Orchestral VSTs have never been more accessible to producers. Soaring strings, fluttering woodwinds, and deep brass will bring an epic and emotional quality to your tracks and enhance their dramatic energy. Orchestral libraries can contain thousands of samples and several instrument specific articulations. It’s not surprising that many paid orchestral plugins can cost upwards of a thousand dollars. You get what you pay for when it comes to plugins, but the quality of free has been on the rise.
That’s why I’m rounding up the 6 best free orchestral VSTs capable of emulating a real orchestra.
Let’s get started. Spitfire LABS is a top contender when it comes to free plugins. LABS is an ongoing series of free software instruments made by musicians and sampling experts in London. It’s updated with new sounds constantly, and sports an easy to use user interface. Their soft piano plugin is still a go-to piano sound for many professional composers. Some musicians have used it to write entire albums of solo piano music.
LABS offers top quality string samples, warm brass samples, and several other unique additions of the orchestra. LABS offers top quality string samples, warm brass samples, and several other unique additions of the orchestra. Orchestral Tools is a high quality orchestral library creator.
Other Considerations When Purchasing VST products
It’s no surprise that their free offering packs some of the best free orchestral sounds you can get.
- Layers’ packs 17 GB of orchestral samples.
- It includes four different microphone positions and a variety of articulations.
- It allows you to generate full chords with one touch of a button.
Vienna Symphonic Library SE Vol 1: Essential Orchestra
It’s also capable of MIDI keyswitching, which gives you tons of control to blend instrument sections and shift dynamics. Layers’ was recorded on the Teldex Scoring Stage in Berlin. This recording environment gives it a professional sound with top quality acoustics. It’s one of the most realistic sounding free orchestral libraries available. Here’s a simple plugin from DSK that’s a total classic in the free orchestral plugins world. In Overture, you get the ability to control four unique instruments all at once.
The plugin comes with a library of 40 instruments and a percussion bank that you can choose from for each voice.
The quality of the samples is great plus you get options for adding amp envelopes, filters, effects, MIDI automation and velocity response.
For a beginner-friendly orchestral plugin with no-frills, this is an excellent option.
3. UVI Orchestral Suite
- Its biggest drawback is that it only works on Windows.
- Here’s a very simple orchestral VST that puts an entire orchestra at your fingertips.
EastWest ComposerCloud X
- The One Track Visual Orchestra is quite literally an orchestral VST that’ll only take up one track in your DAW.
- The caveat here is that you’ll need a pretty big MIDI keyboard since the orchestra is sectioned into different MIDI key ranges.
Still, as a tool for quick inspiration or for finding arrangement ideas, this could be a great orchestral VST for your plugins folder. Sonatina is a classic MIDI orchestra plugin with a lot of capability, especially for making traditional orchestral arrangements. The free plugin comes with full sections across the spectrum of orchestral instruments including strings, brass, woodwinds, keys, choir and percussion. The library of samples are meticulously recorded and makes a great option for use as a fairly serious tool for orchestral composition.
You even get a handful of effects for controlling stage and room ambiance.
Overall, for composition tasks that demand standard orchestral arrangements, this is a great option. The Total Composure Orchestra is a full orchestral sample library. It was created by using samples that are in the public domain. The public domain consists of creative work that has no exclusive intellectual property rights.
10. SONiVOX Film Score Companion
- All the 1500 samples in the total composure orchestra are pre-cleared for use in your music.
- The public domain consists of creative work that has no exclusive intellectual property rights.
Garritan Personal Orchestra
- The Total Composure Orchestra uses Native Instruments Kontakt as a sample loader.
- That means you’ll get access to the advanced Kontakt scripting features that make samples sound even more realistic.
EastWest Hollywood Orchestra
Kontakt isn’t free, but it’s a worthwhile tool to invest in if you plan on using more orchestral libraries in the future. The Free Orchestra by Project Sam is a collection of samples from many of their paid products. It’s the high quality sample platter of orchestral libraries. The Free Orchestra’s samples range from epic string staccatos to dystopian sound design. The Free Orchestra’s samples range from epic string staccatos to dystopian sound design. The best thing about this orchestral VST is that it runs in the free version of Kontakt—the Kontakt Player.
This is perfect if you want to get started with Kontakt libraries without the commitment of buying the full version.
How We Selected the Best Orchestral VST
- The Free Orchestra features incredible options for sound design.
- Parameters such as envelope controls, effects, octaver, and reverse make it one of the most versatile plugins on this list.
- The Free Orchestra is the perfect entry level orchestra for any genre.
- BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover is another incredible offering from Spitfire Audio.
Discover was designed to make orchestral scoring accessible to all music creators. In the past, you would have to make an investment of hundreds of dollars or more to begin composing with an orchestra. Discover includes 35 instruments and 47 techniques. All the instruments are premixed into one mix signal. This gives you a bit less control than a paid library, while still boasting a professional sound.
Fork over the Orch
- Discover includes “mode switching” which allows you to share your compositions with others.
- Composers that have different editions of the Spitfire Symphonic Orchestra can play and edit your music.
EastWest Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra
- This is also convenient if you plan on upgrading from Discover to one of Spitfire Audio’s paid offerings.
- Versilian Chamber Orchestra Community is an open source version of Versilian Chamber Orchestra 2.
It was created for musicians that want to create better sounding music using sample libraries without the cost. The VSCO Community edition comes with 19 unique instruments, and 3000 individual samples. The library includes the basic articulations of the orchestra. It allows you to create realistic mockups right out of the box. You’ll need a sample loader to run this library. Luckily, this library is compatible with the free sample loader Sforzando, which runs .sfz files. This is a helpful non-proprietary format that stores instrument data for software synthesizers. VSCO Community is also compatible with the full version of Kontakt.
Here’s Versillian’s follow-up to its original Chamber Orchestra plugin Chamber Orchestra 2.
6. The Total Composure Orchestra
- Its free community edition comes with 19 instruments, almost two thousand samples and a ton of options for adding expression and effects to get your custom orchestra sound.
- This isn’t your typical Hollywood-inspired orchestral VST—rather Versillian prides itself on offering rare instrumentation that celebrates more diverse orchestral styles.
- You’ll find a handful of rare instruments all of which have been meticulously recorded to deliver exceptional sound and feel.
Free orchestral libraries used to ‘sound’ like they were free. Now, you can get a pro orchestral sound in your DAW with no financial commitment. These libraries are a dime a dozen. Try them out in your DAW and make an epic banger. They’ll be a good indicator of what will come next on your shopping list. These days, you can record pretty much anything at home. Except for orchestras. Unless you’re an artist with a serious budget and plenty of time on your hands, that’s not very easy. Luckily, the past decade gave us better and better sample libraries — including free orchestral VSTs that can put multi-person ensembles right inside your laptop.
Orchestras imbue any song with a sense of drama and stakes!
Free orchestral VSTs can cover the full gamut of classical instruments: Violins, violas, cellos, brass, woodwinds, and so much more. These instruments are heard on records from all genres — from pop, hip-hop, and folk to classical, ambient, experimental, and beyond. Some free orchestral VSTs give you flexible control over dynamics and articulation, so that you can carefully adjust the loudness and style of the virtual orchestra’s performance. Others, like Arcade, focus on a variety of sounds and the ability to sample and manipulate different orchestral loops. This workflow allows you to use strings and horns in your music without having to be a pro arranger!
We compiled a list of the best free orchestral VSTs that you can download and start using in your music today.