For this post, we have picked and reviewed the 6 best plugins and libraries for choral production.
Human singing is a real challenge for any company in the digital music production business. Why? Because the human voice is so unique that any treatment on the digital domain sound artificial.
Should I Choose Plugin Or Sample Library?
A plugin is lighter in storage but heavier in processing the sounds. In a plugin, the sound quality depends on the algorithms of the plugin. A sample library occupies a lot of storage, but it is simpler in the process of playing. In a library, the sound quality depends on the quality of the recordings.
Luckily, some products merge both approaches to obtain hybrid results of excellent sounds, quality, and playability without affecting the CPU cycles of our computer.
Now, let’s take a look at the best products of 2021 for choir plugins and sound libraries.
Top 6 Choir Plugins & Sample Libraries 2021
1. Spitfire Audio Eric Whitacre Choir (Plugin)
Spitfire Audio’s Eric Whitacre Choir is a plugin that triggers a set of samples via MIDI notes. Grammy Winner Eric Whitacre and his 22-people choir recorded these samples at “The Hall at Air Lyndhurst Studios”.
The original intention of Spitfire Audio is to provide composers with an exceptional tool to free inspiration when dealing with human vocal singing. After weeks of hard work recording, Spitfire Audio mastered and packed more than 200 Gigabytes of samples.
Two plugins, included in the software package, handle all the sounds in the library: the Choir plugin and the Evo plugin. The Choir plugin is the plugin to control the expression and dynamics of the samples in a simplified way. The Evo plugin allows you to work with the “Evolutions” – as called by Spitfire Audio. “Evolutions” are the way that long notes change over time. The Evo grid is the tool that articulates different samples to reproduce them all together seamlessly.
In a high commitment with quality, Eric Whitacre refused to record singing words for later processing. For a more aesthetic reason, there are not any “word builders” in this library. All the samplings are vowels with a set of articulations. Every sample contains recordings of Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone, and Bass. Additionally, they provide legato vocalizations.
- The Largest Choir Library
A consolidated 170Gb sample library plus two management plugins make Eric Whitacre Choir one of the best tools when working with human recording. So huge it is that the company recommends purchasing the library online and delivering it using its hard drive service (instead of trying to download it from the Internet).
- Huge but Ready to Use
Although Spitfire Audio usually releases libraries for Kontakt Player, the company released the tools and the library with its plugin. The producers thought that a “unique tool” should be more appropriate to handle a “unique choir”. So, no need for additional plugins; simple installation and ready to use.
- All Aspects of a Choir
It contains recordings of men and women on any available frequency: from bass to soprano. The plugin can manage the attack, the delay, the sustain, and the release of every sample. And additionally, it handles reverberation, dynamics, vibrato, and legato. You can decide how many singers will be singing if you work with polyphony and different MIDI channels. A set of simplified controls, sliders, and knobs help you to customize your workflow into presets for future use.
- Only One Part of the Whole Orchestra
Although Eric Whitacre Choir only provides the choir part, it will sound spectacular if used with other libraries for orchestras, like Hans Zimmer Strings, Spitfire Symphony Orchestra, and Percussion Professional.
Whitacre Choir is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit or 64-bit and macOS 10.10 to 10.15 (Apple Silicon/ARM not supported). It comes in VST2/3, AU and AAX formats.
Not only the quality of the samples is enormous but also is the control over the samples. With this library, you will not need any other way to compose for choirs. This plugin will make free your inspiration because you will hear what sounds in your head. It is an excellent tool for any composer. The only drawback I find in Eric Whitacre Choir is that the amount of sounds is so large that it will take you a while to listen to them all.
2. Strezov Sampling Choir Essentials (library)
Choir Essentials is a sound library for Native Instruments’ Kontakt Player developed and sampled by Strezov Sampling. It is a selection of choral collections featuring individual soprano, alto, tenor, and bass sections. Additionally, it includes complete ensembles of adult and children choirs.
Choir Essentials combines a handpicked selection of performance patches with advanced techniques to mock up choir lines. Its samples and patches cover the full spectrum of what you will ever need in choral scoring, from soft and delicate to aggressive.
New composers and producers will find Choir Essential the perfect entry point to expand their tools when scoring for choral recording. It features three microphone emulations plus a unique Velocity Dynamic Influencer. This combination enhances the expression you can print to the choral execution from your MIDI device.
- A ‘go-to’ Playable Choir Patch
Its minimalist user interface allows you to select the patches and how the performance will occur. With its three sliders handling the microphone levels, you can define the location of the choir. You can also choose whether the patch sounds will play divided in your MIDI controller, octaves, or natural overlapped musical scale. And in the same window, you can modify the dynamics (soft or aggressive) and the amount of reverb. In only three mouse clicks, you are ready to record your track; or even play live.
- Proprietary Velocity Dynamic Influencer
The library implements a “Velocity Dynamic Influencer” that allows the musician to determine how loud or soft a single note is by velocity. This ability highlights specific notes within a chord depending on the strength set by the player. If the MIDI controller counts with a modwheel CC1, you can also control the crossfade between the natural dynamic layers of the patch.
- Polyphonic True Legato
Although Choir Essential is the younger brother of Strezov Sampling Next Generation Choir Series, it includes the “true legato” patches to play polyphonically without issues. Playing a chord with your left hand and a melody with your right hand will connect harmonically with every melodic line with legato transitions.
- Children Performances
Choir Essential not only provides performance patches of men and women in their standard musical ranges (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass) but also includes one Children Performance and two Children Legato Patches, altos, and sopranos.
Strezov Sampling Choir Essentials is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit or 64-bit and macOS 10.13 or higher with Native Instruments’ Kontakt Player (Free or Full) 5.7.1 or higher installed.
Strezov Sampling’s Choir Essentials consolidates in a tiny library the fundamentals of a realistic choir. The quality of the recordings and the algorithms to handle the different sections and dynamics are the same used on the complete Choir Series. In summary, you can start working professionally with a reduced set of sounds. But if this accomplishes your expectations, you will confidently add the rest of the library sounds that will not let you down.
3. Heavyocity Mosaic Voices (Library)
Heavyocity Mosaic Voices is a unique vocal sound library that merges organic human choirs, synthesized vocal pads, intricate noise, and drone layers. This mixture creates an inspiring set of rich sounds and subtle movements. It is not a simple synthesizer; it is not a choral sampled library. It is the best of both.
Mosaic Voices presents a six-tab user interface to compound the multiple available patches and process them to obtain the desired sound. In the “Options” tab, you will choose one sound per channel, picking it from a menu. You count with three different channels to shape your sound. Inside the “Control” section, you can make detailed modifications to each of the three chosen patches.
In the “Mixer” tab, you will adjust the overall parameters of the mix, like envelopes, EQ, filters, saturation drive, noise gate, and reverb. That will be the resulting sound. Heavyocity already produced 130 “snapshot presets” (50 organic and 80 hybrid ones) ready to use. Every preset combines the 160 sound sources (human, clone, hybrid, and synth voices) available in the library. You can create your own snapshot using its intuitive sample browser.
- Vocal Layers
Mosaic Voices builds up hybrid textures based on up to three vocal layers. Every layer can be “human” (also named as “organic“), “clone” (synthesized emulation of human vocals), or “hybrids” (a mixture of organic and clone). Since MIDI events trigger these, you can limit the velocity, the scale range, and portamento for every channel. You can control every voice independently or globally (using the “Mixer” tab).
- More than Vocal Layers
Besides the treatment of the vocal layers, you can combine the choral sounds with synth pads which allows the composer to add customized ambiance and depth. And it also includes an original arpeggiator to create movement. Finally, there is a “big macro knob” to dynamically control the multi-parameter user interface.
- Mosaic Engine
As the core of Mosaic Voices, the Mosaic Engine Algorithm mixes, filters, and combines the library sounds with the digital waveform processing. The real power of this engine lies in the capabilities to blend the multiple sound layers, the rhythmic movement of its ARP sequencer, and the high-quality palette of vocal recordings.
Heavyocity Mosaic Voices is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit or 64-bit and macOS 10.12 or higher with Native Instruments’ Kontakt Player (Free or Full) 6 or higher installed and Komplete Kontrol integrated.
I tested Mosaic Voices and the time flew by, enjoying its multiple features. I liked it because it is not a choral library or a synthesized sounds plugin; It’s both altogether! You will discover new vocal sounds naturally. They do not sound artificial. You blend several sources and you can be sure that the result will be excellent. The power of layering “organic” sounds enriches the warmth of the hybrid vocals. The “snapshot presets” are the starting point; with just a bit of time, one can get a blockbuster sound. Also, consider checking their related product Vocalise 2.
4. EastWest Sounds Hollywood Choirs (Plugin)
EastWest Sounds designed and released Hollywood Choirs with the mind put on the film industry. This plugin sounds classy, tender, genuine, and highly professional. The recordings are warm and natural as if they have not been processed later.
Hollywood Choirs is the sequel of the best-selling and most awarded virtual choir of all time, “Symphonic Choirs”. It features a female and male choir with great dynamics. It features 781 phrase presets in English, Italian, German, Spanish, and even Latin. The phrases are editable if you need customization. It includes an improved WordBuilder engine, completely redesigned.
WordBuilder allows the musician the flexibility to type in a word or phrase and make the plugin sings that phrase. The engine works on the vowel and consonants interaction that builds up an unbelievable realism. Additionally, the producers sampled non-pitched consonants using high and low-frequency variations. The plugin handles all these (vowels, pitched, and non-pitched consonants) through a set of volume sliders that adjust the relative level between phonemes.
Instrument includes up to 13 microphone emulation types. This way, the composer (or sound designer) can set up surround sounds, virtual reality effects and 3D soundscapes using a few user-controllable knobs. The plugin counts with all the essential tools for waveform adjustments (attack, decay, sustain, release). In the same way, you will be able to adjust all other vocal articulations, like legato, vibrato, and portamento. Fully customizable using MIDI CC events.
- Pristine and Clear Sound
Hollywood Choirs sound crystal clear and pristine. The reverb control makes the choir as warm or dry as you need it. Evidently that the engineers worked meticulously to get the exact balance between dry and wet reverb; this feature allows the sound mixer to set the choir inside a scene anytime, anywhere.
- WordBuilder 2
WordBuilder, the choir lyrics writer, allows you to type in any lyrics and the WordBuilder sings it in perfect tune. Many plugin designers think twice before start working on word builders for choirs. The results of the WordBuilder are magnificent. It is one of the reasons for the awards received.
- Consonants Management
It outstands because of its management of consonants. It has processing for phrases, phenomes, phoneme balance, consonant-ending words, consonant scaling, alternative takes of non-pitched consonants, word parameter grouping. All these features make real the existence of WordBuilder 2.
- Your Intimacy is Also Respected
With the ultra-powerful mixer, you can handle how close or far your choir will sing. When you adjust the “distance” and the “location” of the microphones (in the internal mixer), you will feel when the choir is near to you or singing from a distance. You can make the choir as intimate as you wish.
- Multiple Editions for the Same Product
It comes in three different editions: Gold, Gold X, and Diamond. Gold contains 8 Gb of 16bit samples, GoldX contains 16Gb and Diamond 59Gb of 24bit samples. All with a mixed combination of microphone emulations (main, close, stage, mid, and surround).
EastWest Sounds’ Hollywood Choirs is available for Windows 10 or higher 64-bit only and macOS 10.13 or higher. It comes in VST2/3, AU and AAX formats. Check EastWest website since not all DAWs are officially supported.
Designed for the film industry, Hollywood Choirs is one of the best plugins for the emulation of choirs. Including top-notched WordBuilder, it transforms the impossible into excellent songs. Its quality and customization are great. Hollywood Choirs will suit your needs, whether composing for backing up singers or scoring for a million-dollar production.
5. FluffyAudio – Dominus Choir (Library)
Fluffy Audio gained five years of experience before the release of Dominus Choir. Once ready, they chose the best musicians and score conductor to develop this fantastic library of medieval and traditional church chants and prayers sung in Latin.
It brings us two solid and professional Italian choirs recorded at 24 bits and 48 Khz with stereo microphones set at four different positions. The result is 30Gb of celestial sounds that play perfectly in Kontakt Player (Full version).
The graphical user interface allows you to select more than 200 premade words, 50 initial syllables, and more than 150 middle/end ones. Using this menu, you can arrange to form words. You will assign every syllable a musical duration (eighths, quarters, halves, and so on) and the strength (from fortissimo to pianissimo). The interface will show how the syllables are connected to form words and how the words complete a verse.
Once the lyrics are ready, you can mix female and male choirs, how much present is one or the other. Additionally, you can design the performance room, varying the location of the four microphones and the reverb type.
- State-of-the-art Syllable Control
Dominus Choir implements an original process to control the duration of each syllable. Libraries of vocal samplings need to be very careful with sung words; it is widespread to fall and sound unnatural or even robotic. And the root cause of that lack of naturality is the poor combination of previously recorded syllables to form different words. The system never loses the musicality of the original sessions and gives the musician complete control over the syllable duration. Fluffy Audio spent years of editing and scripting to obtain its flawless sound. No need to configure crossfades or tweaking hassles.
- True Legato and Polylegato
It features unbelievable True Legato transitions in all the vowels in the library. It is capable of handling from the softest movements to the louder dynamic. Its Polylegato engine, which manages these changes of intensity, works smoothly.
- Conduct the Choir with your Mouse
Allows you to score the dynamics of your performance by writing it using your mouse or your keyboard’s mod wheel or pitch bend. As simple as that. Once recorded that curve of the dynamics, the whole choir will sing it miraculously
FluffyAudio’s Dominus Choir is available for Windows XP or higher 32-bit or 64-bit and macOS 10.15 or higher with Native Instruments’ Kontakt Full 5.8.1 or higher installed (Free Kontakt Player not supported).
It looks like Dominus Choir was conceived in heaven. Not only because of the Latin chants but also how perfect it sounds. Latin syllables are indeed easier to combine than other spoken languages due to their simple articulations. But when you listen to a final choral composition made using Dominus, it is challenging to determine whether a virtual choir recorded it or not.
6. Aeris: Hybrid Choir Designer (Library)
Vir 2 Instruments’ Aeris Hybrid Choir Designer is a library of choral and solo singers for Kontak Player. It provides multi-samples of male and female choirs, and multi-sampled solo singers on its diverse scale range (bass, tenor, alto, and soprano). It counts with a dual-pad engine to create sound layering and import any custom recording.
Apart from the high-quality choral voices, Aeris features 146 sound pads based on its hybrid library grouped in 6 categories: calm, tension, motion, effects, uplift, and distorted. And Vir2 Instruments regularly releases installable expansion presets to make your library bigger for free. You can design your choral performance in the main window selecting from six performance groups (choir or solo).
Every performance was recorded at two velocity layers and you can choose any of the three different recordings (round-robin). On the same screen, you can use the “vowel selector“, the true legato feature, plus the engagement of four oscillators (LFO) available.
- Dual-Pad Engine
Aeris gives the users two pad engines that can be triggered by MIDI individually or in parallel. The engine takes its sources from the choirs and solo singers samples and combines them to create new sounds. Additionally, you can add up to eight effects, including compressor, delay, chorus, and stereo spread.
- Flexible Modulation
It features four separate and customizable LFO modulation and two step-sequencers. From there, you can alter the waveform (basically the attach and release) and correct any volume, tune or EQ needed. The step sequencers add the ability to produce rhythmic sound enhance the hybrid characteristic of this library
- Import Original Sounds
If you count with Kontak Player Full version, Aeris incorporates a “User Patch” slot. With it, you will have access to the backend of Aeris and import your owned sound samples and use the Aeris interface to manipulate them. These sounds can be any “wav” or “aif” file you recorded and any Acid’ized sounds and Apple Loop files.
Aeris’ Hybrid Choir Designer is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit or 64-bit and macOS 10.9 or higher with Native Instruments’ Kontakt Player 5.5.1 or higher installed.
Aeris Hybrid Choir Designer is an excellent library that promises to be better over time. It allows you to import your own sounds to the library and update the library with newly created presets. It counts with all the standard parameters to alter and shape your waveforms, provides excellent recordings of solo singers and beautiful choir samples. It fits anywhere you need vocal performances.
The 3 Best Free Choir Plugins 2021
1. DSK Choirz
DSK ChoirZ is a plugin developed by DSK Music that provides a list of other plugins for music production. ChoirZ sets its sounds as a combination of vocal recordings and pads with a posterior modification of its basic wave parameters.
It counts with three layers of 32 vocal choirs, complemented with three advanced filters and three oscillators (LFO) to address cut, panning, level, and pitch. Additionally, it includes an ADSR engine (attack, decay, sustain, and release) for waveform processing, fine-tuning, and pan control.
ChoirZ allows MIDI automation and includes chorus and reverb effects. It also supports velocity response for devices with sensitive keys.
- Unified and Straightforward User Interface
A musician that knows the basic principles of waveform theory will find a recognizable interface. Every parameter is clearly identified, following the standard nomenclature (ADSR).
DSK Choirz is only available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit only. It comes in VST format only.
DSK Music developed many handy plugins for music creation. They do not consume CPU and provide decent results. ChoirZ is not the exception. This plugin is a perfect starting point if you are starting to include vocal choirs in your songs. Go for it.
2. ANGLE Studios Virgin Choir
Angle Studios’ Virgin Choir is a free VST plugin with the sound of a female choir. The quality of the sounds is excellent and it is so low-CPU consuming that you can stack two or three instances in parallel playing live.
It includes numerous professional features like multiple articulations and key switches via MIDI. It is sensible to keyboard velocity; it allows the note attack and release adjustments; counts with a sequencer mode and a reverb effects processor.
It only includes vowel samples, but they are very usable, in particular, when playing in the human scale range. They sound excellent in the company of external synth pads.
- Great sound
It lacks many professional features, but Angle Studios took two years to develop this plugin with excellent sound. Indeed, in newer versions, Virgin Choir is planning to add customizations and more samples.
ANGLE Studios Virgin Choir is only available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit or 64-bit. It comes in VST format only.
This plugin is perfect for beginners, simple to use, with convenient features, but with only one patch: female choir. Additionally, please read its user manual and its copyright disclosure. There are some restrictions if you will produce commercial music.
3. Sonatina Orchestra Choir
Sonatina Choir is a free orchestral sample library of male and female symphonic choirs. It is part of the Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra series by BigCat Instruments.
You can choose either a female or male choir. While not as advanced or formidable in scope as commercial offerings, Sonatina Choir contains the basics for recreating simple vocal arrangements. It is mainly aimed at beginners, but middle or experienced composers can utilize its lightweight processing to complement more complex performances.
- Fundamental Building Block
Sonatina Choir is a building block for more extensive arrangements.
Sonatina Orchestra Choir is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit or 64-bit and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST and AU formats.
The best advice is: download and test it. It is free and straightforward to use. The sounds are decent and probably the first step towards your first orchestral arrangement.
Any conclusion is personal and what for someone is excellent for others is just fine. Nevertheless, if you are starting, my suggestion is to go for the free plugins. They are decent, easy to learn, and quick to insert into your production. Although you will also know that the sound is not professional and will not sound like a real human choir, it will be great if the result you get fits your needs.
If you need to move towards a more professional sound, then you should analyze several other features. Spitfire Audio Eric Whitacre Choir and EastWest Sounds Hollywood Choirs will not need any other sample player. The plugin itself acts as a sample player. With the rest of the libraries, you will need an external sample player (Kontakt or similar), which could have an additional monetary cost. But running on an external player, you can be sure your computer will play all the sounds efficiently.
All four libraries reviewed are excellent, high-quality and very usable. However, everyone has a distinctive feature that differentiates them from the rest.
Strezov Sampling Choir Essentials counts with Polyphonic True Legato and Children Choir samples. Heavyocity Mosaic Voices can combine three sound sources to obtain a mixed result. Fluffy Audio Dominus Choir is the choral library for traditional church choirs. Aeris Hybrid Choir Designer allows you to import your own choral recordings.
Even Spitfire Audio Eric Whitacre Choir and EastWest Sounds Hollywood Choirs counts with their unique features: Spitfire provides the most extensive sound library for choirs, and Hollywood Choirs provides the best WordBuilder in the market.
Marcelo is a musician, producer, mixing and mastering engineer. Since the 1990s, he has been working on digital audio and musical productions.