Old 02-02-2016, 10:59 PM   #1
JSBach
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Default Best Orchestral VST now

I'm looking for a decent orchestral VST that is good for Choir and string sounds and user-friendly for someone with little experience in orchestration.

What do you use, and what do you like/dislike about it?

I have been scouring the forums, but most threads are old, like 2010 or 2013 however it seems like there haven't been that many new orchestral VSTs released recently in my budget range. (up to $200 US)

I will run through the options with pros and cons I have gathered so far, and would love to be corrected if I am wrong on anything:

1. Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra - Free which is attractive, but I downloaded it and it seems to be just a bunch of free SFZ files (which sound fine) but setting it up with the SFZ player is extremely complicated. It seems that you need a separate instance of the SFZ player running for each articulation of each instrument.

2. Garritan Instant Orchestra
This looks appealing as it minimises the effort of orchestration, but I have read reports that the sound is not so good as Garritan Personal Orchestra.

3. Garritan Personal Orchestra
Possibly the best sound per dollar spent?

4. EWSO silver
Some say the EWSO sounds are the best/industry standard.
Some say that the limited articulations cramped them too much (and the Gold version is too expensive for me)
Others say the UI is unintuitive.
Also there is the USB Ilok, which concerns me as my computer always seems to have USB conflicts!

5. Miroslav Philharmonik
According to some users, the old edition sounds better.
Seems I could buy it on Amazon but not sure if support will be discontinued or if there might be compatibility issues with Windows 8.1

6. Vienna Symphonic Library
The pattern sequencer sounds like an awesome idea, but seems you need to buy that separately from the VST that has the instrument sounds.
Not sure how easy this is to use.
Has anyone used this?

Are there other options now that it's 2016?
I'm not finding anything relevant on Google.
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Old 02-02-2016, 11:39 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSBach View Post
I'm looking for a decent orchestral VST that is good for Choir and string sounds and user-friendly for someone with little experience in orchestration.

What do you use, and what do you like/dislike about it?

I have been scouring the forums, but most threads are old, like 2010 or 2013 however it seems like there haven't been that many new orchestral VSTs released recently in my budget range. (up to $200 US)

I will run through the options with pros and cons I have gathered so far, and would love to be corrected if I am wrong on anything:

1. Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra - Free which is attractive, but I downloaded it and it seems to be just a bunch of free SFZ files (which sound fine) but setting it up with the SFZ player is extremely complicated. It seems that you need a separate instance of the SFZ player running for each articulation of each instrument.

2. Garritan Instant Orchestra
This looks appealing as it minimises the effort of orchestration, but I have read reports that the sound is not so good as Garritan Personal Orchestra.

3. Garritan Personal Orchestra
Possibly the best sound per dollar spent?

4. EWSO silver
Some say the EWSO sounds are the best/industry standard.
Some say that the limited articulations cramped them too much (and the Gold version is too expensive for me)
Others say the UI is unintuitive.
Also there is the USB Ilok, which concerns me as my computer always seems to have USB conflicts!

5. Miroslav Philharmonik
According to some users, the old edition sounds better.
Seems I could buy it on Amazon but not sure if support will be discontinued or if there might be compatibility issues with Windows 8.1

6. Vienna Symphonic Library
The pattern sequencer sounds like an awesome idea, but seems you need to buy that separately from the VST that has the instrument sounds.
Not sure how easy this is to use.
Has anyone used this?

Are there other options now that it's 2016?
I'm not finding anything relevant on Google.

Unless you have thousands of dollars and a super PC you can forget number 6.

A real nice collection of classical instruments you will find here.


https://www.projectsam.com/Products/...ls-Series/1406
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Old 02-02-2016, 11:59 PM   #3
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Some discussion on budget orchestras here http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=6332548.
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Old 02-03-2016, 01:06 AM   #4
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There was a Guy on KVR who posted a Vivaldi concerto with several entry level banks. Garritan and Sonatina were the worst sounding, Miroslav wasn't very good and the best was Kirk Hunter. It had the most articulation a and sounded the most realistic overall. Plus there are 2 orchestras from what I understand. One big and one small. According to the guy, it sounded like midrange libraries. Another lib worth looking at it project SAM, but it's twice your budget.
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Old 02-03-2016, 01:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSBach View Post

1. Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra - Free which is attractive, but I downloaded it and it seems to be just a bunch of free SFZ files (which sound fine) but setting it up with the SFZ player is extremely complicated. It seems that you need a separate instance of the SFZ player running for each articulation of each instrument.
Use Plogue Sforzando and that solves the setting up problem: it's already mapped.
You do need to run an instance for each instrument but it's still a good option until you decide what to replace it with (or for scoring demo).
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Old 02-03-2016, 05:59 AM   #6
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Default Narrowing down the options

Thanks for the feedback, guys.
I had a look at the Kirk Hunter samples, and its $399 plus the cost of the full Kontakt player.
So yeah, that's too much.

I have messed around with the Sonatina Symphonic stuff enough to know that it's too fiddly and I'll end up not enjoying it.

Project Sam is too expensive.

I need to be fairly strict on the $200 budget

So that leaves other 4 products that I listed:

1. Miroslav Philharmonik (original version)
2. Garritan Instant Orchestra
3. Garritan Personal Orchestra
4. EWSO silver (currently on sale for $97.50)

The user-friendliness of the interface is possible more important than the sounds, although I don't want it to sound like the strings on my old Casio keyboard!

Has anyone worked with these in the past to know which has the fastest, most intuitive workflow?
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Old 02-03-2016, 06:46 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSBach View Post
Thanks for the feedback, guys.
I had a look at the Kirk Hunter samples, and its $399 plus the cost of the full Kontakt player.
So yeah, that's too much.
Last time I looked the Kirk Hunter sample set went half price when you put it in your Paypal basket.

You can get full Kontakt5 via crossgrade using Sennheiser Drum Mica.
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Old 02-03-2016, 03:30 PM   #8
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I was looking for some decent orchestral instruments and came across the DSK HD library. I decided to buy it since it's $25..

http://www.dskmusic.com/

Not bad at all, of course, I'm pretty cheap when it comes to things like this.. I got the SFZ format and play them in the Plogue Sforzando. Seem to sound pretty good so far and I actually like the samples better than the Sonatina Symphonic library..
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:24 PM   #9
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Id go for ewql silver. Sounds best. Truth is that you wont need many different articulations at your beginners level. And you can always upgrade.
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Old 02-03-2016, 05:25 PM   #10
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Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 is supposed to be released sometime this month. You might want to wait to make a decision until it comes out. As I understand it, the strings are getting an overhaul. Many users, myself included, find that the strings in version 4 are very outdated.

I have EWQL Symphonic Orchestra Gold and it sounds great, but it's not as beginner friendly as GPO.

I also have Garritan Personal Orchestra. It's good for really quick mockups and to experiment with broad orchestral colors, but if you want a lot of control or if you want to learn actual orchestration, then stick with EWQL Symphonic Orchestra or GPO.
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Old 02-03-2016, 06:19 PM   #11
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Bigcat, a user here, did a version of Sonatina for the free Grace VSTi. Seems to work OK.

https://www.bigcatinstruments.blogsp...for-grace.html
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Old 02-03-2016, 08:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikComposer View Post
Id go for ewql silver. Sounds best. Truth is that you wont need many different articulations at your beginners level. And you can always upgrade.
Thanks Mik.
I did consider this as one of the best options, however, since I will be working in Finale for scoring and Garritan and Finale are owned by the same company, making the probably of software conflicts much less, the new Garritan 5 does seem more attractive.
I have listened to EWQL silver and I like the sound, but yesterday I heard the demo tracks for Garritan 5 and they sound even better.
Also, ease of use is a big factor and from what I hear, EWQL is not as easy as Garritan.
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Old 02-03-2016, 08:37 PM   #13
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Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 is supposed to be released sometime this month. You might want to wait to make a decision until it comes out. As I understand it, the strings are getting an overhaul. Many users, myself included, find that the strings in version 4 are very outdated.

I have EWQL Symphonic Orchestra Gold and it sounds great, but it's not as beginner friendly as GPO.

I also have Garritan Personal Orchestra. It's good for really quick mockups and to experiment with broad orchestral colors, but if you want a lot of control or if you want to learn actual orchestration, then stick with EWQL Symphonic Orchestra or GPO.
Thank you Pcartwright. This is the most helpful response I've had so far.
Waiting for GPO5 does seem the best option to me at present.

You said, "I also have Garritan Personal Orchestra. It's good for really quick mockups..."
Did you mean Garritan Instant Orchestra?
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Old 02-03-2016, 08:43 PM   #14
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I love the EastWest Quantum Leap, but I hate iLok.

Garritan Personal Orchestra is capable of being quite good if you are willing to dig in and learn the design. It's also capable of being quite fake-sounding, if you just want to route a midi feed to a bunch of orchestral samples.
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Old 02-03-2016, 09:13 PM   #15
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Yes, I meant Instant Orchestra.

Plan on learning to use a mod wheel with GPO if you go that route and read the manual. There are controls that help make for a more realistic result if you take the time to learn about them.

A quick trick, record or draw your mid wheel dynamics and add LFO parameter modulation to the mod wheel CC for extra dynamic variation.
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Old 02-04-2016, 12:33 AM   #16
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One thing I hate is the fact that some live require full Kontakt.
If Drummic'a gets you Kontakt for free, I'll get it, but I wish I didn't have to.


As for Kirk Hunter, I thought it was cheaper as well. I'm sure there are price drops during some periods.
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Old 02-04-2016, 09:33 AM   #17
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Drummic'a gets you the cross-grade to Kontakt which is about $250 however during the Summer crossgrade sale you can get it for about $125 or could in the past. Also note that you get a passable orchestra with Kontakt itself.

I know you have already dismissed Sonatina which I understand, but you might or might not be interested in these Maize VSTs I made, they include Sonatina, the solo brass instruments, flutes and piano from the Iowa orchestra, and the LDK1609 Violin.
http://bigcatinstruments.blogspot.co...ize-vstis.html
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Old 02-04-2016, 10:18 AM   #18
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GPO is good for quick mockups, Instant Orchestra tries to be even better, but it's more limited in it's sound as a result.

The cool thing about GPO is that it encourages you to play each instrument by hand, on keyboard with the modwheel for velocity, sustain pedal for legato mode, and once you get used to that method, going through a score track-by-track can be very fast. For this reason, it's really the best library for learning orchestration. You'll definitely need keyboard skills though, especially for fast passages. You can enter notes in by hand, but you'll have to spend more time afterwards editing CC values and such to inject any emotion into it. Reverb and EQ are a must if you want it to sound decent. I have some settings, including a verb chain using reaper-only plugins, that gets close to a EWQLSO sounding verb. I'll share it later if I can remember (or send me a PM).


I also have EWQLSO Silver and Gold, and while they sound better out of the box they do require a lot of editing to get the most out of the dynamics and articulations. These would be a good choice for folks who want to seriously get into using samples in the professional realm (like for trailers or TV/movies) where quality finished product is really the highest priority. For just roughing out orchestration ideas, I don't find it as fun or easy to use as GPO. The two can blend together nicely though.
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Old 02-04-2016, 10:26 AM   #19
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Oh yea... I have an older version of GPO, which does not include choirs, so I'm not sure how those compare to EWQLSO Silver, which only offer a few articulations (male or female "oooh" and "aaah", maybe a few others I forget)
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Old 02-04-2016, 10:43 AM   #20
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Ahh... I just read you are using Finale. I've no experience editing these sounds with a score editor, but I imagine both to require a lot of setup/tweaking to get near the sound of their demos, which most likely were all done entirely within a DAW. GPO might be better in this regard than EWQLSO. I know Garritan put some effort into making it work well with score editors, and even include a free version of Finale or Sibalius (I forget) and the forums there are friendlier to beginners, while EWQLSO probably is not as friendly.

Have you looked into Presonous Notion? It seems the easiest and might work better for you if you don't mind using a new score editor and can settle for a less realistic sound. It's 150 bucks:

https://shop.presonus.com/products/s...prods/Notion-5

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Old 02-04-2016, 10:50 AM   #21
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m2c:
Try to get some cheap general library that cover the basics,
and then expect to buy better specific libraries in the future for the instruments you need.
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Old 02-04-2016, 11:19 AM   #22
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Oh has wet versus dry been discussed?

I think EastWest tends to be very wet.
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Old 02-04-2016, 12:59 PM   #23
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Quote:
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Drummic'a gets you the cross-grade to Kontakt which is about $250 however during the Summer crossgrade sale you can get it for about $125 or could in the past. Also note that you get a passable orchestra with Kontakt itself.
What do you mean by "cross-grade" ?
How much is full Kontakt ? What does Drummic'a give you ?
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Old 02-04-2016, 01:15 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lolilol1975 View Post
What do you mean by "cross-grade" ?
How much is full Kontakt ? What does Drummic'a give you ?
See the purchase options on this page:
http://www.native-instruments.com/en...akt-5/pricing/


DrumMica is a qualifying 3rd party product for Crossgrade, despite being a freebie.
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Old 02-04-2016, 01:43 PM   #25
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Actually there are lots of good VST, the ones you're listed are outdated or not good.

What you need from an orchestral VST:
- True legato (sampled legato intervals).
- Dynamic crossfading.
- Essential articulations sampled.

Every VST has his own target, some examples:
Mural strings and spitfire brass (spitfire) is made for classical music.
Hollywood series (eastwest) is made for Hollywood "john williams" style.
Motropolis ark is a collection of orchestral samples for bombastic trailer music (orchestral tools).
And so on...

You'll need to decide first of all what is your purpose (and your budget), then listen carefully to demos and take any infomation (the hall the vst were recorded, all the instrumentation, all the articulations, mics used and so on), then make your decision.

If you are a beginner and you need a full comprensive orchesytal library, my way to go is EWQL SO gold: this is an old but very effective library (even if it lacks of some articulations, first of all legato is scripted and not sampled), and easy to use. Try not to buy it full price because ew always do "special offerts" and try to catch it 50% off or 75% off.

Cheers
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Old 02-04-2016, 01:45 PM   #26
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* I forgot to say: most of orchestral libraries require TONS of ram...so be careful while choosing!
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Old 02-04-2016, 01:58 PM   #27
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Without having read every single post in this thread I have to say that $200 isn't going to get you very far so for the moment, if you're new to all this, forget about the "best" and "new" and get yourself a basic starter library like GPO or EWQL Silver and start building your setup from there. Once you get a feel for what is lacking in the library you have, you can start adding more stuff.

Don't forget to keep an eye out for older libraries like Advanced Orchestra, Roland etc. They may not be as advanced as modern offerings but they can work wonders when combined/layered with other stuff.
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Old 12-15-2016, 05:01 AM   #28
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Recently we had the chance to test and review the Film Score Compantion by SONiVOX, if you want you can read the review here: http://www.producerspot.com/review-f...ins-by-sonivox
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Old 12-15-2016, 06:16 AM   #29
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Good review and indeed a good price.
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Old 02-16-2020, 12:24 AM   #30
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I was looking for a cheap orchestral library and found this:
Nucleus Lite Edition (Made For Kontakt Player) for $99.00 https://www.audioimperia.com/product...s-lite-edition

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Old 02-16-2020, 03:59 AM   #31
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FWIW Kirk Hunter has 80% off most of his products, bar his best offerings:


https://www.kirkhunterstudios.com/
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Old 02-16-2020, 09:23 AM   #32
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Quote:
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FWIW Kirk Hunter has 80% off most of his products, bar his best offerings:


https://www.kirkhunterstudios.com/
Ooh - that's a good deal. They'll be discontinued thereafter though, it's like a going out of business sale, so for support after that you'll probably be on your own.
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Old 02-16-2020, 09:42 AM   #33
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Quote:
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FWIW Kirk Hunter has 80% off most of his products, bar his best offerings:


https://www.kirkhunterstudios.com/
..... and some latest are with similar discounts @ AudioPluginDeals ending very soon !

https://audioplugin.deals/

Check their 'SHOP' as well ! Everything at their lowest price ending today ?
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Old 02-16-2020, 10:42 AM   #34
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Ooh - that's a good deal. They'll be discontinued thereafter though, it's like a going out of business sale, so for support after that you'll probably be on your own.
It would be a shame if he cannot make affordable libraries pay. Competition is stiffer now I guess. Perhaps the market is saturated?

Sostenuto,
Perhaps he's got some new software to come and this is just a sales tactic?
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Old 02-16-2020, 10:54 AM   #35
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Quote:
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It would be a shame if he cannot make affordable libraries pay. Competition is stiffer now I guess. Perhaps the market is saturated?

Sostenuto,
Perhaps he's got some new software to come and this is just a sales tactic?
Oh, I believe so, but apparently these specfic Libraries will now be retired. KH has been highly active on VI-C Forums in support of this promotion, and it seems a bit harsh to infer that he will no longer support what he has been producing and selling for decades. It would not be very supportive of any new offerings ...

I'm adding Spotlight Strings 4D @ only $120. __ to current Diamond Symph Orch, Spotlight Solo Strings, Virtuoso Ensembles.
Any or all of these could be affordable options for OP imho ....
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Old 02-16-2020, 11:04 AM   #36
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While always a relevant question to answer the actual OP might have moved on from that question in the meantime.
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Old 02-16-2020, 11:39 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Softsynth View Post
While always a relevant question to answer the actual OP might have moved on from that question in the meantime.
In only 60 months or so ??
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:52 PM   #38
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Quote:
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It would be a shame if he cannot make affordable libraries pay. Competition is stiffer now I guess. Perhaps the market is saturated?

It's an extremely competitive market, with new offerings almost every week, from big names to small developers.

That said, the quality of his instruments is great, and at this price point they certainly look very attractive.

Front row strings especially looks very attractive.

https://soundbytesmag.net/front-row-...y-kirk-hunter/

I have some of his libraries already, should check which ones.
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:26 AM   #39
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Check out Amadeus. It only costs $149 and it will surprise you how good it sounds.

https://indiginus.com/amadeus.html
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:53 AM   #40
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East West now have a 50% off Valentine sales on all of their products.

http://www.soundsonline.com/

They also have an attractive cloud based licensing system where you can 'rent' all their instruments for $30 per month. If you just want to dip your toe in, that's a great way to explore their libraries. Once you stop paying though, you can't use their VSTs anymore (but whatever you wrote and rendered before then obviously you can still use).
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