Best orchestral VST plugins
Recording a symphony orchestra is one of the most labor-intensive and expensive processes in music production. There are high-quality orchestral libraries on the market that can satisfy even the most demanding professionals, but they are often expensive. However, we’ve rounded up the best orchestral plugins for you, which also include sample libraries ready for use in your preferred digital audio workstation (DAW).
1. BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover
The label is one of the world’s leading producers of orchestral sounds. They actively collaborate with renowned composers, audio engineers and musicians in the industry to produce high-quality orchestral and cinematic sounds designed for media composers. Their free product includes a wide range of orchestral instruments, ranging from strings and winds to percussion. You will need to wait 14 days to receive BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover for free. For those who prefer quick access, you can purchase the library for $49 and start downloading immediately, supporting the talented team at Spitfire Audio.
SINEfactory from OrchestraTools is a free Rompler plugin similar to Kontakt Player and Decent Player. This tool offers four collections of orchestral sounds for use in SINE Player, as well as a subscription option. The free sounds already available on SINEfactory are a great choice for those looking for orchestral samples. The SINEfactory collection includes orchestral strings, horns, percussion instruments, piano sounds and more. More sounds are available as part of a subscription. Overall, for those looking for free orchestral sounds, SINEfactory is a great option.
OrchestralTools presents yet another free orchestral VST plugin powered by SINE Player, a custom sample player developed by OrchestralTools itself. This tool makes it easy to create complex orchestral chords, adjust dynamics and timbre in real time, and much more. In addition, users have access to a wide range of orchestral instruments and multiple customizable microphone positions for fine-tuning the sound. The plugin’s overdubbing feature allows you to combine different orchestral instruments and control dynamics via MIDI.
4. VSCO 2 Community Edition
VSCO 2 CE is a unique recording of interpretations of orchestral works performed by students, teachers and collectors of rare and antique instruments. Open source and recorded with maximum transparency, this Versilian Studio 2 CE chamber orchestra has unique character, texture and variety of sound. It offers extensive articulation capabilities and flexibility in controlling the included orchestral sounds. Almost all of the included patches provide a choice of different artists. The library is available in a variety of formats, including VST2 and VST3 plugins, as well as patches for SFZ, Kontakt and SampleTank. All available options are detailed on the product page, which lists their advantages and disadvantages to help you make your choice.
5. Big Bang Orchestra
The Vienna Symphony Library is an outstanding choice for achieving the sound of a symphony orchestra. Their free orchestral plugin Big Bang is an impressive orchestral “tutti” recorded using multiple microphones and different positions. This tool truly inspires creativity and deserves a place among the best free orchestral plugins for music producers working on a budget. However, it is worth considering one feature. BBO runs on VSL Synchron Player, which requires eLicenser (Steinberg, Arturia). VSL offers the eLicenser for around $15, so make sure you have it before downloading Big Bang Orchestra.
6. Virtual Playing Orchestra
Virtual Playing Orchestra provides most of the instruments needed to create an orchestral sound, with a variety of articulations and control options. However, Virtual Playing Orchestra on its own may not sound as convincing as in the processed mix. This plugin’s samples lag in depth and quality from some of the other orchestral VST plugins mentioned earlier. However, Virtual Playing Orchestra remains a good choice for those looking for a more lightweight orchestral plugin.
7. The Free Orchestra
ProjectSAM’s products aren’t among the most expensive orchestral libraries on the market, but their free Free Orchestra collection is a great choice for those looking to add orchestral sounds to their DAW. Free Orchestra is a Kontakt library of 14 carefully selected presets from other paid ProjectSAM products. This 1GB collection features sounds ranging from symphonic percussion and brass to cinematic orchestral effects.
8. Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra
The free symphony orchestra Sonatina, created by Matthias Westlund, has been one of the most popular orchestral libraries for almost ten years. Although Matthias Westlund is no longer involved in the development of the library, its sounds have been adapted for easy use in an orchestral VST plugin. The SSO (Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra) works most effectively when combined with suitable hall reverbs, producing a rich sound.
9. One Track Orchestra
This free orchestral instrument is powered by Versilian Studios Chamber Orchestra CE, providing an easy way to add orchestral sounds to your digital audio workstation (DAW). Although it has a limited set of controls, it does have a handy reverb effect.
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