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I have gotten to a point where I have most of the tools I need (or want for that matter).
I did just buy the full version of Kontakt (cheap - crossgrade + their xmas coupon)

I have some orchestra software...
Philharmonik 2
Spitfire BBC (free version)

They get occasional use - string pads for ballads mostly.
Not like I'm gonna write a symphony...
I probably don't need more than that, but...

Anyone have opinions on the Diamond Symphony Orchestra from Kirk Hunter Studios?
On sale for the next 2 days... for $50

Is there a better $50 Orchestra?

Are there folks here who go deep into this kind of thing - and would have educated opinions about the software???

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I have had the Diamond Symphony Orchestra for many years now. It is a good purchase for $50 but it is an old dated program. It does include all of the orchestra instrument in many settings, i.e. full orchestra, chamber music settings, etc. My guess is that it may be around the same as your Philharmonik 2 program as that is also an old dated program.

IF you can afford it the Amadeus orchestra for Kontakt is a much better sounding orchestra. You have heard it on many of my instrumentals. It is on sale for $99 right now:

https://sonicscores.com/Amadeus/

IMHO the Indiginus Solid State Orchestra sounds better than the Diamond Orchestra even though "the "orchestra" sounds were modeled using analog synth waveforms." It sells for $59:

https://www.indiginus.com/solid-state-symphony

I use both of the above a lot in my recordings but I rarely use the Diamond Orchestra at all anymore. I also have Kirt Hunter's Virtuoso Ensemble but it is more expensive, as well as a number of other modified orchestra sounds from various companies..

You might want to listen to the demos and decide if either of the above programs meets your needs.


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Cop, that's not how field sobriety tests work.

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Thanks, Mario. That's enough to make me wait for something else....

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I've had a few orchestra vsts. On the cheap end the samples are dated and you're not going to get many layers of sampling. For personal projects that is often not a big deal.

Here's a quick list.

IK Multimedia Miroslav Philharmonik 2
Vienna Symphonic Library
East West Symphonic Orchestra
ProjectSam Symphobia
Spitfire Audio Albion One
Garritan Personal Orchestra
Native Instruments Symphony
Spitfire BBC Symphony Orchestra

Of these.... I've used kontakt full version.... As well as miroslav, East West silver, and GPO. I'm pretty sure I have a few others on my several computers that are just collecting digital dust. If you're willing to look around you can occasionally get limited versions for free. My EWSilver was such a thing.

GPO was a good vst that was used by a lot of the Cakewalk crowd a decade ago.

I've even heard someone post a composition using TTS and the general midi patches in it to good effect.

I reckon it all depends on what you want to do and how much time you're willing to invest in the project.

Of course, the higher quality libraries are going to cost a considerable amount but they sure sound good.


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What is wrong with what you already have? You're probably not going to get anything better for $50.


Byron Dickens

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Originally Posted by Byron Dickens
What is wrong with what you already have? You're probably not going to get anything better for $50.

This is a very good point. The good stuff is expensive. Certainly more than $50

If you have kontakt, you've got a professional level orchestra vst.


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This is $500 software. On sale.

Last edited by floyd jane; 12/29/23 07:45 PM.
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This is an old library, and it's the last time it'll be offered before its retired. It's nowhere near $500 in value.

I picked it up at $50 because I figured I could probably use the romantic solo violin at some point. Plus, I like the sound of some of the string sections. The sections can be reduced in size, which is nice.

The woodwinds aren't very good. The brass might be usable - there's some fun stuff in there, like french horn sections with rips.

Keep in mind - it's very much orchestral in sound. For most pop music, you'll want something that sounds close miked and intimate. Orchestral in just the opposite. And the sounds aren't detailed, so you probably won't be able to get a "room" sort of sound with it.

So if you like the sound of the strings, it's a good purchase. Otherwise, I'd suggest passing.


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Vocal control, you say. Never heard of it. Is that some kind of ProTools thing?
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It might have been $500 in it's prime but technology has moved past it. Technology advance is causing prices to fall especially for the old stuff that hasn't been updated or improved.

However, if you like it, then go ahead and get it. Even though it's old and dated, there's nothing wrong with using it. Buying something for one tenth it's original price is a good deal.

I still use quite a bit of my old software. Well, until I updated my computer and it was all 32 bit. I'm running the 64 bit versions but I think the samples are still the same.


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If you've got Kontakt, you've probably got the Kontakt Factory Library and Kontakt Factory 2, both of which have some very nice instruments.

Most of the holiday sales are over, so libraries like Nucleus Lite are back to full price. These are limited (similar to BBC) to sections so they lack soloists. And they tend to be bombastic, which limits their usability.

Red Room Audio has a free library called Palette Primary Colors that contains sections (strings/brass/woodwinds) that you might find useful. It's not intimate, but it's nice.

You might check out Solid State Symphony by Indiginus. It's an synthetic orchestra library, but the sections can be layered with your existing libraries, so you might find it useful.

If you don't mind working with notation, MuseScore is a free notation program that has some very good orchestral instruments. But... it's notation-based, which is a whole new set of software to learn. Here's an example of what it can sound like:


Last edited by dcuny; 01/01/24 10:04 AM. Reason: Badly formed link tag

-- David Cuny
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Vocal control, you say. Never heard of it. Is that some kind of ProTools thing?
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David, that MuseScore example was very impressive!


Me, it's not about how many times you fail, it's about how many times you get back up.
Cop, that's not how field sobriety tests work.

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Originally Posted by dcuny
This is an old library, and it's the last time it'll be offered before its retired. It's nowhere near $500 in value.

I picked it up at $50 because I figured I could probably use the romantic solo violin at some point. Plus, I like the sound of some of the string sections. The sections can be reduced in size, which is nice.

The woodwinds aren't very good. The brass might be usable - there's some fun stuff in there, like french horn sections with rips.

Keep in mind - it's very much orchestral in sound. For most pop music, you'll want something that sounds close miked and intimate. Orchestral in just the opposite. And the sounds aren't detailed, so you probably won't be able to get a "room" sort of sound with it.

So if you like the sound of the strings, it's a good purchase. Otherwise, I'd suggest passing.


Originally Posted by dcuny
If you've got Kontakt, you've probably got the Kontakt Factory Library and Kontakt Factory 2, both of which have some very nice instruments.

Most of the holiday sales are over, so libraries like [https://www.audioimperia.com/product/nucleus-lite-edition/]Nucleus Lite[/url] are back to full price. These are limited (similar to BBC) to sections so they lack soloists. And they tend to be bombastic, which limits their usability.

Red Room Audio has a free library called Palette Primary Colors that contains sections (strings/brass/woodwinds) that you might find useful. It's not intimate, but it's nice.

You might check out Solid State Symphony by Indiginus. It's an synthetic orchestra library, but the sections can be layered with your existing libraries, so you might find it useful.

If you don't mind working with notation, MuseScore is a free notation program that has some very good orchestral instruments. But... it's notation-based, which is a whole new set of software to learn. Here's an example of what it can sound like:



Thanks, David.

This is what I was asking for - an intelligent, informed answer.

I thought the question was actually fairly easy to understand.

Since I don't use this type software extensively - or even enough to have an informed opinion - I did not know how This Particular orchestra software was perceived (in the orchestral community, so to speak).

I figured if it was a tried-and-true-old-standard that everyone loved, it would be a good $50 buy.
Both you and Mario suggested it was not the right purchase (with that in mind). Thanks!

And thanks for the other suggestions to look into...

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Gah! I didn't notice that Mario had already commented on the Solid State Symphony. shocked

Tracy Collins - of Indiginus - is also the person behind Amadeus. That's built from older pre-existing samples that were licensed from various sources. It's a fun library if you're looking for something that's complete and works well together, but I think less realistic than other orchestral libraries. It's also got symphony patches much like Solid State Symphony, so that part is sort of a "realistic" version of Solid State Symphony.

Here are some of the best free (or almost) free orchestral instrument libraries I've found. Not enough to build a complete orchestra from, but certainly useful for supplementing what you've already got.

Orchestral Sampling has a lovely free trumpet that's got an orchestral feel, but could probably be used in a pop production.

There's also a nice free orchestral trumpet from Norrland Samples.

Orchestral Tools has a very nice legato french horn. They have their own player, but if you look for the fine print, you can find the Kontact player. I think it's about $2. (I can't see it because I already bought it, and I'd have to sign up to see the price).

Strezov Sampling has a free Afflatus Minimalist Violins Free that has a lovely, delicate sound.

Performance Samples has a free Solo Legato Violin and a Solo Legato Cello, both of which are fantastic... in the right context.

VST Buzz is hosting the Pocket Blakus Cello, which is a great cello with some serious crunch on the bottom end. It required a signup to download, but it's worth it. Here's a link from a VI-Control forum member that doesn't require a signup, but apparently doesn't have the VST wallpaper.

Fluffy Audio has a free Simple Flute that's not that detailed, but works, especially if you have a breath controller. It's probably the weakest instrument in this list - it's hard to find a good free flute.

Hephaestus Sounds has a free oboe that's quite good. You use the mod wheel to change articulations - something I haven't seen in other instruments!

Cinesamples has a free Mister Rogers Celeste that's probably better used for intimate recordins, but is technically an orchestral instrument.


-- David Cuny
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Vocal control, you say. Never heard of it. Is that some kind of ProTools thing?
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Here's a good video on using playing technique to make a vst orchestral synth sound more realistic independent of the sample quality.




You can find my music at:
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Add nothing that adds nothing to the music.
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Useful advice, though I might be a little offended by the "like a piano player" playing block chords. I play voice leading pretty much all the time.


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Originally Posted by Gordon Scott
Useful advice, though I might be a little offended by the "like a piano player" playing block chords. I play voice leading pretty much all the time.

I don't believe that was offensive or intended to slight the piano players. What was said was true. Piano players tend to play like piano players. In order to emulate successfully, a different instrument, one must approach it from the viewpoint of someone who actually plays that instrument. In that example.... the main point I got was that there was no internal movement, just block chords that jumped to the next rather than moving internally and morphing into the next chord. That's not how string sections are composed.

That is a shortcoming of the VST instruments. Yes, they have multi-level, quality samples, but unless you think like a cello player (or any other instrument for that matter) and use the articulations and understand how that instrument is actually played, your attempt to replicate it accurately will not fool the educated/critical listener.


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Originally Posted by Guitarhacker
Originally Posted by Gordon Scott
Useful advice, though I might be a little offended by the "like a piano player" playing block chords. I play voice leading pretty much all the time.

I don't believe that was offensive or intended to slight the piano players.
No, sorry, neither did I ... I was being faux offended.


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Originally Posted by Gordon Scott
Originally Posted by Guitarhacker
Originally Posted by Gordon Scott
Useful advice, though I might be a little offended by the "like a piano player" playing block chords. I play voice leading pretty much all the time.

I don't believe that was offensive or intended to slight the piano players.
No, sorry, neither did I ... I was being faux offended.

Well you fauxed all of us grin grin


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Cop, that's not how field sobriety tests work.

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For those who have Miroslav and other IKM instruments, I have some news.

I have been working with them to fix the installation issues that have plagued the Mac version since… forever, probably. It turns out that their $25 re-download fee for your sound libraries after 180 days was a major part of the problem and it's now gone forever. I've tested the latest IK Project Manager 1.10.0, released a couple weeks ago, on three systems over macOS Catalina, Ventura and Sonoma and it actually works as it's supposed to — and SampleTank 4 finally loads everything it should.

Thanks to being really good at the Upgrade/Crossgrade/Bundles game, I have everything except the new PianoVerse for not that much money. Having a ton of piano VIs, I was going to pass on PianoVerse but they've released a Bösendorfer 280 (9') that sounds very nice (and not like the Imperial) and have announced a Bösendorfer 200 (6'7") coming this year–I've offered to let them sample mine but I doubt that will happen. As nice as it is to have the real deal, the VI is often far more convenient and I'll leave it at that.

The world does not need yet another 290 Imperial and the Alan Parsons included in most of the IKM packages is very good.


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More IK Multimedia news:

If you already own any of their libraries, I recommend going to IKM NAMM SLAMM 2024, log in and see what your upgrade price to Total Studio Max 4 v2 or SampleTank 4 MAX v2 might be. This might be one of those rare opportunities for a real upgrade bargain that they offer now and then. If you have Jam Points, you can apply them up to their % limit.

I have no affiliation other than being a longtime customer who was royally ticked off by years of the Mac installers not working correctly. Amazing things happened when I finally reached the right person who understood that my refund request was not buyer's remorse and that my CC company was going to issue the chargeback unless things were fixed — it took months but they are.

Many of their orchestra libraries are long in the tooth but if you are looking to start a collection, this is a good place. I use their keyboard and harp VIs in my church work and my wife really likes the Alan Parsons Imperial, a sample library of Mark Knopfler's Bösendorfer 290. Some of their drum and synth libraries are fine as well. Unlike NI/Kontakt, the host, SampleTank 4, is always free.


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@floyd jane: You've already received a lot of good tips but here's some free orchestral libraries that might have been missed.

This one has a lot of format options, including Kontakt:
https://versilian-studios.com/vsco-community/

These two are for Kontakt:
https://alpineproject.wixsite.com/main

https://projectsam.com/libraries/the-free-orchestra/

This library has a lot of hybrid synth string/choir patchesand multis for Kontakt:
https://www.cl-projects-sound-design.com/electronic-expanse.html

This previously commercial VST went free a short time ago (also, check out the "Sounds" tabs):
https://www.synful.com/

I would caution you against acquiring Solid State Symphony or Amadeus. They can seriously screw up your workflow---they're addictive and just too much fun.

Paj
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Thanks, Paj. That is very helpful.

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Thanx Paj, that Alpine project and synful sounded so good I DLed them. I have found that duplicating instruments from different sound sources can add a lot of realism to an orchestra.


Me, it's not about how many times you fail, it's about how many times you get back up.
Cop, that's not how field sobriety tests work.

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Originally Posted by Paj
@floyd jane: You've already received a lot of good tips but here's some free orchestral libraries that might have been missed.

This one has a lot of format options, including Kontakt:
https://versilian-studios.com/vsco-community/

These two are for Kontakt:
https://alpineproject.wixsite.com/main

https://projectsam.com/libraries/the-free-orchestra/



Paj
8^)

Unless a Windows user has an earlier version of Kontakt, that's not going to work. Kontakt 7 no longer supports VST2, only VST3. Unfortunately, BIAB does not support VST3. If you have K6 or K5, you're good.

This is not an issue for Mac users since K7 and BIAB support AU (yes, K7 supports VST3 on the Mac but BIAB doesn't).


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@Mike Halloran: Respectfully, I'm on a PC and all three run just fine in K7 (The Kontakt version of Versillian you have to use is the Blue Cat Sketch Orchestra subset). I understand that a DAW/Host can have VST version reqirements/exclusions and a Kontakt library/instrument can have a Kontakt version requirement, but I've never had a Kontakt library have a VST/VST2/VST3 requirement.

Paj
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