Our new Classic Collection and Tubular Bells II are in SFZ format instead of being VSTi/AU plugins. What gives?

Tubular Bells GUI

When you reach to add a piano sound to your latest track, chances are you reach for some sort of VSTi or Audio Unit plugin.

Plugins are extended bits of software for your DAW which add different functionality, from effects like compressors to virtual instruments like synthesizers and samplers.

What are VSTi?

VSTi plugins are a type of instrument plugin (i = instrument), which takes MIDI data as an input and spits out digital audio as an output. A VSTi can either generate the sounds like a synthesizer, or use pre-recorded clips of audio like a sampler.

MacOS users are familiar with Audio Units (AU) which function the same way.

Versilian Studios builds sample-based virtual instruments, sometimes also called ‘sample libraries’ or ‘soundware’. These are loaded into Sampler plugins which allow you to access these virtual instruments from your DAW.

Our instruments use hundreds or thousands of individually recorded snippets of audio, usually individual notes, which are carefully mapped to build a virtual instrument which you can control from your MIDI keyboard or piano roll.

The Problems with VSTi Plugin Instruments

Think of the sampler VSTi plugin as a CD player and the virtual instrument as a CD. Buying or downloading a virtual instrument that comes as a standalone VSTi is like buying a new CD player every time you buy a CD.

Having separate plugins for each instrument will rapidly fill up your plugins list and slow down your ability to compose and organize your sessions. Worse still, each plugin will fight for different amounts of resources, significantly reducing your computer’s ability to run files.

To top it all off, whenever Apple or Microsoft decide to update their OS, there is a chance that all prior VSTi or AU plugins could become instantly incompatible overnight. This happened with Catalina once and now again with Apple Silicon! Small developers usually don’t have the time or resources to update dozens or hundreds of plugins, and even large developers may take many months to make fully compliant versions.

What’s the Solution?

Instead of selling VSTi/AU plugins, we sell virtual instruments directly – like a record company just selling you CD’s. You get to pick your own player (like you’d pick your own CD player) and if your player breaks or doesn’t have the features you want, you can simply swap to a different one.

Since large corporations build the player plugins, they are usually quick to fix bugs and release new versions in the case of major updates. A simple, single update and every single one of your instruments is good to go!

Better yet, these plugins are designed to be reliable and very efficient, and work well together.

The two formats of virtual instruments we sell are:

  • Kontakt (.nki): for Native Instruments’ Kontakt ($300). Only used for paid virtual instruments.
  • SFZ Format (.sfz): for Plogue’s Sforzando player (Free!). Freeware & budget virtual instruments. Open Source!

You’ll see information on each product page about which sampler you need, and links to download or purchase the necessary sampler if needed.

What are the Advantages?

  • Way less cluttered plugin list.
  • Fewer compatibility issues, better reliability and lower system requirements.
  • Much shorter wait for updates for new operating system versions.
  • Vastly smaller install sizes.
  • Can load many more sounds in a project before audio/buffer issues occur.
  • Lower cost of instruments!

Ready to make the switch to using virtual instruments instead of VSTi or AU plugins? Check out Versilian Studios product catalog, including tons of great freeware in SFZ format!