Best Strings VST – 2020 Complete Review

Strings have been used throughout complete music history. Even the greatest composers made musical pieces specially made for string quartets and orchestras and they are used a lot in modern music production as well. It’s hard to find any movie soundtrack without the sound of some strings. 

Comparison of the Best Strings VST

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Sampled at extended key ranges
  • 3 legato styles available
  • True legato sampled for all sections
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  • String ensemble library with more than 50.000 samples
  • Available in Full and Small ensemble size
  • Interesting Ensemble Maker feature
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  • Very affordable full strings ensemble
  • Basic FX section built-in
  • Quick preset loading time
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  • Realistic short notes samples
  • Soundstage custom positioning
  • Arpeggio mode available
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  • Medium-sized string ensemble ideal for melodic approach
  • Expressive vibrato articulation and huge dynamic range
  • Adjustable Humanization feature
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What Are String VST Plugins Used For? 

Once you learn how to use them, strings can cover all your imagination. They can be both melodic or very atonal and chaotic, subtle or aggressive, mellow and warm or sharp and cold. How you would use them depends mostly on your vision, creativity, and needs. 

But, if you’re still unsure how to use strings, let us break it down for you:

Cinematic Scoring

Strings can be very expressive and that’s why they are used a lot in cinematic environments. They are ideal to create any type of atmosphere you would need and to make additional emotion in your scoring. So, no matter if you’re looking for a slow part of an upbeat theme, strings are capable of such demand.

Rock Music

If you would like to broaden the sound of your rock songs, consider layering strings. Many rock bands managed to make their songs sound epic by using the strings section. As a matter of fact, many rock bands find playing with any type of orchestra as a lifetime achievement.

Layering

This VST is capable of making the warm, soft, and moving layers that can fit into any genre. It can be used both as a background layer or slow evolving theme.

Are String VST Plugins Hard to Learn? 

It is easy to start with, but as you get better it gets a very steep learning curve. So here are some tips that could come useful to everyone:

Harmony Building

Avoid the usual chords used in modern music. Think about how every part of the string section could “tell its own story” of your song, instead.

Expression

Use legatos, trills, vibratos, and other playing techniques, but be careful - too much will sound unrealistic. Also, learn how to apply swell technique.

References

If you’re in doubt about what to do, try to find and analyze reference tracks and see how other composers solved your doubts. 

Review of the Best Strings VST Plugins

These are the best strings VST we could find on the market currently

PROS

  • True legato sampled for all sections
  • Five user-controllable mic positions
  • Sampled with extended ranges and round-robin scripting
  • Largest and the most detailed string library on the market
  • Many articulations captured, including even 3 legato styles

CONS

  • No integrated sound effects
  • Takes large storage footprint

Features and Specifications

This strings library comes at whooping 48 gigabytes of sampled strings sounds recorded at 44.1kHz and 24-bits in a professional environment. They tried to sample every note possible, which includes some extended ranges and up to almost 4 octaves range for violins.

You have a selection of sixteen 1st Violins, fourteen 2nd Violins, ten Violas, ten Cellos, and seven basses. All sections can be played in divisi mode. These sections were recorded with 5 different microphones which can be mixed to your specific taste. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

We love how detailed EastWest went with this string library. Many articulations were sampled several times so that it can be applied with round-robin scripting which reduces the chance of hearing the same sample twice in a row. This improves the realism of the programmed strings a lot, especially concerning during violin runs, tremolos and trills. 

This library is capable of covering all your needs, so it doesn’t matter if you’re about to record cinematic or classical scores. This library is capable of some great performances so it’s only up to your programming skills to make it sound so.

PROS

  • More than 50.000 samples
  • Interesting Ensemble Maker feature
  • Full and Small ensemble size available
  • 32 different articulations and play-styles included
  • 10 DSP built-in effects including 2 convolutions reverb

CONS

  • Not so intuitive user interface
  • Might be expensive for some users

Features and Specifications

Both types of ensembles provided in this library come with up to eight dynamic layers and up to 32 different articulations recorded in more than 50.000 samples. Such a feature allows this library to perform some realistic runs and specially designed articulations. But, it also comes with 30 gigabytes of content.

The DSP effects panel is very capable and consists of reverb, delay, chorus, phaser, flanger, compressor, equalizer, and filter along with two convolutions reverbs and more than sixty impulse responses.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This sample library excels especially with cinematic scoring due to its wide dynamic expression range. It can be used for modern music composing as well, but we’re afraid it won’t be able to show all the dynamic range it can perform at.

It’s also one of the rare strings libraries that provides you with both Full and Small ensemble size. Full offers you a bigger and wider playing experience while Small gives you a more delicate character.

And in case you want to experiment further, you can try ensemble maker with its fine detune mode to create an even bigger sound layer.

PROS

  • Quick preset loading time
  • Affordable full strings ensemble library
  • More than 90 string programs provided
  • Basic FX section built-in along with filter and LFO
  • Recorded by members of the Boston Pops and Boston Ballet Orchestras

CONS

  • macOS 10.15 Catalina not yet supported
  • No round-robin sample picking method available

Features and Specifications

Orchestral Companion comes with more than 90 programs available with different sections and effects applied to match different scoring solutions. It is packed in 15 gigabytes of files sampled professionally in Massachusetts by professional award-winning engineers. 

Internal FX panel consists of reverb, chorus, delay, and equalizer and it also includes basic LFO mod, decent choice of filter types, and classic envelope control for both amp and filter section. And thanks to full MIDI integration you can use the MIDI keyboard mod wheel to control the swell volume, too. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This string library may not be capable of deep editing and detailed sounding like the rest of the offer, but it excels in quick solutions and well-made factory patches that allow you to write down ideas fast without compromising the overall sound. 

It was designed to perform and it’s excellent in that area, especially regarding how the user interface front panel was designed. Everything is set straight in front of you with minimal tab navigating. It’s fast-loading, doesn’t require too much RAM memory, and don’t be surprised if you use this library more often than you would expect to.

Best Orchestral Strings VST:
Soundiron Hyperion Strings Elements

PROS

  • Arpeggio mode available
  • Full-ensemble strings VST
  • Free soundstage positioning
  • Dozens of rooms and halls available
  • Various articulations capture, especially regarding short notes

CONS

  • No divisi mode
  • Odd combination of 8 Violins and 4 Basses

Features and Specifications

This string library comes at only ten gigabytes of samples thanks to the NCW stereo lossless format. It was designed to work with all versions of Kontakt player including the free version as well and provides you with eight Violins, six Violas, five Cellos, and four Bases. Many expressions were captured faithfully along with round-robin sample picking that covers multi-dynamic sustains and other playing techniques.

There are 9 different presets you can recall and it’s equipped with decent room and hall reverbs and other FX chains.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We loved the amount of attention Soundiron put into making short notes sound organic so you can call different short note techniques by simply pressing the key switch. It is capable of generating wide dynamics thanks to master presets that enable you to change different playing techniques on the fly.

Arpeggio mode was also really fun to use. We find it handy in case you need a sudden burst of inspiration and it generally improves overall usage of the software. The same goes for the option to change seating for the sections on a soundstage to your feelings and get a different overall sound.

PROS

  • Very expressive vibrato in the upper range
  • “Sustain Sync” and “To Silence” unique features
  • Huge dynamic range, including triple forte playing
  • Adjustable Humanization feature for playing short notes 
  • Medium-sized string ensemble recorded in traditional seating

CONS

  • Requires full version of Kontakt
  • No option to change section seating

Features and Specifications

This bundle is made from two sample libraries - Soaring Stings and Adventure Strings. The sound was captured in a lossless NCW format that saves up some storage space so it only takes around seven gigabytes on your hard drive. 

Musical Sampling decided to go with a medium-size string ensemble organized in traditional seating but recorded all the way to the triple forte dynamics. “Sustain Sync” feature synchronizes the starting sustain while the “To Silence” button enables you to diminish the sound to complete silence. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

While those two are available as separate products, they complement each other very well, so we decided to put them together in this category. Soaring Strings excels at legato playing while Adventure Strings are more prone to short notes and repetitions specially programmed to utilize round-robin sample-pick method.

We are especially thrilled about how good triple forte samples are. They sound huge and make a real difference to any project applied. Dynamic switches are seamless so you can use crescendos and decrescendos throughout the complete range and create some beautiful and melodic sound landscapes to your music project.

String Playing Techniques Types

You will easily navigate through those sample libraries if you learn the names of the basic playing techniques, so let us give you some short insight on how to recognize them: 

Legato

Playing a couple of notes without any silence interruption and without emphasis.

Staccato

Opposite from the legato technique, it is performed by short and decisive bowing with silence between the notes.

Pizzicato

It is played by plucking a string with a finger instead of bowing. There is also a unique type of pizzicato which requires you to pull the string from the fingerboard to rebound once it’s released and it’s called a snap pizzicato

Spiccato

Bowing technique in which bow bounces lightly upon the string.

Tremolo

Performed by moving the bow back and forth in short movement very fast. Widely used in orchestral playing to make an intense build-up. 

Vibrato

This technique is performed with the left hand by bending the string in a pulsating rhythm which results in slightly altering the pitch note to create an emotional atmosphere.

Trills

Trills are similar to vibrato, but instead of bending a note, players rapidly press the note above. It is often used at the end of the phrase. And just like vibratos, these are not mandatory to play, it’s more a form of player’s expression.

Conclusion 

While you keep learning how to use strings VST properly for your scoring, you’ll learn a lot about music theory along that road, adjust your hearing to tone changes better, and get a different music approach that you can apply in any music genre or with every instrument.