EW Symphonic Orchestra - any good?

East Wests’ Symphonic Orchestra is currently on sale for $199 (60% off). Is it any good?

I’m very tempted, as I’d like to get a ‘decent’ orchestra library, but I’ve been disappointed by all the cheaper, smaller libraries I’ve purchased, but don’t really want to spend $800 or similar.

I have a friend who has used little else for decades of serious orchestral and chamber renderings in Cubase. The results to me are competent but rather flat and uninvolving – it is, after all, relatively old technology now and a long discussion thread on VIControl is rather lukewarm. The price is certainly right but at the budget end, I like the BBC Core the most, despite the known issues. Why not just download it and try it with a month’s free (if not already taken out) Composer’s Cloud sub?

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I’ve used/use Symphonic Orchestra, Hollywood, Opus patches, Spitfire Abbey Road Collection, UVI and some misc. and I wouldn’t say Symphonic Orchestra is good OR bad. It is dry in terms of room sound, flat in terms of mic positions, and IMO feels “average at all times” - isn’t ever epic, isn’t intimate, etc. It is the “classic” conservative one mic position (blended) sound. I stay away from the temptation to use larger sections (18 violins) as they in particular seem prone to lose individual instrument character but yet also not a smooth buttery blend. I sort of agree on bleh.

My best guess is that you would be frustrated. - Not that it is bad, but that it has just that one sound, and you would likely say it is no different from what you already have.

Composer cloud Opus on the other hand… different beast. I’d take the $200 towards a year’s subscription if you get one of the deals they run for $19 or whatever. Ironically, I think Spitfire Abbey Road taught me more about how good Opus really is, and how to get the most out of it.

I love Abbey Road for working quickly, when a certain sound is the thing (and time). Abbey Road and some of the Spitfire libs (not BBC) are ensembles and feel like cheating - I have to get over that, or I recreate what they are doing in Opus as individual instruments with a lot more flexibility. I certainly see Chris’s perspective on using them.

If I had to choose one it would have to be UVI IRCAM because of its character - but I’d be lacking what Opus can do for a full orchestra. I pay for both as subscriptions and my wife hasn’t noticed. :slight_smile: Keep or sweep as you wish.


Just to let you know: VSL has a sale for the Synchron Prime Edition this month. The price is € 445 (regular € 595). Good luck making a good choice for your needs and taste.

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I’ve had EWQL since about 2008 and purchased CineSamples last year.

I’ve used EWQL twice since then. It sounds ok and has a few cool FX for each instrument but I just find it really “messy” and disorganised vs CS. Violin II doesn’t even have a harmonic patch.

I also still have to use my ilok for EWQL.

Re mic positions: This is not something that bothers me. I normally choose a dry sound and send all my instruments to the same reverb.

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Isn’t EW one of a small handful of libraries that have the recorded divisi via close mics? I think Audiobro MSS is the other one, as well as Sonokinetic and Spitfire Studio. Are there more?

I’d be really curious to learn how people handle divisi with string libraries, especially if it’s not a factory-made patch. The common approach is to re-pitch the libraries twice, I believe, but every time I’ve tried it the sound is “not great”.

for divisi, the VSL Dimension Strings is perhaps the most sophisticated as there are numerous options from solo instruments to full sections. There is a Special Edition version of this as well.

Was just thinking on the subject of EWQL Symphonic Orchestra that one thing levelled against it is that, although there are quite a lot of patches, they are not very well organised and thus the whole library becomes hard to programme in the MIDI environment. I suspect that’s something which might put @benwiggy off?

Ha! What really puts me off is things like the Violas not having all the same articulations as the Violins; slow attack; legato that just squishes together.

TBH, I don’t mind using identical patches for divisi – though some libraries seem to avoid phasing better than others.

fair point – though violas don’t always have the same articulations in VSL either or 2nd violins don’t always have the same as 1st… But I think the fundamental point is that the programming is regarded as now rather outdated with SO.

I’ve used EW QLSO Platinum for years. My main issue is that not all articulations are available for all instruments. EG, in the string sections, some articulations that one would hope would be in all strings are not there. OTOH, for $200, why not?

Thanks, @dko22 I went to check it out, but it looks to be a chamber-sized section and I didn’t find any mention of how they are combined divisi to get to standard size. I’m probably misunderstanding something; would you mind clarifying?

I hope I’m not hijacking the thread, Ben!

sorry, I was probably misleading you. The Dimension strings are indeed chamber-sized and it’s only within that chamber size that there is full flexibility. It’s not designed for combining the full presets together to try and achieve a large scale symphony orchestra which is what you may be looking for.

Dimension Strings are certainly very useful for divisi passages because of their flexibility (8 separate players which with the tuning trick can provide even more options like a 16 piece section or a 4x4 section) but like dko22 infers, you ideally need to use them in conjunction with a normal size section from another library. If the VSL special edition is on sale, it would probably constitute a good value for money solution for anyone’s divisi needs, even without all the articulations featured in the full library.

I’ve used EWQLSO quite a bit, but primarily with Notion, which has built-in support for the library. It sounds decent, but it’s an old Library at this point. Certainly blows away contemporaries like Philharmonik 2, and it’s going to demolish HALion Symphonic Orchestra.

Spitfire Core is often on sale, so it’s an obvious candidate. I haven’t been able to get any of the Playback Templates for EWQLSO to work properly in Dorico, but the Spitfire Templates work great.

It does work great in Notion 6, though, and Studio One’s native-like support for Opus makes it (and anything that runs in Opus) a cinch to use there.

Some patches were recorded with different players in a different space, though (QLeg patches, in particular). They sound obviously different. Not particularly usable alongside everything else without standing out.

FWIW, I found this post on the other forum with some more details on several commercially available divisi libraries.

Meanwhile, one entry on that list - Sample Modelling - now have a series of videos showing how to program their library and it does seem quite impressive