When I started this site, I thought about what kind of sample libraries I wanted to review here. I looked at the sample libraries I owned and mentally divided them into the ones I wanted to review and the ones I would probably ignore. My orchestral collection from Aria Sounds fell into the category of “ignore” for a simple reason: It was pretty dated and I didn’t see a lot of people mentioning these products anymore.
Then, a few weeks ago, I saw an email in my inbox that told me LSS Solo Strings by Aria Sounds was on sale at a major audio software discount site. I knew I had to write about this sample library now. Why? Because I’d like to keep you from buying it. That’s right; it’s not a good sample library and I don’t want you to buy it.
Okay, you can close this article now. But just in case you want to know why I am so harsh on this library, here’s what’s up: When I started investing more money into sample libraries in 2017, I didn’t really know what was out there. Orchestral library for cheap? Cool! I bought it. Sure, the demo didn’t sound amazing, but how bad could it be? In the worst case, I could still use it for layering, right? Ugh, wrong!
What makes a good orchestral library are things like a good recording quality, consistent samples, a good amount of velocity layers, round robins, articulations, a selection of microphones, effects, etc. At first glance, the LSS Solo Strings libraries seem to check a lot of these boxes. There are five articulations and four mic positions and the recordings seem to have a nice natural sound to them—at first.
The problems arise when you start playing around with it a bit and try to program phrases. There are noisy samples (I am not talking low background orchestral noise, I’m talking loud scratching noises), there are countless out-of-tune samples, and the biggest bummer is the samples are widely inconsistent. Short articulations have different lengths, long articulations often differ in tone from note to note, sample starts vary and velocity can be unpredictable. So even if you don’t want to do fancy stuff with your strings, there will be many things you can’t play because the samples are noisy or inconsistent in volume or just really out of tune.
This is especially bad because these are solo strings. Solo strings are not meant to be drowned out in a mix; instead, they are often featured prominently in sparser arrangement or as standout instruments in a dense mix. The problem with LSS Solo Strings is not that they are just mediocre sounding, it’s because they are pretty much unusable.
Anyway, if you’re not convinced, just take a listen (ideally on headphones or good monitors).
(Note: I was going to post a bass example because it was maybe the most solid legato example of the library, but after closing and opening the project again, the bass notes started behaving weirdly, dropping in and out at random times or increasing their volume suddenly.)
Here is a cello pizzicato line. What’s special about it? The quiet notes have a velocity of 107; the loud ones have a velocity of 108.
Example Cello 2:
Another cello line, this time a spiccato patch. I am only playing one note (which is repeated), so why are we hearing two?
On to the viola. Are these notes supposed to be in tune? Also, please listen to the extreme scratching noise in the last note.
Example Second Violin:
It’s hard to believe, but I’m repeating a single quantized note here.
Example Second Violin 2:
Second violin, this time long articulation. The first note has a percussive noise at the beginning of the samples; the second note has another string noise in there.
And, finally, first violin. A simple, quantized line with fixed note lengths:
Example First Violin:
I really didn’t want to write about this library at all, so I’m gonna stop here.
For fairness, I will include this video by ThomCofficial, however. He clearly put a lot of effort into this and shows how you can make the best out of a suboptimal sample library:
Also, here are some more opinions from VI Control.
There are so many great orchestral and string libraries out there these days; you don’t need to settle for this. If all you have is $40 to invest in a string library right now, you can wait, get a Composer Cloud Subscription, or check out one of Spitfire’s cheaper releases. You don’t want to spend that $40 on LSS Solo Strings because you’ll be $40 poorer and still won’t have a decent string library.
- natural sound on the first glance
- multiple mics
- many samples are noisy
- tuning issues
- very inconsistent performance
- overall not on a professional level
Sound quality: 2.5/10
Overall Rating: 2.5/10
Value for money (at $39.99): 2.5/10
Format: Kontakt 4+ (full version is required)
Size: 16 GB