Whether you're channelling your inner Mozart or getting your Zimmer on, everyone needs an orchestra - and real orchestras ain't cheap! Here is the next best thing - ten of the finest orchestration tools for your digital audio workstation - in alphabetical order:

8Dio Productions CASE Bundle

We kick off our list with something slightly different, but something that goes hand in hand with basically all the other entries on this list: the CASE bundle from 8DIO, a rather unique collection of sounds that gathers strings, brass and wind instruments - but with a focus on the 'wild side' instead of 'regular' playing styles. CASE stands for Custom Aleatoric Solo Effects, and this bundle brings together three of 8DIO's best-selling products for what is arguably the most comprehensive 'orchestral effects' sound library right now. A perfect companion for the other instruments on this list and a must-have for anyone looking to add risers, glissandos, sweeps and other unusual and lesser-used elements. Requires the full version of Native Instruments Kontakt 5 or newer.



Audiobro LA Scoring Strings 3

The love for Audio Bro LA Scoring Strings (or simply LASS) is almost unanimous amongst DAW-based composers. As a product devoted to a specific set of instruments it comes with a plethora of articulations and many other features to enhance realism such as true legato samples, round robins, stage positioning with reverb simulation, advanced tuning and much more. The latest LASS version 3 requires Kontakt Player 6.1.1 or later, includes Legato Sordino (previously an optional addition) and features Integrated polyphonic Legato, Stage and Color profiles saving you from the need for multis.



Audio Imperia Nucleus

A new face in the orchestral instruments scene is Audio Imperia, a company that has released very interesting libraries over the past few years and amongst them Nucleus stands out as a very attractive offering. This is the company’s latest effort and it delivers a well-rounded package with soloists, instrument sections and ensembles that encompass the entire orchestral palette, from strings and brass to woodwinds and percussion. Nucleus runs with the free Kontakt Player so there are no extra costs attached, and there's also a less expensive "Lite" version which should be a great alternative for getting those arrangements done without severely compromising your wallet.



EastWest Quantum Leap Hollywood Orchestra Opus Edition

East West is a pioneer in this field with a pivotal role in the virtual orchestra world since the early days - when computers barely had enough RAM or storage to cope with this category of complex software. Despite all the changes in the world of fast-paced software development, EW is still going strong and continues to deliver some of the finest virtual instruments out there. Their all-encompassing back catalog is currently immense and offers a plethora of options - for this list we have chosen their Hollywood Orchestra Opus Edition acclaimed as the best-selling and most awarded orchestral virtual instrument ever created. Produced by industry titans Doug Rogers and Nick Phoenix and sound engineered by Academy Award and BAFTA winner Shawn Murphy the Opus Edition will quite literally sing along with other entries in this list.



Cinematic Studio Series Cinematic Studio Strings

From Composer Alex Wallbank Cinematic Studio Series' Cinematic Studio Strings came as a nice surprise when released and still praised among producers due to its realistic movements and vivid sounding library. CSS' meticulously designed user interface offers a distinguished workflow with easily assignable keyswitches and MIDI CCs alongside a mixer with output routing options allowing the user to blend close, main and room sounds together with a mix fader containing the virtual instrument's pre-mixed combination. Cinemtic Studio Strings is fully compatible with free Kontakt Player and works as a standalone product as well.



IK Multimedia SampleTank 4 MAX

IK's SampleTank 4 Max brings a whopping 260 GB of content to your hard disk, and more than a great share of that massive library is dedicated to orchestral instruments, so it rightfully earns a spot on our list. As expected we have basically everything covered with SampleTank Max, from solo brass and strings with plenty of articulations to percussive elements, ensembles and also a number of different acoustic pianos. If you're looking for a one-stop solution for orchestrations and almost everything else beyond the orchestra pit, this is it.




Native Instruments Choir: Omnia

Native Instruments is almost a synonym for fine software instruments. From their all-encompassing collection we have opted to highlight the recently released Choir Omnia, a breathtaking collection of symphonic voices. Announced together with the company's newest plug-in bundle collection - the Komplete 14 - Choir Omnia features a 40-piece choir of four independent sections: soprano, alto, tenor and bass, the engine allows users to quickly build choir parts with intuitive controls or by making use of the intrument's built-in Syllabuilder in order to construct their own phrases and transformations. The library sums up to 70 GB of content across four instruments and 189 presets designed for streamlined scoring.



Orchestral Tools Metropolis Ark1

Orchestral Tools presents their Kontakt-player/NKS compatible Metropolis Ark 1, a library that is aimed on delivering the strongest dynamics through the loudest possible articulations one can have, so if you need subtle and delicate then you should look elsewhere! According to Orchestral Tools, Ark 1 was specifically designed for "powerful" and "epic" compositions, and brings not only a complete orchestra divided by instruments groups but also choirs, a great piano, plus electric guitars & percussion sections on a whopping 75 GB of raw, unprocessed material to ensure maximum freedom when mixing. The Ark library is comprised of four entries that are all worth a try if modern and edgy orchestration is what you're after.



Spitfire Audio BBC Symphony Orchestra CORE

Spitfire Audio is second to none when it comes to computer-based orchestrations. Developed in partnership with BBC Studios and the world-famous BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra Core comes as the ultimate broadcast standard orchestral virtual instrument. Featuring a proprietary dedicated player plug-in, 44 instruments and 344 recorded playing techniques the software is the company's first capture of a full orchestra with every note expertly sampled at Maida Vale Studios - the home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra since 1934. BBC SO comprises over 200 hours of recordings summing 36GB of content available as standalone, VST2, VST3, AU, AAX & NKS ready formats.



Vienna Symphonic Library Ensemble Pro 7

Last - but certainly not least - comes the mighty VSL - Vienna Symphonic Library, which is far more than just a library - it’s actually an enormous collection of libraries, offering a whole ecosystem of products dedicated to simulating orchestral instruments to perfection, boasting over six million samples to seamlessly encompass almost every detail possible in an orchestra, save for the moody conductor. Over the years VSL became almost a de-facto standard from which all other virtual orchestras are measured, and we must say that they have set the bar pretty high. Featured here is the Vienna Ensemble Pro 7, which serves as a great entry point for the VSL universe, delivering high quality on a small budget and also offering their LAN-based solution for those times when a single computer won’t cut it. Yes, you read that right: LAN for multi-computer orchestrations - how big can you imagine it?