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Sonuscore – The Orchestra 1.1 (Review)

sonuscore the orchestra


The number of orchestral libraries has been growing steadily for the few last years and the inherent innovation in this sector seems to be closely connected to the sheer quantity of recorded samples. With a huge arsenal of instruments, split into numerous articulations, you can create detailed scores and arrange your instruments in a way that the resulting track sounds incredibly realistic. There is a downside to these huge orchestral libraries, though: arrangements can become cumbersome and slow, the ease of simply sitting down in front of your keyboard and playing a few notes is often replaced by tedious programming and amendment of MIDI-data.

The Germany-based label Sonuscore tries to fill this gap with its KONTAKT Player library ‘The Orchestra’, a VST that, in their own words, constitutes “the easiest way to compose epic orchestral music“. Released in mid 2017, Sonuscore now has upgraded ‘The Orchestra’ to version 1.1 and in this review, we take the opportunity to have a look at the improvements and additions as well as the library as a whole.

sonuscoe the orchestra folder structure


As we all know, arranging for a symphonic orchestra is no easy task. Sonuscore tries to simplify the process and has developed a unique approach to improve the creative flow when composing epic soundtracks. The library consists of two major ‘scopes’, that tackle different needs of a struggling composer and complement each other in a delightful and surprisingly seamless manner.

sonuscore the orchestra main interface

The unique selling point of ‘The Orchestra’ is the first scope – an almost casual approach to arranging an 80 player symphonic orchestra. Instead of presenting the overwhelmed user with a multitude of different instruments, it merges the orchestra into a single instrument and lets you choose pre-made phrases and rhythms. By changing articulations and volume of each instrument with a mouse click, the color and tone of the ensemble is easily modulated.

Don’t get me wrong. These are no pre-recorded phrases, but each instrument is connected to an elaborate arpeggiator that triggers the articulation of an instrument. In addition to that, you have envelopes at your disposal to program the dynamics. All phrases are essentially programmed patterns that react to your MIDI-input intelligently. And every pattern can be customized to your liking.

sonuscore the orchestra arpeggiator envelopes

You can switch between 3 groups of presets: Orchestral Colors, Orchestral Rhythms and Animated Orchestra. While Orchestral Colors are essentially ensemble configurations that play exactly what you play on your keyboard, Orchestral Rhythms will instead play the notes you hit, but with a simple pattern. Animated Orchestra contains the most elaborated patterns of the three groups, resulting in fully arranged symphonic patterns when hitting a single note or chord.

The second scope is the composing of orchestral instruments in the traditional way – having all the articulations like staccato, legato, sustained and portato laid out individually for strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion.


As a classical composer myself I am somewhat sceptical towards pattern-based orchestral arrangements. They often turn out to be too inflexible and repetitive. To be honest, when working with libraries that have these pre-recorded phrases I tend not to use them. However, with ‘The Orchestra’, this was different. I wondered how I could convey my growing enthusiasm when working with this software – and I figured a proper example would serve this purpose best.

example score the orchestra

I used this simple three-voice-cadence and fed it to ‘The Orchestra’. What you hear in the example is one instance of the library with different patches from the Animated Orchestra. All three following examples play the same simple MIDI sequence you can see above as score.

EXAMPLE 01 – Animated Orchestra [Discovering The Past]
EXAMPLE 02 – Animated Orchestra [Elves Marching]
EXAMPLE 03 – Animated Orchestra [Men Of War]

This is just playing with the shipped presets – without tampering in any way with all the possible settings you could change. The Animated Orchestra and, in a simpler way, the Orchestral Rhythms are a fantastic way to compose harmonic sequences with the satisfying sound of a full symphonic orchestra. And the thing is: These patterns are really good. What I mean is that this is not only a nice toy to play with and afterwards you’d have to arrange your score in the traditional manner. No, these patterns are well crafted and can easily be combined with solo instruments that are customized in detail.

Take the sequence I used earlier: I set [MIXED Basic 8th Triplets] from Orchestral Rhythms for the basic MIDI-sequence (first 30 seconds of the next example). Then I added a Solo French Horn, BRASS Basic 8ths Triplets, Glockenspiel, Orchestral Harp, Cello and Non-Pitched Percussion (next 30 seconds of the example).

EXAMPLE 04 – Arrangement

‘The Orchestra’ gives you the ability to work with a versatile, customizable pattern-based layer and add your solo instruments on top of it – a workflow that can be surprisingly intuitive and satisfying.


The free update implements several useful additions to ‘The Orchestra’. User Presets of patterns can now be saved, exported and imported. Due to popular request, triplet patterns were added in Orchestral Rhythms and in the Arpeggiator. The main UI now has additional mute and solo buttons for convenience. In the Settings you will find new customization options for controllers and a humanize-button to add random parameters to the engine. The newly introduced separate outputs for instruments will improve your workflow in mixing. And on top of that, an entire new instrument, the Glockenspiel has been added to the library.


Of course, the aformentioned disadvantages of pattern-based orchestral music are still legit. When you arrange more than just a quick sketch (like in the examples), you will have to invest some time into diversifying your patterns. The most beautiful and elaborated pattern will be boring after having been played over and over again. You don’t want your track to consist of the same rhythmical sequence from start to finish – and sometimes you may not even need the patterns after all…

Another thing is the percussion instrument. With timpani, a Taiko, Toms, Bass Drum and Cymbals the percussion runs a bit short compared to the rest of the instruments. It feels a bit like a forgotten section of the orchestra and can’t compete with the diversity of strings, woodwinds and brass instruments.


With a price tag of $399 The Orchestra resides in the mid-range level of orchestral libraries. Its unique approach to pattern-based composition and the well executed UI are highly satisfying. Be it for quick musical notes or full orchestral arrangements in detail, this library is an excellent tool to carve out your next epic score. Find an additional library for percussion and you will be prepared for both musical prove-of-concepts as well as finalized orchestral arrangements.

Sonuscore’s The Orchestra is available through the Best Service online store.

13 comments on “Sonuscore – The Orchestra 1.1 (Review)

  1. Danny Guerrero

    Gentlemen: Am highly interested in the purchase of the Sonuscore orchestra. My concern is that I currently run Mac OS 10.9. As I understand it, the basic version(no upgrade to 1.1) will run on 10.9, whereas 1.1 needs OS 10.10 or better.
    Please advise, thanks
    Danny Guerrero

    • epicomposer

      Hi Danny, I think if you were to purchase The Orchestra now, it will be delivered in its 1.1 version by default and therefore requires Mac OS 10.10 to run. Is upgrading from Mavericks to El Capitan no option for you?

  2. can i use the orchestra for notation in sibelius?

    • epicomposer

      You can absolutely use the multi-sampled instruments in The Orchestra for notation. However I doubt that the orchestral loops included in the library would transfer properly notation-wise.

  3. Hello there,
    It seems this is a nice orchestra and since I’m just starting out I’m wondering if this is the one for me. I was thinking of OT Inspire 1 or 2 or both.
    Why do you think I should let SonuScore Orchestra. I see it works with Dorico.

    • epicomposer

      Hi Kenneth,

      though both, Sonuscore’s The Orchestra and OT’s Inspire series are developed to provide a broad overview of the entire orchestra and its most important playing techniques, I’d say that each of the libraries excels at different areas. While the Inspire series seems a bit more versatile in sounds (solo instruments, extended playing techniques, etc.) and is therefore slightly more expensive (Inspire 1 & 2 combined), The Orchestra is unparalleled with its Animation enginge that let’s you create complex orchestral rhythms and arrangements in no time. I’d suggest having another look into the walkthrough videos to find out about the different features. Think about which one of the products might help you the most when composing orchestral music and go for this one. Hope I could help! Cheers!

  4. Hi there,

    I have some questions on
    First of all, whatever multi I load, all panning is straight in the middle, you would expect this kind of plugin to start with the default orchestral positions, but apparently, that’s not the case – is that normal ?
    With the possibility of individual outputs (& also with setting up my own panning preffs), I tried to save multis with pannings set, and the recall them. Same for setting individual outputs (up to 15 different channels) , save as multi, and later recall.
    I used the normal Kontakt save multi for that.
    None of these actually recalls anything I have set myself … that’s a bummer.

    Do you know of some other way to save&recall (your own versions of) the multis present in Orchestra ?

    (I’m not talking about saving machine settings in a “single instance” as a preset, it’s the whole set of 3 instruments).

    Have been looking at this for days now, without result …

    • epicomposer

      Hi Johan, have you tried reaching out to the Sonuscore/Best Service support with your issue? They’re usually pretty quick and helpful!

      • Haven’t found any customer support at Sonuscore themselves, will try Best Service.
        I take it you don’t have a direct answer to my questions – that kind of worries me though (with respect to your exposure & experience with many libraries …)
        Hope Best Service will give their best service 😉

  5. Epicomposer, I writing you again and haven’t gotten a Orchestra library yet, but I’m listening more and one new library called Nucleus by Audio Imperia sounds great. If I purchase The Orchestra can I Composer what I want and feel I’m not cheating like having this library that is already put together and orchestrated and all I have to do is write and I hear what I’ve done.. Sounds great, but I know there is no complete and perfect library that does it all. From what I can see every composer or film composer has many libraries at their exposure and I’m just starting and it is like playing Dominos. Maybe I’m just trying to jump in water that is cold meaning just go ahead and try. Hope I’m not Confusing. Courage for me to dive into orchestrating and not give Up. I hope you can put my puzzling music mind so I can move forward… Thank you,

    • epicomposer

      Hi Kenneth, I think the most important part of starting as a composer is – like you put it – to jump in and just get going! Of course, most composers have access to a plethora of sample libraries since they a) might need special tools for specific tasks and b) want to layer different libraries for a more unique sound. But having a lot of libraries at hand doesn’t automatically make good music for you. Much more important than owning all the libraries out there is KNOWING what you have at your disposal and composing to your library’s strengths. The Orchestra, Nucleus, Red Room Audio’s Palette and Spitfire’s Albion One are all amazing toolkits to start with. Just go with what sounds best to your ears and fits your needs the best. Regarding The Orchestra: while not having the most deeply sampled instruments of the lot, I think the library stands out as it offers great starting points and inspiration with its pre-arranged sequences – especially for beginners. Using those is definitely not cheating! Instead, it’s a great way of learning orchestration from professionals since you can listen to what every section is doing exactly. Cheers and good luck to you! M

  6. Peter Daniels

    Great review – thanks Manuel.
    It sounds great but,as your mentioned, how might one best great a diverse score that changes across more than the 32 step modulation capabilities? Is the main option to load and use different instances of TO across the song’s timeline?
    Forgive me if I am ignorant with this…
    Cheers, Peter

    • epicomposer

      Thank you, Peter! You’re not at all limited to the step sequencer of the patch since you can load up as many instances of the sample library as you like – or as your system resources allow. This way you can load up different instrument sections or rhythms across your music project.
      Hope that answers your question!

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