This plug-in has quickly become a go-to for my clients who ask for realistic string and orchestral parts. It's simply the best orchestral sampler I've heard at this price point. And that's my review! Thanks for reading! OK, well, a few more details, adjectives, and qualifiers. I first came across this plug-in when looking for an easy way to sketch out some string parts for Lee Bob Watson's Aficionado album. Lee had some great parts outlined, and we trolled the interwebs in search of a reasonably priced sampler that offered decent string sounds. Our initial thought was that we'd compose the parts in Pro Tools, export the MIDI to a program like Sibelius, print the appropriate scores, and hire a trio or quartet to play. Well, that was all well and good 'til the budget ran out, and it became apparent that we had no money left to hire the caliber of musician we needed (not to mention the time to find the right players)! So we were left with these well-composed blobs of MIDI and some sub-par approximations of what real strings in a good room sound like. Enter Philharmonik Classik Edition. I'd had some success using the limited string sounds in IK's Sonik Synth 2, so I thought I'd download the Philharmonik demo and give it an audition. Our first listen through was on a track that began with a high viola and violin accompaniment and later blossomed into a full string section, ala Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin'". We dropped Philharmonik Classik Edition into the appropriate instrument track in our Pro Tools session, dialed up a credible-sounding preset, and listened back. I believe my first reaction was something along the lines of "Holy crap! That sounds great!" Long story short, we used Philharmonik Classik Edition on the album in lieu of real players. While this possibly creates some slippery ethical issues (I mean, hey, I can't afford a real Mellotron or a Fairchild either), one area we didn't feel compromised on was the sound. Philharmonik Classik Edition sounds great, whether you are using individual string or orchestra sounds (the woodwinds and pitched percussion are awesome!) or full-on ensemble patches. A high-quality reverb adds extra ambience if needed, but note that all of the samples were recorded in Dvorak Hall in Prague's Rudolfinum, and they have a warm sense of space that helps in mix placement and in chasing that elusive "depth of field". Bonus features include EQ and that unique single-knob compression effect that IK uses across many of its plug-ins. This particular edition is kind of an "introductory version" but still comes with 250 sounds and 1.5 GB of samples. I don't know if software can truly replace the magic of a real orchestra in a real room, but this comes pretty darn close. And for projects on a tight budget or for composers looking for affordable options, I'd have no qualms recommending Philharmonik Classik Edition. ($249 MSRP;

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