of any use of if you already have better alternatives (in which case, go to point 2).

2) Delete what you know you will never use: this is crucial. We know you all are serial hoarders, but a daw each time it loads up makes a plugin scan, and the more rubbish we have in our vst folder, the more time it will take. Come on, you use always the same good eq plugin for each track, it makes no sense to have 40 free equalizers programmed in visual basic that you will never use.

3) Organize the plugins in folders: many Daws (like Cubase) creates voices in the insert menu named after the folders you put your plugins into, so it's a good idea, instead of letting your plugins roam free in your vst folder, to create themed folders (like "Guitar Amp Simulators", "Compressors", "Equalizers" and so on), in order to not clog completely your interface and lose time looking for that plugin you didn't remember the name....but it was somewhere....around page 9 of the menu....

4) Know your tools (in advance): this is connected to point 1, and it consists into choosing the best plugins you have and learn how to master them, not more than 1 or 2 for each task, for example one equalizer, one compressor, etc... You have no idea of how a mix can improve, only by using tools that we completely master under every aspect.

5) Watch out for compatibility: We often change computer, or Windows distribution, and just drag and drop the vst folder from one pc to another, forgetting that some plugin only works with 32 bit architectures, others only with 64 bit, some are compatible with Windows Xp but not with Windows 8, and some do the opposite. That's why is a good idea to load each one of them (as suggested in point 1) and see if it works, every time we change operating system, in order to avoid bad surprises right when we need something the most.

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