The 10 best Free Orchestral VST/AU Plugins That Sound Great!

Last Updated on September 4, 2020 by Facundo

What better way to add some embellishments to your songs than with an orchestral plugin? Even better if its free, right?

Orchestral samples, and samples in general, have come a long way.

They were practically unusable back in the day, but now, even though you can hear the difference between a sample software and the real deal, they sound astoundingly similar.

I love finding free software that actually works, so in this post I will go into each of the ones I found and tried, this way you won’t have to do any of the research and try the ones that sucked, like I did!

All of the download links are included!

The Best Orchestral Plugins are:

TitleAvailable FormatSupported OS
Layers by Orchestral ToolsVST, AU, SINE playerWindows & Mac
Total Composure OrchestraKONTAKTWindows & Mac
Spitfire LABSVST, VST3, AU, AAXWindows & Mac
Free Orchestra by Project SamKONTAKTWindows & Mac
DSK Overture Orchestra32-bit VSTWindows
Spitfire Symphony Orchestra DiscoverVST, VST3, AU, AAXWindows & Mac
One Track Orchestra32 and 64-bit VSTWindows
Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra32 and 64-bit VSTWindows
DSK Virtuoso32-bit VSTWindows
VSCO232 & 64-bit VST & AUWindows & Mac

Best Free Full Orchestra VSTs

While every single one on this list is a good plugin overall, there are two which stand out.

Layers by Orchestral Tools

Layers is an ultra realistic orchestral sample library that features a full orchestra, Brass-, Woodwinds-, and Strings sections.

You can choose between a couple different mic positions and it also features different articulations; different chord types, staccato and sustain unison, and more.

In total, the sample pack is about 17GB and runs on Windows 10 and Mac OS.

Lastly, Layers works with Orchestral Tools’ SINE Player.

You can download Layers here.

Total Composure Orchestra (Windows, Mac, Linux)

Total Composure Orchestra is a full orchestral sample library created using only samples in the public domain.

Total Composure is the first to offer such a library exclusively for the Kontakt format; making use of Kontakt’s scripting capabilities to greatly enhance the playability, realism, and functionality of these public domain samples.

This is a fantastic plugin, it comes with a huge array of instruments from pianos, to brass instruments, strings and percussion.

One bad thing about this plugin is that it runs both on Kontakt Player, which is free, and the full version of Kontakt, but on Kontakt player you can only use the samples for about 30 min before it stops working.

If you want to be able to use them to their fullest extent, you will need to purchase Kontakt.

You can download Total Composure Orchestra here.

Related: List of the best Choir VST Plugins available.

Spitfire LABS

I mentioned Spitfire in a couple of my posts simply because they have some of my top recommendations as far as free plugins go.

LABS is basically a collection of free VST and AU plugins that not only sound fantastic, but that is also being updated consistently, with new plugins being added over time.

Here you will find great-sounding samples of any orchestral instrument you can think of.

You can download LABS here.

The Free Orchestra by Project Sam

Project Sam is behind Symphobia, which is one of the best-rated libraries for film scoring, video games and TV, and they created the Free Orchestra library which contains bits and pieces of all of their paid products.

What struck me the most about this free library is how great it sounds as soon as you load it up; there is little to no tweaking required.

Now, it runs on KONTAKT (6.2. or higher), but luckily it works in the free version which can be beneficial to you if you’re interested in using KONTAKT but don’t want to purchase the premium version just yet.

Parameters such as envelope controls, effects, octaver, and reverse make this library very versatile to use.

All in all, if you’re a beginner tipping their toes into the whole orchestral world, this entry level library could just be what you need.

You can download the Free Orchestra here.

DSK Overture Orchestra (Windows)

DSK Overture is a full orchestral sample VST plugin.

It gives you the ability to choose between 40 different instruments and play 4 of those instruments in the same instance, through MIDI.

The included instruments are; Acoustic Piano, Harpsichord, Bassoon, Celesta, Glockenspiel, Vibes, Harp, Flute, Piccolo, English Horns, Oboe, Clarinet, French Horn, Trumpet, Church Organ, Trombone, Tuba, Cello, Contra Bass, Viola, Violin, Orchestra Drum Kit, Full Sections.

Features:

  • 4 layer (40 instruments, 1 drum kit, 10 internal combos)
  • envelope
  • Midi channel selector
  • Panorama control
  • Level, gain and mute control
  • Advanced multimode filter (HP, LP, BP1, BP2 & notch)
  • Filter amp. envelope
  • Fx (Reverb, Delay & Chorus)
  • Midi automation
  • Velocity response

Honestly, what makes this plugin great is the variety of instruments, since there is no shortage of them, plus they all sound pretty damn good!

You can download DSK Overture here.

BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover by Spitfire Audio

Here’s another great addition by Spitfire.

The BBC Symphonic Orchestra Discover actually sells for $49, but you can fill out a form and they will send it to you after 14 days for completely free.

This library is clearly aimed at beginners since it is very simple to use and straight-forward, plus it already comes premixed into one mix signal which gives you less control over it, but makes things easier if you’re just starting out.

It features a total of 33 instruments and 47 techniques, and thanks to Spitfire’s new mode switching technology, you can share and collaborate with fellow composers, regardless of which edition they own.

You can download the BBC Symphonic Orchestra here.

If you’re also Interested in finding the best sounding Free Drum Vst Plugins, then read this article I wrote about the ones I think are absolutely fantastic.

One Track Orchestra (Windows)

One Track orchestra is primarily a sketching tool, meant to be used for songwriting and recording demos and aimed mostly at beginners and songwriters who need a simple tool to create and record music.

Therefore, the sound quality and usability aren’t the best ones out there.

The plugin was created using samples from VSCO Community Edition and assembled with Maize Sampler.

It is available as 32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows.

You can download One Track Orchestra Here.

Related: I love free plugins, so I put together a list of the best Free Synth VST Plugins out there which you can check out here,

Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra (Windows)

The Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra Module contains the full SSO by Mattias Westlund, in one simple VST plugin (32 & 64bit)

The SSO samples are stereo, 16 bit, 44kHz.

While it’s not the most professional Orchestral Sample Plugin out there, it will certainly provide the building blocks for creating some astounding virtual orchestra sounds.

Melodic instruments and chromatic percussion are sampled in minor 3rds and all samples have varying amounts of stage ambience, depending on their front-to-back placement.

SSO is the one plugin on this list that provides the highest number of instruments.

You get loads of String instruments, Brass instruments, Woodwind instruments, Keys and Choirs, Chromatic Percussion and Regular Percussion.

You can download it here.

DSK Virtuoso (Windows)

DSK Virtuoso allows you to play a combination of 6 layer instruments, or to play a composition up to 6 different parts, through the MIDI channels selectors.

The included instruments are;

Acoustic Piano, Harpsichord, Church Organ, Celesta, Glockenspiel, Vibes, Harp, Flute, Piccolo, English Horns, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, French Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba,
Cello, ContraBass, Viola, Violin, Orchestra Drum Kit, and more.

Features:

  • Midi channel assignable to each one
  • ADSR, level and Pan control for each layer
  • 40 instruments in 6 categories
  • 2 Send Fx (Chours & delay)
  • 1 Master reverb Fx
  • Velocity response

You can download DKS Virtuoso here.

You may also be interested in trying out some Free Bass Amp VST Plugins which should help you achieve a better sounding mix!

VSCO2 – Chamber Orchestra 2 (Windows, Mac)

The Community Edition, which is the free edition of these samples, comes with a total of 19 instruments, ranging from Woodwinds to Brass, Keys, Mallets, Strings and Percussion.

Decades of work have gone into creating these samples using nothing but the best equipment to capture them.

You can download the VSCO2 library here.

Learn how to Produce music

If you want to learn how to produce music at home the right way and without making too many mistakes, then I’d recommend that you read these posts;

Conclusion

The reason I like these kinds of plugins so much is that you can create complete song just by using virtual instruments.

You will need a good MIDI controller to do this properly and fast, even though you can manually add in every note in your DAW.

I hope this information was useful!

See you on the next one.

7 thoughts on “The 10 best Free Orchestral VST/AU Plugins That Sound Great!”

  1. Pingback: Best 15 Free Delay VST/AU Plugins that Actually Sound Great! - The Home Recordings

  2. Thank you so much for helping me out with great knowledge of vst plugins for recording and mixing… Bless you guys for helping me and many more fellow musicians and recording engineers like me…
    Barry Boodle

  3. You have put a great deal of work into this, collating information from a background of extensive personal exploration. Thank you, this has been most informative and useful. If I can offer one criticism it’s that you don’t always try, from the controller keyboard you seem to be using, to mimic the articulation of the instruments, nor indicate that the sounds can be improved in this aspect once you have got the notes into your DAW.
    Perhaps some statement that some instruments (for example, the saxophones) can be improved, to a degree, once the notes are in the DAW could have been included. But thank you again for a valuable resource that has saved me, at least, a lot of time.

    1. I’m really glad this article was helpful!
      Thanks for the input about improving the audio to mimic the instrument once it has been recorded, I’m definitely going to include that!
      Have a wonderful day!

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