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SoundFix says

Hey guys,

long story short, I need a replacement for EWQL SO. I would ideally like something that works with Kontakt, but then I was listening to Hollywood Strings (PLAY) and they sound AMAZING (obviously they are only strings though). What do you guys think of the PLAY engine?

Anyway, can anyone recommend any great orchestral libs, my main need being strings and brass, but ideally I would like a full symphonic orchestra. I should also mention I don’t want to spend over £500/$760 on a single library

If I do decide to stick with PLAY, I have been considering this ridiculously awesome offer from SoundsOnline: http://www.soundsonline.com/Complete-Composers-Collection

I could also just buy EWQLSO again for a very cheap price with their current 50% off deal. Too many options!

Sorry this post is a bit jumbled. Basically, what I am asking is, what orchestral sample libraries do you use and highly recommend? :)

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delgibbons says

Been getting on better with PLAY recently since updating my interface ASIO drivers….I use PLAY through Vienna Symphonic Library MIR so I can place Hollywood Strings and Symphonic Choirs on the same “stage” as my VSL stuff.

Hollywood Strings is pretty nice. Can’t beat VSL Dimension Brass and legato instruments for me, they sound super nice especially with the humanise function making the players play the odd note slightly out of tune and time for that “realism” effect ;-)

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garethcoker Reviewer says

What’s your total budget?

BTW, be prepared for a lot of answers, because everyone has their own opinion on this.

Hollywood Strings is amazing but if you want bang for your buck and are looking to cover the whole orchestra, I would look at getting Spitfire Albion and Spitfire Loegria.

Albion – http://www.spitfireaudio.com/albion.html

Loegria – http://www.spitfireaudio.com/albion-ii-loegria

They are great samples, recorded at Air Lyndhurst (one of the great rooms in film scoring) – and Spitfire’s customer support is first class. Their samples feel a bit more ‘alive’ than other libraries, and I feel like it’s easier to capture emotions with them.

Albion/Loegria covers both epic and intimate scoring, and covers all sections of the orchestra with a decent set of articulations. You WILL be covered if you want to do orchestral scoring.

An alternative, which is also a good starting point, and I’m sure a lot of people here will recommend is ProjectSAM Orchestral Essentials

http://www.projectsam.com/Products/Feature-Products/1403

I don’t own this library (because I own Symphobia 1/2/3) but ProjectSAM’s libraries are all pretty great, and the majority of the material in this library is taken from their Symphobia Series. It is tremendous value.

I would suggest not buying too much at first, start simple and then add little by little, because you HAVE to take the time to learn your new libraries.

(Finally, an alternative for strings is LA Scoring Strings, or 8Dio’s fantastic Adagio series which gets better upon each new release. Very expensive though.).

Here is a track which uses only the libraries I’ve mentioned above and was thrown together pretty quickly. https://gareth-coker.box.com/s/2wbgwz9dey27ni81k2lx . The main string line is from 8Dio’s Adagio, supporting strings are from Albion. French Horn is from Project Sam’s libraries, low brass is from Spitfire. Percussion is ProjectSAM.

There are many alternatives, but I’d recommend starting off with Spitfire stuff, and expanding from there.

P.S. I do use some PLAY libraries, but I find Kontakt 5 and Engine 2 to be far superior to work with. Play’s problem is it’s interface, there’s a lot of wasted space (for fancy graphics) and it’s just not as user-friendly as the other sample players have become.

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MikeSea says

I’d wait for Hollywood Percussion if you want to stick with PLAY. There will definetely be a bundle discount, but be sure to have at least 16GB RAM if you want to use the Hollywood Series.

I don’t like LASS at all (needs too much EQ). Orchestral Essentials is great for the price but also lacks articulations and velocity layers. If I had the chance to restructure my template I’d probably go with all the Spitfire stuff (at least Albion + Spitfire Percussion) + a very good reverb.

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SoundFix says

Hollywood Strings is pretty nice. Can’t beat VSL Dimension Brass and legato instruments for me, they sound super nice especially with the humanise function making the players play the odd note slightly out of tune and time for that “realism” effect ;-)

That’s very interesting, I spend some time dragging notes out of time but to make them slightly out of tune is very cool!

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SoundFix says

What’s your total budget?

BTW, be prepared for a lot of answers, because everyone has their own opinion on this.

Hollywood Strings is amazing but if you want bang for your buck and are looking to cover the whole orchestra, I would look at getting Spitfire Albion and Spitfire Loegria.

Albion – http://www.spitfireaudio.com/albion.html

Loegria – http://www.spitfireaudio.com/albion-ii-loegria

They are great samples, recorded at Air Lyndhurst (one of the great rooms in film scoring) – and Spitfire’s customer support is first class. Their samples feel a bit more ‘alive’ than other libraries, and I feel like it’s easier to capture emotions with them.

Albion/Loegria covers both epic and intimate scoring, and covers all sections of the orchestra with a decent set of articulations. You WILL be covered if you want to do orchestral scoring.

Thanks so much for your extensive reply Gareth :)

Well to be honest, I’m not exactly sure on my budget haha. I have around £800 to play with but I want to invest in a new audio interface for around £200, I did also want to replace my recently broken headphones with some very nice Sennheisers, but that will have to wait as I desperately need some new orchestral samples to get writing (plus I have my monitors still).

I’ve had a look at the Spitfire stuff, sounds awesome and definitely seems to cover the entire orchestra as you said, but I was wondering, how do you find not having each instrument individually to play with? I’m not a classically trained composer or anything but I quite like being able to choose viola or violin etc rather than just ‘high strings’, or is it just not an issue once you are used to it?


An alternative, which is also a good starting point, and I’m sure a lot of people here will recommend is ProjectSAM Orchestral Essentials

http://www.projectsam.com/Products/Feature-Products/1403

I don’t own this library (because I own Symphobia 1/2/3) but ProjectSAM’s libraries are all pretty great, and the majority of the material in this library is taken from their Symphobia Series. It is tremendous value.

I would suggest not buying too much at first, start simple and then add little by little, because you HAVE to take the time to learn your new libraries.

(Finally, an alternative for strings is LA Scoring Strings, or 8Dio’s fantastic Adagio series which gets better upon each new release. Very expensive though.).

Yeah I’m definitely going to add little by little, as I really do need to make effort to learn my software. E.g. I bought Komplete a little while back and really need to get my heard around the synths Massive, Absynth etc still, to use them to their full potential.

8Dio do great stuff, and all those strings sound great but unfortunately out of my budget at the moment, same with LASS. I imagine they are totally worth the price though.


Here is a track which uses only the libraries I’ve mentioned above and was thrown together pretty quickly. https://gareth-coker.box.com/s/2wbgwz9dey27ni81k2lx . The main string line is from 8Dio’s Adagio, supporting strings are from Albion. French Horn is from Project Sam’s libraries, low brass is from Spitfire. Percussion is ProjectSAM.

There are many alternatives, but I’d recommend starting off with Spitfire stuff, and expanding from there.

P.S. I do use some PLAY libraries, but I find Kontakt 5 and Engine 2 to be far superior to work with. Play’s problem is it’s interface, there’s a lot of wasted space (for fancy graphics) and it’s just not as user-friendly as the other sample players have become.

I love Kontakt too, it just works, and is very user friendly. Never tried Engine 2 though. Thanks for all the tips mate, I have a lot to consider! I’ve also had a lot of recommendations for Cinematic Strings 2 and Cinebrass on Facebook. I will post in here when I decide what I’m going to do :)

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SoundFix says

What’s your total budget?

BTW, be prepared for a lot of answers, because everyone has their own opinion on this.

Hollywood Strings is amazing but if you want bang for your buck and are looking to cover the whole orchestra, I would look at getting Spitfire Albion and Spitfire Loegria.

Albion – http://www.spitfireaudio.com/albion.html

Loegria – http://www.spitfireaudio.com/albion-ii-loegria

They are great samples, recorded at Air Lyndhurst (one of the great rooms in film scoring) – and Spitfire’s customer support is first class. Their samples feel a bit more ‘alive’ than other libraries, and I feel like it’s easier to capture emotions with them.

Albion/Loegria covers both epic and intimate scoring, and covers all sections of the orchestra with a decent set of articulations. You WILL be covered if you want to do orchestral scoring.

Thanks so much for your extensive reply Gareth :)

Well to be honest, I’m not exactly sure on my budget haha. I have around £800 to play with but I want to invest in a new audio interface for around £200, I did also want to replace my recently broken headphones with some very nice Sennheisers, but that will have to wait as I desperately need some new orchestral samples to get writing (plus I have my monitors still).

I’ve had a look at the Spitfire stuff, sounds awesome and definitely seems to cover the entire orchestra as you said, but I was wondering, how do you find not having each instrument individually to play with? I’m not a classically trained composer or anything but I quite like being able to choose viola or violin etc rather than just ‘high strings’, or is it just not an issue once you are used to it?


An alternative, which is also a good starting point, and I’m sure a lot of people here will recommend is ProjectSAM Orchestral Essentials

http://www.projectsam.com/Products/Feature-Products/1403

I don’t own this library (because I own Symphobia 1/2/3) but ProjectSAM’s libraries are all pretty great, and the majority of the material in this library is taken from their Symphobia Series. It is tremendous value.

I would suggest not buying too much at first, start simple and then add little by little, because you HAVE to take the time to learn your new libraries.

(Finally, an alternative for strings is LA Scoring Strings, or 8Dio’s fantastic Adagio series which gets better upon each new release. Very expensive though.).

Yeah I’m definitely going to add little by little, as I really do need to make effort to learn my software. E.g. I bought Komplete a little while back and really need to get my heard around the synths Massive, Absynth etc still, to use them to their full potential.

8Dio do great stuff, and all those strings sound great but unfortunately out of my budget at the moment, same with LASS. I imagine they are totally worth the price though.


Here is a track which uses only the libraries I’ve mentioned above and was thrown together pretty quickly. https://gareth-coker.box.com/s/2wbgwz9dey27ni81k2lx . The main string line is from 8Dio’s Adagio, supporting strings are from Albion. French Horn is from Project Sam’s libraries, low brass is from Spitfire. Percussion is ProjectSAM.

There are many alternatives, but I’d recommend starting off with Spitfire stuff, and expanding from there.

P.S. I do use some PLAY libraries, but I find Kontakt 5 and Engine 2 to be far superior to work with. Play’s problem is it’s interface, there’s a lot of wasted space (for fancy graphics) and it’s just not as user-friendly as the other sample players have become.

I love Kontakt too, it just works, and is very user friendly. Never tried Engine 2 though. Thanks for all the tips mate, I have a lot to consider! I’ve also had a lot of recommendations for Cinematic Strings 2 and Cinebrass on Facebook. I will post in here when I decide what I’m going to do :)

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SoundFix says

I’d wait for Hollywood Percussion if you want to stick with PLAY. There will definetely be a bundle discount, but be sure to have at least 16GB RAM if you want to use the Hollywood Series. I don’t like LASS at all (needs too much EQ). Orchestral Essentials is great for the price but also lacks articulations and velocity layers. If I had the chance to restructure my template I’d probably go with all the Spitfire stuff (at least Albion + Spitfire Percussion) + a very good reverb.

Thanks for the reply. Ideally I don’t want to stick with PLAY, but I do have 16GB of RAM, can’t get any more though in my MacBook Pro though.

Thanks for the recommendations :)

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garethcoker Reviewer says

I’ve had a look at the Spitfire stuff, sounds awesome and definitely seems to cover the entire orchestra as you said, but I was wondering, how do you find not having each instrument individually to play with? I’m not a classically trained composer or anything but I quite like being able to choose viola or violin etc rather than just ‘high strings’, or is it just not an issue once you are used to it?

That’s actually why I recommended them. I am a classically trained composer and I like having the choice that I have with all the libraries I own, but I still use Albion / Loegria (and Symphobia) in almost every orchestral project because it’s a fantastic starting point and then I expand on it with my more detailed libraries (if I even need to and for many projects it’s not necessary). Sometimes all you need is a nice string sound in the background, and Albion/Loegria is great for this because you’re getting great players at Air Lyndhurst (I have recorded there once myself and it’s something else).

As you get more comfortable with writing for orchestra, you may feel you want to expand, at which point you can pick up other libraries. Besides, it’s not like you have to STOP using your current Eastwest libraries – so if you feel you’re missing something (for now) just dive right back into that library. You may find that having a new higher quality library hides some of the deficiencies of the older stuff.

If you feel you want to have more choice, then you’ll end up dropping more on a more extensively sampled libraries. The balance in Albion / Loegria between number of articulations / convenience / quality of sound, is unsurpassed in my opinion and only equalled by ProjectSAM.

Cinebrass is great, but again, just start with the Core (if you decide to get it) and expand from there. Cinematic Strings 2 is also pretty good for lush writing and has a great sound, but it’s short samples are not great (I’m passing on other composers’ opinions here as I don’t own the library).

Like all these things though, in the hands of a skilled artist, you can make the crappiest library sound good, and I’ve also heard composers make Symphobia sound bad… Anyway, in your situation I would start with Spitfire Albion/Loegria (or both) and maybe pick up one other library if you wanted more detail for something and then take it from there.

Finally, one REALLY important thing you need to make your orchestral mockups sound good is a good REVERB, and you may want to pair this with a plugin that deals with room placement such as ViennaMIR or Virtual Soundstage.

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SoundFix says


I’ve had a look at the Spitfire stuff, sounds awesome and definitely seems to cover the entire orchestra as you said, but I was wondering, how do you find not having each instrument individually to play with? I’m not a classically trained composer or anything but I quite like being able to choose viola or violin etc rather than just ‘high strings’, or is it just not an issue once you are used to it?

That’s actually why I recommended them. I am a classically trained composer and I like having the choice that I have with all the libraries I own, but I still use Albion / Loegria (and Symphobia) in almost every orchestral project because it’s a fantastic starting point and then I expand on it with my more detailed libraries (if I even need to and for many projects it’s not necessary). Sometimes all you need is a nice string sound in the background, and Albion/Loegria is great for this because you’re getting great players at Air Lyndhurst (I have recorded there once myself and it’s something else).

As you get more comfortable with writing for orchestra, you may feel you want to expand, at which point you can pick up other libraries. Besides, it’s not like you have to STOP using your current Eastwest libraries – so if you feel you’re missing something (for now) just dive right back into that library. You may find that having a new higher quality library hides some of the deficiencies of the older stuff.

If you feel you want to have more choice, then you’ll end up dropping more on a more extensively sampled libraries. The balance in Albion / Loegria between number of articulations / convenience / quality of sound, is unsurpassed in my opinion and only equalled by ProjectSAM.

Cinebrass is great, but again, just start with the Core (if you decide to get it) and expand from there. Cinematic Strings 2 is also pretty good for lush writing and has a great sound, but it’s short samples are not great (I’m passing on other composers’ opinions here as I don’t own the library).

Like all these things though, in the hands of a skilled artist, you can make the crappiest library sound good, and I’ve also heard composers make Symphobia sound bad… Anyway, in your situation I would start with Spitfire Albion/Loegria (or both) and maybe pick up one other library if you wanted more detail for something and then take it from there.

Finally, one REALLY important thing you need to make your orchestral mockups sound good is a good REVERB, and you may want to pair this with a plugin that deals with room placement such as ViennaMIR or Virtual Soundstage.

Unfortunately I can no longer use EWQL SO (it seems I STUPIDLY didn’t register my iLok so I can’t reclaim my lost license; I’m not sure how it wasn’t registered since I used it for months with EWQL) which is why I’m looking to get some other stuff/upgrade and move away from PLAY.

Reverb is definitely something I need to study a lot more, along with a ton of other things (so much to learn!) I will look into those plug-ins. Any recommendations on books/websites that discuss reverb use in detail?

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