what kind of GUI style do you guys like best?

do you like photo-realistic GUIs with perspective or shading (PSP Vintage Warmer, D16 Group’s plugins) or would you rather use interfaces like Massive, Serum, or Valhalla’s plugins which are clearly designed for screens?

which are your favourite VSTs in terms of appearance?

how important is the GUI of your favourite plugins? have you ever stopped using plugins because of bad GUI layout, or a GUI style you don’t like? are there any plugins you use despite them having a GUI you don’t like?

I would be very interested in hearing any opinions/rants or answers to any of my above questions from you guys here.

further reading/discussion on this topic:

1 BigUp

I think I like more realistic ones better. I def don’t like it when they are too cluttered. I may have stopped using some before because I didn’t like the layout of the GUI.

1 BigUp

I like good designs, but if I like the sound of the VST, even if it looks like it was made in Paint, I won’t stop using it because of that. And besides, I don’t need to look at plugins the whole time anyways.

1 BigUp

what would you guys say are some of your favourite GUIs?

I don’t really use many plugins, but for the ones I do use I’d say the GUI is very important.
here’s a few I like:

Korg MDE-X
super compact interface that changes layout as you cycle through different FX. the sound is kinda dated/bad but I’ve been using it for years so it’s standard draw.

Naive LPF
nice 3D style interface imo. this is the kinda style i’m thinking of going for with any future plugins i make. the main problem with this interface is the poor use of space. you couldn’t have two of these on screen if you’re on a laptop. that’s bad.

Interruptor Tape Delay
everyone likes this one. not amazing sound wise or visually but it’s exactly what you expect.

The only reason I like photorealistic/simulation GUIs is because they reflect the (hopefully) applied workflow that “real” stuff tends to have. The interface should be part of the fun, not an obstacle to slog through - things that are playable and intuitive are best imo. Which explains why I never got into trackers lol.


i tend to like the ones designed for screen a bit more, i usually found the layout of the realistic ones better though.

I use a lot of reaper native plugins which don’t have a GUI, but for plugins that do, it definitely can stop me from using them.
Anything with tabs can fuck off for example, hate when plugins have that.

1 BigUp

whatever you do make sure it requires iLok. Thats my fav

i find the usb hub adds a certain warmth to the signal path


Reaper native plugins are too Microsoft 98 for me. I like simple and clean, functional but a bit sexy

agreed, i think in terms of built in ‘plugins’. Ableton has it fully nailed. Super simple and they visually show you whats happening to the signal; really really intuitive (not the best sounding but in terms of gui design, they are untouched imo)

in terms of full on VSTS I like them at polar opposites basically, as Ronzlo said, if its modeling a piece of gear, it really needs to replicate not only the sound but the interface of that piece of hardware. Many of those classic bits of gear are famous not just for the sound but the workflow they force you into.

For example: We were talking about the Pultec EQs earlier tonight, basic af in terms of controls because it was designed to sound good at those certain freqs: musical tings. Not just your standard parametric EQ.

For a transparent utility EQ i would hate being stuck with some sort of classic looking/controlled set up. The modern DAW parametric style EQ is much better for that.

For example: The other end of it though, something totally based in the vst world: Massive. Massive has one of the best guis ever for a soft synth imo. Its designed for the synth itself, not trying to recreate something material. Everything is super clearly laid out and there is a lot of visual feedback in terms of the envelopes and other indicators letting you know just what the synth is doing.

Beyond that, for more ‘realistic’ looking plugins, its key to make sure the controls operate well and intuitively with a mouse. We’ve all had those plugins with modeled knobs where you cant actually seem to get them to spin how you want. And toggle switches that dont play well with clicks.

1 BigUp

Reapers pan knobs are a nightmare and they’re so small!

never had a problem with them, though i have a pretty small screen, so they look bigger :biggrin:

How hard could it be (har har) to come up with a simple Lemur-ish roll-your-own-interface type deal for Reaper native and any other JS/Python/etc script plugs?


love this one

lotta curve