Old 11-13-2012, 03:16 PM   #1
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Default Struggling to choose an Orchestral VST

Hi guys,

I've been looking around for some time now and its got to the point where I actually need to make a decision.

I need an orchestral vst that isn't too expensive as well as contains a generous amount of sounds. I am using Reaper and I don't have a MIDI keyboard so I will inputting the notes via the map (the same way I input drums with addictive drums).

I've looked at East West Symphonic Orchestra Gold, but I've heard that it's a big painful install that takes ages. Some people have said they couldn't get it to work and the customer service is awful.

Another I was looking at was Miroslav Philharmonik. This looks really good but I'm not sure if it's big enough.

I've just seen Garritan Personal Orchestra 4. This looks good, has anyone got any experience with it?

I'm hoping you guys can help me with my decision. I don't need all the sounds in the world, just enough for some diversity.

Thanks in advanced!
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Old 11-13-2012, 03:28 PM   #2
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I just purchased Vienna Symphonic Library Special Edition 1 for $330 (plus vienna key dongle) from Sweetwater sound.

I'm a novice, but it sounds great to me. It contains 5-8 articulations for all of the major orchestral instruments/sections (including solo strings-trumpet-horn, but ONLY solo winds).

It seems very light on memory/CPU usage.

The Vienna Instruments sample player that is free to download is fantastic and kicks the crap out of East Wests player.

From VSL's website


The Special Edition Volume 1 (“Essential Orchestra”) features the most common orchestral instruments and articulations in a resource-saving, affordable Collection. It contains 28 instruments and ensembles: Solo Strings and Orchestral Strings, solo instruments and ensembles of the brass section, woodwinds ranging from piccolo flute to contra bassoon, harp, drums and percussion as well as celesta and the Bösendorfer Imperial grand piano.

All string and wind instruments include Vienna Symphonic Library’s famed Legato Performances – real note transitions, smoothly and authentically performed by the algorithms of the Vienna Instruments software player. The instrument groups of the Special Edition Volume 1 are also available separately as individual Sections.

You may expand the instruments of the Special Edition Volume 1 with additional articulations, available in the Special Edition Volume 1 PLUS. Check out this overview on further upgrade and expansion possibilities.

Your purchase of the Special Edition Volume 1 entitles you to download the free Vienna Instruments player software that includes the Vienna Ensemble mixing and host software.

Included Instruments:
Flute 1
French oboe
English horn (French)
Bass clarinet

Triple horn
Trumpet in C
Tenor trombone
Bass trombone
Horn ensemble (4 players)
Trumpet ensemble (3 players)
Trombone ensemble (3 players)

Solo violin
Solo viola
Solo cello
Solo double bass
Violin ensemble (14 players)
Viola ensemble (10 players)
Cello ensemble (8 players)
Double bass ensemble (6 players)

Bösendorfer Imperial Grand Piano

Taiko drums
Bass drum
Snare drum
Snare drum ensemble
Concert tom
Suspended cymbals
A-due cymbals
Metal chimes
Table castanets
Tubular Bells
Plate Bells
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:37 PM   #3
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For something off the beaten path look at Synful Orchestra

it uses a novel resynthesis technique.

The solo violin/'cello/violas are amazing.
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Old 11-13-2012, 11:21 PM   #4
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I am using Spitfire Audio's Albion 1. It is an ensemble library, unlike VSL's Special Edition.

The differences are very apparent. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.
I personally love the sound that Albion can produce. However, VSL has all of the instrument sections separated, unlike Albion.

For example:

VSL Strings
Violins, Violas, Cellos, and Bassess are all recorded separately.

Albion Strings
Violins and Violas are recorded together and Cellos and Bass are recorded together.

VSL has a very dry sound that requires the use of reverb to get a good sound. It can produce some very nice sounds though with the write reverb.

Albion has Air Lyndhurst's hall baked into the samples, so reverb is not necessary to get a great sound.

I would suggest going to vi-control.net where you can research the various libraries.

As for East West, you can get some great sounds out of it. I would not suggest the Garritan library, and have no experience with Miroslav.

Did I mention that Albion sounds phenomenal?!
i7 2600 - 24GB Ram - Windows 10 - Reaper 5 - Kontakt 5 - NI Komplete Audio 6 - 2 KRK Rokit 5 - Keystation 61es - Sterling by Music Man JP100 - Cordoba C7 - Ibanez 540r - Ibanez 7321
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:24 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies guys.

I've listened to both Vienna Symphony Library and Synful Orchestra. Both sound great!

Can anyone tell me what one is easier to work with? Synful Orchestra has a trial which is excellent, I can give it a go!

@ Semiquaver, I'm not sure what you mean by "it uses a novel resynthesis technique."?? I would be greatful if you could explain a little more.

Also, does Synful Orchestra run on Windows 7 well?

This is quite a tough decision. Anymore opinions would be great.

I assume they both run in Reaper well too?

Thanks again!

Last edited by 4658dan; 11-14-2012 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 11-14-2012, 02:32 PM   #6
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I've got East West Symphonic Orchestra. And I'm very happy with it.

I tried different things, but none came close to what I was expecting. I find Vienna too soft and LA scoring strings too loud. Garritan Personal Orchestra sounds really unconvincing.

I'd say: listen to some demo's, signup at the EWQL forums, a lot of composers share their orchestration mockups right there. After hearing it I was sold.

But that is my personal opinion.

I've looked at East West Symphonic Orchestra Gold, but I've heard that it's a big painful install that takes ages. Some people have said they couldn't get it to work and the customer service is awful.
Took me 1 hour to install, no problems whatsoever. The support has been great, I even got e-mailed back within a couple of hours on a Saturday evening.

Another I was looking at was Miroslav Philharmonik. This looks really good but I'm not sure if it's big enough.
This one is in my opinion the most unrealistic of all.

Last edited by Sasha; 11-14-2012 at 02:42 PM. Reason: Ansered question.
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Old 11-19-2012, 08:45 AM   #7
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I use EWQL Symphonic Orchestra gold, and like above am very happy with it.

I have had mine since it came out so it's in the old NI Kompakt version rather than play so I can't comment about stability of the current offering.

For big hollywood orchestrations I get on very well with it and find it perfectly adequate for my needs. (film score / orchestration and orch for more popular music and a bit of triphop.)

The only thing I would say is the gold version doesn't have all the close mic articulations so everything has a hall reverb
- this in turn does not make it very suitable for tiny intimate sections - such as a cello accompanying an acoustic guitar - its all a bit too wet for that unless you start messing around with envelopes.

depends what you want really but for big strings and brass etc its cool
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:44 AM   #8
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synful has a mode where it analyses the phrases that you are playing and then finds matches from a library of phrases. So its not simply a sampler. To get best results its important to add as much expression as you can via controllers etc. The best instruments are the solo strings and the solo french horn, but I like it all.

The sound, if you just listen for a moment or two, is not the best. But the thing *plays* in a lively way, it sounds like musicians to my ear rather than samples.
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:07 AM   #9
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What's best for you depends on what you want to use the library for.

I've got GPO4 and Miroslav. They're in the "affordable" range - certainly a large step up from GM and free SoundFonts.

GPO gives you a nice collection of instruments, and they fit together well. They are recorded dry, but come with reverb, which really helps create a more "orchestral" sound. There are some nice woodwinds, but the strings are only OK. The solo strings and brass are a bit of a disappointment. (Good reverb, which GPO has, helps a lot!)

Like any other library, if you work with it you can get very good results. If you've got any doubt about that, have a listen to some of the Christmas songs. Although I was pretty unhappy with the solo strings, but after digging into the MIDI controllers, I was surprised that I was able to get much more playable instruments than I had expected (these are all experiments with articulations, so ignore the cheezy muzak. The melodies were auto-generated by Band in a Box, and I edited the MIDI tracks in Reaper):

GPO Solo Violin Test
GPO Solo Cello and Violin Test

Not great, but certainly passable in context. Of course, a nicer library is going to give you that without making you work so hard at it!

GPO is also pretty lightweight in terms of CPU, which is nice.

Miroslav is an older library, but it's got some very nice sounds. In comparison to GPO, I find the instruments to be more 'detailed', and there are a lot of different articulations available. In general, I think that the sounds are better than GPO, but it's also a bit heavier, and takes longer to load. (I suspect the age of my machine is a factor).

Here's a test I did with the Miroslav violin:

Miroslav Violin Test

I'm using about 6 different violin articulations there, each on a different MIDI track. It took a while to put that together, but there was a lot of learning involved!

So again, if you take the time you can create a compelling performance - it just requires a bit more work. As with any library, you'll want to write to the strengths of the instruments and downplay their weaknesses.

Is there anything in particular you were wondering about either of these libraries?
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