String library recommendation

December 2022, Christmas is coming, and I was wondering if there might be a suggested string sample library that works well - and most importantly - EASILY within Dorico?

I ONLY work from score. Piano roll, like in the PLAY menu, leaves me completely perplexed, it might as well be a doctoral thesis on particle physics. I even work on actual manuscript paper at the same time as using Dorico.

So, what I’d like is a string library that’s just a bit more convincing than the strings in NotePerformer3 (which I love and use, but the strings are really the one major weakspot).

I’m not looking for incredible realism, I just would like string sounds - particularly solo strings - that don’t sound like nails on a chalkboard.

Years ago, there was the Garritan Stradivari violin solo, and the Gofriller Cello, that were so incredibly convincing it was scary. Those worked beautifully within Finale, with the use of a few trick articulations that could be hidden here and there.

About the same time, there was XSamples Chamber Ensemble which also had gorgeous solo strings (the contrabass was so convincing that a recording of mine actually fooled a couple of string players).

But it almost seems as though libraries have become LESS convincing over time, and making ridiculously massive demands on the performance of our computers, but for little improvement.
Every articulation is now a completely separate sample and needs to be loaded and treated like a different instrument. This is too confusing.

So, any suggestions?

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This topic is not Dorico specific. Go over to VI control. There are dozens of threads there on this very question and many detailed reviews, not just trite opinions.

But … what you are going to want are expression maps for Dorico. Have a search here before you buy a library.

If you want or need contemporary techniques here is one suggestion:

Without wanting to sound like a negative curmudgeon, the only one to definitely avoid is anything from Embertone. Their work is buggy, they have no care to support Dorico, their support emails are somewhat arrogant and rude, and I simply could not make the solo strings library work without bugs in Dorico despite a lot of hard work.

Your question implies a budget. How much can you spend? There’s always the Vienna VST libraries.

As has been mentioned on his forum several times, the NP strings sound terrible unless you add in quite a lot of reverb in the NP mixer. I use about 50-60% and they sound not too bad for my contemporary stuff.

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If I understand what you are asking, my suggestion is to narrow it down a certain sound and just go for that. And then we might be able to give better suggestions. Bigger, flexible, general purpose takes something of a commitment to dive in to get what you want.

Spitfire Intimate Strings comes to mind as great out of the box for specific performances (and inexpensive) but they aren’t the best choice for a different kind of piece.

EWQL Gypsy Violin is rarely talked about versus their flagship EWQL Hollywood Solo Violin. But it is very believable and much easier to achieve a certain character - for a certain style of piece.

Hats off to talented creative emotive string players - as if we composers think we are the ones that come up with all that awesomeness with our amazing instructions. :slight_smile:


Cinematic Studio Strings is consistently high on every list. I have it and its great.

Fair warning: if you’re used to the effortless integration of NotePerformer, brace yourself. You’ll need to fiddle with expression maps and such.

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The Expression Map is half the battle: it’s crucial to getting a decent sound, particularly as you switch from one sample to the next.

I’ve been exploring the innards of GPO5, and discovered that samples for a Stradivarius are included, but not used in any instrument. One of the Solo Violins (No.3?) also uses different samples marked “Strad”, but the instrument definition file puts some weird post-processing on them that makes sound awful – really ‘hollow’.

I’ve been experimenting with creating my own SFZ ‘instrument’ using these samples, to see if I can make a half-decent Strad.

the “strad” included with GPO isn’t the same Stradivari that was available as a separate violin solo library.

from what I can recall, the designers of that Stradivari solo library sold to another company, and so they no longer supported working within Finale.

the GPO strad sucks, quite honestly.

The Stradivari solo library had, for example, a feature where depending on the velocity of the next note it would either slide gently (portamento) or even gliss to the next note, or play straight without any sort of sliding. You controlled that by simply making the 2nd note of a pair softer (lower velocity).

It also had two “modes” of playback that used different “rules”: one was “poly mode” where it could handle multistops and counterpoint, the other was “solo mode” where it handled notes on a one by one basis. With a simple non-printing text expression one could very easily go back and forth between those modes.

The Gofriller Cello library was the same.

As said, the samples I’ve found are not used in GPO by any instrument, and sound a lot better. But there’s still work to be done. I agree that the Violins in GPO are pretty bad. Some of that is the post-processing of the samples and the instrument definitions, which can be overcome.

It’s still a work in progress. (Probably completed just as NP4 comes out.)

I never uploaded the old recording of my violin concerto that used the Stradivari Solo Violin library. It’s a shame because I could have posted comparisons of that library, the solo violin from NotePerformer3, and the actual live recording of the premiere.

It all makes for an interesting listen (even if there are a few intonation problems here and there in the live recording).

VSL synchronized Solo Strings
VSL Synchron Strings Pro
(VSL Synchron Elite Strings)

All come with playback templates for Dorico (with room for improvements/refinements, but still…) i.e. plug & play

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I find the VSL website and instructions confusing but…
I have VSL Synchronized-Special Edition?
Which I presume is NOT the same as those you listed? I can’t get this Special Edition thing to sound half decent in Dorico.

There are a number of good libraries out there mentioned by others above. This past year+ I’ve been doing orchestration at college and have had good success with Dorico and Spitfire Audio BBC SO library. They have a template that maps many of the expressions/articulations/dynamics to the VST and samples, see Spitfire BBC Symphony Orchestra Templates – Dorico … For extra advanced stuff you can use that other piano roll tab you’re avoiding :wink: BBC SO also has multiple levels with different price points depending on what you need, you might consider trying it out with the Discover level and Discover template and see if it works for you. I started my orchestration classes with that level and over three semesters upgraded as I need for articulations and instruments. Hope this helps.


Just wanted to say, welcome to the forum, @RyanD77!

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SSE – the whole seven libraries+add-ons, or just the first volume? The whole library includes I think four different ensembles of different sizes, plus solo strings.

I use the Dimension Strings special edition for most things, and the default expression maps supplied by VSL are pretty good.

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I guess I’d have to hear what some of those sound like directly from Dorico.
most of their demos are so heavily reworked in DAWs.

You can check this video.

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Hi Michael, VSL provides expression maps and playback templates for most of their Synchron series (not for Dimension Strings, unfortunately). That goes a long way in reducing the complication of using them!

it all remains a total mystery to me.
I tried using the Synchron Special Edition instruments today, and simply couldn’t get a single note to play.

In your myVSL account at the Vienna site, under ‘notation related’, download and install the Dorico resource file. In Dorico then load the playback template for Synchronized Special edition. Then load some Dorico instruments if you haven’t already and you should have sound…

It took a while of poking and prodding, but I DID find a VSL for Dorico Installer…
I downloaded it, but now what do I do with it?
I don’t even know what it did.

Do I need to re-download a “dorico version” of the VSL Synchron-ized Special Edition instruments?

That’s the problem with too many of these companies. They don’t tell you what to do in any way, shape or form.

I sort of got it to work, but the playback is stilted and full of little scratch sounds and static.
nothing huge, one extended measure of just strings.
but the playback is horrible.
it does recognize slurs, dynamics, and playing techniques (pizz, in this case), however.

Could this be a buffer size issue?