Step 2: How to install VSTs

Before we get going, how do you actually get them in there and working?

For your information, a VST usually means an effect (like a reverb or compressor) and a VSTi usually means an instrument (like a synthesiser).

  1. VSTs are usually downloadable in zip files. After downloading you need to right click on them and extract them somewhere.
  2. Create a VST Plugins folder somewhere on your computer. To keep things organised, you might like to create two folders within that, one for instruments and one for effects. Mine has a variety of folders. It looks like this:

    vst folder

  3. Most VSTs are just a small program with the extension .dll. If so, take that dll and put it in one of your VST Plugins folders. If it has extracted to a folder containing the dll and some other things, just copy the whole folder in there.
  4. Some VSTs need to be properly installed. Install them like a normal program, following the instructions on screen. The program will probably be installed in your normal Program Files folder, but at some point you will be asked where you want to install the VST. Choose one of your VST Plugins folders.
  5. Some VSTs offer you the chance to intall RTAS (for ProTools) or DXi (Cakewalk / Sonar) versions. Unless you are running these programs, you can safely say no thanks to these options.
  6. In Reaper, open up your Preferences (Control-P) and go to the Plug-ins/VST tab.
  7. Hit the Add button and navigate to your VST Plugins folder. Select it.
  8. Hit the Rescan button to add all the effects in that folder. From now on, you’ll only need to Rescan after you add another effect.

    reaper prefs

  9. You’re done. When you next choose Insert->Virtual Instrument on new track or click on the green fx button on a track, you’ll see your new VSTs listed.

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