While I generally work in Pro Tools for sound design projects, occasionally I wish to process a sound using a plug-in which is only available as an Audio Unit.

Inevitably I have to fire up Logic or Soundtrack Pro in order to access the plugins, however I find that it slows down my workflow having to using such fully featured DAWs for such a simple task, when I'll be bringing the processed audio file back into Pro Tools anyway.

So, my question is in two parts:

  1. Does anyone know of a very lightweight audio unit host that can load a sound file, process, and export it? It wouldn't need many features, so inexpensive or open-source/free would be good too!

  2. Would other people in the community find a utility like this helpful? - As I haven't been able to find something that quite does what I'm looking for, I thought I'd have a go at putting together a little app myself, that simply loads an audio file, processes it, and outputs a processed version. If anyone is interested in trying the app out, I'd be really interested to hear if it would be useful to the community to develop it further - it can be downloaded from http://goo.gl/6d8N2 (Dropbox link). It's still very rough around the edges, but the basic functionality should work (OS X only at this point, I'm afraid).

  • I'm curious which audio unit only plugin you are referring to. :)
    – MtL
    Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 15:05
  • I was thinking of audio units in general really, but one collection that I did specifically have in mind is Soundmagic Spectral - michaelnorris.info/soundmagicspectral/index.html Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 20:36
  • Thanks for the answers everyone, I think I will demo Peak, Twistedwave and Amadeus. Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 0:57

9 Answers 9


Twistedwave (MAC only)!! Very good!

It's perfect for simple process. And you can make batch processing (plugin process, split or interleave audio files, convert sample rate, rename, etc...).

Simple, powerfull and not expensive!


  • Wasn't aware of TwistedWave. Good tip. 30 day free trial, too! Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 15:11
  • I LOVE TwistedWave. The batch processing is great, and you can even edit and batch-edit Soundminer metadata! Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 17:28

If you install the CoreAudio SDK (assuming you're on a Mac) you get a host called "AU Lab". Find it at /Developer/Applications/Audio. This is the most lightweight host you'll find that we AU developers use for testing the AUs without the hassle of starting Logic.


Garageband maybe? Or Audacity.

  • Garageband still seems like overkill I think, but Audacity is a good one, didn't think of that! Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 9:49

From very lightweight:

WIN: Audacity, Steinberg Wavelab LE (limited by sample rate to 96 kHz!)

MAC: ?, Bias Peak LE

  • Maybe I'm just old school, but BIAS Peak Pro is my stereo editor of choice on the Mac, although I started with Peak LE. Basic, fast, not a DAW...but if all you need is an audio unit host, other options are cheaper. Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 15:10
  • +1 on Peak! Has been my go to audio editor since about 2004, and I expect will continue to be! Great usability, very quick to use and very reliable! Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 14:37

Plogue bidule it's great soft. Used rewired it's very useful.


I can't recommend Amadeus Pro enough. Very fast. Very stable. Very affordable.

  • Ah yes, I've heard good things about Amadeus, might have to try it out! Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 20:53

Things are a lot better than they were a while back.

Audition is coming on the Mac and it looks pretty good. Get a free beta from Adobe Labs.

Mac again, Sound Studio fires up and operates incredibly fast, at the cost of being buggy.

WaveEditor is popular too, but I find it too slow and convoluted for my taste.


The one that immediately springs to mind is Rax. It's purely an AU/VST host with basic mixing and metering abilities - no audio playback/editing. Rax has a long history and at one point was free, but it's now a $79 commercial app. I can see it working nicely with Jack/Soundflower. I'm looking for something similar but just for allowing me to stick audio units in front of my Skype audio input.


I use Sample Manager in that way lots of times. It's a really good batch processor.

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