The Best Orchestral VST: Ultimate 2018 Review

The Best Orchestral VST: Ultimate 2018 Review

These days, choosing your music software is just as important as choosing your DAW because you’re committing to learning its features and idiosyncrasies. You might think that there aren’t enough differences in software vendors’ offerings on the surface, but choosing the right orchestral VST for you requires quite a bit of consideration.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the best orchestral VSTs on the market today and evaluate them with the sample-based producer in mind.

How We Selected the Best Orchestral VST

Whether you’re a generalist music producer or an enthusiastic orchestral music specialist, finding the perfect orchestral VST is a difficult task. Many of the software vendors offer music samples for you to evaluate the quality of the samples; however, the ease of use of the software and its workflow are also important to consider.

When it comes to sample quality, we played the recordings on multiple sources and volumes, noting the audio fidelity, especially at extreme pitches and volumes. During your own evaluation, we recommend playing the samples with a focus on timbre, smoothness and realism as you adjust the pitch and volume. The instruments must be impeccably clear even at full blast.

The next thing we evaluated was the speed of the software engine. In many cases the speed of the software is determined by the memory capacity of your machine. So, to avoid a slow-loading instrument, consider the minimum requirements of the VST. Additionally, we preferred the software instruments that were user-friendly. This means that the VSTs with great user-interfaces and simple navigation ranked higher in our evaluation.

Be sure to choose an instrument with enough instruments and samples. In our testing, a 50 GB sound library for the orchestral VST would be fine for a home studio.

With over a dozen brands of orchestral VSTs in the market today, selecting your dream instrument is a real chore. So, to help you quickly make an informed decision, we have created an in-depth guide of some of the best orchestral VSTs in the market.

1. Miroslav Philharmonik Orchestra

Miroslav Philharmonic 2 Screenshot

First on the list is the Miroslav Philharmonik 2, one of the best orchestral VSTs available in the market. This powerhouse instrument comes packed with a large audio capacity (55 GB) worth of samples, data and loops. The library also features Miroslav Vitous' breathtaking recordings of sounds and music performances by the Czech Philharmonik Orchestra at the famous Dvorak Symphony Hall. These legendary recordings give you quality samples enabling you to reproduce world-class orchestral sounds in your music.

Its unique multi-timbral workstations (16 in total) incorporates an array of carefully laid out instruments. The collection includes wind instruments, brass, and string. As for the user interface, the Philharmonik Orchestra VST features a top-notch layout, including easy to navigate menus enabling you to locate every sound quickly.

The package includes a 34 classical DSP effect, 4 master effects, 4 insert effects for every instrument and patented ultra-quality reverb effects. With both the VST/DAW and standalone programs installed, you also enjoy the benefit of choosing how to play your instrument.

Pros

  • 55 gigabytes loaded with samples
  • Easy to download the software- Direct digital download
  • A large Variety of master and individual effects
  • Compatible with the DAWs, VSTs, and Standalone application

Cons

  • Quite Expensive if you are on a tight budget ($529)

2. Garritan Instant Orchestra

If you are looking for the best value for the price you’re paying, be sure to consider this pack from Garritan. The software comes at an incredibly low price that should fit most budgets. Garritan Instant Orchestra is well regarded among music enthusiasts and boasts an authentic sample library.

Garritan is designed with an extensive choice of instruments which include strings, bass-octave tones, strings overlays and big hits. It also comes packed with additional sounds including ethereal textures, wild overlays, mega-hits, chaotic whirls, spooky wind textures, super-lush strings, slivery choirs, light glassy, harps, low-octave rumblings, glissandi, bombastic brass sections and chord clusters. Finally, Garritan also comes with an integrated ARIA player saving you from spending on a separate sample player.

Pros

  • Compatible with the VSTs and other systems like windows (Ableton) and Mac (Logic Pro X)
  • Easy to use with the USB and MIDI hardware and software
  • User-friendly interfaces
  • High-quality audio clips and samples
  • Comparatively cheap ($179.95)

Cons

  • A restricted number of samples
  • Not compatible with Adobe Audition

3. Native Instruments Komplete 11

Willing to invest in an all-in-one solution? Well, Native Instruments’ Complete 11 is arguably the best orchestral VST pack in the market. Loaded with plenty of orchestral instruments and more, this instrument is ideal for the jack-of-all trades producer.

Native Instruments’ Komplete 11 comes with a huge storage capacity of about 155GB which houses more than 13000 different sounds. Inside, you will also find a 45 product pack which includes additional software like UNA Corda, Strummed Acoustic, Reactor 6, Replika and many more. If you’re looking for more than just orchestral samples, Komplete 11 offers the most value on this list.

Pros

  • A 155GB storage capacity of samples, sounds, and audio products
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows systems
  • A ton of digital applications and virtual instruments

Cons

  • Quite expensive ($599)
  • Not very friendly to a new user
  • Uses only a Physical disk (no digital download)

4. Ivory II

Looking for the ultimate piano VST for your orchestral production? Well, Ivory II by Steinway and Sons may be just what you need.

Ivory II provides high fidelity piano sounds. It features 18 high-velocity levels (for each piano), sensational string resonance, a pedal noise feature, timbre shifting, a lid position, a half pedalling function, a set of tuning tables and synth layers. With the above features and a 49GB memory full of memorable samples, this instrument will transform your music. Ivory II also features Harmonic Resonance Modelling, a feature that ensures authenticity in your final product.

This VST also features timbre shifting, Parametric EQ settings and other syntax control layers, and is the top choice if you rely heavily on authentic piano samples.

Pros

  • Compatible with both Windows and Mac computers (32-64-bit settings)
  • 49 GB core memory for sample storage.
  • A wide variety of EQ options, synth, pedal noise features, and filters.

Cons

  • Limited to only piano-related samples.

5. Vienna Symphonic Library

If you are looking for flexibility in terms of your sample library’s authenticity, the Vienna Symphonic Library is a good choice. Because of its pure samples (without additives) you will be able to customize your instruments to your heart’s content. While most orchestral VSTs adopt a modern sound, the Vienna Symphonic Library has maintained its classic approach to orchestral instrument reproduction, making it a staple in the music industry.

But when it comes to its software, this instrument is completely modernized, coming with a sample library capacity of about 40GB, fully loaded with meticulously selected classical samples. It contains 28 instruments which include brass, percussion, strings, woodwinds and pianos. The software also allows you to play as an ensemble or a solo, so you can experiment with different styles in your production.

The highlight of the Vienna Symphonic Library is its string section because it is uniquely built to excel in creating legato performances. It also features an algorithmic programming feature that enables real note transition that produces unique melodies.

Pros

  • Utilizes the AX, VST, RTAS and AU formats.
  • 40GB storage memory

Cons

  • Limited samples
  • Lacks special effects

Verdict: Which is the best orchestral VST?

With so many options available, it can be quite difficult to choose which is universally the best orchestral VST. However, to make decision simpler, start with your own requirements. What is your budget? What is most important to you, audio quality or the sheer number of variety in sounds? Also, consider the purpose of the instrument. Are you purchasing an orchestral VST for professional recording or to use at your private studio? And finally, what genre of music do you intend to produce? Some orchestral VSTs are specifically designed for a specific genre of music while others are built multipurpose. After answering the above questions for yourself, the choice becomes much easier.

To summarize, here are our recommendations:

If you specialize in orchestral music production, you should consider the Philharmonik Orchestra, the Vienna Symphonic Library, or the Garritan Instant Orchestra. These choices provide a range for all budgets, and are incredibly versatile.

However, if you want a tool that serves multiple purposes for your home studio, you should consider Native Instruments’ Komplete 11. This will give you a mixture of variety without compromising on the music quality. Finally, Synthogy’s Ivory II is the best choice if you primarily compose piano pieces within larger orchestra productions.

If you’re still unsure, a beginner, or low on a budget, Garritan Instant Orchestra might be the best orchestral VST available. This tool fits into any budget at $179.95 and is loaded with all the necessary features to produce great orchestral music.

In this article, we offered 5 choices for your next orchestral VST, but it doesn’t end here. Do you know of other orchestral VSTs we might have we missed? Hit our comment box and let us know.

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How to Sample in FL Studio

In this post you're going to learn EXACTLY how to sample in FL Studio.

There are plenty of ways to sample overall, but this method is both simple and flexible.

So if you want to learn how to sample without additional plugins and problems, then you’ll love this FL Studio sampling tutorial.

Let’s dive right in…

The difference between looping and flipping a sample

Before we get into today’s FL Studio sampling tutorial, a quick clarification:

Sampling is repurposing a piece of music into another, which means you can simply loop some bars from another piece of music and call it a day.

But that’s not what we’re aiming to do in this tutorial. Instead, we’re going to be reconstructing a piece of music and making it our own.

Now that you understand the difference between looping and flipping a sample, let’s dive into the steps to flipping your own sample.

Step #1: Find a sample

The sampling process begins with “crate digging”.

While you may not want to go to record stores and browse for obscure gems, here’s how to find samples online:

First, find examples of good songs to sample.

Your first step is to find some music to sample. The best way to train your ear for sampling is to learn from other producers.

Here’s how to find out which songs have already been sampled into classic records:

One of my favourite strategies is to use WhoSampled to find the sample sources of sampled music.

All you need to do is search for your favourite producers and listen to their music and their samples side by side.

Then you can go down the rabbit hole of artists you’d never heard of and interesting music they’ve made that you might want to sample as well.

I’d also recommend keeping a playlist of songs you want to revisit and possibly sample.

Be careful with how you distribute the music you sample, however, due to copyright.

Alternatively, you can get samples from sample packs

Instead of dealing with copyright issues, you can buy sample packs with full compositions online.

The best part of purchasing these packs is that they’re made for sampling, which makes the process even simpler.

Step #2: Find the tempo

In order to make smooth transitions with your samples, you’ll need to know the tempo of the song.

If you get your sample from a sample shop, as we mentioned earlier, you can skip this step since the tempo will be labeled.

If you don’t already know the tempo, here’s how to find the tempo in FL Studio:

First, open FL Studio and drag your sample to the playlist area.

Next, right click the top left corner of the track.

In the menu under the section “Sample”, click “Detect Tempo”.

In the new dialog window that pops up, click the option with the range that you think the sample is in.

Then, you’ll be provided with an estimated tempo for the sample.

In my testing, however, this method wasn’t always accurate. You can also manually count the bars of the track instead if you get incorrect information from FL Studio.

At this point, you can optionally change your project tempo to the tempo of the sample. You will also need the tempo information for the next step.

Step #3: Configure and customize the sample in Fruity Slicer

Now we’re ready to prepare the track for sampling.

We’re going to be using Fruity Slicer in this tutorial.

Here’s why:

First, Fruity Slicer comes with all versions of FL Studio, unlike Slicex or Edison.

While you can use other tools to sample in FL Studio, Fruity Slicer is the simplest method.

Slicex is better suited for sampling drum loops, and Edison is best for in-depth waveform editing.

Finally, using Fruity Slicer provides you with an all-in-one tool to customize your sample without added functionality you likely won’t need.

Here’s how to get started with Fruity Slicer:

First, open a new instance of Fruity Slicer in your sequencer.

Next, load the sample by clicking on the sample button, then choosing “load sample”, and navigate to the audio file you want to import.

Once the sample is loaded, change the tempo of the Fruity Slicer instrument to the tempo of the sample that you found from earlier.

Now you’re ready to start slicing the sample. Click the slicing button and choose from the incremental options.

I would recommend you choose “Beat” as your slicing option because it usually gives you the best result.

You can choose to slice by smaller portions if you prefer, but be aware that the smaller slices will make it tougher to puzzle together later.

At this point, you should have your samples loaded and key mapped to your midi keyboard (if you have one).

However, you might notice that the start of each sample might sound to choppy.

To fix this, use the attack slider to customize the transients for all of your newly sliced samples.

In my experience, when the start of each sample is too sudden or jarring, increasing the attack will help with the transitions between samples.

The other slider is for the decay of each slice, which you should feel free to play around with.

With the sliders on the left, you can also change the pitch and stretch the samples to your liking.

For more customization, click the miscellaneous functions button.

In this section, you can get even more advanced with your sample customization.

For example, let’s say you want to play your sample instrument like a traditional hip hop sample machine, you would use the Polyphony area.

By changing the max number of voices that play at a time, you can recreate the classic hip hop feel so that only one slice plays at a time.

You can also slide the samples so that each slice glides into another when the notes are legato for a different result.

Another way to really make the sample instrument your own is to change the root note of the sample instrument.

Be aware that this will also change the tempo of each slice, which means that each beat will no longer neatly align with your project.

This is your opportunity to make the sample your own.

So have fun with this process and play around until you find something you like.

Step #4: Create a new pattern

Now that you’ve found a sample you like and customized it to your liking, it’s time to make some music with your new sample instrument.

You can use Fruity Slicer like any other virtual instrument to create your own patterns.

Play the samples on your midi keyboard while recording into FL Studio, or draw the notes into your piano roll.

Find a pattern that works for what you’re going for.

Again, just play around here and have fun with the process.

Step #5: Build around the sample

At this point you’ve probably got some interesting patterns and loops that you’re excited to build around.

Be sure to treat your newly created pattern just like any other instrument and tailor it to your track.

This includes using EQ to strip out elements you may not want in your final composition.

You can also add other effects to further customize the sample to your liking, and to fit the overall style of your track.

Now you’re ready to add other elements to your song.

You can add your drums and any other instruments to complement the sample.

And once you’ve reached a more advanced level of sampling, you can even restart the process and layer another sample into your track.

Have fun with it!

 

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