Tone2 has introduced NanoHost, a minimalist freeware VST plugin host application and plugin wrapper for Windows and Linux-based computers.
NanoHost is a standalone application designed for hosting virtual instruments in VST plugin format. It provides a limited set of features while focusing on fast load times, stability, and ease of use. In addition to hosting VST plugins, NanoHost can be used as a plugin wrapper for converting VST plugins into standalone applications.
As soon as NanoHost is launched, a file browser pops up asking the user to load a VST instrument plugin. Once the plugin is loaded, NanoHost will ask the user to choose the MIDI input channel after which the loaded plugin’s user interface will be displayed. The plugin loading process is much quicker than having to launch a digital audio workstation and use its internal browser for loading. This type of workflow for users who frequently test new VST plugins or musicians who simply want to jam with a virtual instrument outside of their DAW.
The application’s configuration options are minimal. The user can adjust the internal BPM clock, turn soft clipping on or off, adjust the audio and MIDI inputs and outputs, and manage the loaded plugin presets. It is also possible to filter MIDI channels, adjust velocity curves, and record internal audio. The latter option is useful for those late night jam sessions when inspiration strikes out of nowhere.
If there’s any feature I’d like to see included in a future version of NanoHost, it would be GUI resizing. Some plugins, especially older ones, come with tiny user interfaces which aren’t optimized for modern high-resolution screens. Having the ability to resize the screen in NanoHost would make such plugins far more convenient to use, but I’m guessing that this kind of functionality is harder to implement than it might occur to us non-developer types.
NanoHost can be downloaded directly from Tone2’s website, no registration required. The application is portable, meaning that you won’t even need to install it on your computer. Simply extract the downloaded ZIP archive and run the program from your hard drive or directly from a USB stick. While you’re visiting Tone2’s website, be sure to check out their FireBird 2 synthesizer which is now freeware (originally priced at $79).
NanoHost is available for free download via Tone2 (3.68 download size, ZIP archive, portable application for Windows & Linux).