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June 2017 Giveaway

Plug-ins: Using wrappers.

Unlike the title suggests; using wrappers is not going to be treatise on forcing a certain genre of musical artist to do your bidding. A wrapper can be thought of simply as a software adaptor in much the same way you would use an adaptor on a cable to convert a connector from TRS to XLR. While wrappers are found in all levels of programming, it is the ones that enable us to run a plug-in written for a specific environment to run on another environment that interests us.

At the moment, one of the biggest issues in DAW recording is that of compatibility between hardware and software. Different audio software manufacturers have their own environment or engine for running plug-ins. Steinberg’s http://www.aardvarkaudio.com/aasd-v1/download/ (Virtual Studio Technology) engine is perhaps the most prevalent. Others include Apple’s (Logic) AudioUnits, MOTU Digital Performer’s MAS, while Digidesign’s Pro Tools uses RTAS and TDM. Cakewalk Sonar 3 uses Microsoft’s DirectX audio format and has now included an adapter for VST. DirextX plug-ins are for PCs only and will not work on the Mac platform. These various formats gave rise to a demand for highly desirable plug-ins that may only be available for one platform, to be able to run in another. VST was designed to be an open API available to all, but some manufacturers prefer to keep their plug-in engines proprietary. The value of having a wrapper is that it is an extremely affordable way to open up the possibilities of using sound shaping tools that might not be specifically written for your software DAW.

One of the misconceptions regarding wrappers is that they will allow access to all of a plug-in’s features regardless of the platform. The available features depend entirely on what the software’s format will support. For example, plug-ins written for AudioUnits tend to be very feature-rich, whereas VST plugs may not support the same number of features. All the wrapper can do is give you the features that the VST engine supports. If the features of the AudioUnits plug-in surpasses the capabilities of the VST engine, then those features are lost, however, the features that VST does support will function. One particular practical example of this where the reverse is true, is in the UAD-1 powered plug-ins from Universal Audio. In this case, UA wrote VST programs that are much more feature-rich and stable than the AudioUnits versions, so, if you are using a wrapper that adapts AudioUnits to VST, in this case you will gain the extra features and stability of the VST plug-ins.

The only caution regarding wrappers is to make sure that the wrapper will have low overhead in terms of processor usage. A wrapper should function transparently in your system. If you would like to know which wrapper to use, or if you could benefit from having one, consult your Sweetwater Sales Engineer, whose knowledge of your system will prove invaluable in the decision making process.

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