Possible ways to get around the lack of VST2 support?

• Nov 20, 2022 - 03:43

So. This is all motivated from my lack of being able to put some really good vst2s in musescore. Most notably NES vst (found here: https://www.mattmontag.com/projects-page/nintendo-vst )

Anyway. This is a bit crazy but bear with me. Plugins like kontakt/opus/play are basically vsts that are players for other vsts right? You also have stuff like sforzondo that is a vst for sfz files. So the question is, are there any vst3 players that can play other vsts including vst2 plugins?

And if not, would you theoretically be able to circumvent the licensing restrictions of vst2 (which is the reason why it is not supported) by creating a vst3 player that acts as a universal plugin player which can also play vst2? You could perhaps even be able to add AAX or AU support?

The only thing online I can find similar to what I'm talking about is this, but I have no clue if it would run in musescore:

Interested in hearing thoughts about this or potential suggestions.


I was searching for the same thing when the first sound engine came out.
On this link, https://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=468358
I saw that "Patchwork" by BlueCat can be downloaded as a vst3 plugin that can host vst2 plugins, but it's around $100 USD, which I'd rather not spend on musescore playback. But in theory, it is possible. I've tried looking for some free alternatives, but at the moment, nothing that downloads as vst3 and can host vst2 is easy for me to find.

I didn't even know that VST 3 instruments already exist. I have many VST3 (effect-)plugins but all my virtual instruments are still VST 2.

In reply to by oMrSmith

On my Win10 system all 'old' Garritan libraries can be selected in MuseScore by using the current version of the Aria player, which itself is a vst3.
Idem for the Kontakt Player, Halion Sonic SE, Opus and Play of East West.
Try updating the players to get your 'old' sounds back!
Location on WIndows is C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3

In reply to by MichLeon

Additional info: using jbridge a 64 bit version of NES was created.
Tested the 'universal plug'. In MS4 it appears in the mixer only as an effect. It started to scan all plugins.
This took a very long time. I cancelled the scan. The universal plug hang and blocked entrance to all apps - even Process Explorer - except the taskmanager (Ctrl+Alt+Del) by which I finally could quit MS4 and the universal plug.

Update to all - I found something free (and open source)! Kushview Element https://kushview.net/element/
is a VST3 / standalone plugin host. And after testing, I find that it works very well! I just had to load up the standalone application to add the folders my plugins are stored in so I could scan them in. Then in musescore, I was able to load up the plugin version and as you can see in the picture I just had to drag the orange dot from 'midi in' to my plugin then drag the two audio channels to the two channels in 'audio output.' Very simple to do and it works easily!

Only downside I currently notice is that it does not play the first note of playback, so you would always have to start one note before your desired playback selection.

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In reply to by speedmeteor101

Something else that was reported in a Discord channel for MuseScore is the possibility of using a separate program to split a single SF2 file into individual ones. See for example https://github.com/schnitzeltony/soundfont-cmdline-tools. There was another mentioned but it wasn't open source and I think was Windows-only.

Probably someone could build a nice GUI around the command line tool linked above.

In reply to by speedmeteor101

Dear, Speedmeteor,

I tried the element and it worked great ! But only with one plugin. I tried a first instance of g-player sampler and when I assigned the second instance it crashed musescore and I could not open the file anymore.

G-player is multichannel. Can I address each stave of musescore to different midi channels ? Do you know where ? Thank you

As is posted in other threads, Steinberg has depreciated VST2. This means that current developer toolkits must support VST3 only.

There are some freeware and shareware hosting utilities that may or may not work. This gets a little more complicated in Macs with Apple Silicon but still, they do exist.

In reply to by XiaoMigros

Dorico, Sibelius & Finale no longer support VST 2 either.

“As is posted in other threads, Steinberg has depreciated VST2. This means that current developer toolkits must support VST3 only”

There are a few workarounds but I’ve not seen any that ‘just work’ without being a real PIA.

In reply to by graffesmusic

Some more info. (all tests done with Linux, perhaps this is not relevant for Windows/Mac)
-In Musescore, the first note is not played (starts with Note Off). Not with the release version 0.46.6, but neither with a version build from github. v1.0 beta
-in my DAW (ardour and waveform) the first note IS played, with both versions of Elements.
-Musescore midi does send a Note On to start. Somehow it is lost in Elements.
Also note the screenshots above: in Elements, the CC 64 messages are lost. (this might be a linux only thing, see github issues)
-In my v1 beta build, my midi monitor script, and the one coming with Elements, both crash MS immediately.

Perhaps somebody could do some tests on Windows?

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In reply to by MikeHalloran

I think you are misunderstanding. No version of MuseScore has ever supported VST2. Perhaps you mean, previous versions of MuseScore supported JACK, which allowed it to communicate with other applications such as DAW software that support VST2? But prior to MuseScore 4, no version of MuseScore ever supported any form of VST directly. Direct VST support is brand new In MuseScore 4 - but limited to VST3, and so far only available on Windows and macOS.

VST2 has been deprecated for years well, and is no longer supported by Steinberg, and new licenses are not being made available to companies that did not already have them. So it is quite simply impossible for newcomers to the world of VST like MuseScore to ever support VST2 directly (unless Steinberg changes their policy, which seems unlikely). But, indirect support via JACK or via VST3 plugins that in turn load VST2 instruments is of course another matter.

In reply to by MikeHalloran

It's not wrong, it's just not relevant. As the title of the article clear says, it's about "interfacing ... using a digital audio workstation". in other words, it clarifies very explicitly right in the title as well as the article itself that MuseScore itself did not support VST instruments, but was capable of communicating with programs that can.

Again, no version of MsueScore has ever supported VST2, and unless Steinberg changes their licensing policy, it's pretty safe to assume no version of MuseScore will ever support VST2.

But there are indeed ways of interfacing with other tools that can support VST2. In older versions of MuseScore, that might mean connecting to a DAW. In current versions, it might involve a VST3 plugin host like Kushview Element. Either way, MuseScore itself is not dealing with VST2, but it does work with third-party tools that do.

Analogously, I don't play violin, but I do work with third parties who do.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

> tests on Windows
works fine if use ms4.1.1's midiout (not Mixer's Sound), that is midiout->loopMIDI cable->element, the first NOTE ON is there along with lots of other messages.
for testing only, bc using midiout somewhat defeat the purpose, as that means you do not use analog mixing tools inside ms4.
the dataloss could be:
1. ms4's problem sending a proper signal (the required first midi signal or playback transport status) to VST (Mixer's Sound), or
2. Element's problem detecting incoming signal (lost the first midi signal by accident or does not detect its current host's playback transport status correctly)

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In reply to by msfp

i reckon this tiny problem'd esp. annoying to .com uploaders coz the need to insert an ugly invisible measure at the beginning; and pretty annoying when writing scores too coz the muted note problem happens every time you move the playback cursor position.

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