The Best VST Strings For Under $200

Chances are you might not be happy with the quality of your current string sounds that came in your daw or other general sound library. If you want the very best orchestral strings to add to your arsenal, it can get quite pricey.  Many top libraries can retail for thousands of dollars (very large sampled collections with best articulations).  I was determined to find the best sounding strings on a budget, and I think I’ve found them, the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra Strings Volume 1. (Notable contenders, in this price range are the classic Miroslav Philharmonic collection for $149 (although there is no current 64 bit support)  and the Garritan Personal Orchestra also for $149. Both packages offer more sounds than just strings, but if you are in the market for just high quality strings alone, this package (The Vienna Special Edition Volume 1 for about $199) will blow you away with the depth and character of the sounds).

Installing the Strings Volume 1 package is very straight forward. You can simply download the entire package online along with it’s own Vienna player (which supports both VST , RTAS and AU format).  For registration, you will need to purchase a Vienna Key Dongle (it’s the same Elicenser that is used in Cubase, so if you are currently a Cubase user, you can simply use the existing key).

Sounds

What can I say, the quality of this package is incredible considering the price. The supplied samples are clean, warm and thick.  The volume 1 package is under 10 gigabytes in size containing thousands of samples making for very expressive articulations. It contains violins, violas, and cellos (single instruments and sections). You can also choose to add its supplied reverb on each sound which is quite good (I would personally opt for a higher quality reverb, such as a convolusion reverb if you have one).  The Vienna player can seem a little daunting at first, but once you dive into it, you can really create and program your own patches and mixer settings to suit your needs with ease. You have a great degree of control at all times. In the interface, you can choose a supplied preset or you can create your own matrix from scratch.  You can assign any controller (modulation wheel, pitch wheel) or even key switches to change through the many articulations. With a little practice, you can achieve a sophisticated performance.  For example, you can take a viola, play it staccato, switch to legato and introduce a cello patch to blend in via the modulation wheel (or any controller setting) through it’s velocity cross fade (xfade).  Or you might want to try setting matrix control via the speed option, where you can set to play a string from legato (when you are playing slow) and switch to staccato just by your playing speed. The possibilities really are endless.

(This is the basic view of the Vienna Player. Everything is at your fingertips. You can see your keyswitches, the playing range of the chosen patch and the all important, X-Axis and Y-Axis controls).

Vienna symphonic library player

(Here is the advanced view. As you can see in the slot rack, each single patch can contain up to 4 sounds. In the slot editor, you can fine tune each sound (delay, attack, etc) and you have full panning and level controls as well.)

Advanced view vienna sample player

The Vienna Ensemble Service

In your daw of choice, you can choose a single instance of the vienna player, or you can make it a multi-timbral device through the Vienna Ensemble service. In 64 bit mode, you can load as many sounds as you choose limited only by the ram in your computer. In once instance, you can set up it’s own mixer with up to 16 instruments (each instrument having it’s own matrix and unique setting). If you need even more power for large orchestrations, you can install the sound library on a separate computer and access it via ethernet (you’ll need to buy an additional vienna key to authorize it). This feature alone is a reason why many famous composers choose Vienna.

Vienna ensemble service 64bit

Conclusion

I highly recommend this package to anyone needing extremely high quality strings and sections for your compositions (while on a budget). If you need a more complete orchestral package (including brass, woodwinds, percussion, etc) you can look elsewhere. But should you decide to add more instruments in the future, the Vienna player is easily expanded with any of there other popular instrument packages. Vienna sound libraries are popular a favourite among top composers, and for good reason. The sounds really are that good. Check out one of the many tutorial videos on their official website as well as their many mp3 demos.

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