DESERT ISLAND DAW – Summer ’18 Sample Libraries, Virtual Instruments and Plugin Staff Picks


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

“If you were stranded on a desert island and had to choose only 5 instruments or effects, which ones would you load into your DAW?”


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:

1. Albion One by Spitfire Audio  ► see SLR review
2. StrikeForce by Laboratory Audio  ► see SLR review
3. Meteor by UVI    ► see SLR review
4. Transport by Refractor Audio  ► see SLR review
5. Vintage Vault 2 by UVI  ► see SLR review

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.

1. Omnisphere 2 by Spectrasonics
2. Kontakt Factory Library by Native Instruments
3. Albion One by Spitfire Audio  ► see SLR review
4. Vikings by Keepforest   ► see SLR review
5. Serum by Xfer Records

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 Desert Island picks are:

1. Omnisphere 2 by Spectrasonics
2. Albion One by Spitfire Audio  ► see SLR review
3. Zebra by U-he
4. Pianoteq 6 by Modartt
5. V Collection 6 by Arturia .  ► see SLR review

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. His Desert Island picks are:

1 Alicia’s Keys by Native Instruments
2. Cinematic Studio Strings by Cinematic Samples
3. Omnisphere 2 by Spectrasonics
4. Albion One by Spitfire Audio  ► see SLR review
5, HZ Perc by Spitfire Audio  ►see SLR review

Other than Kontakt, I would want either LFO tool or Movement, Valhalla Vintage Verb, and Fab Filter Pro MB. Also I’d want my cat bogie to be on the island to keep me company because he’s nice and has soft paws.

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. His Desert Island picks are:

1. Omnisphere 2 by Spectrasonics
2. Falcon by UVI    ► see SLR review
3. BT Phobos by Spitfire Audio  ► see SLR review
4. Equator by ROLI
5. Geosonics by Soniccouture


Raborn Johnson is an accomplished musician and film composer who has been turning in some terrific reviews. His Desert Island picks are:

1. Omnisphere 2 by Spectrasonics
2. Woodchester Piano by Fracture Sounds  ► see SLR review
3. Albion V Tundra by  Spitfire Audio  ► see SLR review
4. Albion One by Spitfire Audio  ► see SLR review
5. Photosynthesis series by ExoticStates .  ► see SLR review

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

1. Albion ONE by Spitfire Audio  ► see SLR review
2. EW Goliath by EastWest
3. Cinebrass by Cinesamples
4. True Strike Pack 1&2 by Project Sam
5. Zebra by U-he


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 has his bachelor’s degree in music production with a focus on video game scoring and commercial music. His Desert Island picks are:

1. Superior Drummer 3 by Toontrack
2. Albion One by Spitfire Audio  ► see SLR review
3. Alicia’s Keys by Native Instruments
4. Cinebrass by Cinesample
5. VPS Avenger by Vengeance Sound   ► see SLR review


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. His Desert Island picks are:

1. Rev by Output
2. Diva by U-he
3. Ensemble Drums by Heavyocity   ► see SLR review
4. Pro Q2 by FabFiler
5. API 2500 by UAD


Welcome 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. His Desert Island picks are:

1. Eclipse Guitars by Big Fish Audio  ► see SLR review
2. RX6 by iZotope
3. Fluid Harmonics  by In Session Audio  ► see SLR review
4. Equator by Roli
5. Ozone 8 Advanced by iZotope

MCR is a working composer/producer who pitches relentlessly and hasn’t had a vacation longer than he can remember. He owns Melodikiln, a company specializing in media for film, TV and corporate clients and is also the founder of OffOffIndie, a small independent record label. His Desert Island picks are:

1. Spitfire Albion One by Spitfire Audio  ► see SLR review
2. Olafur Evolutions by Spitfire Audio  ► see SLR review
3. Atlantica by Keepforest .  ► see SLR review
4. Kontakt by Native Instruments
5. Ozone 8 by iZotope

See all past Staff Picks Posts