VST-DX Adapter 2.1 (Win) Windows users often face a tough decision when choosing audio software: consider the small number of programs that directly support

VST-DX Adapter 2.1 (Win)Windows users often face a tough decision when choosing audio software: consider the small number of programs that directly support the VST plug-in format, or opt for the larger number of choices that support only DirectX effects. FXpansion offers a solution to this quandary with its VST-DX Adapter 2.1 series (formerly known as Amulet VST-DX Adapter). These programs convert VST plug-in effects into DirectX effects, giving access to hundreds of VST plug-ins - even if you don't own a VST-host program.

Expand Your HorizonsFXpansion offers three versions of VST-DX Adapter. With VST-DX Adapter Basic ($30), VST effects can run in a DirectX application. VST Adapter 2.1 ($60) takes it a step further by adding MIDI automation of effects parameters. It also lets you use the plug-in's effects presets and provides support for the VST Instrument format. FXpansion has also announced VST-DX Adapter SDE ($100), a stand-alone product with a graphic interface on which you can draw VST plug-in parameters. However, SDE does not include several of the real-time MIDI features found in VST-DX Adapter 2.1.

FXpansion says it tested VST-DX Adapter with DirectX-host programs such as Cakewalk's Pro Audio (6.0 and better); FASoft's N-Track; Sonic Foundry's Acid, Sound Forge, and Vegas (as Track Insert/Aux effects only); Syntrillium's Cool Edit Pro; and SEK'D's Samplitude and Samplitude 2496.

Where It's AtVST-DX Adapter appears in host software inside the DirectX audio plug-in menu. Selecting VST-DX Adapter brings up a simple interface from which you can load any plug-in in the default VST directory. The straightforward interface offers a few controls: the Load button loads the VST effect, and the Show/Hide button displays or obscures the VST plug-in's graphic user interface. Other buttons, which are not available in the Basic version, let you select effects presets and configure MIDI control.

VST-DX Adapter also provides MIDI control of effects parameters and support for VST Instruments. You can use these handy features only if your host program generates MIDI notes. That is no problem with a digital audio sequencer, but not necessarily the case with a dedicated audio editor. However, some audio editors - such as Samplitude - can generate MIDI events. If you have the right software, using these features is easy: choose your MIDI input source and channel using the arrow selectors on the screen's right side.

Smooth SailingI tested VST-DX Adapter 2.1 on two PCs, a Pentium II/233 MHz and a Pentium II/600 MHz. I also used Cakewalk's Pro Audio 9, Steinberg's Wavelab 3, and Steinberg's Cubase VST 5.0. The program worked well on both computers; in fact, I would never have known that the VST plug-ins I used weren't native to the host, as they pop up in the plug-in window and run exactly like DirectX effects. Both computers were able to run multiple VST effects in real time without any hiccups at all; VST-DX Adapter doesn't add any latency to the audio processing.

FXpansion's VST-DX Adapter series holds great promise, and there's no question it is a sorely needed utility. It opens up the world of VST plug-ins to all Windows desktop-music producers, who will no longer be limited to one standard or the other.