Looking for 'playable' orchestra


Senior Member
I'm surprised that only one person has mentioned Red Room Audio's Palette Symphonic Sketchpad. To me it seems like this library was developed to solve exactly the problem that @Ron Snijders is having.

It contains both full and chamber strings, brass and woods, along with choir, piano, percussion and extra melodic elements - plus bonus sound design patches and a synth. Other options would include Orchestral Essentials or The Orchestra, but bang for your buck is definitely with Symphonic Sketchpad.



New Member
Wonderful library, and perfect for learning how to orchestrate with VI. But it's pretty much the opposite of what the OP is asking for.

Problem is, you can't have it both ways. If you get a sketch library like Albion One or Symphobia, you gain "playability" but lose the fine-tune control over each instrument and voicing, which is inherently limiting. With a fully formed virtual orchestra you gain control over all of the individual instruments, but lose the instant gratification playability aspect.

If this were me right now, I'd probably either look at Red Room Audio or take advantage of NI's Project Sam sale. Or even Garritan's GIO, which is inexpensive and has some decent sounding prefab orchestral moods setup to play. Depending on what one wishes to do, this might be enough.
Amadeus seems to me like a great library for sketching but also for full use, even outside of just sketching out ideas. For fully writing a piece with it. Would you agree?


Senior Member
Amadeus seems to me like a great library for sketching but also for full use, even outside of just sketching out ideas. For fully writing a piece with it. Would you agree?
LOL I wouldn't be the one to ask, because what one means by a "full" piece is going to vary both subjectively from person to person, as well as pragmatically, dependent on what one is trying to do. I'm just a home hobbyist, learning how to orchestrate, dabbling along.

... I am a firm believer that one thing is never another thing: A VI or sample library is not a real instrument, period. Given this assumption, I have zero interest in making digital music sound exactly like music made with 3D world tools, but am only interested in making music that is unabashedly 21st century & digital-age, because that's where and when I live, and this is the medium I'm playing with. On the other hand, professionals who make mock-ups for movie scores or whatever and are trying to get as "close" as possible have a different need. How realistic one can get is some combo of having very high quality VIs along with excellent skills at shaping their tones and articulations (the latter is undoubtedly the most important). But what is realistic enough for a video game might not be realistic enough for a big-budget film, or what is realistic enough for a song's background padding might not be realistic enough for an instrumental solo, that sort of thing...

That said, I have heard passably "realistic" mockups done with Garritan's GPO and the old Miroslav Philharmonik libraries. Not realistic enough to fool an astute listener who is schooled in orchestration and listening critically, but realistic enough to convey an authentic orchestral feel for the casual listener. These are libraries that are considered entry-level and lacking by the heavy-hitters on these forums, and I suspect it takes a LOT of work and skill to get good mockups with them. Amadeus IMHO is a much better library than either of those, and can potentially be used for "full" use, depending on how you define "full" and the context in which you wish to present your work.


Senior Member
If already owning the VSL SE libraries, I would suggest a good combination is VSL Synchronized SE for the solo instruments, Smart Orchestra for the ensembles. They live in the same acoustic space, are pre-positioned, and are even based on the same player.

SO would be the base instrument for sketching. SE would allow adding instruments and going toward a finished orchestration. All smoothly, without having to switch type of timbre, ambience, way of working.