Best Orchestral Strings Libraries 2021

Strings are the backbone of the symphony orchestra and probably the most important instrument section. When we think of a symphony orchestra, we usually imagine a group of musicians with strings. The biggest part of your template is reserved for strings as there are so many libraries available today. But it’s starting to get rather difficult to pick the best one because you really can’t find a bad one and the market is starting to get overly saturated with string libraries. The string libraries we are going to show you here are what we have tested in different situations and have found are the most versatile to fit into a template.

Cinematic Studio Strings

This was an obvious choice as we see a lot of working composers using this library and for a good reason. It’s your bread and butter string library divided into sections with all the necessary articulations you will ever need. The legato patches are probably the best on the market, period. This is such a neutral sounding library and it will fit into any template out there, plus it is perfect for blending with other string libraries.

The GUI is pretty straightforward with articulation options taking up most of the space and what we like about it is the option to remap the keyswitches for articulations. Aside from articulation control there is a straightforward mixer and a reverb control as well as various toggle options for legato modes and turning on Con Sordino. Pretty clean and straightforward.

The library comes with 35 GBs of samples at a price of $399. If you are just starting out this library is the best way to get into orchestral strings.

Orchestral Tools – Berlin Strings Series

As with Spitfire Audio, you don’t get to create a “best of” list without Orchestral Tools. Berlin Strings is a behemoth of a library especially if you count the expansions available for it. The regular Berlin Strings is a Kontakt library which has set itself as an industry standard amongst pro composers. There is also a younger brother in the form of Berlin Symphonic Strings which works in OT’s SINE Player.

Berlin Strings for Kontakt features smaller sections for better definition and detail (8, 6, 5, 5, 4), whilst Berlin Symphonic Strings for SINE features big symphonic sections (18, 16, 14, 12, 8) for that larger than life Hollywood Sound.

Sound-wise both of the libraries are just sublime, being recorded at Teldex Scoring Stage in Situ position, the only differences are the size of the sections and articulation options. The mixers in both versions allow you to blend different mic positions for a custom sound.

When it comes to articulation, both libraries feature the traditional articulations for strings, but Berlin Strings for Kontakt is expandable with various Special Bows expansion packs, which give you some extended articulations like Col Legno, Bartok Pizz, SulPont, etc… We hope that Berlin Symphonic Strings will have these options as well in the future.

Price-wise, Berlin Strings for Kontakt is 839 Euros with well over 120 GBs of samples, whilst the Berlin Symphonic Strings for SINE comes at a price of 549 Euros with 75GBs in size and individual instruments come at a price of 105 Euros.

Vienna Symphonic Library – Synchron Strings Pro

Some of the very first strings sample libraries came from the masterminds at VSL and they are continuing their legacy with the latest flagship string library in the form of Synchron Strings Pro.

Recorded at VSL’s HQ at Synchron scoring stage, this library brings the monumental sound of Vienna’s finest musicians in a package ready for Hollywood scoring. The library is divided into sections and each section features a plethora of articulations as is the tradition of VSL products. But not only that, there are also a lot of great mix setup presets to get you started straight away unless you want to fiddle with many available microphone positions in Synchron Player’s engine.

This is a fully-featured symphonic string section (14, 10, 8, 8, 6), and what’s great about this library is that it also enables you to setup your mic positions in 5.1 surround, as well as 9.1 Auro 3D, which is mind-blowing.

Performance-wise, this library has all the bells and whistles. We already mentioned the vast amount of articulations but intuitive keyswitching with VSL’s patented Dimension Tree is really a breeze to work with, and agile legato is one of the best ones out there. It’s a professional library fit for both beginners and seasoned pros.

It comes in two versions. The standard Edition is 122 GBs in size and will cost you 445 Euros, whilst the Full version with surround mics is 237 GBs in size and will set you back 740 Euros.

Spitfire Audio – Chamber Strings

Small in size but massive-sounding, Spitfire’s Chamber Strings are one of the most comprehensive string libraries out there. Spitfire Audio handpicked 16 of London’s finest string players in order to create an encyclopedia of string articulations for composers recorded at AIR Studios in London.

This is the smallest section on our list but it gives you so much more detail and control over your sound. Chamber Strings is the type of library that can find its place in almost any setup out there, be it a film score, video game score, pop records, trailers, you name it.

Regarding those articulations, this library features 244 of them spread across the sections. 38 shorts, 53 longs, 19FX and 45 legatos. All of this was recorded in situ positioning with some pretty unique valve and ribbon mics. The control over different mic positions enables you to create mixes that will perfectly blend with other strings libraries you own, if you are a fan of layering strings.

Spitfire Chamber Strings come with 80 GBs of sampled content at a price of 699 Euros.

EastWest – Hollywood Strings

This is one of those libraries that has a legendary status amongst composers. Opinions are mostly divided regarding the PLAY engine that some people shy away from, but one thing that everybody agrees with is the sonic splendor of Hollywood Strings. This is a library that stands firmly as an industry standard, even though some may consider it hasn’t aged very well.

Sure, it takes some time to learn how to use it, but when you do you are in for a treat. The library is a team effort of Nick Phoenix, Doug Rogers, Thomas Bergersen and legendary engineer Shawn Murphy.

One of the features this library has (and no others do) is finger position that’s controllable by the user. What this enables you to do is to program the type of sound you want by making your players position their fingers closer or further up the neck. Vibrato intensity is also controllable by the user. Mixing-wise, this library features close, mid, main (Decca tree), surround and ribbon mics for total control over your mix.

When it comes to articulations it’s not as featured as Spitfire Chamber Strings or VSL Synchron Strings Pro, but all the essentials are there. Plus there are various legato techniques with slur, portamento and bow change.

There are various versions of this library coming in Silver, Gold and Diamond editions, with silver being the least-featured one, whilst the Diamond is all guns blazing. Having said that, they all differ in sizes and prices so the way to find out more about these is by visiting their website.