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.

You need to be a member of Composers' Forum to add comments!

Join Composers' Forum

Email me when people reply –

Replies

  • Since you say you are a beginner in orchestration, I am not sure from what you say in your post, whether you want to study this art (which is much older than 2010 or 2013) and gain true knowledge that you can use irrespective of which sound library you buy, or you just want to buy a sound library to make your life easier. In the second case, the more money you spend generally, the better the sounds you can buy and use after some fashion, but no real knowledge of orchestration will be gained. If on the other hand knowledge is your aim, just a good book on orchestration can do a lot of benefit without having to buy sound libraries at all.

    In other words, detailed study of orchestration is the only way and there are not shortcuts for it if knowledge and mastery of the subject is one's aim.

    In order to combine this discipline with attractive sound realization, Vienna Symphonic Library have provided a lot of technical and historical information for all instruments and their capabilities and orchestral usage as observed in the works of many great composers of all eras, together with many illustrative sound examples (mp3 player attached to each sound example), and all these are free and downloadable, so even if in the end you decide not to go for the Vienna Library, you can still study and download what you want from here:

     

    http://www.vsl.co.at/en/ACADEMY

     

    All files contained in the above link are nested into deep levels and many pages of information for each instrument so, don’t only look only at the head page for every instrument but read through all pages. It is like an orchestration course on line, but you can still download everything. If you like Vienna sounds you can buy them from their product page but it is not compulsory.

    I wish you good study and I hope I have been of help.

  • Thanks Socrates.

    Although I have played piano for over 30 years and have read books on orchestration, I feel the way that I will become better the fastest is by creating my own pieces that I can hear played back by a VST orchestra immediately to see if I like what I have written.

    Getting the right software for me is the starting point of creation, and since I can't try out free trials of the various orchestral VSTs, I would like to know which ones people find user-friendly.

    As an analogy, I'd rather start out with Apple-Mac as an OS, not LINUX!

    At a guess, I'd say that Garritan Instant Orchestra would have the fastest workflow, but might feel too limited once I get more skilful at arranging.  

    However, I have no idea if Garritan Personal Orchestra is easier to use than Miroslav's one, or EWSO Silver.

    I know some people have collections of these VSTs and could tell straight away which ones are best for newbies :)

    Even if you just have one of these and can describe what you like/dislike about them, it would be helpful.

  • I prefer the sound of EastWest over Garritan personally. If you're trying to get into EW virtual instruments for less one option is their Composer Cloud deal. $30 a month gets you access to all their products including EWSO Gold. The catch is, if you stop paying the subscription you lose that access. If i remember correctly, and i may be mistaken so you may want to email them and ask, you can sign up for one month, pay the 30 dollars and try their stuff for 30 days. If you don't like the idea of subscriptions you also have the option of being patient. They do big sales pretty frequently. I bought EWSO Gold for $199 during one of those sales.

    EWSO was my only orchestral VST for a while and i always felt that the bigger limitation on my music was my own skill level and not EWSO. Even now that i have a somewhat better idea of what i'm doing and have bought newer sample libraries i still use EWSO because i like the sound of some of its instruments better.

    As for the iLok, EastWest has the option of machine licenses now so i don't think you even need an iLok anymore. Again, i could be wrong so you should double check for yourself before spending any money.

    One downside to consider with EW is that they're libraries tend to be resource hungry. If your computer barely meets the minimum specs required they can be a chore to use.



  • Chris Carman said:

    I prefer the sound of EastWest over Garritan personally. If you're trying to get into EW virtual instruments for less one option is their Composer Cloud deal. $30 a month gets you access to all their products including EWSO Gold. The catch is, if you stop paying the subscription you lose that access. If i remember correctly, and i may be mistaken so you may want to email them and ask, you can sign up for one month, pay the 30 dollars and try their stuff for 30 days. If you don't like the idea of subscriptions you also have the option of being patient. They do big sales pretty frequently. I bought EWSO Gold for $199 during one of those sales.

    EWSO was my only orchestral VST for a while and i always felt that the bigger limitation on my music was my own skill level and not EWSO. Even now that i have a somewhat better idea of what i'm doing and have bought newer sample libraries i still use EWSO because i like the sound of some of its instruments better.

    As for the iLok, EastWest has the option of machine licenses now so i don't think you even need an iLok anymore. Again, i could be wrong so you should double check for yourself before spending any money.

    One downside to consider with EW is that they're libraries tend to be resource hungry. If your computer barely meets the minimum specs required they can be a chore to use.

    Hi Chris and thanks for your reply.

    It sounds like you've worked with both EastWest and Garritan.

    Which has the easier workflow and more intuitive interface?

    My computer is pretty good, so I don't think that will be an issue.

    Garritan is coming out with a new edition in a few weeks, so it might sound better than version 4.

    I read some comments of people saying that the $30 a month EW deal only gives you quite  limited options so that reduced my interest in it.

    Best Orchestral VST for under $200 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 orchestratio…
  • I have not worked with Garritan, i'm sorry if i gave the wrong impression.  I've only listened to other people's music done with Garritan so my preference is based on the sound.  I wouldn't say that Garritan sounds bad though, i just prefer EWSO.

    The $30 dollar a month deal with EW gives you all of their libraries, but the Gold versions and not the Platinum series.  The downside is that if you only plan to use one of their libraries it is more expensive in the long run.  I currently have 12 of their libraries on my computer that i downloaded thru the cloud deal.  I have more options than i know what to do with sometimes, but i do a lot of different types of music so i like having all of those options.  If you are more focused with your writing, then it mite not be the choice for you.  

  • Garritan Instant Orchestra is a complete waste of money, the only useful patches are the ones that make random noises for interesting ambience.

    GPO: sampled in 2000's, sounds like the 90's. Recorded dry and not in orchestral placement. GPO5 coming out for less than $200 but each instrument will be one articulation only, no true legato, and still poor sounding. The only good Garritan library is the CFX piano.

    EWSO some of the worst customer service available, and with the exception of East West's Hollywood Strings, it is definitely not the best or industry standard. Cinesamples, Spitfire, and Orchestral Tools sound better.

    Miroslav no one ever talks about it anymore, must be great (sarcasm.)

    Vienna Symphonic Library with Sample Modeling is probably the most difficult libraies to use, and you are still not guaranteed a good sound. You need to purchase MIRx for a fighting chance to make it sound good and easier to use.

    Are you looking for just choir and strings?
  • I really appreciate your feedback.

    I would like to have the full orchestra available, but I am mostly interested in the choir and strings as this is where I will be focusing my writing, and where most VSTs don't sound very realistic.

    However, I don't envisage actually making recordings and mixing myself, but rather just need to hear what it is that I'm composing.   I hope for a real orchestra to make the actual recordings.

    Since GPO works seamlessly with Finale, my notation software of choice, it does seem the logical VST to get.

    I have heard music produced from GPO5 and it sounds as good or better than anything I've heard from other options.

    Which orchestral VST do you use and how much did it cost?

  • I use mostly cinesamples, orchestral tools, spitfire, and east west spaces for reverb, cubase for DAW, and finale for making scores. That cost a fortune and I still need more for my needs. If you are a student, check out cinesymphony lite which sounds great and only cost 200 with student discount. If you are looking for great sounding choirs, check out sound iron which has something called a micro choir that can be really cheap.

    Stephen Williams said:

    I really appreciate your feedback.

    I would like to have the full orchestra available, but I am mostly interested in the choir and strings as this is where I will be focusing my writing, and where most VSTs don't sound very realistic.

    However, I don't envisage actually making recordings and mixing myself, but rather just need to hear what it is that I'm composing.   I hope for a real orchestra to make the actual recordings.

    Since GPO works seamlessly with Finale, my notation software of choice, it does seem the logical VST to get.

    I have heard music produced from GPO5 and it sounds as good or better than anything I've heard from other options.

    Which orchestral VST do you use and how much did it cost?

    Best Orchestral VST for under $200 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 orchestratio…
  • If you just want to use sound libraies for composing and never for trying to produce something that sounds realistic, then GPO is the way to go. But if you fall under the trap of actually wanting to share your recordings with friends and clients then you will realize GPO will only get you as far as sounding like a good keyboard recording, and you will regret your purchases. Don't fall in the trap also on Garritan's website talking how great they are and professionals use them. No we don't.
  • Thanks Rodney.

    That was helpful.

    I didn't know about the micro choir but it looks like great value.

    Does Cinesamples seamlessly integrate with Finale like GPO does?

    Have you heard the new GPO 5 demo tracks?

    They sound much better than GPO 4.

    https://soundcloud.com/garritan/sets/gpo-5-orchestration-demos

    How did you know about GPO 5 not having true legato when it hasn't been released yet?

This reply was deleted.