Want to know a fact?
Strings have been used in all types of music genres, from cymatics to famous pop songs.
But the truth is…
You’re in a never-ending battle searching for violins, cellos and basses.
The good news…
The world of string VST’s has become very sophisticated.
You can even program ensembles, playing techniques and expressions.
But more about that later.
Want to know the best part?
I’ve found the 15 Best String VST Plugins that will make you feel like holding a real violin or cello.
- Compare Prices: Pluginboutique
Output regularly extends their range of products with very interesting libraries, always with a surprising twist.
With Analog Strings, you’ll get samples of string orchestras, vintage synths and various unconventional sound sources for creating unique string instruments.
This Kontakt Library has 500 presets, with tags for the browser, based on 39GB of varied samples, played through a double layer.
With four macro sliders, you can edit the sound in real-time from subtle to extreme and the sample-looping points are adjustable.
You can change the sound even further on the editpage.
And of course, there are various effects per layer and for the complete mix, plus a Rhythm page with wavetable sequencing and a step sequencer; Flux Rate Sequencer.
There are two arpeggiators; One per layer.
Analog strings works with the full version and player version of Kontakt.
Spitfire Mural and Sable
Expression is the keyword most users of this VST ever told me. Expression and emotion, that’s the focal point.
I tried it myself. Spitfire’s Mural and Sable has lots of details even for a Kontakt Player library. The footprint isn’t really that large in your hard drive. Since you’re dealing with strings, you have lots of articulations, but not as plenty as an orchestra!
The attack is natural and neutral while the release is definitely amazing. It has a powerful, soothing approach to playing. But with some articulation fixes, you could introduce a powerful staccato without much trouble.
Perhaps what I’m really amazed with these two is the use of portamento, which gives you the awesome approach of dynamics and transition. You ‘feel’ the strings moving up and down amazingly. It’s not just the way it’s played, but the articulation thereof. Simply amazing.
8Dio Adagio Strings
Wowing us with Majestica, does Adagio strings – a string-only set – up to the task of satisfying our stringed delights?
It’s expensive to be honest. But strings are a great part of almost any orchestra. So this specially-produced section by Majestica Producers Troels Folmann and Colin O’Malley, the sound is focused on the nuances of a cinematic studio string section.
Adagio Strings is simply amazing with its lush-sounding bowings, those ghostly and amazing floating notes and the feeling of amazing dynamics surrounding you.
It’s a cinematic score-directed suite to be honest. And it’s a huge, huge library with a huge, huge pricetag of $1100.
But that’s not bad at all. I’m probably not getting any other type of orchestral VST software if I get this…
Nah, these are just strings. But again, if you concentrate on 8Dio’s Adagio on strings and add specialized instrument libraries from other orchestra libraries or for example, just brass libraries, then you’ll probably make the perfect suite.
That would be really cool (and expensive and troublesome to our hard drives).
East West Quantum Leap Strings
Texture is everything with strings. This – along with sound quality – is an essential part of bringing out an evocative performance from a true string orhestra.
But if you’ve got Shawn Murphy and East West Quantum Leap, you’re pretty sure your ride is worth all the trouble.
The Hollywood Strings of East West is indeed of the Quantum Leap variety. Being able to produce string articulations so flawlessly it works in almost any situation. Perhaps most notable is those celli stattacato are certainly amazing as they are powerful-sounding and captivating.
But of course, if you articulate them better with modification to the portmanteau controls, you can get a better, natural sound off of each instrument.
The libraries have their own presets where you could work with sections and I must say that it sounds amazing. Those runs are truly amazing and captivating as they are realistic!
Orchestral Tools: Berlin Strings
Orchestral Tools prides itself by crafting software and hardware to work realistically as midi would register as a music score control in some composition software.
This means you can activate an articulation on the fly without much trouble.
The new polyphonic switches make it fast to switch especially when you’re knee-deep in your composition.
The True Adaptive Legato which includes slurs, agile, fast runs and portamento, are truly realistic. But I’d rather say hearing the playable runs and pre-recorded octave runs are simply-amazing and less time consuming.
I even composed a song out of doing some runs. Of course I broke down these runs and used them to my own advantage.
If you can do that (and you have the patience to do so) the works become powerful and realistic. The True Adaptive Legato is indeed adaptive; I can feel the dynamics change effectively enough for my composition needs!
What is simply amazing for me is the fact that it’s recorded in four microphone positions yet I can feel the orchestral arrangement come to life.
Of course, for this type of sound, you would need about 129GB worth of samples, which is almost at the same size of East West’s Quantum Leap Hollywood Strings.
Cinesamples never fails to create convincing instruments and their Cinestrings do not do less than their earlier products.
On par with the warm and powerful sound of the Quantum Leap libraries, Cinesamples is definitely on the same level, even the articulations. Perhaps the only difference between the two is the fact that the articulations were performed by different sets of musicians. Of course, the ambience is also part of it.
Recorded in Sony Pictures Scoring Stage in Los Angeles and mixed by Dennis Sands, a legendary orchestral engineer, Cinesamples concentrate on making the experience powerful as it is convenient.
In addition, if you’re familiar working with Sibelus or Finale for composition, these can integrate effectively and help you create music quickly as you need it.
You also have at least five microphone positions including the Full mix, the spot, close, room and surround microphones, which definitely capture the scoring stage’s powerful sound. You can adjust these microphones to your needs, whether for composition-reference purposes or for actual scoring and instrument positioning.
I like it because of its power and it definitely works with almost any scoring needs, wherever needed.
AudioBro LA Scoring Strings
While you might hate that it’s made for Kontakt Player, AudioBro’s LA Scoring Strings is as huge time saver and composition tool because it has an auto-arranger.
The script would track your composition. Then it would divide yoru chords into different instrument sections. It would keep count of the players you have as it helps you create songs on the fly.
That feature in itself is what sold me.
The samples themselves sound amazing and powerful. And the best thing about it is that it’s light – it’s only about 16.4GB in your computer.
If you need a quick but light string-scoring tool, here’s one for you.
NI Action Strings
NI’s own sampled string section comes with its Orchestral and Cinematic Komplete package. About only 14GB, the sound is impeccable. I must admit; it would not reach the level of Adagio Strings, but I have to say that it splendidly works as needed for any type of score. It can go loud, powerful and smooth.
If I ever needed to score a movie or anything cinematic and action-packed, this is the one for me. If I worked at a game company to score music for their games, I would definitely use this. It’s a bit smaller but for these types of genres, strings must always work with other audio, including dialogue and sound effects.
NI Session Strings Pro
Aside from Action Strings, NI also has the Session Strings Pro.
So what’s the difference? The Session Strings has its own pattern maker for velocity called the Animator. The Animator can create arpeggiations or chords at will.
You get a Production preset, which uses three tabs including Section, Contour and Envelope that controls the attack and release.
But the Animator is the main game-changer here. It adds more character and depth to the strings. To be honest, it can create accents where you need them. So you can change the ‘groove’ of the violins where you need them. These also apply for chords. So, let’s say you’re just going with a simple passage, you can spice it up by using the Animator. All without touching your keyboard.
With great samples in itself, this string VST is definitely a handy tool.
Big Fish Vintage Strings
The concept of vintage strings relies on the following: a good ambient room recognizable for most producers, artists or audiences in particular, a good set of microphones up to the task and characteristic-sounding instruments.
For Big Fish’s Vintage Strings, their aim was to deliver a string set that emulates the sound of string arrangements, particularly six violins, using an amazing classic soundboard from SSL and using Neumann U-87 microphones. Indeed, the vintage string sounds of close microphone mixes coupled with a room microphone that sounds warm and dry is the way to get about the sound of the classics.
And an ambient room? It’s not another concert platform, but instead an old studio with only room reverberation instead of the grand sound of typical string VSTs
This VST isn’t for everyone especially those looking for a grandiose string sound for music scores. This one is for those who need violins for a studio, funky, 60s vibe.
SONiVOX Symphonic Ensemble Strings
It’s a joy to use especially if you just want to have a good composition software and is useful for rendering sounds when you need them within short notice, then the SONiVOX Symphonic Ensemble Strings can be your best friend.
These can sound a bit “canny” to use a term. It’s far from 8Dio’s Majestica or Adagio strings. It’s really, really far, even the sound .But it can be useful if you just need a quick composition tool.
You get sections of basses, cellos, Violas and 1st and 2nd violins recorded in their proper orchestral positions.
It may sound a bit digital at some point, but it can be great especially if it is used as a complementary VST against more usable software when you’re about to score your movie or at least deliver a draft of your idea.
One thing about it though; the filters are very, very nice. These are very useful if you’re a producer of EDM or electronic music that requires strings.
Vienna Dimension Strings
It’s expensive but it’s worth about a million samples by recording each instrumentalist with a solo microphone.
While it has 8 violins, 6 violas, 6 cellos and 4 double basses, it’s very powerful. About 16 articulations used in one sitting is a great tool for making a score.
In its player, you could actually see the concert dimension and the positions of the musicians. If you’re an experienced composer and conductor, this is a great way to see if your digital performance emulates the sound you wish to deliver live from the concert itself.
One way I found it useful was to open each VST in different channels. Dividing each musician – for example, eight violins – will play as an awesome ensemble. But if you solo them, you can feel the genuine sound of each violinist’s appeal and approach to playing. The same goes for all the other instrumentalists in the ensemble.
The package may be quite expensive, again. But it is worth it if you are meticulous and you want a precise performance from your instruments.
Trio Broz: Solo Strings
As it says, each instrument is recorded individually and their articulations on violin have been recorded in different ways. This includes that powerful characteristic glissando most experienced violinists pull off ever so gracefully.
But these includes only one violin, a viola and cello. Recorded in the Teatro Delle Voci in Treviso, Italy, Trio Broz’s violin features some powerful stuff with intimate piano and strings arrangements.
It uses round robins instead of an algorithm making the Spiccato, Staccato and Pizzicato definitely and utterly convincing.
According to Fluffy Audio, the publisher of Trio Broz, the sampling gear used some Scheps and AudioTechnica microphones to capture the pristine sound of an 1839 Gaetano Guadagnini Violin.
What I like about this is that it’s just small with only 6.5GB of compressed sounds. Three microphones were used.
As with the need for intimate sets, the violins and strings must play convincingly and well. And indeed, this sample pool is another addition to individuals who wish to score a wondrously thoughtful-sounding score.
If anything, the now seven-years-old early Kontakt sample library for orchestrations is still fighting the modern-day iterations of its kind.
For its era, it was amazing because it featured a concert-hall acoustic, three microphone positions, just three legato levels and individually power ensemble sections.
It was a great package in itself, powerful enough and just about 12GB; a great expense for hard drives during that era.
Cinematic Strings was also recorded in 5.1 surround mixes. Everything was kept in mind as you could mix the room to your need. You could even have some close-microphones of ‘spot’ instruments to give them more definition in the ensemble.
With all these flexibilities, you can create the best simulated concert environment for your mixes. I can recommend this to someone who wishes to focus on their composition while at the same time wishes to concentrate on giving a great sound to their score.
PS: Those staccatos are yummy even for a seven-year-old library.
There are hefty hard-drive hungry orchestration tools available on the market. There are also lightweight ones that focus more on your creativity.
There are also ones that are balanced when it comes to these needs; giving you the best or at least the balance of both worlds.
But those lightweight ones would sure sound convincing in any EDM or even rock setups; they’re well-created. But here are also strings that would suit best for your needs in actual orchestration.
However, these are only strings. I would indeed recommend having a complementary complete orchestration set. There is a separate post for these instruments and I believe you will find great use for them.