VST question for Symphobia users?

Hi Guys,

I’m a little off-topic here, but would be really grateful for some advice from my fellow Cubase users who might be using Project SAM “Symphobia” - perhaps even anyone who uses both Symphobia 1 and Symphobia 2!

I only have budget for one full orchestra library (recorded in sections, the Symphobia way!)… and I’m fairly sure I’m going to order Symphobia 2. I really love the sound of the real legato transitions that it features.

However now I’m a bit worried that Symphobia 2 doesn’t represent enough of the “core” orchestral sections, and that I should have gone with Symphobia 1. Looking at S2’s instrument list, it appears that quite a few of the patches are recorded in octaves - which in some cases will be fantastic (the demos show this!). I’m worried though that there aren’t enough sections recorded in unison, for recording big chordal parts where octaves would be too thick sounding.

So in a nutshell… should I go with Symphobia 2, will it give me all the sections I need and do a pretty good impression of everything that came in S1… or would I be better to get S1 to cover all the basic building blocks?

Any guidance that you can provide would be very gratefully received!


Symphobia 1 is really great, I would definitely get that one between it and #2, as the latter is definitely more of an expansion pack than a stand-alone.

There’s also Project SAM’s Orchestral Essentials, don’t forget. That has all the bases covered. Really, if you sprung for Symphobia 1 and Orchestral Essentials together, you could be very happy.

Note also that there are alternatives offered by other developers, namely Spitfire’s Albion series. Albion 1 is one of my favorites for quick mock-ups, and it includes more sections than Symphobia. For about the price of Symphobia, you could get Albion 1 and one of its sequels, which include different flavors of the same sections: Iceni is fast and vivid, Loegria is slower and more luxurious. They fill out more articulations that you might think are missing from Albion 1 (such as strings tremolo), although the first volume is plenty fully-featured.

Thanks for your thoughts!

I have had several recommendations for Albion… and demos I have heard online certainly point to it being a very warm and realistic library, especially as the producers chose to leave in the odd bow-on-wood tap of a violin or 'cello here and there! Really sounds convincingly like a real orchestra playing.

The only concern I have is that it seems like a more laid-back set of samples, not as “gutsy” for those big symphonic moments. Is this just an impression I’ve formed because of the demos I’ve heard, or is Symphobia still the preferable choice for these kinds of moments?

Keen to hear anyone’s thoughts on this aspect!


I would say Symphobia, and really anything from Project SAM, is going to be your best bet for that. As you pointed out, Albion is a series designed to sound realistic with an edge on subtlety, so it’s not going to deliver an ‘in your face’ kind of cinematic sound.

There is still EWQLSO, which can be mixed to have a very close and personal sound, though it takes a lot of work to make a convincing mock-up with the way the articulations are designed. It’s possible, just incredibly time-consuming.

I think, if it’s a big sound you want, you’ll get work done faster and have more fun with Symphobia 1.

I’ve used both at work and Symphobia 1 gets WAY more use than Symphobia 2. That being said, it really depends on what your end goals are. Are you trying to simply add orchestra to your pallet, or are you looking to get full into film scoring and need tons of control. Symphobia sounds great because its not broken down into individual instruments, but sections. This is nice for those of use who need to work fast and get something that sounds good very quickly. And as you said, its great for epic style compositions.

However, for my own personally compositions (not on a deadline) I never use Symphobia. Why? Because I want control over each member of the orchestra when writing my own pieces. So it really all depends on your goals. If you want something quick and easy that sound great, go Symphobia. If you are looking for flexibility and control, I use to recommend VSL (if you have good mixing chops) but with upstart companies like Cinesamples, cinematic strings, orchestral tools, Spitfire, etc there are more choices out there. So make sure you really research before deciding, as $1000 is quite a lot of money to spend on something you might regret (EastWest I’m looking at you!)

p.s. if you didn’t know of http://www.try-sound.com you should check them out. They offer some libraries (not all) on their servers where you can demo them over the internet. A great way to demo sample libraries before buying.

Bad experiences with those folks?

Haha yeah - I still cant get my Symphonic Choirs to sound as good as the original demos I heard that got me to purchase it in the first place. Plus I find their “Play” software to be very buggy on my system and tech support is rarely helpful…but perhaps thats just me. I think their orchestra stuff sounds good especially their latest “hollywood” line, but I don’t think I’ll be buying another piece of software from them.

“Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…cant get fooled again!” :laughing:

Got Orchestral Essentials pretty cheap off the KVR marketplace forum, a great work horse sounds huge but for solo and or staccato strings and brass it can take a bit of work for the all important attack. I see hardly any mention of the libraries available from soundiron.com or from 8dio.com on here, they are absolutely brilliant to use, incredibly flexible and sound spectacular. A rather healthy selection of their products live here with more in sight. The support is always first class from both companies as well.

The new low cost choir package from sound iron is nothing short of a steal for any one wanting huge choirs and tempo locked phrase builders and its also a perfect companion to the their larger sibling which is complete joy to use.

However, groundwork is all important as unfortunately once bought many libraries cant be sold on, a policy that software houses need to look at in their fight against piracy as the majority command substantial investment and if you don’t like it your stuck with it!

Man, that thing took me a whole year to figure out, but I have managed to make passable phrases with it.

Sadly, as you say, the PLAY software with choirs’ Wordbuilder is buggy as all heck, so I always have to do the choral parts in a separate session since PLAY just crashes all the time with repeated small edits. The routine to working with that mess is to make edits, save a new copy of the phrase, and test to make sure they don’t cause a crash. Painful and inexcusable in any professional industry, but necessary if you like what’s there because nobody else offers that level of flexibility with a sampled choir.

But as I learn more about how it works, it’s actually become pretty fun to just mess with. They definitely did a disservice by not providing enough tutorials for it (and not fixing the crippling bugs).

Luckily, the Hollywood stuff doesn’t really need any in-depth training or time-consuming work-arounds. The manual tells you what each patch does and PLAY is rock-solid if you have everything on SSDs.