I have been asked (a lot) lately about (what is new for some )the Pro Tools 11 system and how does the AAX system work – especially about the way to integrate VST (or RTAS) plugins.
Unfortunately I had to be the bearer of bad news when it came to it as there is no way of using these as of yet – and I don’t think there will be. I decided to list some work arounds and reasons why below:
In Pro Tools 11 you have the AAX system for plugins – this is Avid Audio eXtension – a plugin format that has been developed by Avid (the people that make Pro Tools) as a replacement for the (outdated) VST and RTAS formats.
This is all well and good – but most ‘free’ plugin manufacturers are still developing plugins as VST – this is actually because they got used to Steinberg’s VST Plugin creation system.
*Steinberg make Cubase in case you did not know – they ‘invented’ the VST format.
The free plugins that are actually really useful are now unusable in Pro Tools 11 and so a fast flying era of technology brought upon us the need for a VST to AAX wrapper for Pro Tools 11.
A VST to AAX wrapper for Pro Tools 11 cannot happen unfortunately because of various incompatibility issues that are mutually exclusive.
1. 64 bit operation
VST are normally for 32 bit computers, they have been modified lately to work with 64bit computers – but some still don’t
AAX are made for both 32 and 64 bit computers but you CANNOT use a 64 bit plugin on 32bits or a 32 bit plugin on 64 bit – because of how electronic circuits work. Sometimes there are workarounds and some applications have them embedded – but that just converts the plugin or converts the entire chain of plugins used after.
In Pro Tools 11 – 64 bit is supported – so it’s Pro Tools 10 with extra power – but that power cannot be used if it’s running in 32 bits – so it defeats the purpose.
2. RTAS plugins
RTAS was Pro Tools ‘signature’ plugin format before AAX existed – the VST plugins can be converted to RTAS using a VST to RTAS adapter such as FXpansion – VST to RTAS Adapter
This works for Pro Tools 10 and below but RTAS was removed in Pro Tools 11 to streamline the process as the architecture of the RTAS plugins might or might not be compatible 100% with the 64 bit architecture.
So converting RTAS to 64bit would not work as well – and so defeat the purpose of AAX
How to go around this and obtain a VST to AAX wrapper for Pro Tools 11
SugarBytes have made one but because of various incompatibility issues – this has been taken off the market by Avid.
The below is now a message for people commenting that this means they do not want us to use VST anymore, and to move on to their AAX format so they can make more money on developer fees and such.
I will tell you that I have actually tried the SugarBytes VST to AAX wrapper for Pro Tools 11 but IT DOES NOT WORK WELL!
I’m sorry guys – it doesn’t – half of the plugins did not load and the other half crashed after a few clicks.
This is as well a message to pirates – if you have big name plugins – Waves, anything from Plugin Alliance or similar, SSL, SPL etc – they all have AAX available for free – if you BOUGHT THEM! 😉
The below is now a message to people with plugins that were made for them especially and are unique with no developing budget left and no source code left ( like myself)
I have tried everything possible to do a direct conversion – tried my best, failed miserably – lesson is – never try. Avid sadly does not offer any help or support for you… 🙁
I was forced to use one of the below ‘workarounds’ as a VST to AAX wrapper for Pro Tools 11.
1. Vienna VEP5 ( Vienna Ensemble PRO 5)
This is a brilliant plugin that simulates an orchestra – also ‘loads’ VST plugins so you can use them in the Pro Tools 11 session – probably the best but very expensive..
2. Native Instruments Maschine
You know this one most likely – but it can also hold VST – look into it and get the AAX update – produce away!
3. Nomad Factory Magma
Good for effects, doesn’t have any instruments – again hosts the VST in the AAX plugin for Pro Tools
Not ‘free’ but almost – this is an external DAW that can be re-routed into Pro Tools – so you load it as a plugin and load the VST in Reaper – outside of Pro Tools
6. VSTLord (Mac Only)
Heard it works – but not a fan of Apple (sorry guys – you do a good job – but not my thing)
I hope this has been useful in your worries and struggles to progress along with the latest technologies