The Komplete bundles already come with some incredible libraries like Symphony Essentials, Action Strings, and more. But they might not have the right type of sound or robust features you’re looking for.
Thankfully, there’s a butt-ton of Kontakt string libraries out there. Many of them have that big Hollywood sound people like. Others are a bit more unique and offer something different.
Quick Look: The Best Kontakt String Libraries
What Are the Best String Libraries for Kontakt?
I’ve tried many Kontakt string libraries over the years, and I’ve narrowed down this list to four of my favorites. Each one offers something different and helps diversify your composer toolset.
1. CineStrings CORE by Cinesamples — Best All-Around Symphony Strings
CineStrings CORE gives you everything you need in a full orchestral string library at a fairly reasonable price.
The strings themselves were recorded in the MGM Scoring Stage in Los Angeles, giving you a full classic Hollywood sound.
Patches include basic articulations (Spiccato, Staccato, Legato, Sustains, etc.), True Legato, Pizzicato, Col Legno, and Harmonics.
The two I’d like to point out are True Legato and Harmonics.
- The true legato is one of the best legato patches I’ve used in a string library, rivaled only by EastWest’s Hollywood Strings. CineSamples did some meticulous work to capture every possible interval on each instrument.
- Plus, there’s also the Polyphonic Legato mode. As the name suggests, the program uses the legato transitions while playing multiple lines at once.
- Harmonics are another extended string technique that doesn’t get talked about enough. It’s a unique string sound that offers different textures to your tracks.
CineStrings may require using additional CC controls to get the best results. But when you figure it out, they sound like magic!
2. Hyperion Strings Elements — Budget Pick
If you’re on a tight budget, look into Hyperion Strings from SoundIron. It’s an incredibly versatile library that sounds fantastic for the price.
Hyperion Strings was sampled from a medium-sized orchestra comprised of 23 players. It features pretty much every articulation you’d ever need, along with some true legato sustains.
All in all, it’s a well-rounded library for scoring nearly any project. And at a cheaper price point than most other string libraries, it’s incredibly accessible to students and newer composers.
Hyperion Strings Elements is already a great deal. But if you want something even cheaper, you can check out its little brother, Hyperion Strings Micro. For half the cost, you get the same orchestra with fewer articulations and features.
3. Spitfire Chamber Strings — Best Chamber Orchestra
If you’re tired of hearing orchestras that sound “big”, “epic”, and “powerful”, Spitfire’s got you covered. Spitfire Chamber Strings offers the most realistic, detailed, and beautiful-sounding chamber ensemble I’ve ever heard.
The ensemble size is much smaller compared to typical symphony orchestras: only 16 players total. This gives you a more intimate and focused sound.
You’ll also find a full collection of articulations for each instrument. On top of that, you get multiple mic positions that capture different details from the strings and concert hall.
While it won’t replace your symphonic string libraries, Chamber Strings is a fantastic addition to any composer’s toolbox.
4. Tokyo Scoring Strings — Most Unique String Library
If you’re a fan of Japanese anime and video game soundtracks, you’ll recognize the specific sound that Tokyo Scoring Strings is going for.
The orchestra itself was sampled from the Koichiro Muroya Strings, the ensemble behind scores like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Attack on Titan, and Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Tokyo Scoring Strings has a more focused sound than most other Kontakt strings. That’s because of two main reasons:
- The string sections are smaller than a typical symphony orchestra
- The recording studio (Sound City in Tokyo) is smaller and more intimate than most Hollywood and European studios.
In an industry flooded with bombastic symphonies and epic orchestras, Tokyo Scoring Strings is a breath of fresh air.
- Also Read: Super Audio Cart: Is It Worth It?
Honorable Mention: Orchestra Essentials by ProjectSAM — All-In-One Orchestral Libraries
Orchestral Essentials is a collection of samples from across ProjectSAM’s other products, including the higher-end Symphobia series. It’s a fantastic library if you need a full orchestral suite on a budget.
Unlike the other libraries on this list, it covers the entire range of the orchestra. This includes brass, woodwinds, and percussion.
The string samples are recordings of the full ensemble. So no individual patches for each section.
That said, the samples themselves are top-notch! You’ll find some standard articulations like arco, staccato, and pizzicato. Plus, there are some unique soli sounds like Legato Flute + Violin and Legato Cellos + Basses.
Orchestral Essentials also offers unique full orchestral ensemble sounds. These are mixed samples with multiple sections performing together.
Some of my favorites include:
- Warm Sustains for lush, beautiful orchestral swells
- Short Chords for hits and stabs
- Epic for heroic fanfares and melodies
On its own, Orchestral Essentials 1 has plenty to work with. But, you can expand your sonic palette with its companion, Orchestral Essentials 2. Here, you’ll find even more unique ensemble patches and sound design tools.
Why We Chose These String Libraries
This list is by no means a comprehensive directory of Kontakt string libraries. These are just instruments I happen to have some experience with.
In my opinion, these libraries will give you everything you’ll ever need for scoring nearly any type of project:
- Action cues
- Lyrical & emotional pieces
- Fun, bouncy, and comedic tracks
None of these string libraries are carbon copies of each other, either. Each one offers something different and gives you new tools to work with.
Having just two or three of these libraries gives you a robust toolset capable of any job.
How to Pick a String Library
Ask any composer what the best Kontakt string library is and you’ll probably get a different answer each time. Everyone has their favorites.
The real answer?
Just pick one and move on with your life.
Some composers are addicted to buying new libraries every time they go on sale. The problem is, they have to relearn each new library and overcomplicate their workflow. It wastes time, and it wastes money.
You’ll get far more value from mastering a handful of libraries than you would constantly fussing over new ones.
So… What Are the Best Kontakt Strings?
There are dozens of string sample libraries out there. And they’re all functionally the same.
But for my money, the best all-around Kontakt string library is CineStrings.
While it’s a bit pricey, it’s still half the price of other premium libraries.
Honestly, I’ve never felt like I was disadvantaged or held back by it. Because of that, I’ve never felt a strong need to “upgrade” my string library when using Cinestrings.
Can’t say the same for most other string libraries.
The strings sound lush and beautiful. And you’ll have every articulation you’ll ever need.
Plus, they’re easy to blend with almost any other library out there.
Check Out These Other Sample Libraries
Looking for more instruments and sample libraries? We’ve put together additional resources to help build out your instrument collection:
- 5 String Libraries That Don’t Require Kontakt — Some premium alternatives to the orchestral string libraries on this list.
- 5 Free Orchestral VSTs You Can Download Right Now — You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to get quality string libraries. These are some awesome picks that are absolutely free!
- Kontakt Libraries for Retro Video Game Music — Discover more Kontakt libraries for making music inspired by retro video games.