This article will discuss the most expensive VST Plugins and Kontakt libraries in 2023.
We are fortunate to live in a world where it is possible to create industry-standard and high-quality songs, soundtracks, sound design foley, etc., by in-the-box music production and mixing-mastering, in your studio or bedroom. As a result, bedroom producers and DIY artists have seen an upsurge in the availability of resources at affordable rates.
The $300-400 price range is considered the lower limit in the world of hardware audio gear. However, that is the upper limit in the case of software tools. Kontakt libraries and other VST plugins let you create entire ensembles and choirs and put together a band with just a few clicks of buttons. So, let’s discuss the most expensive and expansive VST plugins and Kontakt Instruments.
12 Most Expensive VST Plugins & Kontakt Libraries 2023
1. Native Instruments Choir Omnia NEW*
Choir Omnia is a 40-voice male and female symphonic choir captured in four independent sections in a virtual instrument.
It’s a rare plugin that allows you to build realistic choir parts with deep customizations beyond a typical virtual instrument. Anything from syllables, intonations, phrases, timings, articulations, vowels, and voices can be customized, creating a wide range of dynamics and emotions.
- High-quality samples
The Kontakt instrument consists of samples recorded by world-renowned vocalists and choirs in six weeks, capturing live recordings at Sophia session studio with a world-class signal chain. The samples create an expressive and deeply customized sound design experience.
- Workflow and synth architecture
Choir Omnia contains four main sections: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass, each section covering different pitch ranges and textures. That allows you to create smooth transitions, realistic choir, and in-depth vocal stacking. In addition, the interface offers eye candy, is easy to tweak, and is simple to work with. You can choose different articulations: Sustain, staccato, marcato, and staccatissimo.
- Mic positions
There are four mic positions: close, mid-close, decca, and hall. You can adjust the pan, spread level, and reverb for each of these. That allows you to have flexibility over your room and the overall atmospheric tone.
The key mode allows you to play the notes individually, whereas the sequencer allows you to combine the notes in order in a complex sequence of syllabi, with adjustable note intervals, articulations, and other parameters.
- Expressive capabilities
The plugin is highly expressive, especially with its Dynamic curve that allows you to set how the plugin responds dynamically, and you can set it between soft, normal, and hard. Further, you can adjust the Round Robins and Legato mode settings. Further, the room adjustments using mic positions, genders, articulations, syllables selection, etc., along with forty different voices, allow great expressive capabilities.
Choir Omnia is a KOMPLETE instrument that requires Kontakt 7 or above and 70 GB of free space to store its library. The Kontakt 7 minimum system requirements are Intel Macs (i5 or higher) and macOS 10.15 for Mac, Windows 1o or higher, 4 GB of ram, and 2 GB of hard disk space.
It’s an insane plugin with great features and design. One can create real-sounding authentic choir-based compositions and score in the comfort of working on a laptop/computer from your home/studio without having to do high-budget choir recordings. The plugin is heavy on the system but delivers great quality and sound.
From fantasy to mystery to gritty to dark, you can create almost any emotion with the versatile and expansive Choir Omnia by Native Instruments. It has over 70 GB of content, across four instruments, with 189 presets for smooth and effortless scoring.
2. Native Instruments Symphony Series String Ensemble (Orchestral Strings)
More Info & Price (Trial Available)
A 60-piece lush-sounding string orchestra ideal for epic film scores at your disposal.
Following up the release of Symphony Series: Brass, Native Instruments has teamed up this time with world-famous Audiobro, responsible for LA Scoring Strings, one of the most well-regarded and on-demand string libraries of the past few years.
Five patches or Kontakt instruments comprise this library: violins, violas, cellos, basses, and an ensemble option that works great for pads or to draw some ideas. In addition, each section is provided with a fair amount of articulations to assign up to 8 of them.
Each section is provided with up to 10 articulations consisting of sustains, sordino, tremolo, staccato, spiccato, pizzicato, octave runs, and more. The legato articulations comprehend the Divisi function, so each Divisi part has its own smart individual legato control over transitions (fingered or portamento) when two notes are played simultaneously. There’s also a threshold slider control to determine the transitions to portamento controlled with velocity. There’s an option for No Vib. to Vib. for the legato articulations, meaning that a note starts with no vibrato and fades into it.
- Section Setup:
This string orchestra, like any other, is divided into 4 sections: violins I and II (conformed by 30 players and divided into 16 and 14 for each, respectively), 12 violas, 10 cellos, and 8 basses. In this tab, you can control how big each section will be by setting the overall number of players for each section, allowing you to write for a small and intimate orchestra or create an epic soundscape with a full-string section.
One issue with many string libraries is that each section is recorded monophonically as one, which is a problem when playing several notes simultaneously as the number of instruments is usually doubled – the more notes you play at the same time, the bigger the section gets in number –; this means that, if you have a 20-piece violin section and play two notes, you’ll have a 40-piece violin section. However, thanks to the True Divisi function featured on this library (turned on by default), the number of players is kept consistent, as it automatically divides the number of players when playing polyphonically. Further explaining, there are two violin sections, I and II (as per usual); when playing divisi, the section splits in 16+14 for two notes, 16+7+7 for three notes, and 8+8+7+7 for four, resulting in a more true-to-life performance, made possible due to the sections for each instrument being recorded in two separate A and B parts.
- Dynamic Knob:
A very large knob can be seen in the center of the GUI. It enables to control of both volume and intensity by blending several layers of samples. This way, for example, soft bowing with a slower attack can be achieved with a low setting. Below, we find more performance controls for expression, attack, release, and brightness.
The library is available for Kontakt Player 5 or higher. Kontakt is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.14 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Symphony Series: String Ensemble offers the flexibility to achieve any sound, whether you want close and intimate chamber strings or a larger-than-life cinematic ensemble. Its true Divisi feature and the option to set up the section size make this library stand out above many others, especially considering how easy it is to control its behaviour. However, one weakness this library has is that it doesn’t come with a solo string library like its predecessor Symphony Series: Brass, even though they cost the same.
3. Arturia Piano V3 (Piano Collection)
More Info & Price (Trial Available)
The piano is one of the most popular, used, and familiar sounds in music history.
However, finding a good one in the digital era is often challenging, especially if you’re after a realistic and authentic sound. Arturia has created Piano V3 to capture the most authentic piano sounds possible through physical modeling, from mechanical to sonic behavior.
- Wide range of sounds
Piano V3 doesn’t focus on a single piano sound. Instead, Arturia was interested in creating an instrument that accurately portrays various pianos styles. Therefore, with Piano V3, you can access American, Japanese, or German Grand Pianos, Jazz, Classical, or Pop Upright Pianos, plucked Grand Piano, or experimental options like the Glass and Metal Grand Pianos. You can achieve all sorts of sounds and feelings with these models, from shimmery Pop piano sounds to punchy and dark hip hop sounds.
- No samples
When you invest in a high-quality piano instrument, you’ll need many gigabytes of space on your hard drive to cover the large sample libraries that come with it. Fortunately, Arturia’s Piano V3 is not sampled-based. Instead, it uses physical modeling to simulate a real piano’s physics and acoustics in real-time. This complex algorithm guarantees consistency and authenticity in your piano sounds.
- Tweak the sound
Even though the piano sounds are excellent and authentic, you can still adjust and tweak certain parameters to make them fit your productions. For example, you can adjust the brightness knob for brighter or gloomier sounds, the timbre knob for different sonic and harmonic characteristics, the dynamics knob for a punchier or more sustained feel, and the stereo width knob for customizing your stereo field. Each of these knobs can transform the sound drastically, giving you much room to play with.
- Dig deeper
You can dig deeper with the studio page if the above knobs are insufficient to get the piano sound just right. Here, you can adjust the mic positions and create realistic spaces for your pianos to exist in with amazing reverb algorithms. Effects like EQ, compressor, and preamp are further tools you can use to customize your sound. Finally, you can adjust the noises that come through the hammer and pedals, the age of the strings, as well as their exact tuning and acoustic settings like the lid position, soundboard resonance, and sympathetic resonance.
Piano V3 is available on Windows 8.1 or higher and macOS 10.13 or higher in VST, AAX, and AU formats, 64-bit only.
The interface is very simple, with few controls on the main page that help you tweak the basic characteristics of the sound, while the 12 piano models offer plenty of variation and sonic flexibility.
The fact that you can dig deep and adjust some of the more niche controls, like the age of the strings or the soundboard resonance, is a testament to how accurate and meticulously designed this instrument is.
4. SONiVOX Solina Redux
More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Solina Redux combines string ensemble-emulated instruments with a subtractive synthesizer.
SONiVOX has included a virtual analog synthesizer with two oscillators, one of which is a pulse width oscillator, two LFOs, a filter envelope, and an amp envelope. That synth architecture combines an entire ensemble, including a bass, cello, viola, violin, horn, and trumpet, with a synthesizer. On top of that, there’s a separate step sequencer and an effects window.
- Step Sequencer
The step sequencer that applies to both synth and instrument architectures is an eight-step sequencer with adjustable GATE, ORDER, OCTAVES, and flexible clock, swing, and divisions. Each step also has its dedicated knob, allowing you to set interesting patterns and create unique rhythmic compositions.
- High-quality effects
The signature sound of the plugin comes from the “Ensemble” chorus effect, for which you can adjust the speed, depth, mix, and turn it off or on. Other effects included in the module are Vibrato, Phaser, and reverb. These are switchable time-based effects, with a dedicated mix knob assigned to each effect.
- Modern & Vintage mix
The plugin allows you to combine the vintage feel of the ensemble/Arp Solina with the modern feel of the synthesizer. The mixer window allows you to balance between them in terms of volume and pan. Further, a filter LFO and an amplitude LFO can be applied to either the synth or the instruments.
Solina Redux is available in AAX, VST, and AU plugin formats and as a standalone plugin for both Mac and Windows. For Mac, it requires a minimum of Mac OS X 10.10, 4 GB RAM, 2 GB Hard Disk space, and Intel Core i5 with a 2.3 GHz processor. For Windows, it requires a minimum of Windows 8, 4 GB RA, 2 GB Hard Disk space, and Intel Core i5.
The Eagles, Elton John, Pink Floyd, The Cure, Joy Division, Tangerine Dream, New Order, and many others have used the Arp Solina. Overall, the output is unique and interesting and sounds full, as it covers various spectrum ranges. In addition, the sounds complement each other and can be well-treated sonically and shaped using the modulators (LFOs and envelopes) and effects.
5. Spitfire Audio – Hans Zimmer Strings
Sampling in collaboration with the film score composer Hans Zimmer, Spitfire Audio presents a new standard for cinematic strings libraries.
What sets Hans Zimmer Strings apart from regular strings plugins is its insane number of players and a massive range of articulations and expressions. 344 string players were recorded performing in the Lyndhurst Hall at London’s AIR Studios, where most of Spitfire Audio’s libraries are recorded.
The players were arranged in various sections of the hall and its galleries and recorded with multiple mics, giving you up to 26 mic positions to adjust while mixing. The result is a sound that you can only classify as epic and massive.
Despite the huge amount of sound in the library, the plugin remains unbelievably intuitive, smooth, and easy to use, thanks to the design by UsTwo, a user experience agency. The interface features several faders and a large, customizable knob that allows you to assign reverb, vibrato, etc.
As promised, Spitfire Audio covers a large number of articulations per instrument section and mic position. You will find every standard articulation you’d expect and oddities like long col legno tratto, timed marcato, and the aggressive Bartok pizzicato. Note that several of these will require you to open a separate instance of the plugin.
- Multiple Mics
Depending on the ensemble section you have loaded in your plugin, you will find numerous microphone positions. They include your standard close mic and Decca Tree, up to 23 more, and an odd “Bottle” mic, which is a mic placed inside a water bottle. I must say it does sound interesting for the sake of sound design.
Thanks to the unusual recording positions, you will find a deep sense of space in this library. While the close mics are relatively dry, once you add in other mic positions like the gallery one, you will soon find yourself washed in waves of wide reverb. And it really helps add to the epicness and scale of the library.
The library is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 10.10 or higher 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
While every orchestral library requires you to learn and use it before you can understand it, I would say that the Hans Zimmer Strings library sounds ideal as backing strings while underscoring. That isn’t to say it cannot play lead legato pieces, but you might find it sounds different from what you’d expect.
Further, make sure you have a powerful computer for this one as the plugin is not multi-timbral. So, you’ll have to load many instances of this library at once, and it’s possible that a template-based workflow won’t work out well.
6. Strezov Sampling Jade Ethnic Orchestra (Kontakt Library)
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.
- 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.
- Microphone positions
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.
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.
7. Orchestral Tools Berlin Woodwinds (Plugin)
Berlin Woodwinds is the flagship woodwind library that defies what sampled instruments are capable of by Orchestral Tools.
Previously a Kontakt library, Berlin Woodwinds has undergone a complete overhaul with a new snazzy standalone plugin and added features. The German company Orchestral Tools recorded the samples on the acclaimed Teldex Scoring Stage in Berlin.
Scrolling through some history about the stage reveals an enriching history involving contemporary idolized composers like Howard Shore, Danny Elfman, Alan Silvestri, and David Newman.
Furthermore, the library features samples of the orchestra in the traditional seating positions recorded with Teldex’s collection of microphones. So, this endeavor ensures authentic recreation of the classic sound.
The instrument library runs in Orchestral Tools’ SINE plugin, featuring multiple pages. Below, you can see the performance tab displaying the loaded articulations of the selected instruments. Furthermore, you can make changes to the articulations and instrument at the bottom right.
Similarly, the mixer page allows you to make changes to the instruments you’ve loaded and the microphone positions. Let’s have a look at some of its key features:
- The Woodwind Section
Instead of providing an ensemble section, Berlin Woodwinds offers each instrument in the ensemble separately so that you have complete control. Hence, you will find a piccolo, three flutes, one alto flute, two oboes, one English horn, two clarinets, and two bassoons. This peculiar sampling method allows you to write complex divisi parts involving multiple articulations and notes.
The library features many articulations that help you write convincing woodwind parts fast. These articulations include sustain + legato, sustains, accented sustains, portato long/short, marcato long/short, staccato regular/short, repetitions, trills, playable runs, fortepiano, doubles, etc. However, note that the articulations vary between instruments.
The repetition articulation allows you to play notes repeating at 1/16 and 1/8 triplet speeds in sync with your project’s tempo. Similarly, the trills include single trills, regular trills, and trills sforzando. These are also synced to your DAW and feature trills up to the fifth note. Furthermore, you can switch between the articulations using key switches, MIDI CC, playing speed, MIDI channel, and program changes.
- Adaptive Legato
Berlin Woodwinds features two sets of legato transitions that switch based on how fast you play the notes. Slower notes are considered Speed Zone 1, whereas faster ones are Speed Zone 2, each zone with a different legato style. For example, you could have regular legato in Speed Zone 1 and runs in Speed Zone 2. So, when you play slowly, it transitions from one note to another smoothly, but playing faster will result in nimble run patterns automatically.
Berlin Woodwinds provides six microphone positions: spot 1, spot 2, Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française (ORTF), tree, AB, and surround. The spot positions use close mics, although with two different flavors. Similarly, the ORTF setup uses two cardioid mics spread to a 110° angle spaced 17 cm apart. It offers a stereo field that still has mono compatibility.
Similarly, the Decca tree is a three-mic setup that recordists have repeatedly used to record an orchestra. AB captures the two sides of the woodwind section, whereas the surround mic records the hall ambiance. Furthermore, you can change the volume and pan of each of these microphone signals to create a custom mix. And, of course, turning a mic signal off helps save your RAM.
If you need further control, you can also assign each mic signal to a new output. Then, you can create new tracks in your DAW to receive these outputs so that you can mix them in your DAW instead. However, keep in mind that the instruments in this plugin are pre-mixed and recreate the original Teldex sound in the default mixing positions.
- Mic Merge
Mic Merge is an innovative feature that allows you to create a custom internal sample library that combines the microphone positions you’ve used. Essentially, you are creating a new “mix” that combines all the microphone position samples at the volume you’ve set. It requires additional storage in your SSD/hard drive, but it helps save RAM as SINE no longer needs to load multiple sets of microphone position samples.
Orchestral Tools’ SINE Player is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Berlin Woodwinds is one of the most comprehensive woodwind libraries ever built, and it isn’t afraid of diverging from the conventional path to create innovative solutions. You’ll receive each instrument of the ensembles separately instead of as an ensemble, providing you with complete control.
Further, it features a massive arsenal of articulations, six microphone setups, and a very well-thought-out workflow. The samples represent the Teldex hall faithfully, thanks to the in-situ recording. And it plays excellently with the other Berlin series instruments, making it an excellent stepping stone into building your orchestra.
8. NUGEN Audio Paragon
More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Paragon by NUGEN Audio is a Dolby Atmos-compatible convolution reverb that creates unique locations via re-synthesis.
The plugin analyzes the impulse response file, breaks it down, and resynthesizes it to create new authentic locations. Apart from that, it offers a wide array of controls. The Main panel gives you control over the reverb’s overall sound, with Pre-delay, Decay, Size, and Brightness controls.
The IR panel gives you more controls, but this time focused on shaping the impulse response’s sound. Here you’ll find different test sounds, a graphic EQ, and an interesting Complexity slider.
Finally, the third panel is the I/O, which provides monitoring, decay, pre-delay, and crosstalk features for each channel independently. Additionally, you can access the Settings panel to reach routing controls for surround information.
Accessible through the IR panel, this feature adjusts the reverb’s richness. Higher values increase the number of components for a more complex reverb. Lower values speed up the resynthesis process but create a more one-dimensional sound.
- Expert Options
By clicking the NUGEN logo on the bottom left corner, you’ll reach “Credits and Options”. There you can tweak three additional parameters. Early Reflection Balancing makes a more symmetrical sounding reverb by automatically matching the Early Reflections. The second option is Smoother Parameter Updates, which will improve processing speed when turned off but might also cause artifacts. The third option is Automate All Parameters, which enables your DAW to access automation for everything in the plugin.
Character and Sound:
NUGEN Audio’s unique re-synthesis technology ensures that the reverb sounds clean and artifact-free however you decide to shape it. The IR library is extremely realistic and since you can tweak the sound to your liking, it is also versatile.
Paragon is available for 64-bit only macOS 10.9 and above and Windows Vista and above in AudioSuite, AAX, VST, and AU formats.
Paragon by NUGEN Audio is a capable convolution reverb that, even though it doesn’t have many built-in IRs, has enough that you can alter to sound different. It’s an great plugin that deserves a place in your collection, especially if you’re working with surround files.
9. SSL Native Bus Compressor 2
More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Native Bus Compressor 2 is a virtual recreation of the SSL compressor by SSL.
The compressor is known for its warm analog sound, round compression, especially for bass instruments, and for gluing the mix together. It is primarily used as an instrument bus, mix bus, and mastering plugin for dynamic processing and overall glue & punch.
You can set the ratio, the amount by which the audio gets compressed for every 1 dB of the sound crossing the threshold, in a range of 1.5 to 20. However, the company claims that it retains the dynamic characteristics of the mix, even at higher ratios.
- Auto release
You can set the attack time from 0.1 to 30 milliseconds and the release time between 0.1 and 1.2 seconds. However, you can set the release time to be automatic, by which the release time adjusts itself when the signal amplitude drops below the set threshold.
The oversampling can be set to two or four times, allowing you to compress signals at high ratios without distorting them. However, a delay or lag may be introduced when you use the plugin in oversampling, so be careful while you monitor the plugin output.
- Advanced features
Other than oversampling, the SSL Bus Compressor 2 allows you to use mix control, by which you can monitor different presets while freezing the current settings on the compressor. Further, the plugin also allows for an external side chain.
The plugin requires the following operating systems: macOS 10.12 Sierra (or higher) or Windows 7 (or higher). The plugin is available in AU, VST 2, VST 3, and AAX versions and requires a minimum RAM of 4 GB. Further, a minimum of Intel Dual-Core Mac or Intel Core 2 for Windows, running at 2.4 GHz or higher, is required to run the plugin.
The plugin is an authentic recreation by the original company itself and is one of the best simulations of the physical compressor. Alternatives include SSL G Master Buss Compressor by Waves, UAD SSL 4000 G Bus Compressor, PSP Bus Processor, Cytomic The Glue, and many more.
10. Heavyocity Forzo: Modern Brass (Kontakt Library)
If you’re not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary, and this library is nothing close to ordinary.
Orchestral brass arrangements consist of energy and impact in the current period of cinema score, from John Williams to Hans Zimmer. Forzo: Modern Brass by Heavyocity was created with that in mind, assembling the best sound design team possible and collaborating with composer Jason Graves and Engineer Satoshi Mark Noguchi at the famed Skywalker Sound Studios.
The initial action to bring this library to life was to assemble an enormous group of world-class brass musicians; Forzo’s 12 horns, eight trombones, four trumpets, and two tubas throw almost 16GB of pure brass perfection straight into control of the movie composer.
- Three instrument types
Forzo: Modern Brass includes three different instrument types: “Traditional,” which offer a realistic performance of the orchestral ensemble, “Brass Designer,” which is suited for a concise sound design, and finally, “Brass Loop Designer,” a variation of the former type but designed to playback and layer loop content.
The “Mixer” section showcases the possible configurations of each microphone position. You have “Close,” “Room,” and “Hall” options, each with their own fader and solo, mute, pan, and out controls. There’s also a “Full” fader that includes a mixture of all three mics.
- Two dynamic modes
Both modes define how the “Velocity” switch will affect your final sound. The two profiles are “active” and “inactive,” with the first activating MIDI velocity and enabling the user to set the appropriate dynamic layer and overall volume simultaneously and the second deactivating this function and delegating the central knob to deal with the dynamic layer.
- Dynamics modulator
This feature works similarly to a gate effect, except that it controls the dynamic level of the instrument rather than the output volume. A range indicator will appear around the central “Dynamics” knob every time this function is activated. You are free to draw the exact dynamic pattern associated with a specific instrument or the overall ensemble as easily as possible.
- Three instrument types
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 Player or Kontakt version 5.8.1 or higher.
An undoubtedly interesting collection for any sound designer and soundtrack composer. Kind of like a Swiss army knife, this library condenses three different modes that can be useful in multiple situations.
If you need a single library for your cinematic productions, sound design experiments, and conventional brass arrangements, Heavyocity’s Forzo: Modern Brass will be a perfect candidate to attend to all your eventual needs.
11. Vir2 Instruments MOJO 2: Horn Section 2 (Kontakt Library)
The perfect and powerful horn section you always wished for is now updated.
Vir2 Instruments’ MOJO: Horn Section was a huge hit from the moment it was released. The early version featured outstanding sample quality and superb playability, being a popular choice among producers in need of a reliable horn sample library.
If you had Jazz, Soul, RnB, or Big Band horn arrangement to develop, this was always a friendly tool to have close by.
The updated version 2 brings new remixed samples, new legato modes, new muted instrument simulations, new flutter tongue articulation, improved vibrato simulation, a wah-wah effect, and new trill samples.
Considering the original software was almost perfect, all these lovely new upgrades seem to cover all your basic needs revolving around horn ensembles.
- Musical eras
If you want to quickly capture an iconic sonority and translate it into your track, the useful eras will be your new favorite presets. There are four different eras – “Modern,” “Retro,” “Vintage 1,” and “Vintage 2” – and each focuses on a specific characteristic. The “Modern,” for example, concentrates on modern trends with a full frequency spectrum and super high fidelity sound, while the other three elude to the iconic sounds of the past (even featuring the iconic “hissing” sound of old vinyl discs!).
- Articulation patches
Vir2 Instruments has incorporated 169 articulation patches in addition to the thirteen instrument patches, bringing MOJO 2’s power and flexibility to new heights. Each articulation patch features all of the instrument patches’ robust controls and effects but with a substantially smaller CPU usage. The “Speed” knob is the only parameter that is specific to the articulation patches, allowing you to speed up or slow down any articulation to perfectly fit your musical piece.
- True legato
The “Legato” mode allows you to perform the most authentic melodies very naturally. Vir2 Instruments’ team of developers precisely captured the time between each note’s transition, allowing you to perform gorgeous, lifelike horn lines that sound as if played by a real musician.
- Extreme sound customization
To get the optimal mix between instruments on the same ensemble, you can combine the three possible mic positions (“Close,” “Near,” and “Room”) and get extraordinary new soundscapes and, alternatively, you can use a key noise overlay to add the sound of the musician’s interaction with the actual physical instrument and benefit from an extensive FX suite to customize the overall tone of the horns.
- Musical eras
This library is available for macOS 10.11 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs only in Kontakt Player or Kontakt version 5.8.1 or higher.
Truly one of the most magnificent sample collections, ever since its first version, MOJO 2: Horn Section 2 by Vir2 Instruments is that same classic library we’re all used to, but with added features and techniques that make it even more rich-sounding.
The impressive quality of each sample captures all the diverse alterations and details you could possibly want from such software. It’s an impressive sample library that should greatly impact your next production.
12. Heavyocity Symphonic Destruction
The epic film score and trailer composers receive a treat in the form of this Kontakt instrument.
Heavyocity’s Symphonic Destruction combines traditional and hybrid orchestral sounds with synths, heavy guitars, and impact sounds to deliver a highly usable toolkit for modern film and trailer scoring.
Many of the samples are from Heavyocity’s Novo strings, Forzo brass, and Vento woodwinds libraries, and the distinctive processing from Damage 2 percussions makes them as bombastic as possible.
The library features two classifications of instrument engines: Designers and Performers. Each folder contains engines and instruments dedicated to specific purposes in trailer/film scoring.
From mysterious and malicious quips of staccato passages to action-packed horns and impacts, you’ll find them all. However, there’s more to Symphonic Destruction than merely a collection of samples and loops.
Each engine in the library provides different features that allow you to manipulate and customize the samples or loops to your liking. Furthermore, macros let you control multiple parameters with the turn of a knob or your modulation wheel. This feature makes it a breeze to perform with the library.
- Designer Engine
The Designer Engine allows you to design many kinds of sound palettes, from pad-like hybrid strings to intricate horror drones. Of course, there are numerous factory presets and samples you can use to make new patches. Each patch features three channels where you can load a sample. You can preview, load, and distribute samples across the keyboard in the Source menu at the top left of the interface. Similarly, you’ll find three menus on the top right of the interface: Cycle, Macro Sequencer, and Master FX.
The Cycle page lets you modulate each channel and its start position, velocity, and panning with a sequencer. Similarly, the Macro Sequencer modulates the Macro knob in the middle of the interface that controls six parameters: Envelope, EQ, Filter, Drive, Gate, and Space. Note that you can click on each parameter to find the envelope, filters, and effects editors.
- Braam and Loop Designer Engines
These Designer Engines are similar to the main Designer Engine. However, the difference is that you’ll find the menu Designer instead of Cycle at the top right of the interface. And the Designer menu is better suited for braams and loops. Instead of sequencing, you can change the volume, pan, tune, and start position of each channel.
Furthermore, like in the previous Engine, each patch contains three channels. However, the Engine distributes each source/sample you’ll find in this Engine per octave across the keyboard. And the bottom octave plays all three channels simultaneously to give you an epic braam or a complicated loop with a single key.
- Performer Engine
The Performer Engine allows you to choose various instrument types like Traditional, Hybrid, Damaged, Soundscapes, Hybrid Pedals, Damaged Guitars, etc. Each of these comes with different sounds and articulations that you can switch using key switches. Also, you can control the dynamics using your modulation wheel or the velocity, depending on what you choose.
In the Engine itself, you’ll find buttons on the left side of the user interface to open an amp envelope, a three-band EQ, and a filter. And on the right side, you’ll find a mixer, a performance editor, and space. In the Mixer, you will find three channels: Main (Dry), Hall, and Reverse FX. And the performance editor lets you add a gate or dynamics sequencer. While the gate sequencer controls the instrument’s volume, the dynamics sequencer modulates the dynamics (velocity) of the sample. And finally, the space page lets you add a delay and a reverb.
When you select short sounds like staccatos, colegno, and pizzicato, a module called Repeater appears. You’ll probably use it for ostinatos most often. However, every good ostinato requires accented notes to enhance the rhythm, and this library’s Repeater lets you do just that. It lets you play ostinatos with 3rd or 4th note accented, crescendos, diminuendos, etc., without writing each note in your DAW. Similarly, you can adjust the round-robin from none to six.
This library is available for Kontakt 6.6.1 or Kontakt Player 6.6.1. Kontakt requires Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.13 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
The more you attempt to explore this library, the more you realize how vast the sonic possibilities are. I would describe this library as a comprehensive sound module for trailer or film music. You will find almost everything you’d need to compose epic hybrid cinematic scores.
Similarly, although the workflow isn’t very obvious at a glance, using each sound engine and experimenting with the buttons and knobs gets you up to speed. Also, when you’re producing, try turning up the proprietary Punisher knob if you need to hype things up a little.
We have seen a huge list of some great tools, including instruments, synths, effects plugins, and more, which are quite expensive, and can be used to score films, television series, and plays; do foley, SFX, and sound design for trailers; create & design sound for games; and lastly, produce and mix-master music/songs.
Symphony Series, including Strings Ensemble, Woodwind Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, etc., by Native Instruments, is easy, intuitive, expansive, and sonically superior for orchestra work. So has Zimmer strings by Spitfire Audio and Berlin Woodwinds are also great for creating larger-than-life orchestral compositions and arrangements.
The Strezov Sampling Jade Ethnic Orchestra is great for authentic Asian sounds, whereas Choir Omnia is a unique and extensive tool for programming realistic choir arrangements and compositions. Hope the article was of help and value to you. Thank you for reading.
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Shaurya Bhatia, is an Indian Music Producer, Composer, Rapper & Performer, who goes by the stage name MC SNUB, and is also 1/2 of the Indian pop music duo, called “babyface”. A certified Audio Engineer & Music Producer, and a practicing musician & rapper for more than 6 years, Shaurya has worked on projects of various genres and has also been a teaching faculty at Spin Gurus DJ Academy.