11 Best Orchestral VST Plugins 2022


11 Best Orchestral VST Plugins 2022

Whether you’re scoring a film or video game, looking for ways to flush out your singer-songwriter arrangements, or want to add an orchestral flare to your metal project, you need the right tools to make your musical visions a reality.

So, here are the best orchestral VST plugins.

Symphonic Elements STRIIIINGS by ujam – Best Overall

Symphonic Elements STRIIIINGS by ujam – Best Overall

ujam’s Symphonic Elements STRIIIINGS was based on Hans Zimmer’s own complex string library. It was, in fact, recorded at Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Studios and produced by Boris Salchow, with the best players, equipment, room, and engineers (to be fair, many plugins claim the same).

Symphonic Elements STRIIIINGS, though, was designed to be as simple as possible, and is well suited even to the beginner who doesn’t understand bowing technique or other nuances. Such parameters have been kept to a minimum here. Simply choose a preset and start making music.

Take advantage of the Highlighter knob, which is a multimode 24dB synthesizer filter for creating risers and intros. Turn it to the left to use it as a low pass filter, and to the right to use it as a high pass filter.

Symphonic Elements STRIIIINGS sounds great, and you can achieve full, orchestral arrangements using a minimum number of tracks and layers. The developers even referred to this as “god mode” during development. All these factors make STRIIIINGS our best overall pick.

Also watch the video below to see how STRIIIINGS can speed up the process of creating compelling orchestral arrangements.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

NOVO Modern Strings by Heavyocity – Best Premium Option

NOVO Modern Strings by Heavyocity – Best Premium Option

As a prolific creator of VST plugins that are ideally suited to composition, Heavyocity’s reputation precedes them.

The NOVO Modern Strings Kontakt instrument is highly rated. AskAudio called it “simply genius,” ProducerSpot thought it was deep, and Sound on Sound referred to it as a source of inspiration unto itself.

As developer Heavocity got to work on NOVO Modern Strings, their goal was to create something brand new. This is a deeply sampled orchestral strings instrument was recorded at Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Bros. Studios, and it contains 40 GB of content.

But NOVO also lets you process, tweak, layer, and sequence to the nth degree, making it perfect for film scores, video games, TV, and more.

NOVO features the sound of violin, viola, cello, and bass ensembles a la Cinema Scoring Group, along with film score mixer Satoshi Mark Noguchi. It comes with down-and-up bowing enabling more authentic sounding staccato and spiccato articulations, as well as three mic positions (close, room, hall).

The CYCLE dynamic playback engine allows you to create swells, rhythmic pulses, stutters, glitch effects, granular-style pads for ambient drones, and other textures. Up to eight patterns can be chained together for all kinds of string-based soundscapes.

The built-in MACRO CONTROL can be used to manipulate multiple parameters across each channel – volume, pan, EQ, envelope, and other effects. The sequencer can be used to program swells, stutters, and sequenced effects. Every preset also comes with unique MACRO knob assignments.

NOVO also comes with 400 loops across three channels. The LOOP DESIGNER allows for fast sketching and cue building. Whether it’s rhythms, motifs, or textures, you can create them all with ease. You can also control each loop channel with volume, pan, tuning, and start point parameters.

NOVO Modern Strings features a total of 21,254 samples, 308 snapshot presets, 57 NKAs, eight NKIs, six traditional sections (violin, viola, cello, bass, high ensemble, low ensemble), string designer, loop designer, sample browser, CYCLE page, and MACRO knob.

Overall, NOVO features a cool looking interface. The sounds are quite nice, especially when layered. And there are plenty of parameters that allow you to tweak the tones and create fun and interesting textures. If quality strings are what you want, NOVO is a shoo-in for our best premium pick.

Check out the video for an in-depth look at what this plugin can do.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Grand Harp by Cinematique Instruments – Best Budget Option

Grand Harp by Cinematique Instruments – Best Budget Option

Cinematique Instruments’ Grand Harp is as it sounds. This VST plugin will put the beautiful, delicate, and evocative sound of the harp at your fingertips.

The large modern harp (also known as the pedal or concert harp) was designed with classical music in mind. With a six and a half octave range (47 strings), and the mix of strings employed (copper or steel-wound nylon, gut, nylon, etc.) means the harp has layers of tones that please and dazzle.

Though the harp is typically played with one’s fingertips, there are other types of articulations the developer included – plucked, fingernail, Prè de la Table (involves plucking the strings close to the soundboard), xylophonique (one hand mutes the strings close to the soundboard), prepared (the strings were prepared with brackets and paper to produce muted tones), and harmonics.

The Grand Harp was recorded with numerous condensers, and all articulations (except for harmonics) come with four times round robins and up to five velocity layers, recorded in stereo 24 bit. Also included are reverb and sustain parameters, arpeggio with separate voicing options, glissando mode, and auto-velocity button.

Overall, there are six articulations, six presets and snapshots, and roughly 1,000 samples in a 1.3 GB bundle.

The Grand Harp is musical and dynamic sounding. And the harp can be a great solo, lead, or supporting instrument for a variety of compositional applications.

While it is a bit of a one trick pony, for the price, Grand Harp is awesome.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

FORZO Modern Brass by Heavyocity

FORZO Modern Brass by Heavyocity

Heavyocity’s FORZO Modern Brass is an orchestral brass Kontakt instrument. As you probably gathered from the name, it offers high quality modern brass sounds, well suited to composition and sound design purposes.

This VST plugin features 25 GB of content, 11,475 samples, 237 snapshot presets, 57 NKAs, 107 articulations, 432 tempo-synced loops, nine NKIs, five traditional sections (French horns, trumpets, trombones – tenor, bass, contra bass – tubas, full 26-piece ensemble), hybrid brass designer, brass loop designer, intuitive sample browser, CYCLE page for advanced granular and rhythmic playback, and MACRO knob for dynamic multi-parameter control.

Have a listen, and you will see for yourself – these sounds are practically production ready out of the box. Chances are you have heard similar bends, flutters, and other creative articulations in some of your favorite movies. There are even some amazing sounding arps, rhythmic pulses, pads, and others.

This may not be the best option for traditional orchestral scoring, but it is a great pick for modern sound design.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Gravity by Heavyocity

Gravity by Heavyocity

Heavyocity’s Gravity is like a sound design team in a box. It includes over 12 GB of production ready complex pads, risers, stings, hits, and more.

Jason Graves said Gravity was “an epic twist on creative sound sources,” Bill Brown thought of it as a cutting-edge and unique design tool, and Ramin Djawadi called it “astonishing.”

The built-in MOTION feature lets you create tempo-synced swells, rhythmic pulsating motifs, complex stutters, and glitch effects, with full control over volume, pan, and pitch modulation.

The DESIGNERS hits and hybrid risers offer all kinds of customization. The hits come with four layers (sub, impact, tail, whoosh). You can combine and control each. Risers come with three layers (organic, synth, FX). These can also be stacked along with length / timing and tempo-sync options.

Use the pads for all kinds of atmospheric textures and soundscapes. Take advantage of the complex presets with up to six snapshots.

With GRAVITY, risers are also fully customizable. You can blend organic sounds with synth and effects layers to give your risers some serious oomph. You can even manipulate risers with the MOTION tab. Change the duration or sync it to beats or time.

Hits & Strings lets you combine up to four of 192 distinct elements. You can turn “Whoosh” on or off, adjust length, take advantage of glitch and stutter effects, and even Trigger FX. There are also 400 Stings, be it whooshes or reverse hits, tonal sweeps, disturbing metals, or otherwise.

Sounds were captured at the Bunker Studios in Brooklyn, Brick Hill Studios in Mass, and at Heavyocity HQ. They took advantage of custom-built modular analog units to process the onboard sounds.

In total, you get 2,200+ sound sources, 815+ snapshots, 325+ motion presets (NKAs), 1,200 NKIs, 780+ pads, 390+ stings, 19 riser menus, nine hit menus, designers, motion page, playable Trigger FX, and more.

GRAVITY is sure to come in handy for all your compositional and sound design needs. There’s a wide array of sounds, and they’re all customizable. Whether it’s eerie atmospheres, mysterious soundscapes, or shocking hits, it’s all here.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Mosaic Voices by Heavyocity

Mosaic Voices by Heavyocity

The sound of the human voice, and oftentimes more specifically the sound of a choir, play an important role in composing.

Heavyocity’s Mosaic Voices is a perfectly rated Kontakt instrument reimagining the human voice. Composer Tori Letzler liked the ability to isolate different parts of each sample, award-winning composer Kevin Riepl found it offered “endless combinations of inspiring sounds,” and composer Germaine Franco said, “its creative capacity knows no limits.”

Mosaic Voices offers organic male and female choirs, synthesized vocal pads, as well as intricate noise and drone layers, with the ability to combine them. There’s over 8 GB of production ready content included.

The Mosaic engine hybrid vocal instrument allows you to blend three sound sources, and there are even 180 snapshot presets created by the Heavyocity team.

Overall, Mosaic Voices is both versatile and great sounding. Whether you’re looking for organic sounds, soundscapes, or want to combine a variety of sounds, you can use Mosaic Voices for a variety of compositional applications. For a more detailed view, watch the video below.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Symphonic Elements DRUMS by ujam

Symphonic Elements DRUMS by ujam

ujam’s Symphonic Elements DRUMS is yet another unique VST plugin that puts Hans Zimmer’s signature drum and percussion sounds, samples, and phrases right at your fingertips. It is essentially the rhythmic companion to STRIIIINGS, also appearing in this guide.

Symphonic Elements DRUMS comes with world-class drum samples and sequences, 53 playing styles (23 ready-made phrases each for a total of 1,219 phrases), 300 sound designer presets, all captured at Remote Control Studios and produced by Boris Salchow. Every style also comes with five one-shot hits and metals, with a total of 265 one shots.

ujam’s performance engine sets you up with ready-made sequences and creative controls, making the process of setting up thick, layered beats a walk in the park. They even sync to your DAW’s tempo.

The collection of sounds includes surdos, orchestral bass drums, orchestral toms, taikos, doumbeks, field drums, and snares.

DRUMS also includes a Finisher effects section and crossfader.

This VST plugin will put those huge, dramaticdrum sounds you’ve heard in trailers and action films everywhere. And yes, there are plenty of weird, unusual sounds built into DRUMs, just for good measure.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Output ANALOG BRASS & WINDS by Output

Output ANALOG BRASS & WINDS by Output

For those who don’t care about tradition, there’s Output ANALOG BRASS & WINDS.

DJ Times Magazine called this highly rated creation a fresh take on an iconic sound. FACT Magazine simply stated that you could create unusual sonic hybrids. And Sample Library Review called it “the leader of the hybrid pack.”

ANALOG BRASS & WINDS dares to blur the lines between orchestral sounds and synths to empower you with a new category of sound.

In creating this VST plugin, developer Output sampled an 18-piece brass section, 18-piece wind section, as well as hand-picked soloists at BMC Hall in Budapest. They focused on stabs, flutters, trills, and other unusual techniques for this collection.

They also took advantage of legendary synths with the best brass and wind sounds to develop patches.

The interface gives you access to advanced modulation routing, dual tape loopers, dual arpeggios, flux sequencing, and four macro sliders for additional tone shaping control.

All in, ANALOG BRASS & WINDS comes with more than 500 presets, 28 GB sound library, tempo sync, dual-layer engine, preset menu with smart tagging, layer FX and global FX, four central macro sliders unique to each preset, dual arpeggiators, help menu, and more.

If you like to combine brass and winds sounds in interesting ways, chances are you will enjoy ANALOG BRASS & WINDS. We don’t think it will be for everyone, though, and if you are looking for the purest of orchestral sounds possible, this plugin probably isn’t for you.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

ANALOG STRINGS by Output

ANALOG STRINGS by Output

Output’s ANALOG STRINGS Kontakt instrument promises to be fresh, unique, and cutting-edge, while delivering the beauty and creativity that strings can bring to any arrangement.

CDM called it the “zeitgeist of contemporary sound design,” Dubspot found it unique and cutting-edge, and Dancing Astronaut thought it was a “jaw-dropping modern strings engine.”

In creating ANALOG STRINGS, Output captured a full orchestra, rare vintage synthesizers, along with unconventional sound design elements. A 60-piece string orchestra and 22-piece orchestra with a handful of soloists were captured at BMC Hall in Budapest. They even recorded unusual sounds to flush out the collection – e.g., scratching a violin with the wrong side of a bow.

The synths, of course, were carefully selected based on their string sounds. Output then sampled and processed custom patches. This puts stabs, plucks, and pads right at your fingertips.

As for creative sounds, they’ve included plucked piano, sampled feedback, tape noise, screeching guitar resonance, and more.

Overall, you get 500 presets, preset menu with smart tagging, dual-layer engine, layer FX and global FX, four central macro sliders unique to each preset, dual arpeggiators, built-in help menu, and tempo sync.

If you’ve ever wanted to blend, mix, and mangle strings in interesting ways, then this is the plugin for you. You can easily create the kinds of dramatic, evocative, mysterious, powerful, shocking sounds that are perfect for sound design and scoring.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

EXHALE by Output

EXHALE by Output

Output’s EXHALE is a Kontakt instrument they call a “modern vocal engine.”

MusicTech said EXHALE “defines new sonic territory,” Scorecast Online thought it was thoroughly stunning, and composer Joe Trapanese said he didn’t know he needed EXHALE until he got it.

Live singers and choirs have long been a go-to in sound design. And while there were various plugins that made these sounds available to composers, most weren’t keeping up with the times, failing to meet the standards of new productions. Which is why Output set out to create EXHALE.

Output recorded real singers and a choir with top producers, had 25 sound designers tweak the sounds for six months with a huge selection of vintage and analog gear, tape machines, vocoders, and more. The engine was built from the ground up with modulation, pitch shifting, tempo synced FX, and so on.

EXHALE features three modes. Notes (chromatic playing), Loops (looping vocal elements), and Slices (sliced vocal phrases). The four macro sliders, modulation, mixing, and effects can all be used to dial in your favorite tones.

In total, you get 500 presets, 10 GB of raw material, custom FX presets, custom macros per preset, NKS support, snapshots for Maschine, macro editing, main and editing pages, as well as automatable insert and mod FX.

EXHALE puts a lot of interesting possibilities at your fingertips. It isn’t a mere vocal solo or choir plugin, and in fact, it may not be that at all. It’s more so about utilizing vocals in surprising ways to create interest. Check out the video below for reference.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Hyperion Brass Elements by Soundiron

Hyperion Brass Elements by Soundiron

Soundiron’s Hyperion Brass Elements is an orchestral chamber brass ensemble library created for Kontakt.

Recorded with precision, meticulously edited, and balanced, the developer sought to strike a balance between refinement and humanism with Hyperion Brass Elements. This plugin is perfect for composers, sound designers, producers, students, songwriters, teachers, arrangers, and even bands.

Hyperion Brass Elements was given a modular interface so its operation would be obvious, even to the beginner. Even so, there are enough advanced features to satisfy more experienced producers – articulations, dynamic capabilities, customizable acoustics, and more.

Soundiron captured the sounds at Studio A at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA. Hyperion Brass Elements includes 10 combo ensemble presets and six master and true-legato section presets for six trumpets, four tenor trombones, four French horns, three euphoniums, three bass trombones, and three tubas.

There’s also an easy-lead feature, which lets you go from staccato to dynamic sustains.

Hyperion gives you 12,800 samples, 24-bit, 48 kHz stereo lossless NCW format, multi-dynamic sustains, multi-dynamic long and short staccatos, various expressions, soundstage positioning, adaptive play assist and arpeggio systems, and more.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Top Orchestral VST Plugins, Final Thoughts

With the best tools at your fingertips, there’s nothing stopping you now from creating jaw-dropping orchestral arrangements, whether standalone, or to complement your existing tracks. Experiment plenty, get to know your gear, and have fun making your next epic.

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