5 FREE Orchestral VST Libraries (That Sound Amazing)

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  • Looking for top-quality orchestral VST libraries that don’t break the bank?
  • Discover five easy-to-use FREE orchestral VSTs
  • Elevate your craft with professional orchestral instruments
  • Also, check out our post on the best realistic-sounding Handpan VSTs 

Even in this day and age, with all its hi-tech offerings, the symphony orchestra remains crucial to the work of many great composers.

Almost every film composer has recorded live orchestral instruments for at least one of their film scores. Unsurprisingly, the resulting sound is always incredible.

However, unless you have a seriously generous budget and a lot of time available for organizing, rehearsing, and recording upwards of 40 live players, this can be a difficult thing to achieve. 

When turning to the more flexible and accessible option of using an orchestral sample library, the nicest-sounding orchestral VST plugins are often incredibly expensive.

If this is the struggle you’re going through, you’re not alone – and we happen to have the solution.

We’ve collected a list of the five best FREE orchestral VST libraries obtainable today. Yep, you heard that right – these orchestral VST plugins are completely free.

We were shocked too!

What Are The Best Free Orchestral VST Libraries?

Spitfire Audio’s BBC Symphony Orchestra: Discover series selects the key instruments amongst their paid Core and Pro libraries and offers them as a free VST – it’s a great shout for background string ensembles and is especially good for pitched percussion.

Arcade by Output shows off some magnificent string sounds obtainable for free. DSK Brass is a free orchestral VST plugin with huge coverage of individual and multi-layered brass instruments.

The Free Orchestra is ProjectSAM’s offering and flaunts some great woodwind samples, whilst Spitfire Audio’s LABS: Percussion covers everything you need for unpitched hits, booms, and cinematic impacts.

Using Orchestral VST Libraries: Key Info

Our hand-crafted list of five free orchestral VST plugins is especially suited to cover each main instrument family in the orchestra: strings, brass, woodwinds, unpitched percussion, and pitched percussion.

Although we have included a ‘one-size-fits-all’ free orchestral VST in the first place, using a combination of all these five libraries will get your orchestral cues to really outshine the norm.

Judging Criteria:

  • How realistic is the quality of the orchestral samples?
  • How easy is the free orchestral VST to use?
  • How accessible are the programming options?

5 Best Free Orchestral VST Libraries in 2022

These free orchestral VSTs stood out to us as the very best of their kind:

  1. Arcade (Best For Strings)
  2. DSK Brass (Best For Brass) 
  3. The Free Orchestra (Best For Woodwinds)
  4. LABS Percussion Library (Best For Unpitched Percussion)
  5. BBC Symphony Orchestra: Discover (Best For Pitched Percussion)

1. Arcade (Best For Strings)


Arcade by Output is a cut-to-the-chase, easy-to-use orchestral VST with excellent options for using preset instruments or programming your own sounds.

Output offers an unlimited 30 day trial, which is then followed by a modest 10 USD/EUR subscription per month. Try before you buy!

Arcade finds its best qualities in the range of sampled string sounds on offer.

If you’re a VST programming wizard, Arcade lets you tuck in and get busy with it – and if you simply want to play with a preset and have fun composing, they have you covered on that front, too.

As per most orchestral VSTs, multiple different articulations can be assigned to one instrument via key triggering (placing a particular note down, usually very low beyond the playable range of the instrument, which tells the VST to switch to a respective articulation).

This is an incredibly easy function on Arcade, thanks to its accessible GUI.

The only unfortunate aspect of Arcade is that the string sounds completely outshine the rest of the instruments – in one’s humble opinion. Still, it’s well worth adding this bad boy to your collection!


  • Excellent variety of string sounds
  • Sounds include extended techniques (scrapes, etc.)


  • All other sounds  fairly inferior in comparison

Related: 6 Best Violin VSTs That Sound Incredible (Paid & Free Options!)

2. DSK Brass (Best For Brass) 

Even though they slip under the radar of leading commercial VST sampling giants, DSK has brought out some great products time and time again.

DSK Brass flaunts an impressive range of brass instruments, all with very realistic samples.

The articulations are crystal-clear, the sounds are very ‘in-your-face,‘ and each instrument can be loaded and tweaked individually.

A downside of these factors is the difficulty composing with a brass ensemble using this VST. But hey – it’s free – let’s not complain!

Some users have reported issues with DSK Brass’ performance in FL studio, noting ‘pops and crackles’ when using the VST, whilst loading DSK Brass in Reaper can ‘crash the software’ every now and again. 

You can also achieve some awesome brass sounds by layering the same musical part over a number of different individual horn instruments loaded as different tracks in the VST.

This gives the brass sound a real ‘bite’ and a whole lot of attitude.


  • Large range of brass instruments to use


  • Difficult to layer instruments together 

3. The Free Orchestra (Best For Woodwinds)

Orchestral sampling company ProjectSAM released this free orchestral VST library in 2019.

The suitably titled Free Orchestra comprises 1GB of cinematic orchestral sounds, all derived from their paid VST instrument plug-ins – for example, Symphobia and True Strike.

The Free Orchestra contains 15 instruments presets – two of which are especially useful for any cinematic composer out there.

These are some fantastic woodwind samples if you select the single instrument ‘Wild Winds’; and a great, professional-quality Grand Piano VST instrument whose dynamic capabilities allow you to explore the extremes of cinematic piano playing.


  • Diverse, versatile coverage of available instruments


  • Sounds aren’t very programmable; instruments come as fixed presets

Related: 6 Best Free Piano VSTs That Sound Incredible

4. LABS Percussion Library (Best For Unpitched Percussion)

Spitfire Audio is no stranger to the world of orchestral VST libraries.

This high-value free orchestral VST features drum hits, shakers, timbales, cowbells, and congas, ready to spice up your compositions in a matter of clicks.

According to Spitfire Audio, these sounds are catered to  serve “media composition and electronic production alike.” 

The sounds are incredibly in-your-face and maybe not so suitable for more subtle passages.

Even so, this free orchestral sample library is an essential must-have for any serious composer who doesn’t wish to break the bank.


  • Brilliant for big cinematic hits and ‘in-your-face’ electronic impacts


  • Sounds aren’t very subtle and can demand a lot of listener attention

Related: 7 Best Resources For Free Acoustic Drum Samples & Loops

5. BBC Symphony Orchestra: Discover (Best For Pitched Percussion)

Yet again, Spitfire Audio has come out on top! The download size of Spitfire Audio’s Discover, from their legendary BBC Symphony Orchestra series, is a mere 200MB.

Inside that, 33 instruments and a total of 47 articulations (playing techniques) can be enjoyed and switched between a diverse range of presets.

Discover contains a broad palette of instruments. In the string section, for example, first violins, second violins, violas, celli, and double basses.

For the woodwinds: piccolo, flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons. And so on. We can be sure that this free orchestral VST covers just about everything we need.

All instruments found in Discover are suited for ensemble playing, with the exception of the Harp, which could come as a slight disappointment to some.

You’d have to upgrade to the premium versions of BBCSO to have the privileges of distinguishable solo instruments at your fingertips!

In terms of instrument articulations, all instruments include what Spitfire calls ‘longs’ (sustained notes finished with light vibrato) and ‘shorts’ (spiccato/staccato).

On top of this, certain instruments have their own articulations – tremolando rolls, dampened hits, etc. 

Prime examples of this articulation free-reign are the fantastic xylophone, glockenspiel, and marimba VST instruments, which are incredibly well-articulated for cinematic textures.

The Harp VST instrument is also fantastic, with versatile options available for stereotypical fairy-story gliss FX and subtle string-damping.


  • Excellent articulation and presence for cinematic textures


  • Samples shine best behind an ensemble and aren’t great for solos

Related: Spitfire LABS Review (Overhyped? or Best Free VST Bundle Ever?) 


Are The Above Plug-Ins Available For Windows, Mac OS, and Linux?

All the above plug-ins are available for Windows and Mac OS. Unfortunately, Linux integration is a little limited with these libraries.

Are The Above Plug-Ins Trial Versions That Expire?

Absolutely not! Once downloaded, you can keep these libraries forever.

Are The Above Plug-Ins Usable With Kontakt Player?

Spitfire’s BBCSO Discover and Output’s Arcade operate within their own audio units.

They do not need to be integrated with Kontakt, but DSK Brass, The Free Orchestra, and LABS: Percussion all work perfectly with Kontakt Player.

Do The Above Plug-Ins Take Up A Lot Of CPU?

If you’re running all five plug-ins at once or one on top of the other in your DAW, it’s likely your computer will experience some difficulties.

Try exporting instrumental cues and ideas to audio (e.g., ‘Bounce in Place’ on Logic Pro) and saving an alternate version of your project.

That way, you can safely remove particular plug-in instances that you no longer need, provided you have your desired audio exported from it.

Generally speaking, experienced composers and producers export all their MIDI to audio by the end of their project process.

Layer your orchestral sounds with one of the 6 Best Choir VSTs Of All Time!