OT - VST suggestions?

A slightly off topic question, but I have come to see a small limitation in Halion SO: The ranges of the instruments are a little narrow.

One of the pieces I am entering is a Wind Band score from 1905, and some of the parts are “outside” of the range of what Halion offers.

As someone relatively new to the VST world, is there a VST that someone would recommend? I know there are tons out there, but I don’t really know specifics and would like to get some ideas about what seems to work well, what has good ranges, etc.

Thanks in advance!


HALion has a full set of General Midi instruments which play over the complete 10 octave MIDI keyboard range, though obviously they don’t sound realistic for notes that are a long way outside the real range of the instrument.

Somebody posted a thread saying it was possible to set up HALion to use the “high quality” instruments and extend the range with a GM instrument. I haven’t actually tried that yet, but I have the basic same requirement as you - for example 17th/18th century French horn parts sometimes go higher than the “standard” range of modern orchestral horns.

The functionality to control a different sample library is quite limited in the current version (different vendor’s libraries tend to do things in different ways), so I think it’s worth waiting for the next update before getting too deep into this. Just loading patches with names including “GM” into HALION will get you the extra notes for minimum effort right now, if you don’t mind lower quality sounds.

If you want “genuine” playback of obsolete instruments, that probably means searching out specialist sample libraries. On the other hand some libraries (but AFAIK not the “lite” version of HALion that comes with Dorico) let you tweak the way the samples are mapped onto notes yourself, so you can extend the range of an instrument. That is quite easy to do with the Garritan libraries for example, because the instrument definitions are stored in plain text files that you can edit. Some other libraries (including HALion) use proprietary file formats and you need special editing software that comes with the library.

IIRC The vocal ranges are short as well.

I’m a bit prejudiced, but I am really fond of the VSTs by East West / Quantum Leap (www.soundsonline.com).

Their VSTs go all the way from orchestral to ethnic, and are sampled with great attention to detail. For classical and film scoring, the Hollywood series, and strings in particular, are really beautiful.


  1. Play - the sampler which hosts all EW instruments - is still VST2. You can install it but I believe there are issues with Dorico, at least the current version, Play 5.

  2. Some of these instruments - Hollywood Strings especially - are very power hungry, and you’ll have a frustrating experience if you don’t have a powerful computer with plenty of RAM to load instruments etc.

  3. They are pretty expensive too though there is now a cloud based subscription model - $30 a month. The way this works is, you can use their instruments as long as you are subscribed. If you stop paying, anything you composed and rendered will continue to exist, but you can’t make any changes to it (at least if you want to use the VST as an active plugin; obviously you can edit audio etc).

I find the EW stuff works best in a DAW environment where you can “freeze”/render the tracks in non-realtime. That sidesteps the whole CPU issue.

That said, the thing I miss most from Sibelius is NotePerformer, which while a VST integrates very tightly with sib. Great sounds, small install size/RAM usage, and because it is synthesis-based rather than sample based, it can combine playing techniques, and give extended ranges, so you can get pretty reasonable sounds that I can guarantee no sample library will ever offer, like, say, Contrabass Trombone glissandos… with a mute…fluttertongued.

Regarding NotePerformer, see:

While on the topic of VSTs, right now Sonivox’ Orchestral Companion Strings are on sale – from $104 down to $1.

Well, that’s an offer you can’t refuse, isn’t it …

I am not sure how good these are and how and if they will work with Dorico but for $1 you might just want to give it a shot.

You will need to create an iLok account, by the way, but you don’t need a physical dongle – you can drag the license onto your computer. There’s a manual on how to install etc. that it explains it all.

I just checked, they are at 69,99$ instead of 99,99$…

LOL - moderator probably removed the hyperlink, but if you search for pluginboutique, you can find the $1 deal.

Not to deliberately violate forum rules, or to unfairly compete with any of Steinberg’s VST products, including Halion, but for $1, that is a no brainer. Just downloaded and installed it, and while it’s not up there with Hollywood Strings, at this price level and given the small download (only 9 GB) again it’s a no brainer.

One thing the manual doesn’t say (unless I missed it) is what to call ito on the whitelist. Orchestral Companion Strings?

If anyone knows, much appreciated.


…a small limitation in Halion SO: The ranges of the instruments are a little narrow.

One of the pieces I am entering is a Wind Band score from 1905, and some of the parts are “outside” of the range of what Halion offers.

…is there a VST that someone would recommend?

Wallander Instruments (which is mentioned frequently on this forum for their Sibelius-only product called NotePerformer) also offers a number of VST libraries specifically for wind bands (useable by any program with VST support, including, I presume, Dorico).


Arne Wallander is very responsive to questions from users, so you can probably email him at his product support email address and get an answer to specific questions about instrument ranges available in his products.

That’s true, but the secret sauce in NotePerformer was that it used some sort of backdoor API to read the techniques etc from the Sib data - so no special mappings were needed to get full playback of basically anything you could notate - including many techniques and combinations of techniques.