Garritan Personal Orchestra 4 review


Today I’m checking out another product from

One of the questions I get asked, at least 1 or 2 times a week is “what instrument is good for strings and orchestral stuff?”

Now, we know there are tons of huge orchestral libraries available, but I have a feeling that many aren’t really looking for something that deep…or expensive.

Enter Garritan Personal Orchestra.

Garritan has been around for quite a while, I had some garritan libraries back in the akai sampler days, and it’s always been a huge bang for the buck.

Being able to deliver a complete orchestral library for a size and price that works for pretty much anyone, is a task in itself.

So let’s check this one out

What is Garritan Personal Orchestra 4?

In short, this is a complete orchestral library that can easily run on your laptop/computer without bringing it to it’s knees.

It includes every major instrument of an orchestra like brass, strings, percussion, keyboards, and woodwinds.

It let’s you build your own ensembles as well as has some preset ensembles for quick creation.

The idea is for you to have access to all the parts/instruments you need to make a complete orchestration (or add any part of an orchestra to your productions), without needing to go anywhere else.

Quick Specs

  • content: over 200 instruments, 3.5gb of content
  • format: vst, au, rtas
  • price: $149

How does it sound?

This is really all that matters and to my ears this orchestra delivers. I’ve had the opportunity to play with and use multiple orchestral libraries, some of the largest ones around, some that cost a pretty penny, but I wasn’t even the slightest bit let down when playing this library.

Sure some of the larger libraries offer a little more in terms of various forms of articulation instruments, etc, but that comes with a cost of size and loading time.

This library has plenty of articulation and real time control build in using midi cc, sustain pedals, and key switching.

For me a great orchestral library has to have good sounding strings, solo and section, as well as some nice brass and woodwinds.

I know these aren’t the only sounds in the orchestra, but if these sounds aren’t useful then an orchestral library fails in my opinion.

That said, all 3 of these categories are very useful in GPO4, and with the addition of the ambiance/reverb effect engine you can really dial in the sound you’re looking for.

I like how they give you different individual players in the sections so that when building your own ensembles you get a realistic sound.

While the GPO brass on it’s own has a great sound, the addition of some addition brass instruments from  Project SAM gives you another level of sound and feel to add to your projects.

I thought the solo violins were pretty good and definitely on-par with some of the dedicated solo string libraries I’ve come across in terms of initial sound and tone.

So what’s the bottom line?

For many, this may be all the orchestra you need. The sounds definitely have a realistic feel to them, and I’ve had many who tell me some of the larger libraries sound almost too “perfect” for use in their productions.

So while many larger libraries are aimed at film and media users, GPO4 seems to be aimed at anyone who wants a realistic orchestral library, from film to pop music.

The sounds “fit” in a lot better than some of my larger libraries, so I find myself going to it more in most production settings.

The fact that the instruments load as fast as they do is also a huge plus.

I give this instrument 4.5 out of 5 subs, it’s really a useful library.  The pricing keeps a quality orchestra library within the reach of anyone from pro to hobbyist, without sacrificing sound quality.

The ARIA interface is nice, and it seems like you would be able to use their other libraries right from the same interface which is plus as well.

The ease of mixing your own sections, adding reverb, and tweaking each part quickly makes it very easy to use.

Definitely check out the demos and videos at Garritan’s website: Garritan Personal Orchestra

And check timespace for pricing, a lot of the times you can find a great deal, especially if you don’t have to pay VAT 🙂 GPO4 at timespace

They are also having a Christmas deal where you can get GPO4 and Jazz and Big Band for around $217 (no VAT) check that out too Garritan Christmas Bundle

leave a comment below and let me know what you think, I definitely think this is worth a look for anyone who wants some quality orchestral instruments without the huge price tag.


  1. Its Ok for the price and is suitable, but after listening to the sounds it doesn’t sound as lush to me as the EastWest/Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra Silver which is the lowest priced edition of all the Symphonic Orchestra software ($175) (11 GB).

    Still its not a bad buy if the need was there and someone that needed a quick Orchestral library that took up less space and could not afford one of the higher priced libraries.

    Appreciate the review.

    • @Madbull Studios, yeah I’ve rocked with EW too, my thing about them is, everything has a huge reverb on it, even the “dry” samples, and that makes it harder for it to “sit in the mix” when producing. For straight up epic/film style instruments, it’s dope for sure, but if you just want some good orchestral sounds that don’t overpower I really like how the Garritan sits.

      But it’s all preference for sure 🙂 I’ve used quite a few orchestral libraries, this one can definitely hold it’s own and even at times is a bit more versatile due to the fact that the dry samples are actually dry.

      thanks for the input as always!

  2. Hi man. You can get a reduced version of this library with dimension LE (Cakewalk). They call it “garritan pocket orchestra”. They have some monthly promotions, I remember this year they sold DLE by $20 or so. So you can get a taste of it at a very nice price.

    • @Metatron72, word, thanks for the reply. Garritan been at it since the days when samplers maxed out at 32mb of ram lol, so they know how to get a good sound in a small space, there’s something to be said about that.

  3. Hey Joe, what program do you use to record your monitor? Do you have a sound card with it? and a mic? I can’t record audio when I use a screen recorder. Was wondering if you could help me out. Thanks bro. Good review, loving the brass!!

    • @HipKnokerZ, I use Camtasia Studio Pro, I’ve been using it for years way before I had this site, it’s the best in my opinion. It supports recording your system audio as well as mic input, but to get the best sound I just stream my audio into reaper and record it there and let Camtasia just capture my mic audio. I have a soundcard that supports routing audio anywhere on my PC so I just setup reaper to record the streaming audio from the instruments and let Camtasia capture my voice.

  4. Hey man – thanks for the tip. It’s definitely not the most elaborate – but it’s lightweight, easy to use, and the sounds are really good for the price. I bought this a couple days ago, and it was only $99. Well worth the investment – I’ll get a lot of use out of it.

  5. I’m looking to see if GPO is 16 and/or, 24 bit samples. I’m using Hso at this time but they’re only 16 bit. It was included in my copy of Cubase 5 as a 90 trial. To upgrade the samples to 24 bit would be too much money to justify.

    At $150. however, GPO full version at 24 bit is a no brainer.
    Please advise?

    • @Guest, not as hard hitting as some other libraries I’ve come across, but again, just depends on if you like the sound or not. You can tweak them to your liking, and layer things to get a harder/bigger sound too.

      • @saintjoe, Well I don’t want to tweak anything. I want an orchestral package with just the best sounds. I want to start making music right away. But I really like the Interface of Garritan Orchestra. Reminds me of Edirol Orchestra. I looked at Eastwest Symphonic Orchestra Silver. But it needs an iLok usb stick to activate the software. I already hated this when trying out the Cubase trial. Also the interface of Eastwest seems a bit confusing… But as I can see the Garritan Orchestra is the only one that has a low price, simple interface and many orchestral instruments.

        • @Guest, well “best” is subjective, but the “best” usually isn’t the lowest price. But if you like what you see in GPO I say go for it, if you find you want something else you can always move into a different product. At least you’ll be able to get started with GPO and if you feel you lack something you can make up for it with another library.

  6. I have read on several reviews that the garritan samples sound dry. And Eastwest sounds more hollywood like because of the reverb already on the samples. Now I would like to know, can I get the hollywood sound also with garritan by simply turning up that send button you mentioned in your review – so rising the reverb effect? Or what is it making the samples sound warm, wet and hollywood like?

    • @Guest, this is a true statement. You can add reverb/space to the GPO sounds, but they will not sound like EW orchestra. All due to where they were recorded I guess. If you really want that wet hollywood sound, EW is a better deal.

      They usually have deals on Symphonic Orchestra Silver, recently it was on sale for 97 bucks, you can usually get it for around 100-150 on sale.

  7. Hello saintjoe again :),
    thank you for the helpful replies already. Could you tell me whether Kontakt and EW Symphonic Orchestra do have the same amount of instruments/articulations? Would I miss something when buying Kontakt/Komplete?

      • @saintjoe, well I can live with that. I mean it is not like that huge difference is it? In this comparison video they sound almost the same:

        And it looks like I get more for the money from the komplete collection. There is also Band sounds and world sounds. Tough I am more interested in orchestral at the moment and I am still playing around with music… Synths don’t really interest me tough they come with Komplete…

        I am still not sure, but maybe I choose Komplete to be settled for many musical situations/genres/styles. Or maybe I try Garritan to play around – that one isn’t that expensive actually.

        • @Guest, well I believe Komplete is better for an all around collection, but if you want specifically orchestral you may want to look at EW…but again, there is some orchestral stuff in Kontakt and it’s useful, I like the sound of it myself, it’s from a collection of Vienna Symphonic Library so the quality is good.

          • @saintjoe, Hello again, just wanted to tell you that I got GPO and will play around with it for a while. When I think I am ready I will make a jump the Complete Composers Collection of EastWest. EW seems to me having the best sound quality and so many instrument sections and that word creator for choirs seems great.

            But what I dislike about Garritan is you have to use the mod wheel instead of the key velocity… So I would have to play with one hand… But the Ensemble presets are good, especially when played all at once.

            And I will also have to think about how I get that disk space for EastWest 🙂 I am using a notebook and cannot insert their delivered disk. And external harddrives are slower because of the slow usb speed.

            Thanks again.

            • @Guest, Cool man, glad to help. With EW, you can just get the DVD and install internally if you have the space, you don’t have to buy their internal drive. But yeah…you can make GPO work man, the ensembles are def cool sounding, just plenty of options out there but of course the prices keep going up, up, up 🙂

  8. Great review! I just bought GPO4 and have to say it’s an incredible deal from any point of view. Even the included Steinway pianos alone make it worth.

    I am using Notion3 for composing. It comes with a great library from the London Symphonic Orchestra, but it’s also fully integrated with GPO and a few other libraries, So I end up with a nice collection. I’m pretty happy.

    I found GPO better than Miroslav in some ways. Some Miroslav instruments are beautiful, but in GPO the samples are cleaner and without all that reverb.

    The only drawback I found until now is that trills and temolos in the solo strings are handled in a different way from section strings, and haven’t found a way to produce a violin solo trill or tremolo from notation.

  9. The attacks are way too slow on almost all the samples, and they have no starting point
    one can choose, one is stuck with very slow attacks. One cant hear the bow on the
    strings of the violins as I thought. Very clean and classical sound. I find it much
    more interesting with greater sound to arrange strings on a Korg Legacy M1 in fact!


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