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VST playback vs. MIDI playback

Finale users lacking prior experience in sampling or digital audio software may be somewhat confused by unfamiliar terminology relating to Garritan playback in Finale.

VST and Finale

VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology. VST is an audio plug-in standard developed by Steinberg. VST plug-ins can be virtual instruments or audio effects, which can be used by any audio application that supports VST plug-ins.

Finale is designed to take advantage of the best audio plug-in architecture, allowing Finale to load virtual instruments (like the Garritan instruments) and effects (like Ambience Reverb) directly, without having to rely on a separate application to host them.

Finale also supports a whole range of additional VST samplers, synths, effects, and instruments. Any of these instruments can be combined with the instruments from Garritan Instruments for Finale or other Garritan libraries — the only caveat being that instruments from separate VST libraries must be loaded into separate banks (see Channels for more information).


When Play Finale Through VST is enabled, regular MIDI playback, including SmartMusic SoftSynth and MIDI sent to external devices, is disabled. That means it is not possible to mix sounds from an external synthesizer/sound card or a software SoundFont (like the SmartMusic SoftSynth) with Garritan Instruments. It’s either one or the other — you must choose either MIDI playback or VST playback.

If your score requires instruments that are not included in the VST instrument libraries that you own, you may be wondering what to do. Here are a few possible solutions:

  • Make substitutions. Play back the staff using the best available substitute instrument. For instance, if your score calls for sopranino saxophone but you don't own JABB, you might consider substituting an oboe or clarinet sound from Garritan Instruments for Finale.
  • Purchase a third party instrument library that includes the instruments you require. If you do a lot of writing for specific types of ensembles (orchestral, jazz, world, marching band, etc.), you may wish to purchase a sample library that includes those sounds, such as one of the various Garritan libraries. Identify VST Plug-in directories for use with Finale in the Manage VST Plug-in Directories dialog box.
  • Purchase a Finale-compatible sampler. The full version of Native Instrument's Kontakt software can also be loaded directly in Finale as a VST plug-in, but unlike the Kontakt Player, the full version of Kontakt can import instruments from a variety of sound formats, including SoundFonts. This solution will allow you to use SoundFont instruments and Garritan instruments simultaneously, or import instrument libraries that are not directly compatible with Finale.
  • Join multiple audio files. Create two separate audio files, one including only Garritan instruments, and one including only the remaining, non-Garritan instruments. Then merge the two audio files in a multitrack audio editor, like Audacity. See Saving an Audio File for more details.
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