Kushview has released Element, a freeware standalone VST/AU plugin host application for PC and Mac. The optional Pro ($99 price tag, currently on sale for $25) version of Element can run as a VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin in your main DAW and function as a plugin wrapper.
The free version of Element is a standalone modular VST and AU plugin host. While testing it, I was impressed by its speed and stability compared to similar freeware solutions on the market. Everything from the installation process (which is one of the fastest I’ve seen) to plugin scanning and patching devices in the modular view is swift and hassle-free. Thumbs up for the user experience and fast workflow!See also: Best FREE Digital Audio Workstations!
As for the application’s features, it was designed to work as a modular environment for third-party VST and AU plugins. In Element’s modular view, called the Graph Editor, you can chain together any number of your favorite virtual instruments and effects in parallel or in series. This is done by using virtual cables, in the same manner in which you’d connect the modules of a virtual modular synthesizer like VCV Rack, except that any number of devices can be connected to a single device’s audio input in Element. In other words, you could, for example, feed the output of Grooove BPB, Xfer Serum, and Dmitry Sches Thorn to Fabfilter Pro-G simultaneously, simply by connecting the synths’ audio outputs to Pro-G’s audio input. Double-clicking a loaded plugin opens its GUI, so adjusting plugin settings will work the same as in your DAW.
Apart from the main features mentioned above, Element comes with a built-in virtual keyboard and rudimentary audio recording features. The Patch Bay view shows an alternative view of the active modules and their active connections. Element can also output MIDI, so it’s possible to use a virtual sequencer like HY-RPE to sequence your hardware synthesizers. The CPU consumption meter is located at the bottom of the interface.
Element Pro ($99) expands on the functionality of the freeware version by offering all of its features in the form of a VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin. What this means is that Element Pro can work as a modular plugin chainer in any other digital audio workstation, and even allow Pro Tools users to load VST and AU plugins in their projects. In addition, the Pro version makes it possible to import and export your Graphs (project files), along with enabling external sync with MIDI Clock. Element Pro is currently on a 75% OFF sale, reducing the price to just $25 (+ tax).
Element is still under heavy development, but I haven’t encountered any bugs so far while testing the free version. The developer is looking for feedback, so feel free to send them any feature requests, bugs, and UI suggestions you may have. A number of features are currently under development, including keyboard splitting, a range of native modular synth blocks (oscillators, envelopes, LFOs, etc.), a channel strip, and more. Many thanks to our reader Wing Yee for letting us know about this release!
Element is available for free download via Kushview (1.8 MB download size, ZIP archive containing EXE installer, standalone application for Windows & macOS).