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[QUESTION] Which Orchestral Libraries are a must-have for film/game scoring?

Jacopo Freddi

New Member
Ironically so.

As in, "this library sounds really good", but it actually does on particular composition style and with a lot of hours spent learning the ins and outs of the library, its quirks, and tweaking the sound of each key.

Not that it's bad, but I kinda feel lost when I hear masterpieces and then I find what looks like a toy in my hands. Unless it's me who isn't good enough at listening demos in a critical way.

For instance, Spitfire Solo Strings with its "Virtuoso" patch looked great "out of the box" in the trailer video, with just a few automations for dynamics and vibrato. Still I'm not 100% sure it would be as easy as it seems in my hands.
 

Parsifal666

I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.
Ironically so.

As in, "this library sounds really good", but it actually does on particular composition style and with a lot of hours spent learning the ins and outs of the library, its quirks, and tweaking the sound of each key.

Not that it's bad, but I kinda feel lost when I hear masterpieces and then I find what looks like a toy in my hands. Unless it's me who isn't good enough at listening demos in a critical way.

For instance, Spitfire Solo Strings with its "Virtuoso" patch looked great "out of the box" in the trailer video, with just a few automations for dynamics and vibrato. Still I'm not 100% sure it would be as easy as it seems in my hands.
Well, unless it's a phrase-based library it's not going to make music for you. There's a necessary learning curve and context to every library...but I don't remember tweaking the sound of "each key" in any library (and I own dozens).

I see you're new member, which is great! But, with more than a few of the really good libraries you tend to get out at least as much as you put in. Perhaps you might decide whether putting forth the effort is really what you want to do
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
Ironically so.

As in, "this library sounds really good", but it actually does on particular composition style and with a lot of hours spent learning the ins and outs of the library, its quirks, and tweaking the sound of each key.

Not that it's bad, but I kinda feel lost when I hear masterpieces and then I find what looks like a toy in my hands. Unless it's me who isn't good enough at listening demos in a critical way.

For instance, Spitfire Solo Strings with its "Virtuoso" patch looked great "out of the box" in the trailer video, with just a few automations for dynamics and vibrato. Still I'm not 100% sure it would be as easy as it seems in my hands.
I see what you're saying, but most libraries don't automatically make you sound like a seasoned professional composer right out of the box. The developer provides the tools, its up to us to read their manuals, experiment, and truly understand how their libraries work. The demos show you how they'll sound when programmed properly, there's no smoke and mirrors going on there. If you want something that you don't need to invest several hours (or even months) to learn, then I advise to steer clear of most libraries, especially the higher end ones. Hell, I've been using Hollywood Strings since it's initial release many years ago, I'm still learning new techniques and discovering new tweaks.
 

Jacopo Freddi

New Member
with more than a few of the really good libraries you tend to get out at least as much as you put in.
most libraries don't automatically make you sound like a seasoned professional composer right out of the box. The developer provides the tools, its up to us to read their manuals, experiment, and truly understand how their libraries work.
Well, I expected that much.

Please don't mind me then, back to the OT.
 

PaulieDC

1967 Bizzarini GT 5300 Strada
With the gazillions I've spent so far, if I had to start with your 2K budget, here's what I personally would get now:
  • Spitfire Albion One - for versatility, includes percussion
  • Spitfire Chamber Strings Pro - Nope, not Symphonic. I can't get over how Chamber can go from small and in your face to huge and rich and fat. I could actually sketch and compose just with SCS because of the rich timbre. I almost wish Chamber wasn't in the name, there's something monstrous about it
  • Berlin Inspire - OT's gorgeous sound fills the remaining instrument and articulation holes with this layout library, including a decent piano
I suggest just Albion One to get you going, then wait for the next big sale on the other two (I got them half price), because, THEN, the Berlin Inspire purchase gets you a $100 voucher towards eventually getting Berlin Brass, the Mt Everest of brass libraries. If you happen to find BB on sale for under $600, then you still have the other $50 voucher from the Inspire purchase to use, for purchases under 600 quid.

When the smoke clears (and with the right sales), you have mega libraries for under $2K... maybe less for the British Pound?.
 

Mr. Ha

Active Member
I would recommend getting the Spitfite Symphonic Orchestra, Percussion Redux, VSL harp & Spitfire Solo strings.

The sound of Air Studios is great and gives a nice performance.
 

tehreal

Active Member
Well, this is incredibly subjective and you won't get the same answer twice. But, here's my list...

1. Cinematic Studio Strings
2. Cinematic Studio Strings Solo
3. Cinematic Studio Brass
4. Berlin Woodwinds
5. Spitfire Perc Redux
6. Voxos
7. Embertone Steinway D
8. Omnisphere

That should last me like 6-7 before needed to upgrade!
I agree with everything except the Embertone Steinway. Been using it for quite a while and it has some serious problems:

  • Inconsistent velocity programming
  • Wrong release samples on many notes
  • Clicking and popping when velocity layers are increased

Definitely on my do-not-recommend list. Hopefully they'll fix things someday but they haven't been responding to any messages as of late.
 
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jaketanner

Senior Member
Too many choices, and there are no real "must haves", simply because new libraries are coming out all the time. What seems like a must have today, will be replaced by the must have of tomorrow. Buy libraries as you need them, rather than getting them all, and then finding out that you could have, should have gotten something else. Start with one of those all in one libraries. Albion One, and the OT Inspire Series. Truthfully, if you have Kontakt Ultimate, use what comes with Kontakt...may not be the best, but will have pretty much everything you need to start.

But there are simply too many choices and opinions...none are right or wrong, it's what works personally for different people.

In other words, don't buy CSS, just because it's "the library to get"...yes it's great and I have it, but not good for every situation, so I have about 3-4 more to choose from. My opinion is to get SF Chamber Strings...they can sound intimate, and they can be layered to sound fuller. Libraries with divisi capabilities will be better at doing small to large.

Good luck.
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
Also,



...you can't really expect to score a MMORPG and a casual Match 3- puzzle with the same palette.
Of course you could. We take everything for granted these days, we are spoiled with technology. Years ago, I used to score just about every project with my Roland JV-2080 and EWQL Orchestral Gold XP. We just get lazy and often forget that we already have everything (probably way more) than we actually need. I am guilty myself, I need to spend some hardcore "under the hood" time with many of my libraries, but I get distracted by the latest and greatest.
 

Parsifal666

I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.
Of course you could. We take everything for granted these days, we are spoiled with technology. Years ago, I used to score just about every project with my Roland JV-2080 and EWQL Orchestral Gold XP. We just get lazy and often forget that we already have everything (probably way more) than we actually need. I am guilty myself, I need to spend some hardcore "under the hood" time with many of my libraries, but I get distracted by the latest and greatest.
This is exactly where my taking good-sized breaks came in handy. I bought BHCT upon release and became phenomenally inspired by Bernard's music, but I made sure to put in the hour and hours necessary to learn the library inside and out. Nearly a year later I bought Ark 1 and then four months later Ark 2...the two together were a massively motivating duo, but again it took conscientious and dogged determination to study and apply everything so those libraries would work their best for me. I had to purposely avoid this place whenever possible so I wasn't taken in by Black Friday lol!

Seven months later it was Studio Woodwinds and Brass Professional and I'm up to four compositions drafted (three completed) in the past five weeks...this time I was so taken up with inspiration I didn't give the libraries enough time to get everything I could out of them, however it's becoming apparent with my ongoing use that I'll have to take a break after finishing this last piece (it's the last of my set of paid commissions for now, anyway) and go over the libs thoroughly.
 

Henu

Senior Member
Of course you could.
No, my point is that you don't most likely need a 60- piece choir, 12 horns or a full symphonic-sized string section for a casual platformer- just like you don't probably need quirky mouth percussion loops or ukuleles if you're to score the next Elder Scrolls- game. I'm not talking about choosing between different e.g. string libraries but more about different instrument libraries in general.

Game music isn't a "genre" but can contain anything from pure classical string quartets to death metal. And for that diversity you need that your "Roland" instead of ten different pianos to choose from, so I'm all with you on that one. (And btw, I used EWQLSO for 8 years solely ranging from indie horror movies to adventure and puzzle games and back, so I definitely know and agree what you're talking about. ;) )
 
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I like music

Senior Member
I've repeated myself on this point a lot. An extremely talented (though private) composer friend of mine who has his stuff recorded by high-end orchestras, composes on a template that is around 12 gigs. He only uses Hollywood Brass and Strings (Gold), some of the old VSL (and EWQLSO) woodwinds, and has Truestrike for percussion.

His computer is literally falling apart. His machine is literally held together with some tape. He's so focused on the libraries that he owns, and so focused on learning the music, that he's able to make ridiculously convincing mockups out of just this kit. He writes music about 15 hours a day, and he knows exactly which patch will do what in every situation.

That's the kind of obsession I wish I had. In fact, he stopped visiting VI Control because it was costing him precious time.

The options given above (esp EW) would definitely be a good starter, to figure out what your appetite for this stuff is. I'd try composer cloud for a few months and see what you think!
 

nas

Active Member
I'm going to go out on a limb here and advise you not to get a whole bunch of libraries at once.

The problem with this is it can get very overwhelming trying to get to know the deeper functions and idiosyncrasies of each library and the task is compounded when you have so many new libraries you have to learn. As has been mentioned, there is a lot to discover "under the hood" of each library and one really needs to put in the time to learn and play the samples in a convincing and evocative way. You will learn the strengths and weaknesses of a library and this will help you to write accordingly... creating more convincing mockups. Having too much on your plate will tend to steer you towards a more "superficial" knowledge of the library at hand and you may miss out on some very powerful features that are not quite as obvious upon first glance.

My advice is concentrate on one library... maybe two maximum that you feel you really need and spend a LOT of time exploring the possibilities available to you and developing a deeper knowledge of the library. Then add another library you feel you need... notice I said need - not want. (although they can sometimes be the same :) Build your library collections and your depth of knowledge gradually... trust me you will be well rewarded and gain a deeper insight into the entire mockup and programming process.

Perhaps this is not the sort of post you're looking for but it may be of some benefit.

Good luck.
 

Hanu_H

Senior Member
I agree. That's why I don't think that Composer Cloud is a good place to start. Just too much content for a beginner to go through and get familiar when you should be focusing on composing your first pieces. I still remember when I started with EWQLSO and was totally overwhelmed by all the different patch names and functions. If I was starting now, I would go for something simple with essential articulations and then when I actually know what I need, I would buy new libraries. Of course if you are already familiar with orchestral sample libraries, it's a totally different thing...
 
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