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Installing Plug Ins

Posted in effects, GarageBand, and Logic

Lately I have seen a couple questions around regarding plug-ins, and their installation process both in comments on the YouTube channel and on the logic accessibility email list. So let’s take some time to break down the process for installing and getting plug-ins useable in Logic.

But first, what are plug-ins?

If you have been using Logic for any time now, you are probably aware that you can instantiate effects like EQ, Compression, Delay and Reverb on tracks to alter or enhance the sound of whatever you recorded. These are called plug-ins, and Logic includes a very nice set of built in or stock ones to help complement and polish off your recordings. However at some point, you may want to try some 3rd party plug-ins and this post aims to discuss what you need to know to install them.

Understanding the Formats

When it comes to the world of plug-ins, there are mainly 3 formats to be aware of. VST’s which most DAWS except Logic and Pro Tools uses, AAX which is exclusive to Pro Tools, and AU which Logic uses, but that a few other DAW’s on MacOS also support. Reaper is an example of a DAW that supports AU on MacOS in addition to VST’s.
So that’s right, Logic doesn’t support VST, it uses AU or AudioUnit. So step one is verifying that the plug-in has an audio unit or AU version. The great majority of plug-ins that have a Mac version do, so chances are excellent that it will.
However, despite this technicality of Logic not supporting VST, the term “VST’s” has become synonymous with the term “plug-ins” and most use them interchangeably. So beware when discussing plug-ins, one may be referring to plug-ins overall when they say VSt. The only time you will need to pay attention is when installing, if the plug in has a separate download/installer for the different plug in formats. The good news is most don’t have separate installers and the installer will install all 3 formats when ran.

Download And Install

The actual download will most likely be a zip or dmg file. Once you unzip or open the dmg file you will find the component or .app or .pkg file.
How to install it depends on the plug-in. Usually there will be a read me or basic instructions on the download page or included with the .zip or .dmg. You’ll want to follow those instructions. The General rule of thumb though however, is that .pkg files will most likely be a standard installer as well as .app files (see below for further details). Most plug-ins will have an installer.
If its just a component file, this is the equivalent of getting just a dll file for a VST plug-in on windows, and you will need to paste it in the component folder on your computer found at Macintosh HD/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components/. Once Pasted into that location you should be able to restart logic, it will scan the new plug in on launch, and you should then be able to use it.
As stated previously, if it’s a .pkg file then its most likely a standard installer that you will run and it will install the plug in to its appropriate location. Sometimes installers are shown as .app files as well, and this is where it’s helpful to consult the “Read Me” or other instructions provided. This is due to some special plug-ins also having a stand alone version and the .app file will launch the stand alone version, which will then install the plug-in version as well. In this case you will want to copy the .app file to your application folder before launching it. Once installed, restart Logic, and if it doesn’t show up in logic, restart your computer and then you should find it in logic under the AU effects sub category.

In Use

Once installed and you are able to instantiate it in logic, you will most likely want to change the view to controls. This is found under the view menu in the plug-in window. Previously there was an option to set logic to always open plug-ins in controls view in preferences, however, it appears that setting is no longer as Logic now prompts you to make that change if it senses VoiceOver is running.

A Note on Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol

Native instruments Komplete Kontrol is not accessible to a screen reader user unless they are using a Native Instruments MIDI keyboard controller. As it relates to plug ins and instruments, While Komplete Kontrol loads in logic as an AU instrument, when it plays host to other instruments it actually loads the VST/VST3 version. So you still may want to install the VST versions and not just the AU version of 3rd party plug ins if you are a Komplete Kontrol user. For more on this and everything to get started with Komplete Kontrol, including differences between the different keyboards and more, check out this tutorial.