Recreating an authentic-sounding ensemble in your music productions can be difficult, especially when you're a new a newer producer.
Because real life chamber strings sections or real life ensembles have an incredible amount of articulation and expression that computers simply cant replicate without a severe amount of attention to detail (that newer producers just don't have... at least not yet).
Sure, you could simply rely on samples from Splice's audio libraries. But there will always come a point where you want more control over the music you're making. This is when you know it's time to upgrade to the big leagues and invest in one of the many best orchestral string VSTs on the market.
But which one should you choose as your first?
After all, string orchestral plugins are notorious for costing a pretty penny and you don't want to purchase the wrong one. That's why we broke it all down for you and found the absolute best options for anyone using VST strings.
In this article, we'll break down what makes a string plugin, our comprehensive list of the best ones, and even give a short list of mentions for the best free options you can snag today.
What Makes A Best Orchestral Plugin?
There are many different factors that can make an orchestral or string sample the "best." Some people may prefer plugins that are easy to use and have a lot of features, while others may prefer plugins that sound realistic and lifelike.
For me, I am always on the lookout for string ensemble VSTs that are expressive and controllable. So much of the authentic humanized feel of strings comes from acute attention to detail in the movement and expression in the strings. If the plugin company cuts any corners here, it's a non-starter for me. So it's safe to say that every single one of these libraries, at a bare minimum, checks that box.
But ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what you need the plugin to do for you.
1 - Orchestral Tools' Time Bundle
Made by the same company that brought us Berlin Symphonic Strings, The Orchestral Tools Time Bundle (both Micro and Macro) bring a temporal approach to symphonic orchestration. This string library is a powerful tool that archives a dynamic uniqueness through its layering capabilities, allowing producers and orchestrators to play long-tail sustained notes that are rich in texture and evolve over time in a way that few other libraries come close to.
So, for obvious reasons, it's no wonder why this library was number one on my list.
The Time Macro Bundle takes this concept to the max, featuring mid-sized session string ensembles and choirs that you can layer together to create otherworldly string articulations that are firmly rooted in an organic sound. This premier offer comes at a hefty price point, but is an underpinning and near-essential buy for any producer or composer making music today.
The Time Micro Bundle offers much of the previously mentioned features on a smaller and more intimiate scale. While not as seemingly grande in scope, the more nuanced and delicate texture of this VST plugin creates a far more ethereal end result that can serves a completely different goal than the Macro.
Whether you're producing organic house or full-scale string arrangements, the Time Bundle is a powerful offer that you should certainly not sleep on.
Purchase This Bundle Here
2 - Orchestral Tools' Berlin Con Sordino Strings
The Berlin Con Sordino strings is one of the best VSTs strings , simply due to its exacting precision that combines subtly and texture in every articulation.
This is the exact features you need when producing and composing modern music, where solo string instruments and compositions are becoming ever more popular.
These strings also feature the ability to play sections muted, allowing for even more intimate and dynamic expressions between sections. While many of its competitors offer faux-string dampening, the meticulousness in the recordings of each and every sampled strings is a powerful feature unrivaled by any other on the market.
Even London's best string players will soon be playing second fiddle to Orchestral Tools' Berlin Con Sordino Strings!
Purchase These Strings Here
3 - Hollywood Strings Diamond Edition
EastWest Hollywood Strings Diamond Edition is the most detailed collection of classical strings ever recorded in a virtual instrument. The library was recorded by Shawn Murphy. Hollywood Strings Diamond Edition was produced, engineered, and mixed by Doug Rogers at EastWest Studios (formerly Cello Studios) in Hollywood, and includes recordings of solo instruments, sections, and ensembles into an easy-to-use interface that is accessible to producers and composers of any level.
Where this library starts getting more complicated is by featuring four different mic positions for each section: Close, Mid-Close, Mid-Far, Far. The Close mic position gives you a tight sound with lots of detail. The Mid-Close mic position gives you a more intimate sound with some air around the instruments. The Mid-Far mic position gives you a more open sound with some room ambience around the instruments. The Far mic position gives you an even more open sound with lots of room ambience around the instruments. You can mix these mic positions to taste or use them individually.
The Hollywood Strings Diamond Edition interface has been designed to give you as much control over the sound as possible. You can adjust the level of vibrato for each section, as well as the level of portamento (legato) between notes.
This Hollywood strings library, while being on the pricier end, is designed to be used everyday and in every situation. It features a classic sound that fans and listeners will love right out of the gate, because they've likely heard it a hundred times before.
Purchase These Strings Here
4 - Spitfire Symphonic Strings
This is a very high quality string library that provides a lot of different articulations. It’s one of the best sounding string libraries out there, and it’s also very easy to use.
The samples themselves feature the professional touches of 60 Star Players, 16 1st Violins, 14 2nd Violins, 12 Violas, 10 Cellos & 8 Basses super deep sampled with over 175 articulations, including 59 shorts, 94 longs, and 5 extraordinary performance legato patches programmed by Andrew Blaney.
The Spitfire Symphonic Strings library is very versatile and can be used for all kinds of music. It’s perfect for film scores, pop music, rock music, and more.
If you’re looking for a high quality string library, this is the one you want. It sounds great and it’s very easy to use.
Check Out ThIs Library Here
5 - Audiobro LA Scoring Strings
Audiobro LA Scoring Strings is a library of orchestral string instruments recorded in Los Angeles. The library was recorded at the EastWest Studios and features a range of different stringed instruments, including violins, violas, cellos, and double basses. The library is designed to provide users with a realistic and lifelike sound, and features a range of different articulations and playing techniques.
The library is also compatible with a range of different software platforms, making it easiest libraries available to use in a variety of different productions.
Purchase These Strings Here
6 - Output Analog Strings
Output Analog Strings is for producers who don't play strings.
Because it's user interface and audio engine, while being powerful audio plugin in its own right, is almost a psychedelic blend of sterile software and humanized manipulation which causes Output's strings to sound truly unique.
This is actually a common theme throughout most of Output's gear, as you won't buy this VST string plugin to be just another one of your standard orchestral libraries. No, you'll buy it fort its own unique way these strings can be used.
It is this exact reason why these strings sounds are often used in my own productions to help layer behind my primary string sections, because it helps get the best of both worlds between expressive audio samples and digital envelope shaping.
This feature alone makes it stand apart from the rest of the plugins on the market (although for a highly specific feature).
Purchase This Plugin Here
Free Orchestral Plugins In 2022
In 2022, there will be a wide variety of free orchestral . This will allow composers and producers to create realistic and professional sounding orchestral tracks without having to spend a lot of money. There will be plugins for all different types of orchestral instruments, including strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion.
With so many high-quality and affordable options available, there will be no excuse not to create beautiful and convincing orchestral music.
Here is a quick list of free string VSTs and libraries that are actually worth your time.
Quick Recap on VST Plugins
VST plugins are audio software that can be used in a digital audio workstation to add new sounds or effects to your audio. There are many different types of them and they can be used for a variety of purposes. Some VST plugins are designed to simulate the sound of real-world instruments, while others can be used to create new and unique sounds.
VST plugins can be used in conjunction with other audio software, or they can be used alone.