Using NS2 to control VSTs.

Hello. I am a complete novice at NanoStudio and using MIDI. The problem I’m finding is I install Moog Model D, or Synth One, or any virtual synth, and when I launch nano studio it says on launch it has recognised the VST, and when I create an external midi track and select it to play the keyboard, as an external midi item, or in the part editor as a piano roll, it only outputs sound first time. As soon as I change the VST’s initial preset to another one, it goes silent. I can see the VST name in MIDI settings and the track’s external midi part settings, and they both seem to react to instructions, but there’s no sound from any of the VSTs controlled by NS2 over midi, there’s only sound from the obsidian or slate instruments. Please help as I feel I have lost a lot of time already trying to figure this out within the requisite experience. Thanks in advance.


  • edited August 2020

    OK, I don't think we're talking about VST's here, right? VST's are plugins that run on desktop computers, not on iOS. So, I think we're talking about AUv3 virtual synths.

    I think you have some confusion between "Standalone" (Or usually called IAA) versions of synths and "AUv3" versions of them. When you start a synth before going into NS2, you're using the Standalone/IAA version. Forget that idea for a minute.

    Long-press the + sign at the bottom left of the screen in the track view and select "Add AU Instrument Track". Then double-tap on the track header, you will see a list of al the AUv3 instruments you have installed. From here you can select one such as Model D. Now you're done. You don't need and external MIDI track.

    Try that first. I'll write another post about "Standaone/IAA" synths and MIDI out but don't want to clutter this basic idea in this post because this is the simplest and most direct way to use synth apps in NS2.

  • (I suggest you not read this post until you've been successful loading synths as AU Instrument tracks from the post above.)

    An important thing to understand in iOS is the difference between "Standalone / IAA" versions of apps and AUv3 (Audio Unit) versions of apps. When you start a synth outside of NS2 you're starting the Standalone version (often called IAA version). When you see a synth listed inside NS2, that is the AUv3 version of the synth. Most, but not all, synths have both types of versions.

    Why is this important? Because the way you control an app from NS2 is different depending on whether you're controlling an IAA version or an AUv3 version. If you were successful loading an AUv3 version of Model D in NS2 from the post above, you will notice that Model D is displayed inside NS2. It's controlled from inside NS2 also, without needing an external MIDI track. This is virtually always the best way to work with a synth if it is recognized by NS2.

    But some apps don't have an AUv3 version. In that case you use the Standalone version and send MIDI to it through an external MIDI track. For that to work, something called "Background Audio" needs to be enabled in the synth. Most synths don't have background audio enabled by default because if it is on, and you don't force-quit the app when you're done with it, it will drain your battery even though you're not using it.

    When you don' have background audio enabled, as soon as you switch over to NS2, the app suspends itself. This could be why you stopped hearing sound when you were sending to the synth through external MIDI.

    Like I mentioned, you would normally only use the Standalone version of an app if there is no AUv3 version offered. But, if you do have to do that, then yes, you would start the standalone app, enable background audio. How to do this varies from synth to synth, but it should be in settings somewhere either in the app or in the iOS settings for the app. Then you would set up an external MIDI track, set the output to the synth, and send midi to it to play it.

    Because the app isn't running "in" NS2, you have to leave NS2 and switch to the other app to change settings. For this reason, you need to have background audio enabled in NS2 also or when you with to the other app NS2 will suspend. This is in NS2 > Settings > Audio.

    Running a standalone version from an NS2 external MIDI track means the sound isn't coming through NS2 but through the other app. So, you won't be able to adjust anything about the sound, such as the level, through NS2. You will have to switch to the other app to make any changes. And, those changes won't be saved in NS2. If you make changes to the sound, you will have to save those changes as a preset, then you will need to load that preset in the other app every time you load the NS2 project.

    Think of running a standalone app from an NS2 external MIDI track like playing a separate hardware synth and maybe this idea will make more sense.

    Moral of the story? Use AUv3 synths, loaded directly from NS2, without bothering with the standalone versions. Use standalone versions only as a last resort if there's no AUv3 available. Better yet, don't buy any apps that don't offer AUv3 versions (IMO).

  • Hello number37 and thank you for such a detailed explanation. Everything seems to be working ok now, I’m using three external ‘instruments’ in NS2: two AU and one non-AU as an external MIDI. I didn’t know anything about these details and it wasn’t for the want of searching. Couldn’t have done it without you!

  • Great! I'm glad it helped.

  • It did, thanks 👍🏻

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