Vienna Symphonic Library Forum
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  • Orchestral Strings - SE or full version?

    Hello everyone. I'm a musician and composer and has lately started working with film music and realised the need for a proper strings library. I'm impressed with the sound and the generally dry quality of the VSL instruments included in Kontakt, but it's of course severely limited and in my opinion can't be used for serious scoring. My question is whether it makes more sense to get the Orchestral Strings 1+2 directly (but not the extended versions) or the SE Strings + SE Strings Plus? Somehow there seems to be more articulations in the combined SE and SE Plus, or am I missing something? I can only see the differences when it comes to the included articulations, what other differences are there? I should add that I'm not at all interested in solo strings so the DVDs really do seem to make more sense, but only if you don't absolutely need the extended library as well. I'd be grateful for any thoughts on this. Best regards.

  • The Orchestral Strings 1 and 2 collections are sampled at every half step where as the SE collections are only sampled at every whole step then transposed to fill in the gaps.  Also, in some cases, OS 1 and 2 have more velocity layers and more variety when it comes to repeating notes.  If you can afford to get the full libraries then get them because you really need a lot of articulations to make your music sound as authentic as possible. 


  • If you can afford the full libraries, generally, that is the better way to go.  The additional bowings and dynamics that are included in the extended versions are particularly important when seeking realism.

    However, the questions to try to answer before purchasing anything, are, what are you intending to write, and what are your needs?  For example, do you have good woodwinds and brass?  If you currently have absolutely nothing, then the SE packages can make some sense, given the wide variety of instruments included.  If you do go with SE, the additional articulations in the SE Plus library would be of use.  Between SE and Plus, there are enough articulations to allow reasonable variety.  Especially if you are just starting out and aren't sure if composing is something you intend to get deeply involved with, spending a boatload of money up front isn't always wise.  Also, the SE libraries require far less computer power to run than the full libraries.  You can run all four of the SE libraries quite nicely on a decent older quad-core chip, along the lines of a Q9550, with 8 gigs of ram.  If you start adding additional full libraries, 8 gigs of ram will not cut it.  For running many full libraries 24 gigs is more the norm (one can survive with 12, but doing so will impose major limitations).

    Having said all that, long-term, the better choice is orchestra strings.  If you are specifically, and only really interested in film scoring, then you probably need to take a serious look at AP Strings I and II.  The AP Strings do not have near the articulations that orchestra strings have (a real drawback), but AP Strings has the lush "Hollywood" sound, while orchestra strings in some ways could be considered more "classical".  The AP Strings bundle would be slightly less expensive than the orchestra strings bundle, and would also include full sordinos.  OTOH, if you have a wide variety of interests, personally, orchestra strings would likely be a better choice, given the greater number of articulations.


  • Thank you both for your input. I have a fairly recent i7-2600K processor but only 8 GB of RAM. However, the thing is that I prefer to use a wind controller and modelled instruments for woodwind and brass so I would really only be looking at getting strings anyway. Judging from the demos, I find the Appassionata Strings too soft-edged somehow for my taste, I like the more defined sound of the original orchestral strings better. I suppose the core of my question is how limited the orchestral strings bundle will feel without the extension (I'm sure it's great but I just can't justify spending a total sum of 1360 euros). Just looking at the specs, there are 17,257 samples in the SE package and 15,977 in the SE+ (but this is shared with solo strings) and 19,720 samples in the standard DVD bundle. That to me seems to mean an only somewhat smaller amount of orchestral samples in the SE package. The reason being that while there are fewer velocity layers and whole-note rather than half-note intervals sampled in the SE package, there are some articulations in the SE package that you don't get in the standard DVD set (like con sordino and fast repetitions). Someone please correct me if I'm wrong here...

  • I find SE and SE+ cover most situations.

  • What is best really depends on the type of writing you intend to do.  For most things, SE and SE+ cover the critical essentials.  If you are looking to emulate very detailed classical string writing and orchestral performance, the full libraries are better (but for that purpose you would also want the extended libraries).

    If, as you seem to indicate, the extended libraries are not something you would purchase anytime soon, then going with SE and SE+ makes a great deal of sense.