August ’18 Staff Picks – Sample Libraries, Virtual Instruments and Plugins


Each month we ask around the (virtual) office to see what VSTs and sample libraries our contributors are currently working with on their own projects (see past months picks here)

Before digging into the list from our contributors:
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This month we asked the SLR Crew what plugins and libraries they were excited about using in their own projects.


Steven McDonald is a composer and producer working in the Television, Games, and Trailer fields. Digging into virtual instruments and sample libraries to get the absolute most out of them has been a specialty of his since the beginning of his career.

Cerberus by Audio Imperia
These drums feel like they were made for my style. Really punchy and processed to the point of great power, but still recognizable as real organic drums.

► SLR Review of Cerberus

Session Guitarist Electric Sunburst by Native Instruments
As a non-guitar player, this has filled a huge gap in my arsenal. The included patterns and riffs are easily programmable and sound wonderfully realistic, and the amp presets are a lifesaver for someone who knows nothing about guitar hardware.

Developer Page

Hyperion Strings Micro by Soundiron
I already have enough string libraries that are useful, but Hyperion’s lightweight and upfront sound has proven really useful in pop and hip-hop tracks for TV work. On top of that, they also add a nice gritty edge layered with a fluffier string section like Albion One.

► SLR Review of Hyperion Strings Micro
Developers Page

Editor Brian Brylow (Composer, Sound Designer, and Producer) creates music as part of the electronic duos Parallaxe and Gorgon Nebula as well as Arpegiator. Brian probably owns more VIs than anyone I know! His Staff Picks are below:

Intensity by Zynaptiq
Quite an unbelievable claim of magic that proves to be real when applied in mastering scenarios. Intensity focuses on the highlights in the music and makes them stand out and pop! Highly Recommended

► Get Intensity at Plugin Boutique PLUS Earn Virtual Cash

Repro-5 by U-he
Nothing on the market today quite brings the warmth and character of the Prophet 5 like Repro-5. Great for retro electronic or contemporary scoring projects

► SLR Review of Repro-5
► Get Repro-5 at Plugin Boutique PLUS Earn Virtual Cash

Chris Hein Solo Strings Complete by Chris Hein
With a wealth of articulations, a full complement of traditional timbres and some more exotic samplings of the Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass, you will find great dry recordings, multiple mic positions and fantastic IRs to compliment your own compositional needs.

► SLR Review of Chris Hein Solo Strings Complete



I am a composer creating music for commercials, television, film and interactive media. I started SampleLibrary Review in 2015 on a laptop in my kitchen with no shirt on. My Desert Island picks are:

Strikeforce by Laboratory Audio
For the final climax in my trailer tracks, this library is invaluable!

► SLR Review of Strikeforce

The Photosynthesis Collection by Exotic States
Instant inspiration, atmospheres, timbres and sound design that add that little cinematic edge to whatever I am working on. Grab the bundle deal it is a steal.

► Get All of Photosynthesis libraries in the Cinematic Experience Bundle

Performance Samples by Fluid Shorts
Can you fall in love with a sample library? Yes. Fluid Shorts rekindled my “love” for an instrument.

► SLR Review of Performance Samples

Shaun is a Canadian composer for film, TV and video games who studied at University of Southern California’s Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television graduate program. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his cat Bogie.

Paul’s Extreme Sound Stretch by Paul
This elusive and sometimes hard to find bit of ancient software is an absolute gem. Take, for example, a 1-second recording of a guitar pluck and turn it into a perfectly smooth 10-hour audio file. Paul Stretch allows you to time stretch audio to an absolute extreme.

Little AlterBoy by Soundtoys
Little AlterBoy is a wonderfully useful and quirky pitch shifting plugin. It allows independent control of the pitch and formant to modify your sound as well as a drive knob which allows you to absolutely mangle your sounds in the most wonderful way.

► Get Little AlterBoy at Plugin Boutique PLUS Earn Virtual Cash

LFO Tool by Xfer
LFO Tool is an amazingly simple plugin allowing a tempo-synced LFO of customizable shape. It can control a slew of parameters including volume, pan, cut off, etc. This plugin allows you to turn any sustaining sound source you feed it into a driving rhythmic pulse. Combining these three plugins with something as simple as your phone mic and a cat’s meow, one could create an entirely unique set of sounds!

► Get LFO Tool at Plugin Boutique PLUS Earn Virtual Cash


Crystallizer by Soundtoys
I’m doing a lot of sound design for video games and the crystallizer is, in conjunction with Alter Boy, my bread and butter when I want to add harmonic content or interesting layers to any sound!

► Get Crystallizer at Plugin Boutique PLUS Earn Virtual Cash

Little Alter Boy by Soundtoys
Detuning a sound source, an instrument, or completely mangling vocals, I’m loving the Alter Boy in sound design and mixing when I need a synthetic feel in a cue.

► Get Little Alter Boy at Plugin Boutique PLUS Earn Virtual Cash

Soundtoys by Soundtoys
Last but not least, a third Soundtoys in my list. Reverb plate made easy. VERY few knobs that do the job. Perfect for creating space around instruments, add a long reverb tail… up to infinity!

► Get Soundtoys at Plugin Boutique PLUS Earn Virtual Cash




Raymond has a BFA in Music Composition from Bard College and specializes in playing live improvisational “space music” heavily influenced by Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Radio Massacre International utilizing VSTs alongside his collection of hardware synths.

Kaleidoscope by 2CAudio
One of the coolest sound design plugins around…it’s a resonator program where you feed audio through a tuning file and, subsequently, an image file. Tons of great effects if you’re into creating ambient soundscapes.

Shimmer by Valhalla
If you want large reverb, this is the one!! The price is right too!! Valhalla has an entire array of great plugins all highly rated amongst electronic musicians and sound engineers.

BioTek 2 by Traktion
Traction has just released an upgrade to the original. Its a very sophisticated organic synthesizer that combines the sounds of nature with electronic elements. It’s also a multiple layer sampler with endless amount of possibilities. A great product from a company that doesn’t get a lot of press.


Raborn Johnson is a musician and film composer who has been turning in some terrific reviews.

Century Strings Bundle by 8Dio
I just love the strings in this library. There are so many great articulations and they just sound so lush and gorgeous. Oh, and the ARCs! I L-O-V-E the Arcs! They are probably the most realistic articulations I have ever heard in a string library.

► SLR Review of Century Strings Bundle

Albion V Tundra by Spitfire Audio
I heart this library – it just gets me. The strings are so fragile and dripping with beauty, the woods are so airy and mellow, and the Vral Grid (an Evo Grid using harmoniums and Shruti boxes) is just so cool. There is just so much good stuff in this one. If you love the Scandi/Frozen sound you will love Albion V Tundra.

► SLR Review of Albion V Tundra

Omnisphere Cyberia by The Unfinished
This is quite possibly my favorite soundset for Omnisphere 2. It is loaded with some of the coolest loops and atmospheres I have heard. Dark and brooding, this soundset is a perfect tool for scoring suspense, action, or even horror scenes.

► SLR Review of Omnisphere Cyberia


Next are the picks from contributor T.M.K Davis. Tim has been playing keyboards and drums for 20 years and composing orchestral music for about 10 years. He is currently working on his bachelor’s degree in music production with a focus on video game scoring and commercial music.

Superior Drummer 3 by Toontrack
This is my absolute favorite drum library and is my goto for any track that needs drums. It is also the perfect companion to an electronic drum set.

► Get Superior Drummer 3 at Plugin Boutique PLUS Earn Virtual Cash

Trio Broz: Solo Strings Bundle by Fluffy Audio
These libraries sound great and are perfect for when a little extra emotion is needed on a track.

► Get Trio Bro Solo Strings Bundle from Fluffy Audio

Aether by 2CAudio
A phenomenal reverb that is full of options and pleasing to the eye as well. You can also purchase expansions to provide even more options beyond the large quantity that come with it.



Sam’s a songwriter, producer, composer and educator based in the UK. A former BMG/Sony Records/Universal Publishing artist, Sam now creates music as part of the duo Border Scout and for trailer houses. It has been a pleasure having Sam contribute reviews for the site as they are always thorough and well thought out.

Angel Strings by Auddict
Some very unusual string articulations with bags of control for less conventional cues. The whole orchestra recorded together for a slightly different sound than we are used to with string libraries.

► SLR Review of Angel Strings
► Get Angel Strings at Plugin Boutique PLUS Earn Virtual Cash

Mini Noiser by Loops de la Creme
Simple but effective layering sample pack giving a variety of noise colours. Good for pristine sound sources to make them a bit rough around the edges. Mega cheap!

► SLR Review of Mini Noiser

Diva Patches by The Unfinished
I have probably mentioned Diva before which is my fave soft synth, but The Unfinished takes it to a new level with his penchant for that slightly detuned retro feel. Blends very well with orchestral elements.


One of our newest contributor Steve Blizin! Steve Blizin is a producer, sound designer, audio engineer and composer. He has been creating loop-based music for nearly 20 years

Backmask by Freakshow Industries
This strange plug-in doesn’t do wonders for your mix but what it does is wonderful. It’s great for mangling sound, extremely fun to use and I find myself able to use it far more often then I thought. Perfect for sound designers and very affordable.

Time Drops by Fluffy Audio
I found instant inspiration with this little gem upon loading it for the first time. Since then, I’ve been playing with the parameters and loading stuff to see what happens. Experimentation is never a waste of time!

► SLR Review of Time Drops
► Get Time Drops from Fluffy Audio

Haunted Spaces by Sonic Couture
The folks at Sonic Couture have been re-working a lot of their titles and just released an additional 150 pre-sets for Haunted Spaces. These new eerie, ethereal, melodic and unsettling patches are a nice compliment to the originals, making Haunted Spaces a cool, dark place to spend your hot summer days.


66 Basses by 8Dio
66 Basses is the bomb. I explain why in my review of it. You can hear it in action on the trailer-ish demo I wrote using it exclusively as my only sound source.

See all past Staff Picks Posts