September ’17 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 so that we can share them with you.

See past months picks here



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 VI’s than anyone I know! His Staff Picks are below:

Brainworx – Console E
This is the newest permanent resident in my FX chain, A 72 channel SSL E desk modeled from the one located at Skywalker Ranch. Simply awesome sound that mirrors the original British hardware making your mixes so much more lively.

► Link to Product Page

Syntronik by IK Multimedia
A massive collection of vintage synthesizers that offers a broad array of tonal options, Heavily focused on Sampled Analog Synthesis and able to provide great sounding modeled oscillators and filters of the past. Truly a synthesis playground where you are only limited by your imagination.

► SLR Review of Syntronik
► Link to Product Page

Lunaris by Luftrum
Specifically designed around providing pads, this one runs the gamut of lush cinematics to ambient, dark and eerie or thick analog washes. This one fits well in so many types of music it is a permanent staple in my toolbox.

► Link to Product Page

Chordscape by Divergent Audio Group
This one really surprised me in a good way by how deep you can go with developing moving soundscapes, underscores and complex electronic palettes. By all means check this one out for yourself.

► SLR Review of Chordscapes
► Link to Product Page

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.

LA Scoring Strings Lite by AudioBros
This has been my go-to strings library for about 5 years of working. The dry and up-front nature of their recording makes them incredibly flexible, and they are remarkably light on RAM and CPU requirements.

► Link to Developer

Master Sessions Ensemble Drums by Heavyocity
I use these drums in almost everything. With mic positions, the staging tool, the punish knob, and other ways to distort the sound, they become almost as flexible as LASS. Big epic drums? Check. Close and dry rock toms? Check. Distorted and weird sound-designed slams? Check. Oh, and the loops. Praise the loops.

► Link to Product Page

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.

The Water Glass and The Singing Bowl by Fractured Sounds
We often get so caught up in the big ticket major libraries that we forget about the smaller and more niche sounds from smaller developers. Both of these instruments are wonderful sounding and useable. At 18 dollars each, they’re a no brainer if you’re looking for something new.

► SLR Review of Water Glass and The Singing Bowl
Link to Developer

Drip by Soundiron
Continuing with this theme of the smaller niche libraries, Drip is a collection of strange and interesting percussion sounds all sourced from the sounds of water droplets. Excellent for peppering in some interest in your electronic tracks.

Link to Product Page

Scary Strings by Spitfire Audio
We all know Spitfire for their fantastic sounding and ambitiously sampled orchestral instruments, but they also offer a collection of what can basically be called Gift Libraries. These are more or less free. For 3 dollars you can have Scary Strings, a collection of evolving and unsettling string sustains perfect for adding detail and interest to your next horror score.

Link to Product Page

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.

MODO Bass by IK Multimedia
I’m really enjoying IK Multimedia‘s MODO Bass. It’s replacing all my bass sounds in my new projects. I can’t believe how well they’ve created a physically modeled bass. The application size is small and is low on CPU usage. Plus, there’s an extensive list of bass models can choose from, playing styles, and even the age on your strings

► SLR Review of MODO Bass
► Link to Product Page

Transient Shaper by Native Instruments
I found I have been using their Transient Shaper a lot more. Very easy to use with great results

► Link to Product Page

RX Advanced by Izotope
I’ve been tinkering around with the De-Verb module. Works so well at removing room noise/reverb from a signal. I’ve been doing some voice overs in a not ideal room, and wanted it a bit drier and this module worked wonders.

► Link to Product Page at Plugin Boutique

Alchemy  in Apple in Logic Pro X’s
This is my go-to synth in Logic. So many good presets, and find I’m using it more and more over some of my other synths.

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

Dark Matter 1 and 2 by String Audio
I’ve had a couple projects in recent months that called for a lot of ambient and pulse stuff, so these two libraries have become regulars in my workflow lately. Dark Matter is invaluable for atmosphere and pulses. The sound design elements sound great and always inspire interesting textures. You can cover a lot of ground from suspense to high action with just Dark Matter.

► SLR Review of Dark Matter 1 and 2
► Link to Product Page

Symphonic Shadows by 8Dio
This is a specialty library that crosses between orchestral organic sound effects/extended techniques and pure sound design. This library has been great to combine with something like Dark Matter to achieve even greater variety in texture and to build a bridge between pure sound design and pure orchestral scoring moments.

► SLR Review of Symphonic Shadows
► Link to Developer


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.

Rise and Hit by Native Instruments
A great sounding library that is perfect for transitions in any style. Each patch features two adjustable sections, one to control the rise and the other for the hit.

► Link to Developer Site 

Evolution Dracus by Orange Tree Samples
This library offers the same top-notch, quality guitar samples that has become synonymous with the Orange Tree Samples brand, but geared for shredding.

► Link to Developer Site 

Kirk Hunter’s Concert Strings 3 by KH
This library has been my go-to string library since I purchased it. It has really great features, it’s easy to play, and it sounds fantastic. This library will sound excellent in almost any genre.

► Link to Developer Site 

Suspended Cymbals by Waves Factory
A selection of 5 cymbals, each with the articulations needed to add realistic suspended cymbals to your compositions. The highlight of this library is the modwheel controlled cymbal roll. This gives you the ability to create great sounding cymbal swells with ease; which, is a must for orchestral music.

► Link to Developer Site

Last but not least is Sam Burt. 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.

Addictive Drums by XLN Audio
Great variety of kits and really fun. Less fully featured than its competitors, but that makes it more instant. Love the way many kits are sampled from famous studios like Sound City and Oceanway. I also love the 50% sale they just had!

► Link to Product Page

Insolidus by 8Dio
Just reviewed this and basically totally smitten by the sheer gorgeousness of sound and ease of creating complex lyrical phrases. Amazing natural volume arcs and polyphonic legato. Be prepared to lose yourself for a few hours.

► Link to Developer

Diva Bundle Presets by The Unfinished
I have never paid for presets before so this is new ground for me, but these sounds were too much up my street to refuse. Loads of dirty, drifting, deep, dreamy analogue goodness for the best soft synth out there. Think Boards of Canada, Trent Reznor, Olafur Arnalds vibes.

► Link to Product Page



See all past Staff Picks Posts