6 Of The Best Orchestral Software

We’re very sad to report the recent passing of our orchestral expert Keith Gemmell and in memory of his contributions to MusicTech we thought we’d round up the best orchestral software instruments and collections. Be sure to look at our more recent 6 top pieces of Scoring Software…

6 of the Best Orchestral Software

Best Delicate Phrasing – Sonokinetic Sotto

Best Orchestral Sonokinetic

Sonokinetic is famed for making some of the best orchestral software. Titles like Grosso and Capriccio have focused mainly on the grandiose, but Sotto concentrates on the lighter side of orchestral composition with a variety of soft beds and patterns.


With Strings, Wind and Brass sections, there is plenty here for a variety of cinematic orchestral productions. “Entire compositions suitable for atmospheric backgrounds can be realised with just Sotto alone.

It works wonders if you’re stuck for ideas – a true source of inspiration to kickstart a composition and maintain a constant mood throughout. For composers and producers on a tight deadline, this is a marvellous inspirational tool and timesaver. Bravo Sotto. Beautifully conceived phrase-based library suitable for film and game music, where light orchestral sounds are required.”

Price €302
Contact via website
Web www.sonokinetic.net

Best Orchestral Strings – NI String Ensemble

best orchestral

The Symphony Series’ rationale is not surprisingly to provide composers with a comprehensive toolset for creating realistic orchestral productions. String Ensemble has four Kontakt instruments: violins, violas, cellos and basses.

In his review, Keith Gemmell said: “With its rich, luscious, professional sound, this should prove popular with professional and amateur composers alike. This is an excellent full-size string orchestra with a great sound, which is easy to use and is suited for both quick sketching and end-production use.”


Price Ensemble: £429
Web www.native-instruments.com

Best Update – Spitfire Audio Albion One

best orchestral roundup spitfire

Albion One is a reworking of the award-winning and best-selling title from Spitfire. This time around, a 109-piece orchestra was used in the recording and the GUI redesigned, but the aim is still the same: to provide a broad range of orchestral brush strokes and to enable quick composition.

“Albion One is a big step up from the original version. It’s intuitive and yields gratifying results at surface level but if you want to, it’s possible to dig very deep with the eDNA synth engine”

And the conclusion was: “When it comes to all-round cinematic orchestral sample libraries, few can match Spitfire Audio’s Albion One, which provides lush strings, powerful brass, thunderous percussion along with a huge variety of organically derived loops and synth pads.”

Price £383
Contact via web
Web www.spitfireaudio.com

Best Orchestral Drama – Orchestral Tools Metropolis Ark 1

We first met Orchestral Tools at last year’s NAMM show, where the huge demo from this collection – designed for impactful and epic film and trailer scores – was booming across the hall. We were so impressed that we made it one of our products of the show.

Little did we know that Keith Gemmell was already on the case with the review. He said: “For powerhouse productions, we don’t think there’s anything to match this at the moment.

No doubt other developers will follow, but this is currently the library to buy for any composers involved in producing epic soundtracks. A terrific library that contains just about everything for composing and producing loud, powerful and epic music.” Epic!

Price €549 +VAT
Contact +49 (0) 7665 9398678
Web www.orchestraltools.com

Best Traditional Classic – Garritan Personal Orchestra 5

best orchestral software garritan

Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO) has been around since 2004 and standalone since 2009. GPO5 saw a much needed update with 70-per-cent more patches, more choir, more piano, more everything, really. Those strings and harps are real strengths, as is the fact that it is so light on your system.

Keith Gemmell said of it: “This is a brilliant orchestral library. It’s packed with every orchestral instrument any composer, arranger or student might need to write classical music, whether for large or small ensembles… and is probably the most complete library of its type. GPO has always been great value for money. Version 5 is even better, with improved sounds and a helluva lot more of them.”

Price £99
Contact Time+Space, +44(0) 1837 55200
Web www.garritan.com

Best Classic Organ – IKM Philharmonik 2 CE

best software instruments miroslav

This certainly vies for being the oldest orchestral tool in this roundup – the original came out 20 years ago. For a budget price, you get a good amount: over 10GB of content over 700 instruments spread over all four sections of the orchestra (strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion).

“For pure classical-music projects, others might offer more on a technical level. They are, of course, far more expensive and this is where IK Multimedia’s offering scores very highly indeed – it’s fantastic value for money. Value-wise, orchestral libraries don’t come better than this – a full orchestra, solo strings, ensembles plus mixing and editing features.”

Price €119
Web www.ikmultimedia.co