Is it practical to use Ableton as a host for testing?


I’m new to plugin development but I’m making good progress. I use Ableton Live Suite 9 for testing as I already own a license. But, one thing I have noticed is I have to restart Ableton each time I rebuild the plugin. This is very annoying.

Does anyone use a DAW for testing and have they faced a similar issue?

Thanks for any advice.


Hi imbase2,

I highly recommend the Juce’s own audio plugin host found in the examples folder for testing while developing, it’s fast to load both on Windows and Mac. :slight_smile:
You should, naturally, test the actual releases with as many hosts, machines, plugin formats and bitnesses as you have access to, I guess there’ll always be a curious number of unexpected bugs involved when releasing something cross-platform and cross-format.



Thanks Ollierikkeskinen,

I will check out the plugin host. Cloning the repo from github now. I had read about it in earlier tutorials but never played with it. Sounds like it could make my life much easier.


Indeed it can! You can easily set it to open up for debugging in both VS and XCode after build. :slight_smile:

I personally use Reaper when wanting to run audio through the processor when developing, as it is another quick opener. But be warned that Reaper seems to handle plugins quite graciously even if they’re faulty, so it might not be the best option for serious testing.


Also now that I started raving about my two cents, Reaper’s own JS-based audio processing system is excellent for producing test signals. Another great platform for this is Max 7, which I’ve used to build test signal scenarios and measurements.

I’d be very interested to hear what sort of workflow other people may be using!


I use Max a lot. I love it. Max for Live also processes JS scripts. I’ve made a good few personal MIDI plugins using that. It was almost a revelation when I learned Max was coded with JUCE. I love this library!


Downloaded and built. That works perfectly! Many thanks for your help and advice.


I spoke too soon. It crashed when I was scanning for plugins. I’ll figure this out.


It seems one of the plugins I paid for (Native Instruments plugins) caused it to crash. When I added the directory to my home plugins directory it worked fine. And wow, I really love how simple, fast, and easy this plugin host is.


Some plug-ins don’t like being run under a debugger - I’d suggest only scanning your user VST folder on MacOS or a dedicated VSTPlugins folder on Windows for debugging… or scan them when not running the Debugger.



Ok, so I seem to be having a new issue. If I rebuild the plugin it doesn’t update the changes in the plugin host. I have tried removing, and adding again. I tried scanning the plugins again. The only thing that works is restarting the plugin host.

Is that normal behaviour?


You have to restart the Host when you test your changes - you don’t need to rescan though.

You should set up Xcode or VS to automatically start the Host… and if you save a setting in the Host it’ll automatically load your plugin for you.



Super helpful was just reading about that here

I ignored all this at first thinking I could use Ableton, but realise now how stupid it was to rely on a 3rd party host.


Sorry to be a pain, but do you know any plugins that work when debugging? Non of my paid plugins work.


Most that don’t use any copy protection. You can test it by building the JUCE Plugin examples.



You should also consider building a Standalone app/plugin for testing. While there will definitely be some times when you need to test how your plugin responds to hosts, there will be many times when you just need to test other parts of your code and running standalone is awesome. I wish that were an option when I developed the first 75% of my plugin.


Thanks for bringing that up, until now I have totally ignored the setting!