Best Violin VST Plugins of 2020 – Round-up Review

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Violins are one of the most expressive instruments in the world.

Also, it’s an instrument with an enormous tradition used in probably all music genres ever made.

It was considered almost impossible to be transferred to the virtual instrument, but, the modern VST instruments dare to tell a different story.

Our Top Picks for Violin VST Plugins

  • 4 violins, 8 dynamics
  • 38 articulations
  • Realtime play optimization
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  • Complete Solo String pack
  • Up to 27 articulations
  • Fast repetitions sampled
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  • Solo violin software
  • 5 playing type categories
  • Legato Bow Changes inside
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Comparison of the Best Violin Plugins

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • 4 violin instruments with 34,000 samples
  • 38 articulations and 8 dynamic layers
  • EX mode optimizes real-time playability
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  • Complete Solo String pack
  • Up to 27 articulations per instrument
  • Fast repetitions and glissandos sampled separately
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  • Solo violin software
  • 5 Instrument playing type categories
  • Legato Bow Changes and Runs included
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  • 22 Articulations captured
  • 4 different transition types
  • Unique Ornament key switch
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  • Chamber ensemble library
  • 32,000 samples packed in 42GB
  • Up to 22 articulations per instrument
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  • Contemporary violin sample library
  • 13 Pre-defined Ensembles
  • 6 articulations captured in solo, trio or quartet
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  • Physically modeled violin plugin
  • Note transitions without Key Switches
  • Incredibly small footprint - only 15MB
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When Would a Violin Plugin Come in Handy? 

Violins are solo instruments. This means they are somehow designed to be a lead instrument. We find these situations ideal for violin parts:

Emotional Themes

Any melody played on a violin always triggers a certain emotional state. Violin has its way to be very touching and its sound can follow the vibe of the song accordingly so it can be both sad or happy. If you need to emphasize any kind of emotion found in the song, the theme played on a violin may be a very handy tool expressing it further.

Dramatic Build-up

Violin can cover a wide dynamic and tonal range. That’s why you can use it to build-up a very intense atmosphere required for a certain movie or music part with quiet but high-pitched not in the beginning evolving into noisy and aggressive mayhem. It works well for creating artificial noises if you perform some unorthodox articulations.

Guitar Substitute

Yes, guitar leads can be an awesome part of the song. But, the same goes for violin, it’s just that no one expects it so often. So, if you want to make your song stand out, try replacing the guitar instrument with the violin - it might be just the spice you’ve been missing.

Are All Violin VST Plugins the Same? 

The difference between Violin VST plugins can be significant. Most of them will go and use sample-based playback. But this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to get realistic violin sound by using a physical modeling approach.

Based on the price range, violins VST may offer smaller or bigger sample libraries. Some will come bundled with the rest of the string family, while premium ones may even provide you with different violin instruments to select from and patches that may give you a headstart in more situations.

Review of the Best Violin VST Plugins

These are our “best of” choices for Violin VSTs:

PROS

  • An ideal choice for all music genres
  • 38 articulations and 8 dynamic layers
  • 4 violin instruments with 34.000 samples
  • The most detailed violin library on the market
  • EX instruments mode optimizes real-time playability

CONS

  • Steep learning curve
  • French and Original 1826 full instrument version missing 

Features and Specifications 

This plugin offers you samples of the four violins. You can pick between Modern Violin, the Italian Violin, the French Violin, and Original 1826. The first two are also available in Full sampling mode. Besides Full, EX instruments mode optimizes real-time playability by finding a middle ground between saving computer resources and granting access to all required articulations. 

Regarding articulations, there are 38 provided and special care was taken for a combination of long and short notes. As a result, using the Note Head Designer, Chris Hein provided you with even 102 attack shapes.

Why it Stands Out to Us

There are even 8 dynamic layers per articulation which will make any kind of p>f or f>p transitions realistic and smooth no matter what playing technique you will need.

Many plugins have covered the various articulations and provided some wonderful scripting to create a beautiful tone that is easy to perform with. But, they don't offer more than just one violin instrument. This library provides you with even four violins. Every violin has a unique timbre, so if you need an ensemble it may happen that you may finish the job by blending several violins just from this library. 

PROS

  • Various scale runs available
  • Up to 27 articulations per instrument
  • Very realistic collection of solo strings
  • Solo Violin, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass inside
  • Fast repetitions and glissandos treated individually

CONS

  • Boring user interface
  • Reverbs could be better

Features and Specifications

This library is made upon a solo strings collection of violin, viola, cello, and double bass and it takes around 56GB of storage space to install it. Articulations are organized up to ten categories per instrument so both staccato and sustain harmonics will be found under the Harmonics category, for example. Many articulations have at least 4 samples for round-robin, and fast repetitions articulations went even further providing you with up to 9 samples in tempos between 150 and 190 BPM including a ricochet technique recorded at 210 BPM

Why it Stands Out to Us

Originally, this collection was released back in 2006. You may say it feels outdated, but we would rather think about how VSL people were way ahead from their time. Obviously people back then were very detailed because we can’t think of any important articulation missing and even the Release samples are on the match with the contemporary products.

This plugin will work well with any kind of cinematic or video game soundtrack requirement. Legatos are marvelous, pizzicatos sound very organic and the provided scale runs, and glissandos will sound as good as if you hired a real player.

PROS

  • 5 Instrument types categories
  • Very affordable solo violin software
  • Legato Bow Changes and Runs included
  • Dedicated Reverb and Envelope modules
  • 5 editable phase-locked Microphone positions

CONS

  • Basic factory presets
  • User interface might be overwhelming for newbies

Features and Specifications

This library was captured in the same environment as Hollywood Orchestra VST but with the microphones positioned to suit a solo violin recording using the same PLAY engine.

It contains 41GB of violin samples split into five categories - Long Solo, Long, Short, Keyswitch, and Legato describing the sound you can generate while Keyswitch category allows you to change instantly using a regular method of pressing the corresponding blue key to get a certain articulation. Dynamics and vibrato depth are linked to the Mod Wheel (MIDI CC#1)

Why it Stands Out to Us

This plugin contains a hybrid Legato Sustain which combines the legato and sustain articulations into one. Quite a handy feature as you won’t need to think about proper timing to perform a key switch.

The current price is also something that makes a huge difference. It’s rare to find such a high-quality VST at this price so it could be a nice add-on for any studio. Even if you don’t record cinematic soundtracks, this solo violin can be used in typical music production thanks to samples captured with five microphones so you can blend it just the right way for your project.

Best Solo Violin VST:
Best Service Emotional Violin

PROS

  • 3 Master Patches
  • Unique Ornament Key Switches
  • The most expressive violin VST on the market
  • 4 different transition types that match the external tempo
  • 22 Articulations captured in Individual and Special patches

CONS

  • Effects panel could be better
  • Key switches are shown in an unusual way

Features and Specifications

Emotional Violin VST has hundreds of articulations and variations linked together with some advanced scripting. The core of the software is built upon three Master Patches - Intimate Violin, Emotional Violin, and Emotional Violin Manual Legato Speed where the legato speed of the first two patches match the tempo of the DAW software.

Another handy feature is Timbre Impulses. These are convolution-based presets designed for easy modification of the sound and with the Timbre EQ, you can put your Violin in the seat of the 1st and 2nd Violin. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is the only VST we have found that captured even the noise of the player sitting in the room and we hope this is a very good example of how far they went to create the most realistic violin sound possible. You can even manipulate the attack feature so even if you’re playing a legato, starting notes can be harsh.

Unique ornaments key switching is also a wonderful addition as they will create a smooth transition from one playing style to another or make the played note unique, a feature that makes a difference between a skilled player and beginner in real life.

Best Violin Ensemble VST:
VSL Chamber String  

PROS

  • 32.000 samples packed in 42GB
  • Samples of violin, viola, cello, and double bass
  • Up to 22 articulations per instrument category
  • A classical collection of small string chamber ensembles
  • Fast repetitions sampled in 9 tempos from 150 to 190 BPM

CONS

  • The user interface is quite plain
  • Feels a little bit more expensive

Features and Specifications

Chamber Strings I is a collection of small string ensemble samples. It’s being organized in traditional chamber seating and sizes so there are 6 violins, 4 violas, 3 cellos, and 2 basses. There are 32.000 samples covering up to 22 articulations for every instrument. Some performances are especially captured to increase realism such as fast repetitions so you have them at 9 tempos ranging from 150 to 190 BPM

This library will require 42GB for installing, but it will compress then to 29GB and decompress in the real-time with parts being in use only. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Like the rest of the Vienna Symphonic Library collection, the details captured within these instruments are at the flagship level. It sounds as real as possible so the rest can be achieved by careful programming.

We picked this chamber ensemble because it produces much warmer sound when compared to the full ensemble and yet retains the character of the solo instruments regarding harmonic content. At this size, the melody is not getting masked by the lush energy effect of full ensemble sound which makes this plugin perfect for any kind of a regular pop or rock production.

Best Cinematic Violin VST:
Vertigo Violin

PROS

  • 13 Pre-defined Ensembles
  • Contemporary violin sample library
  • 6 Reverbs and 6 Additional FX knobs
  • 6 articulations captured in solo, trio or quartet
  • Articulations captured in solo, trio and quartet mode

CONS

  • Requires full (paid) Kontakt version
  • Trills and octave runs playing techniques missing

Features and Specifications

This VST comes with several articulations captured in solo, trio, or quartet mode. On top of that, there are three resynthesized violin sounds sent through various modular guitar effects and pedals. Those three modes can be blended together using a front-page mixer resulting in an 8-piece ensemble eventually. There are 13 pre-defined presets including a Dice option which randomizes all the given features.  

Speaking of effects, Vertigo offers 6 reverbs and 6 knobs for the usual envelope parameters and special effects called Fog and Retro that apply a saturated vintage sound to preset.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is not your typical orchestral sample library. It was designed to be used as a part of a cinematic soundtrack and it works the best with long evolving notes that create a beautifully smooth, expressive, and moving organic layer. The sound it delivers can put you into the right composing mindset on its own.

It won’t excel if you need that realistic approach, but it will sound more than convincing in any other situation, especially as presets and sound sources are tailored to fit modern music genres. We can also easily imagine rain movie scenes or noir movies using this instrument for a soundtrack.

Editor’s Pick:
SWAM Violin

PROS

  • Physically modeled violin plugin
  • Various playing techniques included 
  • Note transitions without Key Switches
  • Incredibly small footprint - only 15MB
  • Ideal for both live and stage performances

CONS

  • Effects aren’t worth mentioning
  • Will take some effort to perform professionally

Features and Specifications

SWAM Violin uses physical modeling technology to create a realistic violin sound. Based on the fragments of what sampling method would use, it uses advanced scripting and algorithms that artificially recreate the various behaviors of the real violin including the harmonics and glissandos. Thanks to these algorithms it’s also possible to perform various note transitions without entering the key switch. 

Such a violin model is then carefully tuned in several presets so it matches various music genres. All the necessary articulations are present including the different amount of Bow Pressure during legato notes. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

We know it sounds almost like a joke, but it will take only 15MB to install it. Now play that demo again and read the first sentence aloud. Amazing, isn’t it?

This is the only violin VST that uses a physical modeling approach that’s worth mentioning. In case you’re low on the storage space or don’t have so much RAM memory, this plugin can turn out to be more than just a temporary solution. Once you master MIDI controls you will be able to do incredibly realistic violin performances in real-time without any worry regarding loading time or RAM memory intake.

Real Violin vs. Violin VST

Let’s take a look at this comparison for a moment:

Expression

Simply put, no emulation can capture all the real-life situations ever. Real violin uses physical components, so if the one string is softer or harder than the others, vibrato will sound different - even the air pressure change may cause minor timbre changes and no software can behave this way.

The Frets

The real violin is a fretless instrument while VSTs are using either MIDI notes which have a defined and precise tuning. The thing that makes a real violin unique is that it’s always striving towards perfection, but it’s never on the match with it. No matter how trained the player is, minor tuning positions will occur. It won’t harm the overall performance, it’s quite the opposite - it will make it unique.

Studio Work

As we mentioned the tuning above, if you’re about to record in the studio and you don’t need a virtuoso for a current track, it may be much easier to write down in MIDI with the Violin VST the performance you need. It will be perfectly in tune and the best thing is you can edit it indefinitely until you get the result you want without having to record it from scratch.

What to Look For When Buying a Violin VST

Here are some tips to find a good sounding Violin VST:

Number of Samples

The more samples it has, the more realistic it will sound. The same goes for playing techniques and articulations. If you don’t have a certain expression sampled, there might be a way to create it artificially, but the most realistic sound will be the sound of the real violin sampled. That’s why the number of samples provided in the Violin VST is actually a key feature.

Convolution Reverb

This reverb will bring another breath of realism to violin tracks. It will put the samples provided in a certain realistic ambiance. 

Ensemble Samples

At some point, a violin ensemble sound might be required. You can load multiple solo instances as a separate VST program and play them together. But, it will be much better if the ensemble mode is provided within the software due to phasing issues and it will take less CPU footprint.

Brand

If a company is well-known for creating a good orchestral plugin, it’s a good sign to check if they have a violin VST, too. They are familiar with the “business” and have probably invested in a good interface that will work for this kind of VST library.

Conclusion 

If you’re into scoring or orchestral composing, the request for good solo violin sound is only a matter of time. And even if you’re more into contemporary songwriting, violin sound would probably be the first orchestral sound you will ever need, so investing in a good violin library seems like a solid choice.

People Also Ask

Now that we have provided the list of the best VSTs on the market, there are some questions left unanswered regarding the price, how does the core of the violin VST works and what should they expect if they decide to take a shot and learn to play violin VST:

How Much is a Violin Plugin?

Depending on the number of articulations captured in the library and whether it provides other string instruments such as viola or cello or if it provides you with solo instrument mode only or ensemble version as well, the price for violin plugin ranges from $100 up to $400.

How Does a Violin VST Work?

Violin VST uses a high-quality sample playback method to create a violin sound. The real violin had been captured very carefully in various articulations, note by note, often more than once to provide a round-robin sample picking system and then played through the sample player with key switches that trigger different playing techniques.

Is a Violin VST Hard to Learn?

A violin VST requires you to think like a violin player, have the same mindset, approach the melody composition in the same manner. It may be harder than you think it is as it’s a very expressive instrument and it’s much more than just thinking about picking the right notes and their length.