Audio Units (AU) are a system-level plug-in architecture provided by Core Audio in Apple's macOS and iOS operating systems. Audio Units are a set of application programming interface (API) services provided by the operating system to generate, process, receive, or otherwise manipulate streams of audio in near-real-time with minimal latency. It may be thought of as Apple's architectural equivalent to another popular plug-in format, Steinberg's Virtual Studio Technology (VST).
Because of the many similarities between Audio Units and VST, several commercial and free wrapping technologies are available (e.g. Symbiosis and FXpansion VST-AU Adapter). Celemony Software and PreSonus have also developed the Audio Random Access (ARA) extension, which works for both AU and VST, allowing greater integration between the plug-ins and DAW software.
Audio Units allows sound file audio time-scale/pitch modification (e.g., timestretch), sample rate conversion, and streaming over a Local Area Network. It also comes with a set of AU plug-ins such as EQ filters, dynamic processors, delay, reverb, and a Soundbank Synthesizer Instrument.
AU are used by Apple applications such as GarageBand, Soundtrack Pro, Logic Express, Logic Pro, Logic Pro X, Final Cut Pro, MainStage and most 3rd party audio software developed for macOS such as Ardour, Ableton Live, Studio One, Amadeus Pro, DaVinci Resolve, REAPER and Digital Performer.
- Digidesign's Real Time AudioSuite
- LADSPA, Disposable Soft Synth Interface (DSSI) and LV2 for Linux
- Microsoft's DirectX
- Steinberg's Virtual Studio Technology
- "Celemony introduces ARA Audio Random Access - Extension for Plug-in Interfaces". KVR Audio. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
- Apple's Audio Unit Programming Guide
- Apple's Core Audio Overview
- Apple's Audio Units trademark and license agreements
- Audio Units Organizer
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