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Choosing the right sound libraries when composing for TV & film

Published by @prwirepro on

July 23rd, 2019 — Choosing the right sound libraries when composing for TV & film

Having an arsenal of fantastic sample libraries, and VST instruments help me to compose for music for TV and film.

I spend a lot of my time in the studio in front of my computer and having every instrument that I would need helps my workflow and remain creative.

With thousands of libraries to choose from I stick to two rules… I have to love how it sounds and be able to use it in my compositions.

Sample libraries should be thought of as an investment, much in the same way as purchasing a new instrument.

I spend time researching, listening, and understanding how each instrument works to get the most out of the libraries. Truly understanding how each instrument works helps with my workflow, as I spend less time messing around with the technology, and more time doing what I love… composing.

It’s also crucial that you have a unique pallet for projects, and I spend a great deal of time creating my own libraries as well as using off the shelf products. I also process quite a few of the off the shelf products as well – this means that I have sounds that are unique.

This blog I’m focusing specifically on instruments, not to worry though, I also talk about the sound effects every TV and film composer should have.
Spitfire Audio

I would regard Spitfire as one of the leading companies that create sample libraries. They put a great deal of thought into what is needed, how they sound, and how they function.

They are continually releasing new products that are relevant and have produced some brilliant supporting tutorials and demo videos.

I’ve found that their products integrate brilliantly into Kontakt, and if you do have any questions their support team is, in my opinion, the best in the industry!

Some of the Spitfire products that I use are:

Albion I
Albion II
Albion III
Symphonic Strings
Symphonic Woodwinds
Symphonic Brass
Hans Zimmer Percussion
Spitfire Percussion
Ambient Guitars
British Drama Tool Kit
I also use Spitfire Labs instruments (which are free):

Pedal Pads
Music Box
Scary Strings
Modular Piano
Peel Guitar
Frozen Strings
Synth Pads
Electric Piano
Amplified Cello Quartet
Soft Piano

I use a large variety of the products 8Dio create. I’ve found the solo instruments to be particularly exceptional.

8Dio always has sales, which make these products affordable to everyone.

Here are some of the 8Dio products I use:

Adagio Violins
Adagio Cellos
Adagio Violas
Claire Flute Virtuoso
Claire Clarient Virtuoso
Claire Oboe Virtuoso
Claire Bassoon Virtuoso
1928 Legacy Steinway Piano
1969 Legacy Piano

Arturia makes some of the best software synths. I couldn’t recommend their products highly enough. I’ve found their software emulations brilliant.

The Arturia product that I use is part of the V Collection:

Jup-8 V
Vox Continental V
Matrix-12 V
Synclavier V
ARP2600 V
CS-80 V
Mini V
Modular V
Prophet V
Stage-73 V
Solina V

Like Arturia, u-he make incredible software sythns, and almost every film and TV composer is going to be using their products.

They are jam-packed with a vast variety of presets to get you started. But, I would always recommend that you spend the time creating your unique palette of sounds.

All their products are all excellent value for money, and you can’t go wrong investing in them.

The u-he products that I use are:


Cinesamples product great string sample libraries. I find their product very functional, and they sound great.

These are the Cinesample products that I use:

CineBrass Pro
ConeStrings Solo
CineWinds Pro
CineBrass Decent
VOXOS Epic Choirs
Native Instruments

Native Instruments have changed the way that almost every (computer using) composer creates music.

Not only do they provide Kontakt, but they have an extensive selection of great products. I like their pianos, drums and bass products.

The Native Instrument products that I use are:

Kontakt 5
Session Strings Pro
Symphonic Series Woodwind Ensemble
Berlin Concert Piano
New York Concert Piano
Vienna Concert Grand Piano
The Maverick
Upright Piano
The Giant
Alicia Keys
Vintage Keys
Vintage Organs
Action Strikes
Drum Lab
Abbey Road Modern Drums
Abbey Road 60’s Drums
Abbey Road 70’s Drums
Abbey Road 80’s Drums
West Africa
Scarbee Pre-Bass
Scarbee MM-Bass
Scarbee Jay-Bass
Scarbee Funk Guitarist
Rise and Hit
progressive Metal
Evolve Mutations
Evolve Mutations 2
Project SAM

Based in the Netherlands, Project SAM has a range of brilliant libraries. The functionality you get in the products makes them easy to use, and their tutorial videos are extremely helpful.

I use the following Project SAM products:

Organ Mystique
Concert Harp
Orchestral Brass
Orchestral Essentials
True Strike 1
True Strike 2

EastWest has an unbelievable product offering. For around £20 per month, you get 66 full products. Which is over 40,000 instruments, and 3 million samples, phrases and FX.

As this is a subscription-based service, you also get the added benefit of regular updates and new products releases.

I think that this is the best value for money for anyone, particularly students or aspiring composer.

As there are so many products, I don’t use them all, but I have found the choir, percussion, and sound design libraries to be useful.

These are the libraries that I use:

Voices of Opera
Voices of Soul
Spaces II
Voices of the Empire
Hollywood Choirs
The Dark Side
Fab Four
Symphonic Choirs Gold
Symphonic Choirs Expansion
Symphonic Orchestra Gold Percussion
Voices of Passion
BT Breakz
BT Twisted Textures
Drum n Bass
Ill Jointz
Aerosmith’s Joey Kramer Drums
Percussion adventures 1
Percussion adventures 2

Additional Content or About Us

Andy Wright a.k.a Apollo Studios. Film, TV and Commercials Composer, based in Leeds, UK
Working with you, I’ll compose the perfect musical accompaniment for your creative project. For me, it’s the magical, adventurous, and emotional music that makes the cinematic experience complete.
Working from my studio in Leeds, I specialise in composing for the moving image and collaborating with artists to develop their own songs.

I love creating outstanding music to give that little bit of magic to the visual content. There is nothing more exciting than taking a musical idea and turning it into a gem that grabs hold of the listener.

Please visit us online at http://apollo-studios.co.uk