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Giada is able to host plugins (VST effects and VST instruments) thanks to the JUCE framework. You just have to follow three basic steps:
scan the plugin directory, that is a folder where your plugins reside. You have to do that once, or whenever you add/install new plugins. How to do that is described in the Configuration chapter;
browse the available plugins by clicking the FX button on each channel or next to input/output controllers;
select the desired plugin and add it to the stack.
The magic FX button opens the list of the plugins currently in use. This is the window that lets you add or remove plugins to channels and master input/output. Wherever it is placed, when clicked it opens the plugin stack window.
Each line corresponds to a plugin. Click on the name of the effect to open the plugin editor. By default Giada will try to display the graphical interface; in case the plugin doesn't provide one, another window will show a list of the available parameters tweakable through horizontal sliders.
The drop-down menu on the right lists the presets (also known as programs). The check button enables or disables the plugin while the up/down buttons shift the plugin inside the stack. Finally the remove button takes away the plugin from the stack. Add a new plugin by clicking on the button at the end of the stack (add new plugin).
This window shows up when you need to add a new plugin to a stack, by clicking on the add new plugin button seen above.
It's a sorted list of all your plugins found in the system after the scan, with some useful information like the type, the manufacturer, the category and so on.
How to add a plugin to the stack: select a plugin from the list and press enter or click on add button.
This window also reports when missing or unknown plugin are present. If a previously scanned plugin is missing or unloadable from your system, its name will be striked out. If a patch contains unknown plugins, they will be listed at the bottom of the plugin list window, surrounded by several question marks (?).
You can load an unlimited number of plugins inside Giada; just be aware that they can stress your CPU, compromising the live performance.
Plugins must be hosted in compatible environments which means, for example, that an OS X plugin cannot be loaded in the Windows version of Giada and vice versa. Plugins also require binary compatibility with the host: you can't load a 32 bit plugins inside a 64 bit version of Giada and vice versa.