Last Updated on June 24, 2021.
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:
|Title||Available Format||Supported OS|
|Layers by Orchestral Tools||VST, AU, SINE player||Windows & Mac|
|Total Composure Orchestra||KONTAKT||Windows & Mac|
|Spitfire LABS||VST, VST3, AU, AAX||Windows & Mac|
|Free Orchestra by Project Sam||KONTAKT||Windows & Mac|
|DSK Overture Orchestra||32-bit VST||Windows|
|Spitfire Symphony Orchestra Discover||VST, VST3, AU, AAX||Windows & Mac|
|One Track Orchestra||32 and 64-bit VST||Windows|
|Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra||32 and 64-bit VST||Windows|
|DSK Virtuoso||32-bit VST||Windows|
|VSCO2||32 & 64-bit VST & AU||Windows & Mac|
|Palette||KONTAKT||Windows & Mac|
Let’s get straight into each individual orchestral sample library!
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 (Windows, Mac)
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.
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.
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.
Palette – Primary Colors (Windows, Mac)
Pallete is a free KONTAKT instrument that offers a total of 1.3GB of samples, featuring strings, woodwinds and brass ensembles.
Contrary to some other VSTs on this list, Pallete doesn’t offer multiple microphone positions and only features a limited set of articulations, but it does offer 3 dynamic layers and up to 7 round robins with adjustable behavior.
You can control the dynamics, expression, vibrato and tremolo-flutter with a couple different sliders and adjust the volume for each section (strings, brass and winds).
The only con to this library is that the instruments can’t be loaded separately since all the patches are loaded at once when you open it in Kontakt.
Lastly, there’s couple different a pro versions available on their site (Orchestral FX, Runs & Arps, Symphonic Sketchpad, and others) which cost about $199 each.
You can download Palette here.
Vienna Big Bang Orchestra
I tried so hard to include this one in the actual list and not in the “honorable mentions” section, but the install process is so annoying and they make you jump through so many hoops that I just couldn’t place it any higher on this list.
The orchestra itself is great; It sounds fantastic, offers a total of 1.5GB in samples, you can choose between multiple microphone positions, and more.
However, you will need to go through the entire purchasing process, even though you’re not paying a thing, to get a serial number. Until now, not too bad.
But then they require you to install an eLicenser software and to purchase a “Vienna Key”, which is a USB device that holds all your product keys and that costs about $15, and without it you can’t install the software.
So, while it may be a great “Free” product, only get it if you’re willing to go through all of that.
Check out the Big Bang Orchestra here.
Spitfire Audio LABS
Even though I think that all free samples provided by Spitfire Audio in their LABS section are absolutely astounding, they don’t really offer a dedicated orchestral VST here but rather multiple different instruments, such as drums, harps, pianos, brass, guitars, strings, choirs, and more.
You can use all of these different VSTs to create full orchestral sounds, but you’ll need to work on every instrument on its own.
Having said that, all the instruments found on the LABS section of the website could easily be premium products since they sound absolutely phenomenal, and I find it fascinating that they are giving them away for free, so absolutely give them a try!
You can download LABS here.
Ample Guitar M Lite II
Ample Guitar M Lite II is a free acoustic guitar simulation software that has a very realistic feel to it, even when compared to more expensive pieces of software and it’s by far my favorite acoustic guitar VST.
It sounds absolutely fantastic while also giving you the option to add some effects. You can even double the guitar with the simple press of a button, which will add width and body to the sound.
You can simply download some MIDI files and play them using Guitar M Lite II, and while you may need to tweak a couple settings to get it to sound more realistic, it’s definitely far easier to achieve than with most other acoustic guitar simulation software.
I think that everyone should download it. Electric guitar plugins are extremely common, but not acoustic ones and like I said, they tend to sound terrible.
You can download Ample Guitar M Lite 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;
The reason I like these kinds of plugins so much is because 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.