The Best 20 Free Orchestral VST Plugins That Sound Great!

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

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!

For the sake of making this article a bit easier to read, I’m going to separate the plugins into different categories;

  • Full orchestral VSTs
  • Orchestral Strings VSTs
  • Piano VSTs
  • Wind instrument VSTs
  • Choir VSTs
  • Harp VSTs
  • Percussion VSTs
  • Bells and Chimes VSTs

Best Free Full Orchestra VSTs

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

Total Composure Orchestra

Available for Windows, Mac, and 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 FREE VST plugins in the World.

DSK Overture

Available for 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!

Check DSK Overture’s official website 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

Available for 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

Available for 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.

Check Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra’s official website here. (Yes, it looks a bit sketchy but it’s completely fine!).

In order to produce high-quality music you won’t just need good software, like the ones provided here, but also good quality equipment, especially Audio Interfaces and Microphones.

If you’re interested in reading about the best ones which are also affordable, here are two articles I wrote on that topic:

DSK Virtuoso

Available for 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

Here’s a link to the DSK Virtuoso’s official website.

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

Available for Windows and 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.

Check VSCO2’s official website here.

My top recommendations would be Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra and VSCO2 – Chamber Orchestra 2

Due to their overall quality and number of instruments they provide.

Best Free Orchestral Strings VSTs

The only one in this particular category that I found which seemed to work and sound great is…

Orchestral Strings One

Available for Windows

The instruments included in this plugin are; 14 Violins, 10 Violas, 8 Cellos and 6 Double Basses.

To be honest, they sound absolutely fantastic.

Getting good sampled strings to sound real is actually hard, and even though these ones don’t sound EXACTLY like the real deal, they come really close.

All the samples were recorded utilizing the legendary acoustics in the famous Berliner Hall, home of the Berliner Philharmoniker.

These are not static samples, thanks to the modelling technology of this plugin, which means that they will sound much more real.

Orchestral Strings One focuses on the continuous flow of melody, not just on a single note.

For example, you can progressively transform a sustained note by first adding slow vibrato, then medium vibrato and finally fast vibrato.

Orchestral Strings One is fairly simple to use since it can be controlled via a MIDI keyboard.

You can download Orchestral Strings Once here.

Related: You might also be interested in reading about the best FREE DAWs currently available.

Best Free Piano VSTs

Only two Plugin son this list, even though there are far more out there and of great quality, both of these are fantastic!

Keyzone Classic

Available for Windows and Mac

Keyzone Classic is a Free piano VST that’s easy to use and sounds great.

It comes with a variety of presets which are;

  • Piano from Keyzone 1.
  • Yamaha Grand Piano.
  • Steinway Grand Piano.
  • Basic Electric Piano.
  • Rhodes Piano.

Despite being a very simple plugin and not having a huge number of presets, it really does what it’s supposed to and quite well!

Definitely try it out and see if you like it.

You can download Keyzone Classic here.

If you’re on a budget and are looking for some affordable microphones, here’s a list of the 15 best USB microphones.

4Front Piano

Available for Windows and Mac

I know, in orchestras they play grand pianos and not upright ones, but this plugin sounds terrific!

If used properly, it will certainly be a great addition to your VST library.

One con though, it doesn’t have any settings.

On the other hand, since it’s so simple, it won’t overload your PC at all!

You can download this plugin from the official 4Front Piano website.

If you’re in need of some awesome and Free Guitar VST Plugins, make sure to read my article on that topic.

Best Free Wind Instruments VST

I have to say, the wind VSTs I found lacked a bit of realism and expression, even though a single note sounds exactly like the real instruments, when you play a scale the transition between the notes doesn’t sound all that great!

DVS Saxophone

Available for Windows

Like I mentioned above, the single notes, especially the lower ones, sound fantastic!

The pitch bend effect is quite good also!

You can download DVS Saxophone VST here.

DSK Saxophones

Available for Windows

This one comes with two saxophone types, the Soprano and Tenor ones.

It sounds a bit more realistic that the DVS Saxophone, but it has the same problem, when playing though a scale the transitions of the notes don’t sound that natural, at least to me.

You can download DSK Saxophones here.

DSK Brass

Available for Windows

This plugin comes with a variety of Brass instruments, you can select single ones or even ensembles.

I put this one on the list because it’s the most versatile of these three since it’s got more instruments to choose from, but the sound quality isn’t the best!

You can download DSK Brass here.

Best Free Choirs VSTs

These next two plugins only have choir samples both male and female.

DSK Choirz

Available for Windows

While not providing the most realistic Choir sounds, it’s still an incredible plugin.

You should definitely give it a shot since it can certainly help with adding some personality to your songs.

You can create three layers of choir tracks which you can choose from a total of 32 choir samples.

Effects like reverb and chorus can be added and the controls for each, while being very simple and straight forward, can really help you shape the sound to your liking.

Features:

  • 3 Layers with 32 Choir & Pad sounds
  • ADSR, Finetuning and Pan control
  • 3 Advanced Filters
  • 3 LFO routing to Cut, Pan, Level and Pitch
  • Chorus effect – Reverb Effect
  • Velocity response
  • Midi automation

Check the DSK Choirs official website here.

Sonatina Choir

Available for Windows and Mac

Sonatina Choir are samples edited from the Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra.

You can choose to reproduce female and male choirs, or both.

These are probably the most famous free choir samples, the thing is that, in my opinion at least, since these samples are pretty old, the sound quality isn’t really that great.

It sounds a bit like the choir samples you get on a Casio Keyboard.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that they are necessarily bad, since depending on the kind of music you want to create this type of sound may be what you need.

You can download this plugin from the VST4Free website.

Best Free Harp VSTs

Harps are essential to any orchestra, the two plugins I found sound pretty good and should be enough for anyone to create some cool harp music.

Etherealwinds Harp

Available for Windows and Mac

Etherealwinds Harp is a sampling of a diatonic folk harp recorded by the Newgrounds musician Etherealwinds.

This is a folk harp, which means that when compared to the traditional harp, it has a smaller range.

The sound quality is actually quite good and it’s very easy to use.

Features:

  • Diatonically sampled, 2x RR, 3 velocity layers.
  • Celtic Lever/Folk Harp with a delicate, warm tone.
  • Full Decays Sampled.
  • Samples are mono (Kontakt version includes faux stereo width option).
  • NKI version included.

You can download Etherealwinds Harp here.

Sonatina Harp

Available for Windows and Mac

The Sonatina Harp, contrary to the previous harp on this list, is a sampled classical Harp.

These samples were edited from the Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra sample library.

You can download this plugin from the VST4Free website.

Best Free Kettle Drums VSTs

The only good plugin I found for kettle drums is the next one on this list.

If you are interested in free samples of a regular Drum kit, make sure to check out this article.

Kettle Drum by Samsara Cycle Audio

Available for Windows

Oh, this plugin is fantastic, extremely simple and easy to use while still sounding great!

It allows you to change the pitch of the Kettle drums, adjust the sustain, release, and lots of other stuff!

Make sure to give it a try.

You can download this plugin from the VST4Free website.

Best Free Bells and Chimes VSTs

The next three plugins I only downloaded and tried out, I don’t really use them much for the kinds of music I like to record, but they can certainly be a useful addition to your plugin library.

VibroMaster

Available for Windows and Mac

VibroMaster is a sampled Vibraphone which comes with 42 samples from the public domain library of the Iowa Electronic Music Studios.

A cool feature this plugin has is that you can use a sustain pedal to play with full release notes.

Features:

  • 42 stereo 24 bit samples.
  • 2 groups: Short / Full release.
  • Release time control for the short group.
  • Sustain levels for each group.
  • Amplitude dynamic range control.
  • Main volume.

You can download this plugin from the VST4Free website.

BellsEbuth by Alan ViSTa

Available for Windows and Mac

This is a sampled orchestral bells plugin which comes with 40 stereo samples of bells.

The quality is quite good, it’s got a very Christmassy sound to it which is cool!

Features:

  • 40 stereo 24 bit samples.
  • Release time.
  • Sustain level.
  • Amplitude dynamic range control.
  • Main volume.

You can download this plugin from the VST4Free website.

Sonatina Chimes

Available for Windows and Mac

Sonatina Chimes is a sampled tubular bells instrument from the Sonatina Orchestra public domain library.

This is the best free tubular bells sample plugin by far, I couldn’t find anything better.

Sadly, I couldn’t find a video or sample to show you, but definitely try it out!

You can download this plugin from the VST4Free website.

Conclusion

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

If you need drums, you can add them, same goes for brass instruments, even choirs.

Yes, you might never be able to achieve the same effect as recording the actual live instruments, but the results can be astounding.

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

I hope this information was useful!

See you on the next one.

2 thoughts on “The Best 20 Free Orchestral VST Plugins That Sound Great!”

  1. 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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