Suggestions For Small String Library Ensembles

Hey Guys,

I am writing for a live string ensemble of 14 String players. 4-4-3-2-1. and i need to write the music with that sound in mind not have my BBCSO samples make it into something huge then i get disappointed when the live performance doesn’t sound as big.

That’s why I’m looking for a good library that lets me specify at least how many players in a section. What I’m doing now is I’ve loaded individual String Leaders of the BBCSO Pro and formed the 4-4-3-2-1 Ensemble, but i tell you, even when offloading some articulations, It really kicks hard on the CPU. So, any suggestions?

Oh and any cheap alternatives would be highly appreciated!

Thanks, Nicolas.

I’d rather use VSL Elite strings (which I have and like very much) or the Spitfire Chamber orchestra (which I don’t have but seems to be highly regarded, although not really recent). But that involves investing some money. Have you tried and used Iconica sketch through NotePerformer engine? It could give some better results…


Looks like there’s some promotional pricing going on right now.


You can set the section size in NotePerformer…


I’d also look at VSL Dimension strings. You can be really specific about addressing by desk, group, tutti or solo. I think its in the same promotion that Marc mentions.

You need to be ok with customizing xp maps for it though, which might be an issue.


Yeah i read about them both and saw some stuff and comparison on YT but i wanted an unbiased opinion, which most YT channels have proven time and time again not to provide.

I have… But i was wondering how to specify the number of players in a section.

Can you share the process here please. It would be great to have that info on the Thread.

I must say it seems very interesting to have access to every player’s mic, but the UI seems far from practical… It might be good with the NPPE but if wanted to work in Cubase, i know I’d be hitting a creative wall block there. Pricing-wise, very expensive (Even with the discounts) and really doesn’t show it’s true value…

It’s really easy! Once you’ve loaded your BBCSO Pro players into NPPE, just select the “1/2 Section” option in NP.

I used this recently for a ballet orchestra mockup and the composer was very happy with the results.


That’s amazing thanks @FredGUnn ! I remember seeing that option before and it completely slipped my mind!

Although, it seems kind of weird… How would NP cut the size of the Sample in Half it it was recorded with a set number of players you think…?

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The answer is: It’s not recorded, at all! The sounds are not sampled, they are generated by algorithms (as far as I understand). This is why they are so much smaller on disk and load faster.

Yes I understand that about the NP but the question here was about the BBCSO Pro NPPE…

Spitfire released a Chamber Strings Essentials last autumn at a fraction of the price of the original which might be worth considering – it should also be much more CPU- friendly.

VSL also have Dimension strings in their Special Edition which I own and has its uses, although the rather squeaky sound works best for naive, childlike music – unless I just haven’t managed to get the best out of it yet (perhaps will come with NPPE which would certainly be interesting, though whether they’ll properly support all the instrument combinations which my maps do is another matter…). Like all strings, it’s currently on Special and the SE version includes mutes which in the full package are a separate purchase.

My favourite chamber strings actually combines Cinematic Studio orchestral with solo which is of course a kludge but is hardly a first recommendation if you’re not already into CSS stuff.

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I use Chris Hein Ensemble Strings - you can specify the number of players in each voice - I needed it for a realistic string quartet but I can use it for deployments just like yours. It comes with a passel of articulations. I am over the moon with this one.

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do these work with NPPE?

no – I am hoping for it but currently NPPE only supports vol 1 (Dimension strings is vol 5)

I’m a bit puzzled by this. If you want a string quartet, surely it would make more sense to get the solo strings package which I have done? It’s true that the Ensemble Strings is made up of solo players and the solo strings also have two Ensemble options which begs the question a bit exactly what’s the difference as they’re clearly different products but I assume it’s all in the mixing.

You can determine the number of players in each section - truly an undocumented feature! Pick from 1 to 5 per section. (Lower left corner.)

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Yes, I too was a bit puzzled about this….The website says that two different ensemble sizes have been created: Full and Small, nothing about this useful divisi feature as phase_Shift points out. I use Dimension strings for this kind of thing, but this library certainly looks like a good alternative.

Following up: the Firsts, so the solo 1st Violin, are in the Full Ensemble, as in the image above. To fill the quartet, I used solo Violin 2, Viola 2, and Cello 2 from the Small Ensemble which where the Seconds are. CHES struck me as being a versatile library for my non-epic use, and I gladly overspent my budget for it.