Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Plug-in hosts and other software applications discussion
Pilbromatic
KVRer
2 posts since 29 Jun, 2018

Post Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:02 pm

Hi all,

Just wondering if there's such a thing as a standalone VST host operating system (as in not just software)? Basically I'm wanting to get some basic PC hardware and make a dedicated machine for running plugins, kind of similar to a Receptor. The thing that makes it differ from a standard PC is I don't want to use keyboard/mouse/screen; just take it to a live gig and plug in and use it. I could probably buy/build some sort of front panel to do the basic controls too.

So basically the software/OS is the tricky part for me; does anything like this already exist? Otherwise, if I were to build my own, then I'm thinking I start off with Linux and build it up from there; possibly use Ardour or similar.

Currently I use a laptop with Ableton, but I want to simplify my setup/packdown times, and don't particularly want to go out and drop mega $$$ on a Receptor. There's also the (now discontinued) V-Machine which I've been looking at, but I've heard bad things about the performance and compatibility. I mostly use NI plugins which are rather CPU hungry.

What are people's thoughts on this? Where to start? I'm sure other people would be interested in something like this.

Cheers!

Pilbromatic
KVRer
2 posts since 29 Jun, 2018

Re: Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Post Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:30 pm

Partially answering my own question here - looks like Windows-based is the way to go, because otherwise you have limited VST plugin support (from what I've been reading online). So I guess regardless, I need to use Windows and strip it right back and just run a VST host program? Does anyone have any suggestions for something that can touch free (or close to it)?

User avatar
wikter
KVRian
779 posts since 10 Oct, 2002 from Barcelona

Re: Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Post Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:42 pm

Zoom U24 asio, W7.
Usine, Buzz or something easy to manage instruments.

lfm
KVRAF
4565 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Re: Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Post Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:39 pm

Are you in love with VST - and then I assume VST instruments?

I think what Korg and others target with workstations - are a bit what you look for.
So look for a workstation that has the type of instruments and sounds you want.
And they have pretty good displays and all.

And thanks to midi it does not stop there - you complement with modules to extend further.
I'm thinking massive modules like Roland Integra 7 and similar.
But your control board and sequencer is your workstation.

I'm thinking Peter Gabriel and what he use on stage.

chris.r
KVRist
261 posts since 29 Dec, 2007

Re: Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Post Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:26 pm

I was just about to create new topic on the same subject but I found this one so I thought to post here :D

Same idea: just the pc box, no mose, no keyboard and no screen monitor. Windows based - I'll be going with 8.1 or 10 and updates disabled.

What I'm looking for now is the right VST host. It has to boot up right there with the OS and be fully controllable from the hardware. Needless to say bullet proof in terms of stability (but I'm saying!). Hopefully someone will chime in with some best choices.

Also needed is comprehensive advice how to treat the OS itself for that purpose. Anybody welcome!

Hardware-wise I'd most happily go with something like that http://www.seelake.com/en/am-overview.html if I had money (it's also Windows based so there must be a reason for that). But recently I've found things like HP EliteDesk 800 mini or Intel NUC, and buying it second hand could make the price a lot cheaper. Just connect a good asio interface and ready to go!

Eventually controlling the PC or VST host itself from a handheld remote app (preferably android-based) could be the solution but it would have to be not OS invasive nor CPU intensive (and working without issues of course).

swindus
KVRist
234 posts since 28 Oct, 2005 from Germany

Re: Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Post Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:05 pm

LifeProfessor from audiostrom is a great VST host for Windows.
http://audiostrom.com/

imrae
KVRist
402 posts since 2 Jul, 2010

Re: Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Post Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:54 pm

If you can get the VSTs you need to run under Linux then that would be the best option for a reliable headless box. NI stuff runs fine except for the new installers and DRM :(

User avatar
phreaque
KVRian
686 posts since 17 Jul, 2007 from Baghdad-Iq

Re: Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Post Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:27 am

Pilbromatic wrote:Hi all,

Just wondering if there's such a thing as a standalone VST host operating system (as in not just software)? Basically I'm wanting to get some basic PC hardware and make a dedicated machine for running plugins, kind of similar to a Receptor. The thing that makes it differ from a standard PC is I don't want to use keyboard/mouse/screen; just take it to a live gig and plug in and use it. I could probably buy/build some sort of front panel to do the basic controls too.

So basically the software/OS is the tricky part for me; does anything like this already exist? Otherwise, if I were to build my own, then I'm thinking I start off with Linux and build it up from there; possibly use Ardour or similar.

Currently I use a laptop with Ableton, but I want to simplify my setup/packdown times, and don't particularly want to go out and drop mega $$$ on a Receptor. There's also the (now discontinued) V-Machine which I've been looking at, but I've heard bad things about the performance and compatibility. I mostly use NI plugins which are rather CPU hungry.

What are people's thoughts on this? Where to start? I'm sure other people would be interested in something like this.

Cheers!
Intel Nuc 7i7dnbe is a little 4" x 4" powerful motherboard fully supporting x86 & x64, with lots of customization abilities. If you're into DIY, then making a little hardware vst box out of this board is just divine.
If you're not into that, then probably the regular Nuc which comes with chassis might serve the cause.

Other than that, you can check the current availablewindows tablets from Dell, Lenovo, MS, they can handle tough tasks, slim and really portable.

Most of VSTs can be ran by freeware hosts such as: SaviHost
Windows 10 is becoming more and more efficient to serve as kiosk type of machines, so it can be easily tweaked to auto run required app swiftly.
Deeper tweaks surely can be done if using Win10 enterprise or Professional, that would allow disabling regular Windows features to slim the workflow.
Phreaque Modi

zzz00m
KVRian
1293 posts since 17 Sep, 2016

Re: Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Post Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:45 am

For a headless operating system for live use, I believe I would prefer Linux over Windows for stability. But then that would limit the audio plugins available. It would be an interesting project in the studio, but for live use ... hmmmm ...

A keyboard workstation would probably be the best, but not cheapest, solution.

For example : https://www.korg.com/us/products/synthesizers/kronos2/

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/korg-kronos
The Kronos is, as the OASYS was before it, essentially a PC in a keyboard‑shaped box. Rather than using the Core processor (the direct descendant of the P4 used in the OASYS), Korg have adopted the Intel Atom for the Kronos. Although this choice has been criticised elsewhere, I think it's an astute one, because the Atom is small, uses less power than a Core, runs cooler, and is less expensive. Sure, for any given clock rate it's less powerful, too, but since Korg have avoided the power-sucking monster that is Windows and run optimised code in a Linux environment, the swings outweigh the roundabouts, both in terms of price and of performance.
Windows 10; with instruments from AIR, Ample Sound, AAS, Cakewalk, IK Multimedia, iZotope, KV331, NI, Seaweed Audio, SONiVOX, TAL, Tracktion, u-he, Way Out Ware, XLN, others...

User avatar
phreaque
KVRian
686 posts since 17 Jul, 2007 from Baghdad-Iq

Re: Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Post Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:08 am

zzz00m wrote:For a headless operating system for live use, I believe I would prefer Linux over Windows for stability. But then that would limit the audio plugins available. It would be an interesting project in the studio, but for live use ... hmmmm ...

A keyboard workstation would probably be the best, but not cheapest, solution.

For example : https://www.korg.com/us/products/synthesizers/kronos2/
Although it's been here since 2012, Kronos is still one of best all-round workstations indeed.

Linux lacks serious support by devs when it comes to VST & DAWs, while there're really good stuff from U-He, Helm, OXE FM Synth, Loomer stuff, to name some; Steinberg is seriously into making a universal solution for VST sdk design. Personally, last year there was an event of Yamaha & Steinberg, one of the R&D guys told that Seinberg team is working hard to come up with a new solution before 2020.
BTW, Wine thingy, is it still buggy?

Other than that, I see Windows 10 has been enhanced enough to handle tough work. Since 2016, I didn't have any Windows crash while doing music stuff...
Phreaque Modi

zzz00m
KVRian
1293 posts since 17 Sep, 2016

Re: Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Post Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:37 pm

phreaque wrote:
zzz00m wrote:For a headless operating system for live use, I believe I would prefer Linux over Windows for stability. But then that would limit the audio plugins available. It would be an interesting project in the studio, but for live use ... hmmmm ...

A keyboard workstation would probably be the best, but not cheapest, solution.

For example : https://www.korg.com/us/products/synthesizers/kronos2/
Although it's been here since 2012, Kronos is still one of best all-round workstations indeed.
Kronos is a PC in a keyboard shaped box. It runs Linux on an Intel Atom CPU.
Windows 10; with instruments from AIR, Ample Sound, AAS, Cakewalk, IK Multimedia, iZotope, KV331, NI, Seaweed Audio, SONiVOX, TAL, Tracktion, u-he, Way Out Ware, XLN, others...

User avatar
phreaque
KVRian
686 posts since 17 Jul, 2007 from Baghdad-Iq

Re: Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Post Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:17 pm

zzz00m wrote:Kronos is a PC in a keyboard shaped box. It runs Linux on an Intel Atom CPU.
Customized kernel of Linux, and there was a dude who hacked it and was able to run it on a desktop :) interesting blog was indeed.
But I believe the recent models aren't atom cpu powered? Something like celeron as I recall?

It's not the only workstation/synth with such concept, the Motif XS / XF and montage are also running a custom tweaked kernel of Linux.


To maintain the topic's direction:
More development boards can be used to make a miniature VST host such as:Udoo makes Intel x86 tiny boards for cheap, AMD Ryzen boards will be available too by the Q4. Those boards have almost all regular computer features like wifi, bluetooth, USB headers and ports, expandable memory kits, storage options. Compatible with modern UI interfaces - capactive LCD touch panels etc..
Additionally, some interesting circuits/modules can be added and programed to serve whatever assigned to, like motion sensors, motors, light sensors and so on.
Phreaque Modi

chris.r
KVRist
261 posts since 29 Dec, 2007

Re: Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Post Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:36 pm

swindus wrote:LifeProfessor from audiostrom is a great VST host for Windows.
http://audiostrom.com/
I was taking a close look on Lifeprofessor long time ago when it was free. I liked it but it was very buggy. Maybe now's time for taking a second look.

But since I obtained Akai VIP3 recently I'll try to find out first if it will work for the purpose.

chris.r
KVRist
261 posts since 29 Dec, 2007

Re: Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Post Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:46 pm

phreaque wrote: Intel Nuc 7i7dnbe is a little 4" x 4" powerful motherboard fully supporting x86 & x64, with lots of customization abilities. If you're into DIY, then making a little hardware vst box out of this board is just divine.
If you're not into that, then probably the regular Nuc which comes with chassis might serve the cause.
Brilliant idea. Still looking for a windows based VST host that will be fully hardware controllable i.e. no mouse/keyboard touching, no screen monitor watching.

phoneyk
KVRist
78 posts since 25 Mar, 2004

Re: Standalone VST Host Operating System - Possible?

Post Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:48 am

I don't understand how you will be able to use vst instruments without a monitor. How will you load and choose which vst instrument you control ?

Return to “Hosts & Applications (Sequencers, DAWs, Audio Editors, etc.)”