The theory is that all of your plugins are controlled by a single application - the Virtual Instrument Player - which itself acts as a DAW plugin or operates standalone.
Akai's Advance range of MIDI controller keyboards have drawn a fair amount of attention at this year's NAMM Show, and we've pushed our way through the crowds to check them out.
The keyboards (all 25, 49 and 61-key models) communicate with Akai's Virtual Instrument Player (VIP) plugin, visible directly from the keyboards' interface via a small colour screen. Once the VIP plugin is loaded in a DAW, it's possible to host any other third-party plugin within the interface - a process reminiscent of Novation's Automap, but without the convoluted 'mapping' and 'wrapping' process.
On first use, it seems a notably stable and efficient way to load, layer and control instruments; we were able to stack up to eight third-party plugins and control each's parameters using the controller's eight rotaries without even looking up at the monitor - and there's not a CPU glitch in sight. An Akai representative claims they've kept the range of functions conservative, placing stability and reliability above an overload of features. There's a little menu diving, but we're impressed overall.