Recommendations for using VST plug-ins on Windows

  • Live Versions: All
  • Operating System: Win

Installation

A VST plug-in often has two separate installation locations. The stand-alone version usually gets installed into a subfolder of "Program Files". This subfolder is normally named after the plug-in developer. The second location is for the VST plug-in DLL.

We recommend to use the following default system folders for VST plug-ins on Windows. Most plug-ins will install into these folders by default, but in certain cases it might be necessary to manually point the installer to the correct location:

64 bit plugins: C:\Program Files\Steinberg\Vstplugins\

32 bit plugins (on 64 bit systems): C:\Program Files (x86)\Steinberg\Vstplugins\

Important points to note when installing:

  • Make sure to install the correct version of a plug-in (64-bit or 32-bit) depending on which version of Live you are using. 32-bit plug-ins won't show up in the 64-bit version of Live and vice versa.
  • Always install VSTs directly to the correct destination folder, rather than manually moving the DLL file afterwards.
  • VST plug-ins might stop working when the stand-alone application of the plug-in gets moved, renamed or uninstalled.
  • The stand-alone version of a plug-in should not be installed into the VST plug-in DLL folder.
  • Make sure to install the correct version of the plug-in: if you are using the 64-bit version of Live, you need to install a 64-bit plug-in and vice versa for 32-bit plug-ins.
  • It's not recommended to store the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of plug-ins in the same folder.

Setting a custom folder for VST plug-ins

If you rather use a custom (non-system) folder to store your plugins, you can set this in your preferences:

  • Open Live's preferences by pressing [ctrl][,] on your keyboard.
  • Navigate to the File/Folder tab.
  • Under "Plug-In Sources" please select the folder, where the VST plug-in DLLs have been installed to (see above). Note: selecting a whole drive, a Windows system folder or the whole "Program Files" folder as plug-in location can cause Live to crash at launch.
  • Then switch "Use VST Plug-In Custom Folder" On.

What to do if a VST does not show up Live or does not function correctly

Ensure the plug-in has been installed to the correct folder

  • Make sure the plug-in is installed to the correct folder, either the system folder or the custom folder if using one.

Ensure you have the correct version installed (32-bit or 64-bit, VST 2 only)

  • 32-bit plug-ins won't show up in the 64-bit version of Live and vice versa. Some recent updates of plug-ins are only available in 64-bit (like Kontakt 5). If you are using the 32-bit version of Live, these will not show up. Conversely older plug-ins which have not been updated may only be available in 32-bit and will not show up in the 64-bit version of Live. 
  • VST 3 is not supported on Live, only VST 2 is supported.

Perform a deep rescan of the plug-ins folder

  • Hold ALT/Option and press "Rescan plug-ins" in Live's preferences in the File/Folder section. This will perform a deep rescan of all installed plug-ins.

Check for updates and if necessary re-install the plug-in

  • Check the manufacturer's website and make sure you have installed the latest version of the plug-in. If necessary re-install the plug-in completely taking note of our installation guidelines.

Use Admin rights

  • Certain plug-ins may require Live to run with admin rights. For example plug-ins which offer the possibility to drag MIDI clips from the plug-in into Live, like Toontrack's EZDrummer. Here's how to run an application with admin rights on Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10.

What to do if a plug-in crashes Live

  • If Live crashes at launch after installing a plug-in, you can press and hold the [alt] key then launch Live. This will skip the plug-in scanning process and temporarily disable 3rd party plug-in support.
  • Reinstall the plug-in. If the crashes continue, contact support with any available crash reports.

Further Reading