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VST instruments beginners guide

This is a guide for people who are new to the world of virtual instruments and want to learn what is needed to use and play a VST instrument.

We will use our flagship synth OP-X PRO-II to show you all the steps.

What you need in general is:

1. The plugin (which you can buy from us or download as restricted demo version)

2. A VST host program (can be downloaded for free)

3. ASIO drivers (can be downloaded for free)

4. A windows computer (laptop or desktop)

5. A MIDI keyboard (the best offering usb connection)

That's all. A dedicated audio interface is optional.

These components, if suited and optimized for the job, will allow to play OP-X PRO-II in the way as you can see in this video (this laptop however is almost a bit small since its screen can't display the full GUI):

Now lets come to the description of the single components and the setup procedure:

Hardware components:

1. Notebook/Computer

First of all you need a computer, in the case of OP-X PRO-II a windows computer. If you're a mac user then read this page.

The computer of course can be a handy laptop/notebook. Nowadays even the cheapest entry-level notebooks are powerful enough to run OP-X PRO-II. Supported operating system: Everything beginning at Windows XP SP2, so Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8.

Regarding cpu the cpu mark should not be lower than 800 based on the cpu marks published on

To quickly find out the cpu mark of the cpu in your laptop enter the cpu name followed by in the google search which should lead you to the dedicated site. As example if you want to find out the cpu mark of the Intel N3520 cpu enter the following expression in the google search field and hit enter: Intel N3520 site:cpubenchmark net

which will lead you to this page. As you can see here the cpu mark for the Intel N3520 reads 1847 which would be far enough since the minimum is 800.

RAM on the other side is no topic since OP-X PRO-II needs only very little ram. So even 1GB or lower is fine. Of course more RAM always is better.

The best way of course to find out if your computer or notebook is powerful enough simply is to check out the free demo version of OP-X PRO-II. But we anyway will use this one to show you the needed setup steps.

2. MIDI keyboard

Of course you also can play the synth with the mouse on its virtual keyboard, but for real playing you need a hardware MIDI keyboard. If you already own a keyboard or synthesizer that has a MIDI output then it will suffice to buy a simple USB midi interface like M-Audio USB Uno or ESI Midimate II which let you connect your keyboard from its MIDI output to the USB input of the computer.

If you don't have a keyboard at all yet then get one of the many available USB MIDI keyboards available on the market which can be connected directly over USB to the computer.

3. Audio interface (optional)

This is optional since for basic application you also can use the built in onboard soundcard of your laptop or computer in combination with the free asio4all drivers. A dedicated audio interface however in most cases will offer better audio quality and lower latencies. But you can get a dedicated audio interface anytime later. Also these in most cases can be connected directly over USB.

Now let's come to the setup procedure:

1. Optimize your laptop or computer for playing VST instruments

Out from the factory laptops are optimized for office application and low power consumation to save battery and not for time critical audio applications. Thats why they need to be optimized for the job of playing VST intsrtuments before.

These are the 3 optimization steps:

Step 1. Download and install the free ASIO drivers from

This is needed since the standard windows system audio drivers aren't suited for playing virtual instruments since they produce an audible delay and are not optimized for cpu efficient performance. The best choose the latest stable release. How to use these drivers will be described later. But install them already so that they will be there.

Step 2. Switch the power management to high performance (laptops only)

Open the control panel (win 7: start->control panel, win 8: charmbar->settings->control panel), and here choose "system and security" -> power options, and here check the "high performance" option. Once it's chosen click on "change plan setting" and set all time fields to "never".

Step 3. Switch the processor scheduling to background services

Open the control panel (win 7: start->control panel, win 8: charmbar->settings->control panel), and here choose "system and security" -> "system" and here doubleclick "advanced system settings" on the left side. In the settings window choose the "advanced" tab, and in the "performance" section click on the "settings" button. In the performance options window choose the "advanced" tab and here in the "processor scheduling" section select "background services" instead of programs and apply.

Now your laptop is optimized for playing virtual instruments. Note that you always should connect your laptop to the power supply when playing the synth and not run it from the battery since in battery mode even when optimized there are power-saving processes active which limit the performance. Furthermore the laptop then also won't deliver enough power to supply the attached MIDI keyboard with the needed power over USB.

2. Install OP-X PRO-II

If you don't own the unrestricted full version yet then download the free evaluation demo which is fully functional but has some restrictions from here.

Since you don't use a sequencer (yet) and just want to play OP-X PRO-II as a standalone instrument we will install it to an unprotected and easily accessible place on the harddisk and not to an eventual pre-defined default location. A good place for this e.g. would be somewhere in your user area, for example to your documents folder. Of course you also could choose a different place. Even if you should start using a sequencer later on you simply had to add this path then in the vst instruments properties.

In the zip package you can find an installer executable called "OP-X PRO-II 1.1 Demo Installer". Doubleclick this one, click on agree and then in the components section on next, and then in the section which reads "Your current vst plugins folder (browse if wrong)" click on the "Browse" button and choose your documents folder (as said also could be somewhere else, as you like, but it should not be in the system or program files folder) as destination and click on install.

Now goto your documents folder (or the place you've chosen as destination) where you now should see a folder called "SonicProjects". So far so good. Now let's come to the last step:

3. Download and install the free VST host

Since it's the easiest to install and perfectly suited for pure playing we will use the free Hermann Seib SaviHost. You can download it here.

Doubleclick the zip file to show the included contents and mark and copy (ctrl + c) the "savihost" file. Now goto the "SonicProjects" folder folder you located before and paste (ctrl + v) the savihost file into this folder and rename it to "OP-X PRO-II", so the same name that the dll file in this folder has (but without the .dll extension). If your system should have showed a .exe extension for the savihost file then only rename the "savihost" part in front of the .exe extension.

When the savihost file is renamed then first on right-click it and choose send->send to desktop (alias) to create an alias on the desktop for easier access (of course this is optional). Now doubleclick the file (it should have a red diamond shape) or its alias on the desktop and wait two or three seconds which it normally takes to launch the synth. Now you should see the interface of the synth.

Close it again and attach your MIDI keyboard to the computer. Now re-launch it and in the top menu goto Devices->MIDI and here in the "input" section select your MIDI keyboard. Then goto Devices->Wave and here in the "Input port" choose "No Wave" and in the "Output port" choose "ASIO: ASIO4ALL v2". You can leave the sample rate setting at the default 44100, but in the "Buffer" field choose "512 samples" and click "OK". A buffer size of 512 samples should give you reasonably low latency. The lower this number is the lower is the latency, but also the higher the cpu load. You also could try 256 samples, but to begin it's recommended to go with 512.

Now you should be able to play the synth and hear its sound from the output of your soundcard.

For visual support of all these steps you can watch this video.

If you're using an external audio interface offering its own drivers then you of course should choose these in the Devices->Wave section. And if you have installed the full version you first on need to license it before you will be able to use it.

Note that the demo version will have repeated short audio breaks and will stop working after 20 minutes (you have to quit and re-lauch it then for another 20 minutes of use). The full version of course won't have these limitations.

If there should be no sound at all when the asio4all drivers are active then do the following to prevent the windows GS wavetable synth to be always active and blocking asio4all if not wanted: Open the Control panel->Hardware and Sound->Sound->doubleclick on Speakers->Advanced->uncheck exclusive mode. If you have several playback devices do this for each of them. Now reboot your system and check if it works now.

If there's still no sound and the playback device in the Asio4all panel's expert settings is marked red saying it could be in use by another device then check if really all other applications that use audio are closed including web browser. If you have windows 8 this also could be a metro app still running in the background like e.g. "Video". You could see this too in the task manager. To launch this one press "ctrl + alt + delete" and then choose task manager. Here you can see all running apps including metro apps. You could directly close it from here by selecting the app and choose "end task". But you also can close a metro app by going to the metro area, grab the app on the top and drag it to the bottom until it disappears. In windows 8.1 there should appear a top bar when moving the mouse into the top right corner of the app which allows you to close it like a desktop app by clicking the cross icon at the top right.

If there's still no sound then open the advanced settings of the asio4all control panel and here check "always resample 44.1kHz <-> 48 KHz". This trick still should fix possible sample rate incompatibilities.

If you despite of all should have troubles to get asio4all to work then you nevertheless might consider to get a dedicated usb audiointerface which in most cases also will give you far better sound since it has better digital-to-analog converters than an onboard soundcard.

Now you're ready to play your virtual instrument!

How to switch sounds and load banks:

In the actively loaded bank you can switch sounds in various different ways:

1. Using the increment/decrement buttons in the top bar (<< >>)
2. Using the left down-arrow button which launches a temporary list
3. Using the right down-arrow button which launches a locked list
4. By sending a MIDI program change from your MIDI keyboard

You can load one of the many included banks by clicking on the Bank->Load button in the top bar and choose one of the banks (which always have the prefix "PROII_"). E.g. the PROII_FAMOUS bank offers the famous presets you may know from youtube videos. To return to the factory default soundset load the PROII_DEFAULTBANK bank.

Furthermore the sound reloads site offers many more fantastic banks for free download, the newest reloads always at the bottom. Read the introductory section of the page to learn how to place the banks and organize the library. The banks default location is the "OP-X PRO-II" folder which can be found within the "SonicProjects" folder. The best create a "Userbanks" and a "Userpresets" subfolder within this folder so that you can place and save new banks to these folders to keep the library clean and separated. So copy newly downloaded banks to the "Userbanks" subfolder which you also will see from the bank browser then.

Of course you also can create your own banks. To do this first on save the single presets you want to collect in a bank to the "Userpresets" folder using Preset->Save. Of course you can rename the presets by clicking into the name field and type in a new name. Click into an empty space on the GUI to comfirm if enter should't work. Once you have your presets together load the PROII_EMPTY bank and fill in the single presets one by one in the wished order using Preset->Load. When finished save the bank using Bank->Save with a wished custom name to the "Userbanks" folder.

Don't hesitate to contact us by email if your question could not be answered here.

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