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Best, Focused, High-Quality Individual Instrument Libraries?

CWELLINGTON

New Member
I've found myself really liking very focused individual sample libraries. While the Komplete's and Ominispheres would be nice, I can't always justify $400, $600, $1000 purchases. One option is to save up, but I feel I'd be saving up and not doing anything. Examples of what I am referring to in the $60 to $150 range are:

AcousticSamples Sunbird
Ample Guitar T III
SoniVox Eighty Eight Ensemble 2.0
AcousticSamples C7 Grand
Tina Guo Cello $99

I recently purchased TuneTrack EZ Drummer and am trying to look at it and future $100'ish purchase as the only one I need for that particular type of instrument for a while (i.e. I am not looking to buy other Acoustic Drum sample libraries for redundancies).

One of my main reasons is that a lot of these individual instruments I find to be much more detailed and expressive with editing features far beyond what may even come in an expensive, full library. So kind of like spend several hundred dollars at once on a collection of so-so sounds, or several hundred dollars over time for a series of very detailed, expressive, high quality instruments.

I'd like to cover some acoustic basics for me like:

Acoustic Drums
Acoustic Piano
Acoustic Guitar
Acoustic Bass
Electric Piano/Rhodes Style
Solo Cello
Solo Violin
Atmospheric/Pads/Church/Worship
Organ

I'm not into heavy synth sound modeling, but gravitate towards high quality acoustic samples for writing songs. I have a Korg M3 88 so it's basically a massive ROMpler. Fine for playing live and turning on to write ideas. But when I actually record a song in a DAW to finalize, i'd love for the instruments to be as expressive/raw as possible vs. heavily compressed the way an older workstation usually is.

Any recommendations would be great.
 

Sarah Mancuso

Esselfortium
After having used both, I'd recommend one of Orange Tree Samples' acoustic guitars over the AcousticSamples guitars. Slightly steeper initial learning curve, but much higher ceiling for potential results, in my experience. I ended up having to replace most of my AcousticSamples usage with Orange Tree guitars before finishing the projects I had been using them on, because I kept running into limitations that I couldn't overcome. Also, there will likely be a significant sale at Orange Tree within the next month or two.

Joshua Bell Violin would be my #1 pick for expressive solo violin, though the Friedlander Violin for half the price is also quite good.
 
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CGR

Pianist, Composer & Arranger
Here's some recommendations for sampled acoustic pianos (I own all of them) which are extensively sampled, well scripted and offer the flexibility of multi mic options for achieving a wide range of timbre:

Grand Pianos
1. Soniccouture's Hammersmith New York Steinway D - 8'11" (50% off sale till June 30th)
2. Fluffy Audio's Scoring Piano (Hamburg Steinway B - 6'11")
3. Impact Soundworks Pearl Concert Grand V.2 (Yamaha C7 - 7'6")

Upright Pianos
1. Chocolate Audio's Steinbach Italian made Upright (flys under the radar this one)
2. Addictive Keys Modern Upright Yamaha U3 (very customisable, realistic tone & great playability)
3. Fluffy Audio's 'My Piano' (Not as flexible as the above, with just a single stereo mic option, but an honest, realistic tone & good playability - check out their demos)

Also, the UVI Keysuite Acoustic Collection is fantastic value, runs in the free UVI player, and offers numerous grand & upright pianos, as well as other historical keyboard instruments (some single mic, others multi-mic perspectives).

Electric Pianos
I'm a fan of these sampled electric pianos for Kontakt. I own the 75 Mark 1 Rhodes and The Reed EP 140b Wurly (for my attempts at emulating the late, great Ray Charles):
https://www.purgatorycreek.com/index.php/kontakt-libraries/

Hope that helps.
 

DSmolken

Senior Member
For acoustic drums that nail the sound of classic recordings, I like Drumdrops stuff. Their big advantage is really nailing 60s-70s drums with the proper period mic setups. If that's not important to you, then upgrading your EZ Drummer to Superior and getting more detailed kits would probably be the way to go. Not gonna try to sell you my drum kits in this particular case, heh.

Acoustic bass, tbh I just use my own free Meatbass all the time, even though I do have the Ample AUB. As a bassist, I just don't think acoustic bass for pop requires a ton of detail. It does take decent dynamics, and the right sound (not classical pizzicato, and close mic recording), but you're not gonna be doing a lot of repeating 8th note stuff, so even round robins aren't that important. Proper ghost notes would be nice to have, though.

For the pad sounds, your M3 plus Omnisphere is probably perfect already, unless you want very contemporary pads that sound like nothing before 2018.

Organ... do you want a Hammondy one, or a pipe organ?
 

Wally Garten

Senior Member
This violin from Auddict is not quite as intuitive/instantly playable as the Virharmonic or the Embertone, but it has a lovely sound and is currently $55. Just takes slightly more programming patience -- but lots of articulations and good legatos. For the price I think it's fantastic.

https://www.auddict.com/virtuosic-violin
 

Reid Rosefelt

aka Tiger the Frog
I've found myself really liking very focused individual sample libraries. While the Komplete's and Ominispheres would be nice, I can't always justify $400, $600, $1000 purchases. One option is to save up, but I feel I'd be saving up and not doing anything. Examples of what I am referring to in the $60 to $150 range are:

AcousticSamples Sunbird
Ample Guitar T III
SoniVox Eighty Eight Ensemble 2.0
AcousticSamples C7 Grand
Tina Guo Cello $99

I recently purchased TuneTrack EZ Drummer and am trying to look at it and future $100'ish purchase as the only one I need for that particular type of instrument for a while (i.e. I am not looking to buy other Acoustic Drum sample libraries for redundancies).

One of my main reasons is that a lot of these individual instruments I find to be much more detailed and expressive with editing features far beyond what may even come in an expensive, full library. So kind of like spend several hundred dollars at once on a collection of so-so sounds, or several hundred dollars over time for a series of very detailed, expressive, high quality instruments.

I'd like to cover some acoustic basics for me like:

Acoustic Drums
Acoustic Piano
Acoustic Guitar
Acoustic Bass
Electric Piano/Rhodes Style
Solo Cello
Solo Violin
Atmospheric/Pads/Church/Worship
Organ

I'm not into heavy synth sound modeling, but gravitate towards high quality acoustic samples for writing songs. I have a Korg M3 88 so it's basically a massive ROMpler. Fine for playing live and turning on to write ideas. But when I actually record a song in a DAW to finalize, i'd love for the instruments to be as expressive/raw as possible vs. heavily compressed the way an older workstation usually is.

Any recommendations would be great.
I like your approach. Just get the things you want to use in your music.

Sales. Do not forget that most of these virtual instruments go on sale for 30% to 50% (or more) off. So if you buy slow, you can get a lot more for your money. Tina Guo was 40% off last Black Friday.

Full Kontakt. You didn't mention if you have Full Kontakt or not. Some of the libraries people are recommending on this thread require Full Kontakt. You should investigate the cheapest way to get it. You can buy a used copy on KVR. You can get a crossgrade product, and then upgrade for $124.50. (I'm told that Sennheiser's free Drum'Mica and Embertone's free Arcane qualify, but I'm not sure about this.) You can buy when there's a half-price sale.

If you have Full Kontakt, you have the included Kontakt library, which includes many great instruments that may suit your purposes, or at least add to the solo libraries you are buying. You also can download many free libraries, including Ivy Audio's excellent Piano in 162.

Piano. It depends on what you're looking for. Steinway? Yamaha? Felt Piano? Pop? Cinematic Piano? After a while, you'll probably have many. You can get some nice specialty pianos for free in Spitfire Audio's free LABS libraries--so why not. I love ArtVista's Malmsjo ($99) but it isn't a standard sound. NI's Noire is $149 is really two kinds of pianos, plus interesting effects.

Acoustic Guitar. IMO Sunbird does not compare to any guitar by Orange Tree Samples or Ample Sound. Each summer there is a Group Buy at OTS where you can get 60% off. Last year was June 21st, so it should be soon. Pick up the acoustic guitar of your choice from OTS. You'll make your $100 budget and get something that's worth more.

Acoustic Bass. There are many threads on this in VI:Control. People love Premier Sound Factory's Acoustic Bass Premier. But guess what? It's not for sale at this time. But there are many good ones out there. I have an offbeat recommendation, which is Modwheel's "The Lowdown." ($79). This started out as a library that emphasized all kinds of unusual sound design aspects of the bass. In version 2, they then added more traditional pizzicato and arco sounds.

Electric Piano/Rhodes UVI just came out an interesting library called Key Suite Electric ($149) which includes 63 instruments in 7 categories. Personally, I am very happy with the Scarbee instruments in Komplete (and I have Keyscape, which is great), but I don't often use electric pianos in my music.

Violin. I love the Virharmonic Bohemian Violin (199 euros) You just play it and it does the articulations for you. Or if you wish, you can control the articulations via keyswitches. Watch a video. The second upgrade to Bohemian Violin is coming out this month, so if you buy now you can save money. This is more money, but it may become one of your favorite things.

Cello. I think if you play with the Bohemian Violin enough, you are going to want to have the same thing in a cello. And again, once you buy it you will get the improvements for free. Tina Guo is a two volume set, so it is really $198. But it is lovely. If you like her sound--and who doesn't?--that's a great choice. But I play Bohemian Cello much more. And know that Bohemian Viola is on the way.

Pads. Lots of great, very reasonably priced libraries for pads. Mountains (16 pounds) by Sound Aesthetics Sampling is one of the best deals around for pads. Also, check out FrozenPlain's Arctic Strings ($49) and Slow ($59), or really anything by them. There are some great pads in Ethereal Earth, which comes bundled with Kontakt 6.

Organs. I like the Vintage Organs library that comes with Komplete. But if you are looking for something more specific, there are a few B3s out there, and Arturia has a Farfisa and a Vox Continental.

Hope this is helpful. :) Everybody on this forum has very strong opinions about which libraries are the best.
 
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CWELLINGTON

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Thank you guys for a lot of these suggestions. Yeah I realize that Kontakt is pretty much one of the main standards as many developers develop these specific instruments for it.

This helps a lot because impulse buying an on-sale $60 instrument is easier than justifying several hundred dollars, but I've simply been so impressed by many of the ones I've found and ones you guys have just shared. There's a uniqueness to investing in some of these libraries like that Piano in 162 or the Auddict Violin. They are uniquely created and not just another patch in the major $1000 list.

As much as I say I just want ONE piano and that's it, I don't mind having several uniquely designed pianos with various tweak able options between free and $150 overtime.

These help a lot guys. Feel free to follow up with more. I am actually keeping a document with all I found and that you guys list with pricing for each.
 

chocobitz825

Senior Member
After having used both, I'd recommend one of Orange Tree Samples' acoustic guitars over the AcousticSamples guitars. Slightly steeper initial learning curve, but much higher ceiling for potential results, in my experience. I ended up having to replace most of my AcousticSamples usage with Orange Tree guitars before finishing the projects I had been using them on, because I kept running into limitations that I couldn't overcome. Also, there will likely be a significant sale at Orange Tree within the next month or two.

Joshua Bell Violin would be my #1 pick for expressive solo violin, though the Friedlander Violin for half the price is also quite good.

I mostly agree. I think AcousticSamples really doesnt hold a candle to Orange Tree, but I feel like strumming is not Orange Tree’s strength. I definitely think AmpleSounds is better for strumming, but Orange tree is the best for arpeggios and melodies.

As for piano, a bit on the higher end, but Ravenscroft 275 is still one of the best IMO.
 

Sarah Mancuso

Esselfortium
I mostly agree. I think AcousticSamples really doesnt hold a candle to Orange Tree, but I feel like strumming is not Orange Tree’s strength. I definitely think AmpleSounds is better for strumming, but Orange tree is the best for arpeggios and melodies.

As for piano, a bit on the higher end, but Ravenscroft 275 is still one of the best IMO.
AcousticSamples' strums do feel pretty realistic out-of-the-box to play around with, but the inability to easily tell it "just strum the actual notes I am holding down" instead of messing with the auto-chord system meant that in practice it was often timeconsuming to get it to not teleport around the fretboard unrealistically between chords. The lack of double-tracking on 3 out of their 4 guitars and the inability to play slide transitions between chords (i.e. sliding multiple notes simultaneously) also pushed me towards Orange Tree for rhythm parts.
 
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