When I started recording music, effects such as an 1176 compressor or a Pultec EQ were very much the province of big recording studios and far beyond the reach of young students who struggled to find the price of a Portastudio. The same applied to keyboards – at its launch, Yamaha’s classic CS80 keyboard was yours for a mere £3,500, (or $5,800 or €4,200).Today, VST plugins offer us the facilities and sounds of the instruments and effects that they emulate at a fraction of the price of the real thing. And you don’t just get one, but the opportunity to have as many instances as you like of as many plugins as you like, until your PC grinds to a halt under the load.
So we need ever faster and bigger PCs to keep up with the demands of these CPU-cycle consuming, RAM hogging plugins. But there is a way round this and most DAWs offer you the facility to have your cake and eat it, without having to resort to rendering the individual tracks.