|Top 5| Best Orchestral VST Plugins

by Doug

June 30, 2015
best orchestral VST plugins available

Stringed instruments are the most difficult for software developers to replicate. There are so many different variables to factor in when a violin player gently glides their bow over the strings of their instrument.

Even a highly-skilled synthesist would have trouble creating a convincing orchestral instrument.

This leaves no option but to tediously record instrument samples with complex multi-microphone rigs. Even after the software developers have the samples, there is still the challenge of programming a plugin that will play their samples flawlessly.

Unfortunately, putting in this much effort into a plugin gives the developers no incentive to release it for free. The only good-sounding orchestral plugins I found cost money.

I have found a handful of amazing orchestral plugins that just might be the answers to your dreams.

Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional producer, these 5 plugins have a sound quality that will more than likely satisfy you.

 

Orchestral Suite

Our Top 5 Orchestral Plugin Choices:

  • IRCAM Solo Instruments – IRCAM is my new favorite orchestral suite! This suite is the result of over 10 years of research, recording, and editing.
  • Orchestral Suite – This plugin comes with everything you need to create epic orchestral pieces. Not to mention the instruments are all very dynamic and sound amazing. It’s our #1 recommendation.
  • Garritan Instant Orchestra – Easy composition with little tweaking? That’s exactly where Instant Orchestra excels.
  • Garritan Personal Orchestra – Unlike Instant Orchestra, the Personal edition allows you to have much more control over your instruments.
  • SONiVOX Film Score Companion – a fantastic bundle with strings, brass, woodwinds, ensemble, AND cinematic percussion.

 

IRCAM Solo Instruments

IRCAM Solo Instruments

What do you get when you combine talented engineers, beautiful instruments, and word-class recording studios? Pure magic.

If you want the best orchestral suite IRCAM Solo Instruments is what you should be looking at.

Yes; The price is a bit intimidating at first glance. $400 could seem like a mighty price to pay but think of it this. way: The money you spend on this plugin is an investment. How can you put a price on the endless amounts of compositions you’ll write?

The other plugins on this list are great choices as well, but if you can currently afford IRCAM, you’ll never be disappointed with this purchase.

Specs:

  • This plugin 16.32 GB in size
  • 16 different highly-configurable instruments
  • 1015 presets
  • The plugin is made up of 19,965 samples (Can you imagine recording that many samples?)
  • Includes Trumpet, saxophone, French horn, trombone, bass tuba, violin, viola, violoncello, contrabass, guitar, harp, and an accordion
  • The sample resolution is a nice, clean 44.1 kHz

Excited yet? IRCAM has many different instrument libraries but Solo Instruments has to be my favorite. It’s well worth the price for how realistic and dynamic the instruments are.

At the very least, take a listen to the demo of this plugin by clicking the link below.

 

Orchestral Suite

The first plugin we’ll be talking about on this list is called Orchestral Suite.

It is an epic Orchestral bundle packed with a ton of high quality instruments.

This bundle includes over 60 instruments. You’ll get sounds ranging from strings, to brass, to woodwinds, to choir, all the way to percussion.

These sounds were recorded in studios and acoustic environments all over the world! Each instrument can be controlled by a convolution reverb to completely change its spacial characteristics.

Surprisingly, this plugin uses very low CPU. It also doesn’t take up much space(Only 4.62GB).

This plugin consists of 15,645 samples. If you need an all-in-one package that contains a ton of high quality orchestral instruments, Orchestral Suite is perfect for you!

 

Garritan Instant Orchestra

“Garritan Instant Orchestra is a revolutionary sound library that reinvents the way orchestral music is created by simplifying and streamlining the process.”

The next plugin we’ll be talking about is Garritan Instant Orchestra. It is designed with simplicity in mind.

Whether you are new to scoring, or have been doing it for years, you’ll be able to quickly step into this plugin and get going without any major confusions.

The main types of instruments you’ll find in Instant Orchestra are strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion.

I really liked that this plugin doesn’t require you to take time designing and tweaking the desired sound you want.

IF you want a little more tweak-ability in your sound, I recommend scrolling down to the next plugin on this list. It is very similar to Instant Orchestra, but is designed with configuration in mind.

Another great part about this plugin is that it only takes up 3GB of hard drive space. With that small of a size, you can expect it to not use a lot of CPU.

Overall, I think this plugin will suit musicians that are slowly transitioning into moving their productions to the computer.

 

Garritan Personal Orchestra 4

If you like the sounds of Instant Orchestra, but want a lot of control over your sound, Personal Orchestra is a great option to consider.

This plugin has woodwind, brass, string, percussion, keyboard, harp, and choir instruments.

It takes up a tiny bit more space than Instant Orchestra. Personal Orchestra 4 takes up around 3.5GB of space.

Like I mentioned above, Personal Orchestra 4 offers a lot more tweak-ability. This plugin gives you full control over the ambience of your sound.

It has a nice sounding built-in convolution reverb which gives you control over the style of room you want to emulate. I like that they included a visual representation of what the room looks like.

If you’re looking for inspiration, Garritan has included plenty of pre-tweaked patches.

Personal Orchestra 4 is a great plugin that has a ton of configurability. It is definitely at least worth checking out.

Film Score Companion

SONiVOX Film Score Companion

Film Score Companion is an excellent bundle that comes with all of what you need in an orchestra.

You get the popular SONiVOX brass plugin. This wonderful tool has 80 fully-programmable brass settings to allow you to fit any mood. This plugin is filled with both solo and harmony-based brass instruments.

SONiVOX’s strings plugin is simply fantastic! It comes with plenty of solo and unison violin instruments. All of which are fully tweak-able to your desires. You aren’t just limited to violins, for there are cellos and violas as well.

The woodwinds plugin has a great sound to it that adds the cherry on top of any film production. Just imagine the most airy, dreamlike woodwinds and you have this plugin. Just like all of the other SONiVOX plugins, the woodwinds are fully configurable.

The other two plugins included are the ensemble and the percussion plugin. I really appreciated the percussion plugin. It’s really difficult to find a good cinematic percussion plugin and this one really won me over.

Overall, if you’re looking for an epic orchestral bundle, Film Score Companion is a great choice!

 

Summary

All of these plugins are excellent choices if you are interested in digitally replicating orchestral sounds.

My favorite plugin on this list has to be Orchestral Suite. Its an all-in-one plugin that offers a ton of quality!

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What do you think?


  • Personally, I’m looking at EastWest/Quantum Leap’s Composer Cloud deal. It looks pretty sweet!

  • Juan Romero June 16, 2016

    Well, there are still free options out there, obviously you can’t get that level of quality but being free and lightweight, Sonatina soundfont is a great choice if you are broke, like I am :)

    • Great recommendation, Juan! I couldn’t tell if it is available for both Mac and PC. Can you tell?

      The only thing that worries me is that it looks like the developers lost interest in it. The forum page is down and it appears a couple of the download links are broken (although most of the links do work).

    • Juan Romero June 17, 2016

      Well, Sonatina is a kind of openSource SoundFont, compiled from various sources by Mattias Westlund, as I understand, so it’s alive in the sense that everyone can contribute to it but I think Mattias himself have stopped working on it.

      It would be cool to make a big opensource project with it, maybe even a Kickstarter to develop it further and programing its own sampler VSTi to make an awesome free orchestral plugin though.

    • Thanks again for the suggestion, Juan!

  • Tom Brown October 28, 2015

    What about East/West Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra & Hollywood orchestra? In terms of quality, they are overboard, both contain every instrument and every articulation you would ever need. I disagree with the Garittan products, as they are overpriced for what you got. +1 on Albion.

    • Fırat Tuncbas May 23, 2016

      Are you sure? :) what about 8dio,L.A scoring,Ewql,albion..

    • All good choices:) These are the ones I prefer and recommend.

    • Thanks for the suggestions Tom:) I’ve actually been meaning to add Hollywood Orchestra now that I have more experience with it. I’ve heard good things about East/West, but haven’t got around to trying it yet. Will do!

      I surprisingly like Garritan. Maybe those plugins aren’t for everyone, but depending on you purposes and how you use the plugins, they can be great.