Direct X Plug-Ins Direct X is a real-time plug-in (i.e., Direct X
plug-ins can process or alter the sound without creating a new file).
Direct X uses "native processing" to function. Native processing uses
the existing power of your CPU to process audio. Native processing has
become more popular as CPU's keep getting faster. Direct X was created
by Microsoft for Windows users to play fast video games without using
DOS. Microsoft saw an opportunity to unify the gaming industry, their
result was Direct X. Direct X uses low level application programming
interfaces (API's) for high performance multimedia applications such as
plug-ins. It includes support for sound, music, graphics and network
applications. Host programs must implement Direct X to run
RTAS (Real Time Audio Suite) is a new plug-in format created by
Digidesign for Pro Tools LE. RTAS is the next generation of AudioSuite
plug-ins. RTAS uses host based processing, your CPU, to run. RTAS is
only limited by the available CPU processing power. RTAS offers similar
performance to TDM in that each plug-in is fully automatable.
TDM (Time Domain Multiplex) is a plug-in format created by Digidesign
for Pro Tools systems. TDM can only function with Digidesign Farm
cards. The number of plug-ins that you use depends on how many Farm
cards you have and the type of plug-in. TDM is a 24 bit, 256 channel
path that integrates mixing and real time digital signal processing.
This plug-in format offers zero latency and is fully automatable.
VST (Virtual Studio Technology) is a real-time native plug-in format
created by Steinberg. Currently there are over 300 plug-ins made for
VST. It is becoming one of the most widely-used formats for audio
plug-ins. VST plug-ins differ from Direct X plug-ins in a few areas:
VST can be used on PC's or Mac's, it is dependent on the host
MAS (MOTU Audio System) is a real-time native plug-in format created by
Mark of the Unicorn. MAS was created as a proprietary plug-in format
for Performer and Digital Performer. MAS plug-ins are fully automatable
and do not require external DSP. MAS is becoming a widely supported
format by third party developers and currently supports a wide range of
software synthesizers. Available on Macintosh OS systems that use MAS.
Host programs must implement MAS to run plug-ins.
HTDM stands for "Host TDM" and refers to Plug-Ins that do all audio
processing on the host CPU instead of the DSP chips found on your TDM
hardware. They use a single, shared DSP on the TDM system to allow the
audio from these host Plug-In processes to stream in or out of the
system. The faster your computer, the more Plug-Ins you will be able to
run. HTDM Plug-Ins allow the power and flexibility of host-based
processing for synths and sampling to directly integrate into Pro
Tools. You can work with these Plug-Ins as you would use standard TDM
Plug-Ins, including major benefits like using Pro Tools automation (in
addition to MIDI) to automate parameters, or using control surfaces for
hands-on control of Plug-In parameters.
AU -Audio Units is the plug-in format developed by Apple to coincide
with their new audio and MIDI technologies in OS X. Certain programs
like Logic support Audio units exclusively, while other programs like
Digital Performer 4 support their own MAS format as well as Audio
Units. Audio Units are handled at the level of the OS X operating sytem
itself and for programmers they can have a certain advantages in that
two seperate engines exist for the GUI of the plug-in as well as the
sound engine itself, allowing for a more advance user interface
The Powercore format is a hardware-supported plugin that can be used in
VST and Audio Unit compatible applications. Hardware supported plugins
require the hardware be present to run. They also take strain off the
CPU by doing the processing in hardware, hence there is less of a drain
on the computer for processing audio in real time.
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