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We’re back again this week and delving into the world of orchestral production. We would all love to be able to work with musicians all the time, but nowadays there are more than enough alternatives that can give you the same results. We will go through the top 5 free orchestral vsts that can get your scores sounding the best they can for the composer on a budget.

First up is The Free Orchestra by Project Sam. 1.5 GB of diverse orchestral samples that are perfect for providing the soundtrack to trailers and more action or suspenseful pieces. From orchestral string staccatos and brass clusters to symphonic percussion and dystopian sound design it is a great starting point for many projects. As a taster of the full orchestra from Project Sam, the quality is great and you can get quality results fast. And best of all, it’s compatible with the free version of Kontact Player!

Download here:

Next is Orchestral Tools’ Layers. Layers is a free orchestral VST instrument, and an easy way to add orchestral sounds to your compositions and productions. Draw from the finest recordings of strings, woodwinds, and brass, all recorded on the Teldex Scoring stage in Berlin. It offers multiple articulations, and microphone positions and you can choose between individual sections (woodwind, brass and string) or full orchestra. Also featured is one-touch access to major, minor and suspended chords, all via midi controllers. It’s a hefty package, and completely free!

Grab a copy here:

Primary Colours bring us Palette, another taster if a larger series of premium sample packs, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a punch. 1.3 GB of samples featuring strings, woodwinds, and brass ensembles with a limited set of articulations and a single microphone position, but the same 3 dynamic layers and up to 7 round robins included in the larger products, so you can get a sense of the rich sound and depth of sampling you can expect with the entire lineup.
Of note is the fact these sounds are recorded in a relatively “dry” environment, and as such can be easier to sculpt into the sound you want and blended with other elements.

Download here:

(Note, the full version of Kontakt is required for this)

Don’t let the somewhat dated UI fool you, this vst is more than capable of providing you with the orchestral sounds you need. Whilst some may see the limit of 4 layers as a downside, due to this vsts small size, and low CPU usage, it can be stacked almost limitlessly. Also because this has been around for a fair few years now, it is rock solid in terms of reliability.
Choose from 40 instruments and a drum kit, as well as full sections. Whilst the controls available aren’t as diverse as other options on the list, and the samples could be seen as lesser quality, this is a great introduction to orchestral vsts.

DSK Overture

Finally, we have the free version of BBC Symphony Orchestra from Spitfire Audio. World-renowned for the quality of their orchestral (and other) vsts, this used to be available for free following the filling out of a questionnaire and a 2 week wait. However last year it become instantly accessible. Incorporated into their standard UI, you get access to 33 instruments and 47 techniques, featuring the same professional and detailed recording process as both the Core and Professional editions, and at only 200MB it is astounding the dynamic range you can achieve from this.

Grab a copy here:

Finally a special mention must go to Spitfire Audio’s Labs range of free instruments. Whilst the majority could be used in orchestral arrangements, there is also a huge range of experimental, synth and soundscape based instruments to get the creative juices flowing!

Again, completely free, and constantly being updated with new instruments.

Dig in: