December ’17 Staff Picks • Holiday Wish Lists – 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)

This month we asked the SLR Crew what plugins and libraries they had on their Holiday Wish List!

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:

Dear Santa,

I have been good this year (I think) so I would like the following libraries for Christmas. You don’t have to install them for me, I will take care of that for you! Please make sure our contributors and our host Don Bodin are well taken care of as well.

Thanks Santa! Milk and Cookies will be out.

Symphonic Orchestra by Spitfire Audio

► Link to Developer

Chamber Strings by Spitfire Audio

► Link to Developer

Metropolis Ark 3 by Orchestral Tools

► Link to Developer

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.

Signal by Output
I write so much music, and pulse generators are a godsend for the modern stuff I do.

► Available at Plugin Boutique
► Link to Developer

Metropolis Ark by Orchestral Tools
It’s been around for a while, but sometimes I do find my current orchestral sounds a little lacking in the “ridiculously huge” department.

► SLR Review of Metropolis Ark I
► Link to Product Page

Strikeforce Cinematic Percussion by Laboratory Audio
I’ve always bought percussion stuff in smaller packages, and it would be nice to have one library that covers it all.

► SLR Review of Strikeforce 
► Link to Product Page


► Link to Jaeger by Audio Impera

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

Cinematic Studio Solo Strings by Cinematic Studios
This is the best sounding solo strings library I have heard so far. Cinematic Studio’s just continues to create beautiful libraries, and this one has caught my attention more than any of the others.

SLRs Checking Out Cinematic Studio Solo Strings
► Link to Product Page

Olafur Arnalds Evolutions by Spitfire Audio
Olafur Arnalds has a way with small chamber strings, and this library seems to capture some of that ethos nicely. Blending the movement and (e)motion captured in this library with traditional string libraries would seem to add a sense of depth and realism to your string sections.

SLRs Checking Out Olafur Arnalds Evolutions
► Link to Olafur Arnalds Evolutions

Hexeract by Auddict
Auddict created a whole new website just for this synth, and their marketing made this sound like the best thing since sliced bread. Well, it grabbed my attention, and the demos seem to back up the claim. I’m looking forward to hearing more from this one.

► Link to Hexeract

Jaeger by Audio Imperia
I started to include this on my list from the get-go, but I didn’t want to sound greedy. However, the more that comes out about Jaeger the more interested I am. I am a big Audio Imperia fan, and this seems to be by far the most ambitious project from them yet. Powerful, driving orchestral libraries seem to be more common these days, but I’m sure Audio Imperia’s take on this will be very unique and cool.

► Link to Jaeger by Audio Impera

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.

Cinematic Studio Solo Strings by Cinematic Studios
High on my wish list of libraries, this solo string library features extremely detailed, playable, and realistic sounding samples of solo strings. A quick listen to their audio demos should be enough to convince you to add them to your wish list this Christmas.

SLRs Checking Out Cinematic Studio Solo Strings
► Link to Product Page

Bernard Hermann Orchestral Toolkit by Spitfire Audio
We all have a huge collection of traditional and cinematic sounding instruments but with these often we lack the ability to authentically recreate the more niche sounds. With this collection from Spitfire Audio, the detailed, biting, small ensemble sound of legend Bernard Hermann can be at your fingertips.

► SLRs First Look of Bernard Hermann Orchestral Toolkit
► Link to Product Page

Next up is contributor AMM (Alexandria M. Mueller). She is an award-winning composer and violist based in St. Paul, Minnesota and active contributor.

Dear Santa, I have been extra good this year…

Symphonic Strings by Spitfire Audio

Woodwinds Bundle by Vienna Symphonic Library

Berlin Brass by Orchestral Tools

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.

For Christmas, I would like:

The Berlin Series by Orchestral Tools
I have always heard fantastic things about them but they’re a little pricey for me. Almost everyone I know that has them says it’s their go to libraries for realistic sounding samples.

Superior Drummer 3 from Toontrack
I had actually just purchased Superior Drummer 2 a few months before the release of Superior Drummer 3 and can’t justify dropping an extra $200 on it right now. Toontrack really destroyed the competition with the quality of their drum libraries and Superior Drummer 3 raised the bar even higher.

Sacconi Strings Quartet by Spitfire Audio
I love how expressive and intimate this library is, but I don’t usually write enough string quartet stuff to warrant spending $499.


Gary Hiebner is a sound designer and composer based in South Africa. He works on music productions for Film, TV and Games, and is also an online course creator for music tutorials.

Dear Santa,  I would love the following sample libraries:

Joshua Bell Violin by Embertone
From watching the walkthroughs it sounds absolutely amazing

SLRs Checking Out Joshua Bell Violin
► Link to Product Page

Cinematic Studio Solo Strings by Cinematic Studios
Cinematic Studio Strings is my favorite string library, and now with this solo library from the same developers, it is a must have in my template to complement the Studio String ensembles

SLRs Checking Out Cinematic Studio Solo Strings
► Link to Product Page

Bernard Herrmann by Spitfire Audio
I have only recently realized what an amazing film composer Bernard is (I know I’m late to the game on this one). And listening to the Bernard Herrmann Spitfire library, I have to have it now so that I can write some thriller/horror style tracks. I could do it with other libraries, but this one looks like it will do the job so well.

► SLRs First Look of Bernard Hermann Orchestral Toolkit
► Link to Product Page



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.

Substance by Output
I have a few of their other products and this would no doubt be just as good. My bass sources are either synths, real bass or low strings, so having something more hybrid and unusual would be fun.

► SLR Review of Substance
► Link to Substance Page at PB

Jaeger by Audio Imperia
As I will be hitting trailer music hard in 2018 a library geared more towards the epic is an interesting proposition and these guys always deliver.

► Link to Jaeger Page

EVO 850 10TB SSD by Samsung
Sample library love has got a bit out of hand this year and I am running out of space to put them! Or maybe I need a cull? Haha, yeah right!

► Link to Samsung SSDs at



See all past Staff Picks Posts