Looking for 'playable' orchestra

Ron Snijders

Active Member
Hi dear fellow music lovers :)

Some six years ago, I was trying to understand composition, scoring and mock-ups and, as expected, bought tons of samples. Since everyone needs an orchestra, I went with VSL SE volumes 1 and 2. The thought, at the time, was that having dry samples would give me maximum flexibility to make it sound 'just right'. The truth was slightly different. I never got beyond noodling around a little, as I simply couldn't get it to sound right.
Now I'm having another go at this stuff. A little older, a little wiser and with a little more self-knowledge. I get inspiration from sound, texture, that kind of thing. I like to sit behind my banged-up Yamaha S90 and play this stuff. And when I discover something I like, I might try to do more with it. So I'm looking for an orchestral library that works well in that way. And preferably one that doesn't completely break the bank...

The new Soundiron Hyperion Strings sound great to me, and they're cheap to boot. But of course that's only a Strings library. Albion One seems like a kind of library that's playable. And I think I don't mind not having control over individual sections as much as I used to.
EW Hollywood Orchestra still appears to be a staple, but I'm not sure if I want to get into Play.

Any help would be much appreciated!
 
OP
Ron Snijders

Ron Snijders

Active Member
That's a very valid question, actually :) Getting Albion One would set me back about 450€/500$. That's about what I'm willing to spend.
 

Sovereign

Senior Member
There are many viable options available for 500 bucks, all have their strengths and weaknesses. So don't take this as an exhaustive recommendation. I don't favor the Albion One type of libraries myself. They're not really more eminently playable than libraries which have individual sections. And you might hit yourself on the head later on as you would be limiting yourself. Personally given your budget I'd think these would be a good fit.


Hollywood Orchestra from EastWest (old but imo still great in many ways, Gold edition sells for 499 and sometimes they have better discounts)
Jaeger from Audio Imperia (499 offer now, this library has no woodwinds though, but overall it is very very playable and solid).
Spitfire Studio Orchestra (549, has all sections, but personally I'm not too fond of the way these were recorded)

I'm sure others can offer you some good suggestions as well.
 

StillLife

Senior Member
I don't have it myself, but Sonuscore The Orchestra seems to fit your needs, judging from other user's experiences. Seems to be very inspirational and gives you all sections AND an engine that gets a lot of praise around here. I would check it out, if I were you.
 

StillLife

Senior Member
Oh, and at 299 (399 for a version with more string sounds and articulations) for strings, brass, ww, perc and choir, I expect it to be great value for money.
And since the engine now supports midi-export, you can always upgrade to even better sounds (Spitfire?) at a later stage.
 

ScoreFace

Active Member
I don't have it myself, but Sonuscore The Orchestra seems to fit your needs, judging from other user's experiences. Seems to be very inspirational and gives you all sections AND an engine that gets a lot of praise around here. I would check it out, if I were you.
Yes, The Orchestra is a great choice for a start, you'll get all orchestral sounds and articulations that you need, and they have an incredible phrase&pattern-engine with almost full orchestral arrangements. You can learn a lot from this how to orchestrate.
 
OP
Ron Snijders

Ron Snijders

Active Member
What exactly do you mean with "playable"?
It's a bit abstract, but I'll try. When I sit down behind the keys with the VSL libraries (at least the ones I have!), it's lifeless, artificial. They need work to sound good. That's OK, of course, stuff needing work to sound its best is no problem in and of itself. But it doesn't help me come up with stuff. What I'm looking for is something that I can load and just start playing to work out ideas.
Of course I realise that there won't be a magic bullet, but the VSL SE set I have appears to be entirely on the other side of the spectrum.

Hopefully that helps and doesn't just muddy it more.

Jaeger sounds absolutely stunning by the way. I had never heard of it, and that's definitely one I'm considering now.
The Orchestra also looks/sounds good. It doesn't yet blow me away like Jaeger, but that's of course based on the demo tracks. I'll check it out some more, as that engine sure does look sweet :)
 
You could also check out Berlin Inspire; similar price range and top notch quality. Albion is attractive though because you get some great synth patches. What sort of music do you like to write?
 

dsblais

Active Member
If you are looking for an inexpensive orchestra that can be played as an instrument, you may want to consider VSL’s Smart Orchestra (which is wet out of the box, unlike VE stuff), OT Inspire, The Orchestra, Halion Symphonic Orchestra, Symphobia 1, or one of the many ensemble focused collections like Spitfire Masse. I have all of the above and they are all quite playable live for sketching, accompaniment, etc.
 

Ben

VSL Support
If you have SE 1+2 go for the upgrade to the synchronized versions. It cost you almost nothing, you get an orchestra ready to use with reverb and panning + a great piano. And if you don't like the library you have 30 days to return it and get your money back.

 

Phil Harmony

New Member
Symphobia 1 is indeed a great library, but it doesn't contain all instruments separately. I can clearly recommend The Orchestra, it's only 299$ which is really good value for money - it has all orchestral instruments/sections and articulations and even a choir! It sounds very realistic and is totally easy to use, and there are some brilliant presets with playable orchestral rhythms and arpeggios in it - I use it all the time and I'm very happy with it:):
 

Sovereign

Senior Member
Jaeger sounds absolutely stunning by the way. I had never heard of it, and that's definitely one I'm considering now.
The Orchestra also looks/sounds good. It doesn't yet blow me away like Jaeger, but that's of course based on the demo tracks. I'll check it out some more, as that engine sure does look sweet :)
I don't want to push you in one direction or another, in the end it's up to you to decide. Here's something recent I mostly did with Jaeger though. In the end no perfect library exists.
 

bigcat1969

Senior Member
Just to be annoying, listen very closely to demos of The Orchestra. To me it isn't even in the same league of sound as the top tier orchestras. As mentioned decide if you want separate instruments. While too expensive for what's in it and it is limited, Berlin Inspire is the best sounding starter orchestra I've ever heard. Again listen to demos of it versus other choices like The Orchestra.
 

dzilizzi

I just hang around pretending I know something
You might want to look at Red Room Audio's stuff as well. They have a free primary colors things that you can try out to see if you like their sound. I recently picked up the runs and arps and they sound really good.
 

brek

Active Member
It's a bit abstract, but I'll try. When I sit down behind the keys with the VSL libraries (at least the ones I have!), it's lifeless, artificial. They need work to sound good. That's OK, of course, stuff needing work to sound its best is no problem in and of itself. But it doesn't help me come up with stuff. What I'm looking for is something that I can load and just start playing to work out ideas.
Of course I realise that there won't be a magic bullet, but the VSL SE set I have appears to be entirely on the other side of the spectrum.

Hopefully that helps and doesn't just muddy it more.

Jaeger sounds absolutely stunning by the way. I had never heard of it, and that's definitely one I'm considering now.
The Orchestra also looks/sounds good. It doesn't yet blow me away like Jaeger, but that's of course based on the demo tracks. I'll check it out some more, as that engine sure does look sweet :)

Hmm... I've never used SE Brass or strings, but I find the winds to be the most "playable"/instant gratification woodwind library I own.

I recommend adjusting these settings before writing them off:

Load only the legato articulation
Turn reverb on (though I don't think the dryness of the winds is as big of a deal as it would be for brass)
Add velocity x-fade to one of the slots
Turn it on
Change the controller from CC02 to CC01.


Now play your part in the right hand, while your left hand controls the dynamics/"expression"/life/soul on the mod wheel with your left hand.

Note: if you're not used to using the mod wheel like this, it is more or less the standard these days with orchestral libraries.
 

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dzilizzi

I just hang around pretending I know something
Just to be annoying, listen very closely to demos of The Orchestra. To me it isn't even in the same league of sound as the top tier orchestras. As mentioned decide if you want separate instruments. While too expensive for what's in it and it is limited, Berlin Inspire is the best sounding starter orchestra I've ever heard. Again listen to demos of it versus other choices like The Orchestra.
I'm going to agree with this - I do have it. However, as far as playability goes, it is great. Things like Albion can be a problem because they only have ensemble patches. They are very playable but you will be limited in the end
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
Just to be annoying, listen very closely to demos of The Orchestra. To me it isn't even in the same league of sound as the top tier orchestras. As mentioned decide if you want separate instruments. While too expensive for what's in it and it is limited, Berlin Inspire is the best sounding starter orchestra I've ever heard. Again listen to demos of it versus other choices like The Orchestra.
I mean, it depends on what you are trying to do with it. I always say listen to "Stealing the Medallion" because I think it's a good demo that shows off both what the library can do but also where it comes up short. So largely I concur with your assessment. Still for the price and the very modest size, which makes it very friendly to more basic systems, it's decent. I now use it as a sketching library on my laptop since it's small enough it doesn't require an external SSD.

I'm going to agree with this - I do have it. However, as far as playability goes, it is great. Things like Albion can be a problem because they only have ensemble patches. They are very playable but you will be limited in the end
Albion One is not really any more limited than The Orchestra (rather each are limited in different ways), it's just what it is. And in general I'll get faster and more credible results with Albion One than with The Orchestra within the domains of what each library does. I also use Albion One as part of my sketch template (brass and winds), but on my main rig, rather than on the laptop. (For strings, I use the ensemble patch from SCS.)

The Orchestra does have the engine and that is also a great sketch tool. But more of Albion One is likely to make it from sketch into the final version than is the case for The Orchestra, where everything is likely to be replaced.
 
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