Sound library alternatives

I write primarily for winds and percussion and need a sound library that will give me more authentic sounds. While I don’t need performance level sounds, I do need to be able to present conductors with scores and midi recordings that aren’t distracting. I would also like something that isn’t difficult to install or cumbersome to use. Money is (almost) no object…

Personally I like the Synchron Woodwinds and Synchron Brass of VSL a lot. I think, what you tell about your needs, you only need the standard versions. VSL provide in good help files for Installing the libraries and are very helpful, when you need it. You will need an e-licenser dongle (also called vienna key). They provide for expression maps for Dorico, that makes life easier.
For saxophones there are 2 options: when you just need alto, tenor and bariton, you need SYNCHRON-ized edition 2 (with SYNCHRON-ized edition 2 plus you get more articulations).
If you need also soprano and bass saxophone, you need also SYNCHRON-ized edition 4. You get with nr 2 and 4 also other winds like Eb-clarinet, alto flute and others.
It is also possible for saxophones to use their “Vienna Instruments Saxophone library”, but that library is less easier to use as a starter.
Long story. I hope perhaps it can help you.
VSL has in december good deals for Synchron Woodwinds and for all other libraries. You can get vouchers with 25 % discount for all their libraries and software.
Their site is:

VSL woodwind libraries are pretty reliable and not too hard to programme. I regard them the strongest part of the collection at the entry-level such as the Special Editions. Some libraries are supported by VSL supplied Expression Maps though they are not necessarily the best and folk here have posted alternatives… Both Dorico and VSL are currently protected by eLicenser and both are replacing the system (in the case of VSL by some form of iLok)…

Although one or two articulations are surprisingly hard at higher volumes, in general you can’t really find much fault with the reasonably priced Cinematic Studio winds and they can be richly expressive. Not as many articulations as with VSL full packages, though. Another big hitter is Orchestral Tools although their libraries are among the most expensive. EastWest are the other of the original “big two” with VSL but I find the libraries somewhat bland somehow.

Percussion is easier to do competently and most libraries will be at least adequate for general use. A lot will depend if there are particular instruments which are important to you. You’ll want to make sure that for unpitched percussion that you can find (or are willing to create) working percussion maps.