February ’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)

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.

Century Brass Bundle by 8dio
Very complete and thorough brass collection. Simple and solid Kontakt interface with more articulations than I’ll ever need, and the sound (Especially the 6 horns) is fantastically bright, powerful, and brassy.

► Link to Developers Product Page

Albion One Ann Edition by Spitfire Audio
Like Sam said (below), I was also late to the party, but now that I have this library I see how perfect it is for library music. Solid orchestral ensemble patches for quick writing that doesn’t need to be very detailed, cool synths with the intuitive eDNA engine, and rhythmic loops for days.

► SLR Review of Albion One Anniversary Edition
► Link to Developers Product Page

Mercury Lite by Wavesfactory
A great all-around piano that’s light weight yet comes with plenty of details to tweak. What little effects are included are effective and each one does something meaningful with the sound straight out of the box.

► Link to Developer


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.

Aparillo by Sugar Bytes
A 16 independent voice, dual FM operator synth that’s far more complex than it looks…will even challenge those who are very knowledgeable in synthesis…for the money, this may be the best new synth to come along in a long time.

► Link to Product Page

Breaktweaker by Izotope
For those who play live or who compose in the electronic music genre, there may be no better tool for drums and percussion than Breaktweaker. From simple patterns to non-conventional time signatures, this product is easy to set up and easy to manipulate.

► Link to PB Product Page

Haunted Spaces by Soniccouture
If you play or compose ambient music or if you are into original sound design, this library will help take you places you haven’t thought imaginable!! My favorite purchase in quite some time!!

► Link to Product Page


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

Olafur Arnalds Composer Toolkit by Spitfire Audio
The felt piano in this library has become one of my go to instruments. It is so gentle and somehow evokes both warm and cool tones simultaneously. The ‘Mixed’ treatment, which combines the piano with a delicate pad sound, is beautifully ethereal. Alone or combined with some of the other stock Kontakt pianos (The Gentleman, Granduer, etc.), the piano in this one is simply gorgeous.

► Link to Product Page

Olafur Arnalds Evolutions by Spitfire Audio
There is a lot of excitement surrounding the new Chamber Evolutions from Olafur Arnalds and Spitfire and rightfully so. However, the first installment of the Olafur Arnalds Evolutions is a fantastic library too. I love combining it with the Intimate Textures library from Heavyocity. The movement and emotion it is injecting into my tracks is magical.

► SLRs Review: Olafur Arnalds Evolutions Video
► Link to Product Page

Photosynthesis Collection by Exotic States
These four volumes are my secret weapon, especially Mystic and Sphere. The aesthetic in these libraries almost perfectly matches my own. I love the pads, the processed sounds, the rhythms. These libraries are among my favorite and regularly show up in my tracks.

► SLRs Review of Photosynthesis Vol 4 Realms
► 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.

Ostinato Brass by Sonokinetic
This library is an incredibly useful ensemble phrase builder. Combined with its deep interface and harmonic flexibility, it allows you to quickly sketch something workable and convincingly realistic.

► Link to Developer

Ostinato Strings by Sonokinetic
The forerunner to Ostinato Brass, it utilizes the same engine and offers the same versatility to quickly generate accompaniment textures.

► SLR Review  Ostinato Strings
► Link to Developer

Alphorn by Sonokinetic
I actually came across this when I was looking for a Roman war trumpet. Alphorns are wooden, so much mellower than a brass instrument…except this Alphorn can GROWL. It sounds great as a solo instrument and in ensemble to create a trombone-like mellow choir.

► Link to Developer Product Page



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.

Cherry Bass by Orange Tree Samples
This instrument has a great overall tone. It also has a great slap bass setting that lets you create good sounding slap techniques like the machine gun triplet.

► Link to Developer

Sick 6 by Soundiron
This library contains a great set of creepy and unsettling sounds. It will definitely be helpful to anyone that does music for horror movies, games, or trailers.

► Link to Developer

High School Drums Corps by Soundiron
A great sounding drum line library for anyone needing that unique marching snare sound. It may not be as extensive as other libraries, but at $49, it contains enough to get you through until you can purchase a more comprehensive drum corps library.

► Link to Developer


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.

True Strike by Project Sam
I really like the Timpani’s in here. Used them in a cinematic production, and they fitted in so nicely with the rest of my instruments.

► Link to Developer

Voxos by Cinesamples
A great choir library with a good phrase builder as well if you need one.

► 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.

Albion One by Spitfire Audio
Late to the party but the inexpensive upgrade pushed me over the edge and this is quite a different product to the Legacy version. Epic but not cheesy, with some lovely octave legatos. The drums and synths are also superb.

► SLR Review of Albion One Anniversary Edition
► Link to Developers Product Page

Albion Legacy by Spitfire Audio
Was one of the first libraries I bought and even now I have One I do still love it. A smaller orchestra but it has this very classy, kind of retro, more gentle sound. Little known secret is that some of the best patches from it were NOT ported to One in it’s Legacy folder!

► Discontinued

Hanger by That Sound
Drum kits in an aeroplane Hanger? More reverb than you can dream of but still smacking you in the face? Hell yeah count me in. These guys are popular in the songwriting/production world but this release will have appeal to composers too with it’s huge sound.

► Link to Product Page


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

Acoustic Soundscapes by Dieguis Productions
Not a new release but something I find myself going back to over and over again is Acoustic Soundscapes from Big Fish Audio. The loops include elements like the rhythmic “Banjo Brush” and haunting vocals that are surprisingly adaptable for ghostly sound design as well as musical compositions.

► Link to Product Page


See all past Staff Picks Posts