There was much excitement surrounding the release of Logic Pro X, save for those who raised a hue and cry because Logic no longer supports 32-bit plug-ins. Much of the online discussion surrounding the issue has centered on the very popular 32-bit plug-in, Sylenth, though anyone with an investment in older plug-ins has cause for concern.
In response to blog articles and forum posts on the subject, some have suggested that 32-bit plug-ins are somehow passe anyway, that their time has come regardless of how useful they are or how good they might sound. For those who hold their various 32-bit plug-ins near and dear, all you can do is have a good laugh at such advice and move on towards finding a solution, of which there are several.
Of the constructive approaches to solving this problem, Rounik Sethi wrote a now very popular article on the subject published here on using 32-bit plug-ins in Logic Pro X via AU Lab and Soundflower. However, with this article I'd like to explore another solution: Vienna Ensemble Pro.
Although VEP is a product of Vienna Instruments (of orchestral sample fame), it's the furthest thing from being solely a violin library. In fact, it's more of a utility program than anything else, but a very powerful one.
VEP in a Nutshell
VEP is a background hosting application for 32-bit and 64-bit plug-ins. Naturally, it's designed to host Vienna's own instruments, but perhaps of much broader interest is that VEP is designed to host 3rd party plug-ins! And the system integrates seamlessly with Logic Pro X and other DAWs as well.
Let's now take a look at some of the individual components of the VEP system.
Figure 1: The rather utilitarian VEP5 Server window. Looks bland, but don't let that fool you.
The VEP package contains not just one but two applications called “servers” (see Figure 1). The 32-bit server is for hosting (you guessed it) 32-bit plug-ins, and the other is for hosting 64-bit plugs.You can run one, the other, or both servers simultaneously on the same computer. Think of a server as an overall shell, or frame, which encapsulates the virtual instrument racks you'll build within it, called “instances”.
Once a server is up and running, you create a blank virtual instrument rack (an “instance”).
A new instance.
You can create several, or even dozens of instances and load them up with one or more plug-ins.
A single instance containing Sylenth and 32-bit Korg Legacy Collection plug-ins.
Connecting to an Instance from Logic Pro X
Sending MIDI from Logic to VEP starts by creating a new software instrument in Logic and adding a plug-in with the unwieldy name of “Vienna Ensemble Pro Server Interface”. Translation: you load up a VEP plug-in into your software instrument and select which Instance you want to play from the selection displayed on the VEP plug-in's front panel.
Figure 2: the VEP Server Interface plug-in.
Playing a Specific Plug-in within an Instance
Once you select an instance from the VEP plug-in Logic, the MIDI channel setting of the software instrument determines which plug-in you'll be playing within the instance. Or, you can set plug-ins to the same MIDI channel to layer them.
Hearing the Sound
Here's the best part: sound from VEP-hosted plug-ins returns directly to the software instrument channel in Logic. But you can also return sound from VEP to Auxes, particularly important for multi-output plug-ins.
Could it really be just that simple? In a word, yes! Now, there are many options and features that I haven't covered here. But to the point of hosting 32-bit plug-ins, that's really about all you need to know to get started.