Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries 2022 (+ FREE Plugins)

Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Today we’ll take a look at the most popular orchestral plugins and libraries available in 2022.

String quartets and orchestral ensembles are great sonic tools to make your track stand out. They add character, dimension, and depth to any song, no matter which style. For example, some great pop songs, like The Beatles’ “Yesterday” or Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.” They wouldn’t have the same power if there weren’t an orchestra backing them up, creating the perfect atmosphere for it.

It’s a bit hard to have an entire ensemble available at your home studio, but gladly plugins and sample libraries are a common thing in the 21st century. In the past, recording that many musicians would require a large studio, excellent microphones, and many musicians ready for you. This work is now limited to the software companies, which guarantee to capture each instrument’s essence as closely as possible so you can use it however you’d want.

This list gathers some great options regarding orchestral VST plugins and Kontakt libraries available in 2022. Most are paid, but some freeware options can get you started in orchestral arrangement. 

Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries 2022

1. Spitfire Audio – Abbey Road One Orchestral Foundations (Plugin)

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This plugin features samples recorded in a coveted studio room and brings cinematic quality to your orchestral sounds.

Abbey Road’s Studio One has seen a lot throughout its history. This room is famous for its sonic capabilities and adequate space to fit an entire ensemble, from iconic bands to ambitious recordings. Thinking of such big standards, Spitfire Audio carefully recorded a 90-piece symphonic orchestra with excellent microphones, amazing acoustics, top engineers, and the best players available. As a result, every instrument gets the deserved attention, so it’ll sound as it should, with amazing precision regarding sonic details and dynamics

Spitfire Audio - Abbey Road One Orchestral Foundations - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Five distinct libraries
      Each of five distinct Abbey Road One libraries is designed to evoke a particular aspect in your project. “Vibrant Reeds” adds brilliance and color to your track by pairing oboes and clarinets with oboes and Cor Anglais at the same time; “Grand Brass” merges horns and tube with horns and cellos for maximum deepness; “Wondrous Flutes” brings more brilliance with flute and piccolo performances; “Legendary Low Strings” combines the cello and bass sections for a beautiful low-end; and, finally, “Sparkling Woodwinds” adds the deserved higher harmonics to everything. 
    • Articulations and dynamic layers
      This collection features 69 different articulations paired with five distinct dynamic layers. You can also find your perfect sound by selecting up to 10 individual mics (with great options like a pair of RM1B and some ribbons mics) with two mix signals. Varying these parameters allows you to enhance the overall sound quality and craft a unique approach to your score.
    • Iconic spot
      Abbey Road is perhaps the most famous recording studio globally, but there’s a reason for that: the unique recording rooms, with their exquisite acoustics, make everything played there sound fantastic. Studio One featured many amazing recording sessions for famous movie soundtracks, such as several “Harry Potter” scores, “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi,” “1917,” and “Avengers: Endgame,” just to name a few.
    • A cinematic experience
      The sections are organized into ensembles, featuring different instrument combinations that can inspire you quickly and easily. The strings are divided into “Low” and “High,” brass section into “Low,” and horns, trumpets, and woodwind into “Low” and “High.” Dividing these instruments into lower or higher sections can instantly help you find great sound as if they were just recorded in your room.

Compatibility:

The library is available for macOS 10.10 to 11 (64-bit only) and Windows 7, 8, or 10 (64-bit only and the latest Service Pack required). It comes in VST2, VST3, AAX, AU, and NKS plugin formats.

Summary:

Spitfire Audio is an excellent software developer when it comes to orchestral sounds. Attention to detail is always satisfying, and this is definitely a must when it comes to cinematic plugins. The dynamic variety, allied with the amazing acoustics offered by none other than Abbey Road’s Studio One, undoubtedly makes this a must-have option in your arsenal. Although it’s more focused on cinematic productions, you can use this excellent collection to add any orchestral bits necessary to make your track sound as good as if you’ve just recorded with an actual orchestra.

2. Heavyocity Symphonic Destruction (Kontakt Library)

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A deconstructed orchestra library, ready to push your inspiration up to its limits.

Heavyocity’s Symphonic Destruction delivers innovative results to hybrid orchestral scoring by blending traditional combinations, ingrained sound design, and profound braams in one single library. As a result, all sounds will be fresh and revamped, as this collection aims to deconstruct the orchestra ensemble as we know it.

A massive collection of cinematic elements – from full orchestral portatos to detuned staccatos – allow you to create infinite soundscapes, all worthy of much energy and vigor while maintaining the characteristic huge sound aspect that only an orchestra can provide. So be ready to unleash your most audacious and wild ideas instantly.  

Heavyocity Symphonic Destruction - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Three different instrument types
      Symphonic Destruction provides you with three different instrument types: “Performers,” which consists of instruments that can have key switches to alternate between different sounds, “SD Designer,” tailored for deep sound designing, and “SD Loop and Braam Designers,” a variation of the previous type but designed to playback and layer any loops or braam noises.
    • Spaced out
      A distinctive “Space” section contains two cherished effects on one single page. Here you’ll find a delay and reverb that can help you instill the proper ambiance and sense of acoustic. The delay features five different controls (“On/Off,” “Time,” “Feedback,” “Width,” and “Amount”) that can be tweaked at your will, while the reverb features only three commands (“Delay,” “Size,” and “Mix”), in addition to all impulse responses being fairly fixed in their character.
    • Three microphone positions
      Every sample was recorded with three different microphone positions, so you can expect to alter these in any way you want to. Including “Main,” “Hall,” and “Rev FX” positions, the mixer allows you to set each value accordingly through specific faders. You also have “Mute,” “Solo,” and “Pan” options in each position.
    • Modulators
      There are two modulators: “Gate” and “Dynamics.” Each can create a different approach to your instruments, either by modulating the output volume (“Gate”) or by controlling the dynamics level of the instrument (“Dynamics”) over time to create rhythmic effects. You can set the “Rate,” “Steps,” and “Range” in each section to instantly achieve new sounds and textures.

Compatibility:

The library is available for macOS 10.14, 10.15, 11, or 12 (latest update) and Windows 10 (64-bit only). It comes in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Summary:

This is a feast for sound designers. With Symphonic Destruction, it’s easier than ever to develop authentic cinematic sounds worthy of great productions with as few mouse clicks as possible. All tools, configurations, and parameters inspire modern and new soundscapes, ranging from calm and serene timbres to more explosive, overwhelming braams. In between, you can have multiple different new ideas that can fit right into your next production or at least inspire you to create something out of the box.

3. Orchestral Tools Berlin Brass (Plugin)

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The staple sample collection for orchestral brass combines a powerful sound with unique flexibility.

A part of the critically-acclaimed Berlin Series, Orchestral Tools’ Berlin Brass unveils both individual instruments and ensemble groups that allow you to explore the most voicings possible and write any arrangements easily. In addition, the well-known library is now available for SINE Player with the same features as before, but with the addition of a triple-forte layer for producing the most fierce passages.

Orchestral Tools Berlin Brass - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Great scoring stage
      All material contained in the Berlin Series was recorded in one of the best acoustic spaces for orchestral productions, the Teldex Scoring Stage. This iconic space features superb acoustics, ideal for large ensembles such as orchestras and renowned with multiple award-winning recordings. From the London Symphonic Orchestra to famous composers like Danny Elfman, the number of iconic performances held there are vast. You can now have that same quality in your next production
    • Polyphonic key switch
      This straightforward setup is an incredible tool that ensures your performance will occur as it should. You can play up to four simultaneous articulations and choose in real-time between “xfading,” “switching,” “2D morphing via CC MIDI,” or “velocity.” This allows multiple textures to be played simultaneously without giving up CPU performance.
    • Single articulations
      Featuring an exclusive articulation management system called “Capsule,” Berlin Brass can be adjusted to the exact way you’re used to working. If you want all articulations merged into a single MIDI track, that’s okay. And the same goes if you want a dedicated track for each articulation. This customizable workflow will ensure your sonority stays the same while at the same time bringing perfect unity to the overall ensemble’s sound
    • Adaptive legato engine
      With the excellent and well-researched “Adaptive Legato Engine,” you can count on the most fluid and organic legatos to be played virtually. It detects whatever you’re playing in real-time and perfectly adjusts all of the engine’s variables to your performance, both in faster or slower runs.  

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.13 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 10 (64-bit only). It comes in VST, AAX, and AU plugin formats and works with the SINE Player. 

Summary:

Orchestral Tools always provide significant sample collections, so, naturally, this shouldn’t be any different. The Berlin Brass features a large horn ensemble, recorded in one of the best-sounding rooms in the world, with multiple articulations attached to each recording. This is a recurrent tool for any sound designers and score composers that need reliable software with a multitude of configurations, all in one package.

4. VSL Synchron Pianos Bundle (Plugin)

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This collection gathers the best and most beautiful pianos, hand-picked and recorded in Vienna.

Vienna Symphonic Library offers a variety of orchestral-oriented sample libraries with outstanding quality and diversity. Synchron Pianos Bundle is focused on iconic and great-sounding grand pianos. It is based on the Synchron Player Engine, designed to deal with multiple microphones being recorded simultaneously and efficiently.

The bundle comprises of six different pianos: Bösendorfer Imperial, Steinway & Sons D-274, Yamaha CFX, Blüthner 1895, Bösendorfer 280VC, and Bösendorfer Upright. Each features a specific sound profile and bears some special characteristics, but they all sound great in their own way.

VSL Synchron Pianos Bundle - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Handy presets
      VSL included some factory presets that might be useful in nailing the perfect tone. There are three different versions of the presets: “Room-Mix Presets,” “Decca Three Multi-Mic Presets,” and “Surround To Stereo Downmix Presets.” The first one features as few microphones as possible but with a well-balanced mixing that ensures a great sound from the moment you load it. The second one deals with the room signals, producing a more slender and less-oriented sound with loads of room adjustments. The third and final version uses all available microphones for enhanced flexibility on the mix, especially useful when dealing with details, a better mic positioning, or dynamic nuances.
    • Play and Mix view
      This plugin can offer two primary visualization interfaces, a “Play” and “Mix” dedicated views. The “Play” features controls that influence your final sound, such as “Volume,” “Reverb,” “Dynamic Range Control,” “Soft,” or “Sustain Pedal,” and “Body.” You can also tweak the MIDI sensitivity or shift the piano sound four octaves up or down. The “Mix” view brings dedicated faders to each microphone, with the possibility to add effects such as delay and reverb and equalize everything to your taste. You can also mute or pan each mic the way you want to.
    • Microphone positions
      Multiple plugins offer this configuration, but VSL brought many options to tweak from. You can choose between three different “Close” and two “Mid” microphones, including Royer ribbons, Neumann, and Sennheiser options. The ambiance, however, brings more features than usually seen: there are two “Main/Room” mics, one “Main Surround,” one “High Stereo 3D,” and one “High Surround 3D,” ensuring full details when capturing the sound’s resonance.
    • Channel FX
      Aside from the usual reverb and delay options, you’ll get more effects options than usual with a “Saturator,” which emulates tape distortion or tape overload, a “Cabinet,” which simulates famous cabinets, like the AC30 or the Marshall 1960B, a “Compressor,” an “Expander” and “Limiter,” and even a “Noise Gate”!

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.13 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 8.1 and 10 (64-bit only). It comes in VST, AAX, and AU plugin formats. 

Summary:

Synchron Pianos Bundle is one of the best piano collections, if not the best. The instrument options are insanely great, with the best you could want available at your DAW. There aren’t many different or innovative functions, but you can count on excellent tools to further extend your sound’s quality, like the channel FX and multiple microphone positions. But, of course, everything sounds really good from the start, so you have to tweak the timbers that suit your needs best.

5. Orchestral Tools Berlin Woodwinds (Plugin)

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This excellent woodwind bundle will get the colors and shades into your next symphonic track.

Orchestral Tools’ second plugin in our list reinforces what the company wanted from the beginning: to re-invent orchestral sampling. They’ve achieved so by offering first-class orchestral sounds with enough detail, consistency, and dedication to make it stand out among other options in the market.

Berlin Woodwinds consists of instruments like flute and clarinet, which can contribute to a colorful and rich sound spectrum in an orchestral production. All instruments were recorded with extreme care and attention to detail, making your track stand out and be as realistic as possible. 

Orchestral Tools Berlin Woodwinds - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Woodwind runs
      The woodwind section is one of the most suitable for scale runs. Flutes, oboes, clarinets, and piccolos usually go very well, with fast lines played up and down the octaves, shimmering over the orchestra with much brilliance and presence. Berlin Woodwind comes with the “Runs Builder” tool that ensures every recorded run will sound as smooth and realistic as possible in any tempo you’d like to set your track. It includes the most commonly used scales, such as major, minor, whole tone, chromatic, and many others. 
    • All figurations present
      It’s definitely not easy to recreate all woodwind gestures and figurations and translate them into MIDI, as many articulations are required to sound simultaneously in order to deliver a decent, realistic performance. Since most woodwind gestures are about rhythm, Orchestral Tools developed a way to stack articulations on top of one another, so multiple techniques can be used when executing a passage. The prerecorded “Triple Tongue Patch” is one of the elements responsible for such realism, as it can adapt to any tempo and sound just as well.
    • Recorded with excellence
      All material contained in the Berlin Series was recorded in one of the best acoustic spaces for orchestral productions, the Teldex Scoring Stage. This iconic space features superb acoustics, ideal for large ensembles such as orchestras and renowned with multiple award-winning recordings. From the London Symphonic Orchestra to famous composers like Danny Elfman, the number of iconic performances held there is vast. You can have that same quality in your next production
    • Balanced techniques
      All instruments, dynamic ranges, articulations, and microphone positions are balanced to keep a natural orchestral ambiance in the Berlin Series. The articulations present a soothing combination between one another, inciting realism and fluid playability, and each dynamic range of the contained instruments is modeled after reference recordings done with an authentic ensemble. The release samples were painstakingly edited to preserve natural room acoustics, and the microphone positions are balanced well enough to finish setting the perfect ambient sound for your track.

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.13 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 10 (64-bit only). It comes in VST, AAX, and AU plugin formats and works with the SINE Player. 

Summary:

The Berlin Series excels at delivering exceptional products, each focused on an orchestra’s specific aspect or a section. Berlin Woodwinds brings the flutes, piccolos, clarinets, and oboes straight to your track with multiple configurations – from mic positioning to varied articulations – that will sound as if you have a whole woodwind section in your room. The attention to detail when it comes to runs and each sample’s sound quality is extreme, and without doubt, this will be reflected in your next cinematic production.

6. IK Multimedia Miroslav Philharmonik 2 (Plugin)

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A fully-featured symphonic workstation with its own built-in DAW included in the package.

Miroslav Philarmonik 2 is a ground-breaking vision from a master artist incorporated into a brand new virtual instrument that can help you with any orchestral arrangements. All instruments were performed with the best musicians possible to ensure the overall quality.

Everything is gathered in a single display that should take care of your regular needs, such as leveling each instrument and adding whichever effects you’d like. The interface, by the way, resembles a friendly digital audio workstation that gives you access to every section or single instrument among the various included.

IK Multimedia Miroslav Philharmonik 2  - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Synth engine
      Can you imagine running an entire orchestra through a synthesizer? Well, that’s entirely possible now. Accessing the “Edit” mode will unveil a section with multiple controllers to adjust your tone better, but the unusual thing is to have a synth with three different sampling engines and ten filters that can be used to shape and transform your sound. You can set the perfect and most audacious sounds right away and expand your creative needs once and for all.
    • Multiple FXs
      There’s a considerable number of effects present in Miroslav Philarmonik 2. All of the 34 options are from the acclaimed SampleTank 3 plugin, including five equalizers, four dynamic processors, seven filters, nine modulation effects, and nine reverb and delay effects. They’re all very versatile and easy to use, allowing for professional productions to be created instantly.
    • SampleTank integration
      Without any additional installations or conversions, MP2 can work with SampleTank 3 for coherent integration into your existing music production workflow. You can manage and edit every sample the way you want to in a simple and effective user interface. The T-RackS features are also included, especially in all processing effects present.
    • Macros editing
      Deriving from the SampleTank 3 integration, the macros editing provides eight of the most critical controls that could be present in a software such as this: “Expression,” “Attack,” “Release,” “Cutoff,” “Start,” “Low,” “Mid,” and “High” knobs are there to be tweaked in any instrument and suit its sound in your production.

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.10 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST2, VST 3, AAX, and AU plugin formats and also runs in standalone mode. 

Summary:

Aside from the excellent quality of each sample, Miroslav Philarmonik 2 is a tremendous symphonic tool because of its interface. Of course, you can run it in standalone mode, but the thing is that every tweak you make resembles a lot of the workflow in an authentic DAW. So feel free to add effects, edit every single instrument, and even run everything through a synth engine with this brilliant IK Multimedia software.

7. Sonic Scores Amadeus Symphonic Orchestra (Kontakt Library)

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A comprehensive tool invites amateur and professional composers to develop unique symphonic pieces.

This extraordinary library comprises all essential instruments found in an orchestra, like strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion, keyboards, and more. So all that’s required to start creating such great-sounding tracks is right at your fingertips, no matter what kind of production you’re working on.

Amadeus Symphonic Orchestra features an interface design that consolidates all essential tools in one place, including the piano view on the bottom. Although it can be a little intimidating for beginners, every control is there and will influence your final sound.

Amadeus Symphonic Orchestra - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Articulations
      All articulations available are located in the center of the screen. You can choose between multiple options, some even available for specific instruments. You can also select a key switch for a specific articulation by clicking on the “SET KEY SW” button and pressing the key you want to set to. The overall distribution of techniques and articulations are as follows:

      Most instruments
      Sustains, staccato, marcato, and sforzando.
      Pitched instruments
      Half trill, whole trill, and tremolo.
      Stringed instruments
      Spiccato, pizzicato, bartok pizzicato, col legno, and tremolo.
      Choir
      “Ah” and “Ooh” singing vowels.
      Percussion
      Hits and rolls.
      Keyboards
      Sustained and damped.
    • Performance controls
      ASO lets you control dynamics using any MIDI CC controller or key velocity – even both are possible! You can set the “Volume MIDI CC” to whatever CC number you’d like, select how much of the MIDI CC will affect the overall volume (“CC Sensitivity”), and even adjust how key velocity will affect the volume (“Vel Sensitivity”). The last two controls are interdependent and will affect each other.
    • Symphony mode
      This mode presents the entire orchestra as a single instrument, ready for your command. Each instrument section will be displayed on the screen, with corresponding colors to each division. You can trigger any section by key velocity, allowing for independent volume, key range, key velocity range, and transposition controls
    • Automatic preset change
      APC, or “Automatic Preset Change,” is a feature that lets you change the orchestra’s presets by automatically switching pre-selected presets whenever you lift your fingers from the keys. You can control everything through a dedicated menu and even turn it off if you don’t want to use it. This can help you develop more musical ideas than ever and swiftly.

Compatibility:

This library is available for macOS 10.9 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in the free Kontakt Player version 5.8.1 or higher. 

Summary:

This excellent library comprises an entire orchestra with masterful controls and convincing MIDI capabilities. Amadeus Symphonic Orchestra is indeed worthy of its name, showcasing a superb sound quality and a very nice instrument variety that should get you ready for any symphonic work. In addition, the “Symphonic” view is unique because it allows for overall control of the ensemble, even if tweaks made inside sections have been made before.

8. Strezov Sampling Orchestral Percussion X3M (Kontakt Library)

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Get your hits going as naturally as possible with an amazing selection of samples.

George Strezov established Strezov Music Productions Ltd as a means to start creating various sample libraries. Based in Sofia, Bulgaria, Strezov Sampling released the “Storm Choir” library in late 2012, and, since then, sampling has become a crucial part of their work.

Orchestral Percussion X3M offers a wide variety of orchestral percussive instruments and all articulations that comes with it, but there’s more: they’ve pushed this idea further by allowing different instrument combinations, new sounds, and effects to be included, just to present a fresh breath of inspiration on you.

Strezov Sampling Orchestral Percussion X3M - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • X3M engine
      The concept behind this engine is simple: you have 12 different “zones” that can be assigned to different patches, allowing for a particular configuration of each sample. For instance, if you load two identical drums and wish to make one sound different from the other, just tweak the “Pitch” knob in order to alter its pitch and make it sound thicker or thinner than its counterpart. You also have “Transient Attack” and “Transient Sustain” controls that can act similarly to a compressor, bringing more punch to your hits.
    • Melodic percussions
      Aside from all atonal instruments, there’s a nice selection of melodic percussions included. As the name suggests, these elements are tuned and provide different notes that can contribute positively to your track. You have glockenspiels, marimba, tubular bells, church bells, timpani, vibraphone, and xylophone ready to be used.
    • FX and textures
      Orchestral Percussion X3M has nice effects and textures included that can expand your sonority beyond imaginable. The “Chain FX,” “Piatti FX,” “Snare FX,” “Sustain Cymbal FX,” and “Tam-Tam FX” patches can work with specific instruments and add that out-of-the-box texture you were looking for, tailored to every single drum piece.
    • Multiple dynamics
      This library contains all the necessary features to make your hits sound as accurate as if a real musician were playing them. For that, you can count on multiple dynamic levels – from a gentle ppp to a blasting ffff – and round-robins (every time you press a key, each instrument presents unique samples that constantly change, providing a more realistic feel).

Compatibility:

This library is available for macOS 10.9 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in Kontakt version 5.0 or higher (does not work with the Free Kontakt Player!) 

Summary:

This might be the best choice for an orchestral percussion sample library. While other plugins and libraries might include some percussive instruments, Orchestral Percussion X3M goes deeper than that and allow users to tweak the best possible sound that could come out of any percussion. You can alter the tone, the consistency, and even the pitch of any chosen instrument to better fit your production. This gives an enormous palette of practical tools that can instantly bring life to your rhythm.

9. Strezov Sampling Jade Ethnic Orchestra (Kontakt Library)

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A breathtaking collection of beautiful Asian instruments with many configurations to tweak around.

George Strezov partnered with composer Seth Tsui to deliver a definitive collection of Chinese and Mongolian virtual instruments, and gladly they got it just right. Seth is an American film composer, erhu player, trombone virtuoso, and sound engineer established in Beijing, China. He conducted and produced every sampling session that resulted in Jade Ethnic Orchestra.

Strezov Sampling has attempted to bring more ethnical-focused libraries in the past, most notably the “Balkan Ethnic Orchestra,” which gave the team enough confidence to attempt something similar with Asian instruments. The library consists of 50 instruments spread across over 100 patches, with the option to choose between multiple categories and instrument sections. 

Strezov Sampling Jade Ethnic Orchestra - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Microphone positions
      Recorded in Tweak Tone Labs in Beijing, the samples benefit from three different microphone positions that can be rearranged to your taste. The “Close” and “Decca” are a sum of different mics used in the recording session, allowing for a free shaping of the sound color and ambiance. The other option, “Hall,” is a printed Chamber reverb from Sofia Session Studio – where the previous library in this list was recorded, by the way – a result of hours of recording and capturing samples to blend effectively with the studio’s acoustic. 
    • Syllabuilder engine
      This engine is fantastic simply because it gives you the ability to “write” the words on the choir included. To do so, a specific dashboard is prepared to include some syllables in any order you’d like to. You can also further tailor them by including staccato, sustain, connecting multiple syllables, crossfading between different ones, and even adding legato.
    • Chord patches
      Some instruments in this library, such as the daruan and the liuqin, were recorded playing chords to deliver a realistic feel of multiple notes being played together. Those patches are distributed in a different keyboard layout to facilitate composition, divided into blue and green segments. The blue section lets you play short chords, and the green one plays longer sustained chords.
    • The instruments
      Featuring a variety of unique instruments, Jade Ethnic Orchestra includes erhus, zhonghus, morin khuur, ikh khuur, pipas, guzhengs, as well as bowed versions of some of these. Other fiddles, such as banhus and jinghus, are listed alongside guqins, zhongruans, and daruans, just to name a few. The list goes on and on, with multiple variations of the same instruments also included.

Compatibility:

This library is available for macOS 10.9 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in the free Kontakt Player and Kontakt, version 5.7.1 or higher. 

Summary:

It’s always lovely to have unique-sounding instruments in your arsenal. Ethnical variety in terms of music and instruments is a welcoming feature to make your production truly special, and this is one of the libraries that will unlock a new world of sounds for you. Jade Ethnic Orchestra pays homage to the beautiful instruments found in Asian cultures, with multiple configurations and characteristics that make them sound as if played by a real musician. 

10. Cinematic Studio Brass (Kontakt Library)

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Rich, extensive, and powerful brass sounds are delivered straight into Kontakt, with multiple variations.

Cinematic Studio Brass results from years of recording, editing, and programming, showcasing brilliant performances from the best brass players and recorded in one of the best scoring stages in Australia. This sample collection will add color and life to your score with much detail and intensity that only a brass section could provide.

There are multiple versions of each instrument included, such as trumpets, French horns, trombones, and tubas, with all the respective articulations and techniques that make them sound as authentic as possible. You can also throw in some reverb to make it sound as close as possible to the actual scoring stage in which everything was recorded.

Cinematic Studio Brass - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Special articulation functions
      On two specific articulations – “Staccato” and “Pizzicato” – you can have an extra menu to the right of the center of the screen. You can use your mod wheel to select between different articulation variations. Taking “Staccato” for example, you’ll have “Sfz (sforzando),” “Staccato,” “Staccatissimo,” and “Spiccato” options to further vary your dynamics. It can be deactivated by right-clicking on that same area.
    • Double tongue articulation
      The “double tongue” is a specific extra articulation that applies to brass instruments, allowing for a stream of fast repeated notes to be played. You can either sync the phrases played to your DAW’s tempo or manually apply any BPM you desire. There are two to nine repetitions included, with the possibility to play them manually or with a key switch.
    • Mic positions
      This library was masterfully recorded using an array of microphones, and gladly you can set them as you wish. On the lower left corner, the four fades are responsible for the main ambiance of the ensemble: “Close” gets all the instrument’s details just right, “Main” delivers a realistic conductor’s perspective, and “Room” captures the whole essence of the space the ensemble is playing on, and “Mix” is a blend of all three previous faders, with a specific “out-of-the-box” nice sound.
    • Velocity sensitive key switches
      Most key switches included are velocity-sensitive, which means that the velocity at which the key switch is played will trigger additional actions. For instance, the “Muted” key switch will provide short notes if played between 0-64 velocities, and longer notes will be played when going from 65-127. Below you will find all the velocity values for each articulation.

      Key switch
      Velocity & Function
      Staccato
      0-32: repetitions; 33-64: staccatissimo; 65-96: staccato; 97-127: sforzando.
      Muted
      0-64: muted short notes; 65-127: muted long notes.
      Marcato
      0-64: repetition overlay off; 65-127: repetition overlay on.
      Legato
      0-64: legato off; 65-127: legato on

Compatibility:

This library is available for macOS 10.10 or higher (latest update) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only and latest Service Pack required). It works in Kontakt Player or Kontakt version 5.6.8 or higher is required.

Summary:

Cinematic Studio Brass gathers a nice collection of brass instruments, all masterfully executed and captured. Aside from the wide variety of instruments to choose from, the elegant design interface serves as a stimulating way to easily create patterns or articulations by displaying all possibilities in the center of the screen. It’s also not polluted with multiple configurations and knobs, which can be especially good for beginner composers.

11. UVI Orchestral Suite (All In One Solution – UVI Workstation Library)

More Info & Price
The essential symphonic orchestra collection offers pristine sound quality.

Orchestral Suite brings more than 60 orchestral instruments in one beautiful packaging, including strings, brass, woodwinds, percussions, a complete choir, cathedral organ, classical guitar, harpsichord, and many more. In addition, you can opt to play with an ensemble or with solo instruments, all with the same texture and power of a full orchestra being executed.

Every single sample was meticulously recorded and edited, so the maximum depth and playability would be translated into this library. As a result, this accessible world-class symphonic tool captures all nuances and articulations that each instrument is known for but right at your fingertips. 

UVI Orchestral Suite - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Great performance
      UVI developed a unique engine to deliver the most realistic sounds to you. Called “UVI Engine™,” it reduced the size of over 15,000 samples to a mere 05GB size thanks to lossless compression, meaning that although the size is reduced, the quality is not. They are decoded and streamed in real-time with minimal CPU effort, allowing for faster loading and thus taking minimum processing power to achieve great symphonic sounds.
    • Advanced convolution reverb
      The convolution reverb included is excellent and provides some IRs (impulse responses) that make it sound as real as possible. The IRs are basically very well-designer algorithms that recreate specific sonic characteristics, in this case, a realistic ambiance. You can choose between concert halls, cathedrals, churches, and more with a dry/wet mix control. Adding the “UVI Engine™” into it allows for minimal processing usage while delivering great results nonetheless.
    • Fast workflow
      Both ensemble and solo interfaces are very light, clean, and simple to use. The controls are distributed according to your needs. For instance, on the ensemble mode, you get a “Performance” section that is responsible for adjusting polyphonic mode, legato, and portamento, while the “Envelope” and “Equalizer” sections boast minimalistic controls to adjust specific aspects of your tone, like ADSR and panning. The “Reverb” is also present, with all necessary controls to make your ambiance perfect.

Compatibility:

This library is available for macOS 10.9 to 12 (64-bit only) and Windows 8 to 10 (64-bit only). It works in UVI Workstation version 2.6.8 or higher or Falcon version 1.2.0 or higher.

Summary:

Another excellent library that showcases quality, ease of use, and all the tools required to make your symphonic track from scratch. Although it runs in somewhat specific players, the most attractive feature is the lossless sample quality, which sounds as good as anything but with a significantly lower CPU usage. It features the same basic controls as other libraries but indeed runs much smoother on your PC or Mac. Users with simpler computers might benefit from this immensely, but some 8GB of RAM should easily do the job.

12. Spitfire Audio Hans Zimmer Percussion (Kontakt Library)

More Info & Price
A great company joins forces with an equally great composer to produce the ultimate drum sample library.

Hans Zimmer is one of the most famous and celebrated score composers of all time. He has won several awards for his excellent works in movies, like “The Lion King,” “Dune,” “Gladiator,” “The Dark Knight,” “Inception,” and also was awarded “Composer of the Year” in 2013. His curriculum is very impressive, and his excellence is brought to you in this library.

From snares to surdos, booms to bucket sounds, Hans Zimmer Percussion brings an extensive selection of the best orchestral percussion to make your track sound better than ever. Spitfire Audio worked extensively with Hans’ team to capture the highest-quality samples with the same players in Lyndhurst Hall at AIR Studios, where Mr. Zimmer has recorded his most significant scores.

Spitfire Audio Hans Zimmer Percussion - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • The instrument grid
      Located at the center of your screen is an array of instruments available for your use. You can select each instrument and configure them accordingly, but if you press “CMD/Ctrl,” a multiple selection is possible and is a helpful tool to edit multiple instruments at once.
    • Microphone mixer
      Here you have master control over every microphone available. You can load whichever you’d like to use, and they can be tweaked with the usual volume faders and some special settings: the “Velocity Response” will assist you in choosing four different velocity curves, “Mic Mix To Instrument Linker” enables a global mixing or per-instrument mixing, “Close Pan Mic Collapser” allows you to control the stereo width and panning, and the “Mixer Presets” delivers mixer settings between existing patches.
    • Two finger mapping
      Techniques that accept this option can be switched between single or two-finger mapping modes. Basically, the single finger mapping provides you with a single key to activate a technique, while the two finger mode allows for rolls, flams, and trills to be easily triggered as you play.
    • Hits & techniques
      The screen’s right panel shows all available techniques and hits for each instrument you’re working on. Of course, you can use key switches to activate any desired technique, but they will be listed there, and the assigned CC note will be displayed alongside its name. You have rolls, rim hits, and puilli hits available, just to name a few.

Compatibility:

This library is available for macOS 10.10 or higher (latest update) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only and latest Service Pack required). It works in Kontakt Player or Kontakt version 5.6.8 or higher is required.

Summary:

With such a heavyweight name attached to it, you can expect Hans Zimmer Percussion to be as good as it implies. This library focuses on all significant percussion symphonic instruments and techniques used in great scores and soundtracks, all recorded at Zimmer’s own workspace. This ensures that the overall sample quality will be as good as possible, with the same features found in most libraries mentioned here. However, this collection bears the signature of a great composer attached, and doubtfully you’ll regret using it.

Top 6 Free Cinematic & Orchestral Kontakt Libraries 2021

1. Spitfire Audio — BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover (Plugin)

More Info & Download
An excellent collection, played by one of the best orchestra ensembles in the world, free to use.

Spitfire Audio always offers one of the best libraries and plugins when it comes to sampling technology. The best thing about this plugin, which costs $49, is that you can get it for free. You simply have to register your email address, fill out a questionnaire, and in 14 days, you’ll receive your copy in your email. As simple as that! 

Spitfire Audio — BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Inspired by another library
      All sounds included in BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover are also included on their $999 bundle entitled BBC Symphony Orchestra Professional. The difference between them is that Discover features way fewer samples than its bigger brother, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get some incredible instruments. With the size of around 200MB, you can count on 35 instruments and 47 articulations in total, joined together in one mixed-signal patch.
    • Intuitive interface
      The minimalistic user interface was designed to make you work effortlessly, with much intuition in mind. Every instrument features its specific articulations, volume adjusment, and the intensity of the built-in effects. It’s somewhat similar to their great LABS library, with just as great sound quality.

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.10 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 to 10 (64-bit only). It comes in VST, VST 3, AAX, and AU plugin formats

Summary:

Alongside ProjectSAM’s The Free Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover is arguably one of the best freeware options when it comes to orchestral sounds available nowadays. The impressive sound quality and lightweight size make it irresistible to not try, and it’s a great option for beginner users or producers with older machines. In addition, the articulations and variations are awesome, and don’t stay behind any library or plugin listed here.

2. Orchestral Tools Layers (SINE Player Library)

More Info & Download

An effortless way to add a classical touch to your subsequent productions.

This orchestral library is intended to be used with the SINE Player, a free virtual instrument plugin provided by the same company, Orchestral Tools. All samples provide pristine quality regarding each sectionwoodwinds, brass, strings, and full orchestra – while maintaining a fluid workflow in a minimalistic and straightforward user design interface. You can also download each of these four sections separately if you prefer.

Spitfire Audio — BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Recorded with dedication
      You can notice that this library features a generous amount of high-quality samples, especially when talking about a freeware option. All samples were recorded at the Teldex Scoring Stage, in Berlin, with the main goal to work as pristine and efficiently as possible with the software. They used high-quality gear and microphones to capture the whole essence of these ensembles, so you’ll have the full experience right on your DAW.
    • Simplicity at its best
      Don’t worry about controlling multiple settings at the same time. The Layers library was developed to bear an intuitive interface, suited for beginners and more advanced producers as well. This enables you to play it as any virtual instrument, thus not requiring any specific orchestral knowledge to make music from it. It can be too simple for more advanced users, but it may be just the right thing for someone starting out to make scores recently.

Compatibility:

This library is available for macOS 10.13 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 10 (64-bit only). It comes in VST and AU plugin formats and works with the SINE Player. 

Summary:

This is not a must-have if you already own a decent orchestral library. Although it can be a welcoming experience for newcomers starting to venture into the scoring world, Layers may lack some of the main controls and adjustments so essential to make the best out of an ensemble sound. If you look for simplicity, though, this is a great choice to try a good-quality library and get good sounds as soon as you run it for the first time.

3. Sonuscore – Free Orchestra Chords (Kontakt Library)

More Info & Download
A unique library that gathers all warm and massive orchestral sounds and tools in a single interface.

Sonuscore offers a great collection of samples to you at no cost at all and the same controls and configurations every major plugin or library also offers. The interface is very minimalistic and simple but produces sounds worthy of the most celebrated cinematic productions. You can play chords with the whole ensemble, layer it with additional lower strings, or add that perfect high-pitched scale run that will add energy to your score. 

Spitfire Audio — BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Reverb knob
      The only visible command at your starting screen is a “Reverb” knob alongside another curious control. The reverb itself doesn’t need much explanation – simply twist that knob to get a perfect ambiance going – but the “Velocity = Mode” command displays whether the chord you’re playing it’s major or minor. This is useful because if you play with soft velocity, a major chord will be generated from your note; if you play hard, a minor chord will pop up as instantly as possible.
    • Key switches
      Sonuscore added some useful key switches to this program to further expand the versatility behind this software. You’ll activate certain ensembles by clicking certain regions of your keyboard/MIDI controller. On the first octave, from C1 to B1, you can trigger low, mid, and high chords to be played together, with the following octaves (C2-B2, C3-B3, and C4-B4) meant to trigger each string session, but separately – low, mid, and high string chords, respectively. 

Compatibility:

This library is available for macOS 10.10 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). A full version of Kontakt version 5.6.0 or higher is required (it will not run in Kontakt Player!).

Summary:

Both libraries offered by Sonuscore are of high quality regarding the samples and are very easy to use. In addition, a clean and minimalistic approach to showing the commands on your screen sure makes things easier and fresher, especially in a freeware option. Speaking of that, the only bummer is that you’ll need the full version of Kontakt to run this library, which can scare some users away.

4. ProjectSAM – The Free Orchestra (Kontakt Library)

More Info & Download

A little over 1GB of high-quality cinematic samples, for free.

This free collection features a wide range of orchestral sounds and includes all 12 original presets (with two new ones!) from ProjectSAM’s Symphobia 4 library. It also has a collection of layered presets that reutilize existing sounds to get new, creative instrument layers

ProjectSAM - The Free Orchestra  - Top 12 Orchestral VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (+ FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Twelve instruments
    You’ll get 12 different instruments in the ensemble, with horns, orchestral percussion, cellos, contrabasses, violins, woodwinds… The list goes on and on. The catch is that the instruments are separated by presets, each channeling a specific sonic atmosphere.
  • Easy to use interface
    With minimal tabs, windows, or controls to choose from, everything you’ll need is on the main screen. Aside from usual controls, like envelope and reverb, you also get “Quick Equalization,” “Octaver,” and “Reverse Sample” options that further expand its versatility.
  • Bonus control
    Each specific preset will benefit from a “Bonus” knob, which delivers a specific effect. Located at the bottom row of three knobs, first from left to right, it changes according to which preset you’re using. You can have options like “Boom” (to enhance bass frequencies) and “Vowel” (to make the notes sound different when played) that will make your track sound uniquely, but depending 100% on whatever preset you choose from.

Compatibility:

This library is available for macOS 10.12 or higher (latest update) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only and latest Service Pack required). It works in Kontakt Player or Kontakt version 6.2.1 or higher is required.

Summary:

A great collection of orchestrated instruments for free. This collection is a nice starting point if you’re beginning at composing scores and soundtracks, as the controls are easy to operate and the overall library size is significantly small. The audio quality is superb, and all presets are great sounding on their own capabilities.

Bonus:

VSL Synchron Woodwinds (Plugin)

More Info & Price
A great selection of woodwind instruments, recorded in a great-sounding scoring stage.

The composer, orchestrator, and conductor Conrad Pope has played on Synchron Stage Vienna and affirmed that it’s a great space for orchestra sounds, with the perfect height for high-pitched woodwinds to sound the perfect way. He was right, and even more, the instruments sound just as good, all benefiting from outstanding acoustics that will surely make the samples sound good to your ears.

Key Features:

    • Variety of instruments
      A good woodwind section features a large ensemble of instruments, and you can have them all on this plugin. Be ready to benefit from piccolos, flutes, oboes, English horns, clarinets, bassoons, bass clarinets, and even ensembles of the same instruments. You also get an ensemble with all of them included and “Low” and “High FX” woodwinds as well.
    • Well-balanced articulations
      It’s important to have well-designed articulations so that every virtual instrument can sound just as good as a real one. All solo instruments feature legatos that can be played fast or at regular speed, all synced to your track’s tempo beautifully. The vibrato in each instrument was also very well-captured, applying emphasis to expressive phrases and single notes.
    • Multiple microphone positions
      There are seven separate, phase-coherent mic configurations to use in Synchron Woodwinds. They provide extensive room options, with separate channels in the mixer section of Vienna Synchron Player. Blending mics and creating the perfect atmosphere is as easy as it gets, with instant response and distinctive character attached to the microphones used.
    • Mixer presets
      Some mixer presets are also included, offering a great variety of tonal characteristics. You can select close or ambient configurations, as well as sparkling or heavily-processed options as well. You can mix all instruments in stereo, 5.1 surround, Dolby Atmos, or 9.1 Auro 3D to get the immersion flowing naturally.

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.13 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 8.1 and 10 (64-bit only). It comes in VST, AAX, and AU plugin formats. 

Summary:

VSL is a very dedicated company that always ensures the best possible quality in its samples. It’s a lot easier when you have at your disposal a huge and great-sounding scoring stage, and it does influence the final result more than you imagine. All presets sound outstandingly, with coherent controls and nice articulations that are commonly featured in similar plugins. The large number of instruments and their respective ensembles dictates that no other software or library is required for any track that demands a woodwind section on it.

Conclusion

Orchestras are one of the best things about music. If you’ve ever seen a full orchestra live, you’ll know how powerful and beautiful it sounds, with multiple sonic layers distributed between the equally diversified instrument sections. Movies, short clips, songs, and even advertisements make use of this awesome musical ensemble to deliver a strong message with majestic musical ideas.

However, it’s tough to gather an entire orchestra into a room. Be sure to catch one live if you can because it’s worthy of testifying. Gathering that many musicians in a studio is even harder, mainly because a studio room depends on acoustics and space to get everything sounding so good. In other words, you need to have an adequate space to set an orchestra.

Most of us, music and audio producers, can’t afford to have a full ensemble in our studios. This is where sampling technology shines. With adequate space and gear, it’s possible to capture every nuance, articulation, and phrasing you want, and these companies proved that to us.

Our list presented some quintessential orchestral sample libraries that are vastly diverse and feature an outstanding audio quality. Some good examples are Spitfire Audio’s Abbey Road One Orchestral Foundations and Sonic Scores’ Amadeus Symphonic Orchestra, which feature the entire symphonic ensembles in a single software. They both showcase the extreme quality and variety, and the same goes for IK Multimedia’s Miroslav Philharmonik 2.

Going in a more experimental zone, Heavyocity’s Symphonic Destruction is a deconstructed orchestral library, perfect for cinematic productions that require new and massive sounds to be created, such as big braams. Another very cool collection is Strezov Sampling’s Jade Ethnic Orchestra, featuring lots of Asian symphonic instruments that were captured with just as much care and provide a widening new sonority.

Separate bundles may be chosen for a tailored ensemble experience. For example, Orchestral Tools have some nice selections, with “Berlin Woodwinds” and “Berlin Brass” being excellent examples of how diversified and adjustable such specific libraries are. Another good example is VSL Synchron’s Pianos Bundle, with beautiful and iconic piano models included.

The freeware section brings very awesome choices, but it really goes down to two options: ProjectSAM’s The Free Orchestra and Spitfire Audio’s BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover. The latter is slightly better-sounding, and its 200MB overall size makes it very appealing not to try it at least once.

All the items discussed today are impressive on their own, and it’s very hard to choose the best or worst choices. It all comes down to you, your needs, and how your workflow goes. Remember to always try any software before buying it.

See you later!

Related Readings:

Top 7 Strings Kontakt Libraries 2022 (And 3 Free Libraries)

Top 5 Strings VST Plugins 2022 (AND 4 Best Free Instruments)

Top 12 Woodwind Plugins 2022 (And KONTAKT Libraries)

Top 10 Double Bass Plugins 2022 (Best Upright Basses)

Top 8 Piano Plugins 2022 (Best Sounding Pianos & 5 FREE Piano Plugins)

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