In a previous post we talked about some of the best orchestral samples. In this post we'll look three more sample libraries that are top of the game for producing orchestral music with samples.
Vienna Symphonic Library has long been the benchmark in sampling with its groundbreaking sampling techniques such as building a soundproof recording room for orchestra recording. Listening to demos of the library reveals moments where you’re not sure that you’re not hearing a live orchestra. Because of this, VSL is considered by some to be the cream of the crop as orchestral samples go.
The Dimension series represents the most extensive orchestral sampling library in the world. With an unthinkable 1,000,000 string sounds alone it's possible to create virtually any orchestral timbre you can think of. The brass section was recorded with a microphone on each instrument of each ensemble allowing you to mix within the sample itself, something no other library currently offers. Simply put, you'd likely never exhaust the possibilities of this library. At around $3000 for strings and brass, though, you're going to be paying top dollar. Of course, once they put out Dimension Winds, you'll likely never need to work with a live orchestra...
Orchestra Tools has turned quite a few heads in recent years by producing truly excellent sounding orchestral samples. Like VSL, many of their demos sound as convincing as live orchestra. What makes Orchestra Tools stand out, however, is their string runs samples, which allow you to produce very convincing fast arpeggiations on a string section, something that’s been the bane of sampling since its invention.
The Berlin series is Orchestra Tools flagship product. The strings and woodwinds are already available and sound amazing. Berlin brass is in the works, but looks promising if it follows suit with the quality of the first two. At $1700 per instrument section, the Berlin series is priced at the highest level for samples. If you can afford it, however, you’ll own the best of the best.
The Adagio String series by 8Dio is optimal for composers looking for a cinematic sound. The samples are warm and straightforward, making it easy to create a moving track without a lot of programming. At this point the only orchestral instruments offered by 8Dio are strings and they are priced in the middle range with all strings bundled for $1200.
As 8Dio seems to be only gaining popularity, it’s safe to assume that they’ll be adding orchestral winds and strings not too far into the future.
With all samples, what’s most important is that you like the sound. With the more advanced samples, there can a lot of programming required to draw out the symphonic timbre you’re looking for. But, you tend to get what you put in to it. When a library of orchestral samples like the Berlin series or VSL are programmed well, it can sound as good as the real thing. If you're just looking to lay down some pads of music for a score, you'll do just fine something like Adagio Strings.