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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  • Hey guys,

    I made my decision yesterday and bought EW Hollywood Orchestra silver edition which includes 4 packs - Strings, Brass, Woodwind and Percussion for $299.

    Considering that the Strings were only released in about 2011 and were $1000 at the time, I feel that getting them for $75 is a pretty good deal. ($300/4)

    Yes, I did go over my budget of $200, thanks to Rodney's comments.  I decided not to skimp on quality to avoid being disappointed with the sounds I create.

    The only realistic option under that price was GPO5.

    The reasons I didn't go with GPO5 were:

    1. I found out that the 'new' samples used are just repackaged old Garritan samples, which are possibly 10 years old (although they use brass from Sam's project, I don't really like the sound of them)

    2. The Aria player stretches out samples over several pitches.  It seems that not every note is sampled individually, let alone at different velocities.

    3. The Comments made by Rodney here that their demos sound good because of lots of reverb.

    Having said that, I think for $149, GPO5 is currently the best deal at that price.

    Why I chose Hollywood Orchestra?

    1. I read a comment by someone in a forum who said they have more expensive string collections but still use Hollywood Strings because they prefer that sound.

    2. Then I listened to a review of Hollywood strings vs LA strings and found the sound much more pleasant in a direct comparison.

    3. I now have a complete orchestra for the price of Kontakt 5 crossgrade ($299)
    4. From what I can tell, Hollywood Strings is a noticeable step up from the older Silver Edition EW Orchestra.

    I will now be watching to see if the EW Choir VST will go on special.  I love that you can get the choir to sing the words you choose.

    And, yes eventually I will probably get Kontakt when it becomes more affordable.

    I know that there are many excellent VSTs hiding behind that wall.

  • Hey,

    Congrats Stephen. I think you picked the best value for your money here. I think I would have done the same in given circumstances.

    For others possibly interested, keeping  the budget suggested at the start of this topic in mind,  I would also suggest to examine Strezov Sampling products. Sounds at least better than Garritan and Miroslaw. 

    Although in my personal opinion, for a pro or someone with the ambition to immediately sound pro, you'd probably be looking in a higher price category. 

    EWQL is awesome and their composer's cloud seems an affordeable entry to a vast amount of great sounding sampled instruments. For student's and semi-pro the offer is amazing, but indeed your computer should really be up for it.

    Orchestral Tools i.m.o is at this moment probably the best sounding and most versatile orchestral sample library, but their prices are accordingly high. I only have the Metropolis Ark at this point, which I now use together with EWQL platinum orchestra.

    Spitfire audio sounds great but mixes only well with other Spitfire products. They don't blend well with other instruments because of their very characteristic sonic quality and the hall (the Church) where they were recorded. 

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