ProjectSAM Orchestral Essentials review


So, I’m back with another review for you

Now, I’m pretty excited about this one because I’ve been a long time admirer of Project SAM libraries.

No, I have never owned one personally, outside of the free stuff they used to give away back in the day.

But I’ve always loved their sound, and Symphobia has remained on my wishlist forever!

So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw they had a new product called Orchestral Essentials, aimed to bring the Project SAM sound experience into the hands of the average consumer.

So enough talk, let’s peep it!

What is Orchestral Essentials?

It’s a scaled down, “essential” library of sounds taken from all of the premier Project SAM titles, grouped together into an affordable package.

It has sounds from Symphobia 1 and 2, True Strike 1 and 2, and Orchestral Brass, as well as new instruments not from any of the other products.

The idea is to provide an essential collection of instruments for anyone into film, game, and media production, as well as a great collection of orchestral tones for anyone doing pop, urban, electronic, or any type of music where authentic orchestral sounds are desired.

The main idea I think, is that instead of going “all in” for one specific library, you get very useful and essential sounds from all of the larger libraries, giving you a great orchestral workstation.

Quick Specs

  • content: 12gb (7gb ncw compressed)
  • format: Kontakt 5 and Kontakt player 5
  • price: $449

How does it sound?

Man…it sounds like your wildest dreams! Well…I guess that depends on what you dream about!

But really, this is the definitive orchestral library to start with if you need a broad collection of useful tones. I love that they recorded the sounds as ensembles, instead of solo instruments and trying to stack later. I’m a huge fan of ensemble recording because it just has a more realistic feel to me.

The strings have an epic and airy feel about them, but not too drenched in reverb to where they don’t fit equally well in film or pop music.

I love the fact that you have controls built into each instrument, directly in the Kontakt interface so that you can tweak the fx, the round robin, the eq, even an octaver to quickly fill out your parts with more notes.

The brass is large and cinematic as well, and I love that each section of the library also has a legato instrument included.  Now the theme of this library is ensembles, chords, octaves, fx, and things of that nature. If you’re looking for a collection of solo instruments then this is not for you.

Let’s not forget about the percussion, the sound design, the keyboard, and the woodwind sections. All stand on their own and you can tell they come from a spectacular legacy. Being able to have access to all these sounds that not only sound great on their own, but sound great together as well, is very beneficial to anyone’s workflow.

The recordings are high quality, the sounds just have a very rich tone to them, and they instantly sound “professional” without any tweaking needed. Though the ability to tweak is also very welcomed.

What’s the bottom line?

This is it! I always get asked what is a good all around orchestral library that “isn’t super expensive”.  A lot of the time, budget orchestral libraries either leave a lot to be desired sound wise or they just don’t cover everything well.

Not the case here.  The fact that Project SAM has some of the best standing libraries in multiple areas of the orchestra really shows in this library.

Usually, you’d get a collection where maybe the percs are weak, or the woodwinds, or maybe the strings are awesome but the brass is lacking. However with Orchestral Essentials, each section is pulled from an award winning larger collection, so each one stands on it’s own in quality and usefulness.

Bringing them all together in a smaller dedicated package allows anyone to get their hands on some super realistic and professional sounding orchestral instruments.

I give this library 5 out of 5 subs without a doubt, it sounds amazing, it’s easy to tweak, and it’s just plain fun to play!

Having the “best of the best” from brass, to perc, to strings, to full orchestra all in one package makes it very easy to find the orchestral sounds you need, quickly!

Not to mention the all new multis included….instant inspiration and straight up BOSS status!!

Plus I like the fact that it’s easy to navigate and you do not have to worry if you don’t know all sorts of orchestral terms and individual articulations. The library is really easy to understand and use.

As you can tell, I’m totally convinced with the Project SAM sound, and thought it took me a while to be able to truly experience it, I’m glad I did, and you better believe I’m hooked.

With Orchestral Essentials amazing sounding orchestral parts are no longer limited to those with huge budgets and even larger server farms to hold the library. Clocking in at 7gb of disk space, anyone with a contemporary laptop can access these incredible orchestral instruments. To me that’s just plain crazy! I remember when orchestral libraries required their own computer or multiple computers for space and ram requirements.

Go check it out on their site and also play around with it on try-sound:

leave a comment below, let me know what you think




  1. Yes, ProjectSAM are gold, I love Symphobia 2, everytime I fire it I just get hit by great ideas and love playing with it. The Orchestral Essentials look like hell of a lot of fun to and I know their top quality sound because it’s ProjectSAM.
    Thanks for the review Saint Joe.

  2. Nice, the sounds are very authentic.
    However, like any good sound set, it comes at a price $$$$ But it’s worth it for a good program, you get what you pay for. Nice revue Saintjoe, for film this got to be the one…..Keep it coming bro….To Be Continued. Peace & blessings.

  3. FISHER the Sandwich · Edit

    Another winner you’ve found.
    I was listening to it with my 2 monitor speakers first, then I turned on my subwoofer and it was crazy audio quality;Real full! I will have to save up for this monster library…mos def!
    The price seems to be fair for the quality you get.

    • @FISHER the Sandwich, yeah man, when you get into these types of libraries, it can get pretty expensive, but this is definitely on the lower end of the price spectrum. The sound is simply amazing though!

  4. St. Joe you did real good with this one.. I’ve also had the Symphobia Bundle on my wishlist for a long time but there always something ahead of it priority wise when your talking about that price point. I can justify dropping $500 on 1 super high quality and versatile instrument /plug (i.e. Omnisphere and some of the UA plug ins I’ve been really satisfied with like the Studer A800) in but once you jump over 4 figures my priorities shift to processing power, AD/DA conversion, summing, etc. Let’s face it, the market is changing, there are a lot more of us “full time but not big time producers” who demand high quality and are willing to pay for a product like this. This is one of the first times I was actually blown away by the sound coming out of a video demo. My copy is downloading now, i’ll be sure to come back after i’ve had time to go through it. Thanks again fam!

    • @Ghost Beats, I definitely agree, the industry has changed so much that everyone can have access to the same tools man. And like you say even those of us “full time but not big time” still need high quality tools. You’ll love this man, it’s really awesome!

  5. SJ: All the best quality sounds for that major production has been delivered in this one. The price is fair what you are able to create with this essential kit. Another great video from “S&G”.com

  6. @SJ u weren’t kidding man, I do love it. Anyone who’s on the fence about this should def grab it, u wont get this caliber orch library anywhere else @ this price point.

  7. Hey saintjoe, this seems awesome for my category of orchestra and plugins, i already have symphobia and its awesome (though it took me some time to understand how it was properly used) But i was wondering if orchestra essentials would be a great add on to my collection, or just another symphobia…

    • @md2x, yeah man, it has some new instruments, as well as stuff like the brass, perc, and keys from some of the other lbiraries. They said it’s a good compliment. I don’t have Symphobia myself so I can’t directly say, but it seems to be a nice “expansion” to Symphobia.

  8. it’s really cheap for the content and the sound quality , i’ve been a lot into orchestral instruments recently to find the perfect one i want to buy, i checked east west , vsl , sample modeling … stuff but got nothing of top notch like this under 900 $ i found the my winner product with this one no doubt , great review as always fam

    • @Mark, I prefer it to EW symphonic personally, I find EW to be drenched in natural reverb, which is cool for some situations, but I like to have a bit more control over the space of the orchestral samples.

      • @saintjoe, that’s a great point, so have the instruments been recorded without reverb? My friend uses EWQL and gets fantastic results, but we did take a session into a studio as stems and the reverb caused problems, I didn’t realise that EWQL samples included natural reverb?

        BTW this is a really fantastic resource for musicians etc…


    • @richard, thanks for your comment. Tell me is EWQL Symphonic the same type of deal, instruments from across the orchestra, like Project Sam and why do you think us cooler? Thanks man…

  9. i like ewql….but this is more pollished – it sounds bigger and the presets are all set real nice for soundtrack stuff….ew is similar to the vienna that comes with kontakt….where it’s all individual instruments, and you have to apply orchestration knowledge to get good sounds…….to me this just sounds bigger; i haven’t seen any library like this…….it sounds like a movie right out of the box….if i had to pick only one, i would have project sam…..i still don’t have it yet; but it’s the first larger package i’m buying next….prob in august….

  10. Once again I end up buying something because of your review. Thanks for the great work. And yes…I did smile. It’s absolutely amazing the tools we now have at our disposal.


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