Best Service – The Orchestra Complete 2 By Sonuscore
When it comes to orchestral libraries there are certainly a huge choice available, with a variety of flavours for all tastes, and prices to suit every budget.
Some offer the ‘build it yourself’ approach, where working with the library requires you to compose your work by layering solo or section instrumentations, in a more authentic foundation to rooftop compositional style, which certainly has it’s merits in allowing you to lay down exactly what you want, where you want it, with beat by beat control of each and every note, and this is great, but can be time consuming and project dependent, with possibly more taxing demands on your knowledge of musical theory.
Next, there is the ensemble method, where each of the orchestral sections are layered in oven ready sample patches, which still provide reasonable levels of flexibility, and can also speed up workflow.
Then comes the phrase based technique, which whilst being extremely realistic, as you are essentially overseeing the placement and pitch of very cleverly scripted high quality pre-recorded phrases , can instead somewhat limit the options of using your own original melodies.
Finally, there is Sonuscore’s take on orchestral scoring, which seems to cherry pick the best elements of the above methods, rolling them up into one lock, load and play sample library. This offers the potential of fast, semi-assisted orchestral composing, together with the added flexibility of using a variety of presets from both single and multi articulations, for those more detailed compositional brushstrokes.
The Orchestra Complete 2…
The Sonuscore orchestra has gone through several iterations to get to it’s current and most advanced version.
Having originally been recorded in Budapest at the Studio 22 complex, this 80 piece orchestra maintains the traditional instrument seating plan.
Through updates and content additions, the Orchestra Complete 2 seems to contain pretty much everything you could wish for if you want to create larger than life orchestral music without necessarily having in depth scoring knowledge.
In fact, this library might well prove itself ideal if you inadvertently find yourself stranded on a desert island, with a modest spec computer that also happens to have a solar powered laptop battery!
The Orchestra Complete 2 remarkably takes up just over 14Gb of disk space, and requires Kontakt full version or Free Kontakt player version 6.2 to run. It also has NKS compatibility for use within Komplete Kontrol,
The 24,500 plus individual samples are recorded at high quality in a proprietary compressed format, although the sample and bit rate is not specified, the quality appeared fine.
When it comes to quantity of presets there is certainly no shortfall here, there are master NKI files for The orchestra Complete 1 & 2, but there are also instrument category folders packed with articulations and derivatives for strings, brass, woodwinds, keys/harp, percussion, choir & fx which are also in .NKI format.
There is then a further folder of Kontakt .NKM multi presets, divided into three folders that host Orchestral colours, Orchestral Rhythms and Animated Orchestra patches that total 230, these of course will need to be used from within Kontakt alone, as Komplete Kontrol cannot load .NKM Kontakt multi’s.
Last but not least, for Komplete Kontrol use, the snapshots folder houses an incredible 478 presets, so plenty to work through there should the rescue from your desert island get a bit delayed, or you perhaps deliberately choose not to send your message in a bottle straightaway!
Download & Installation…
Sonuscore operates through Best Service who are their Partner & vendor, so you will need to create an account there in order to download your product from their site. You initially paste in the serial provided in your purchase email, and Best Service then release both the download links, and also issue your Native Access product authorisation code, which you will require for the final installation step.
There are a bunch of RAR files, and the usual procedure here is to unpack the first, which deploys a domino effect on the remaining archive files, leaving you at the end with your fully assembled ‘The Orchestra 2’ sample library folder.
Place this library folder in your preferred location on your system, and then initiate the usual authorisation within Native Access, to complete the process and begin scoring.
Komplete Kontrol Browser & Plug in Edit Controls…
Knob 1 & 2 – Vendor & Product
Knob 3 – Bank: Multiple Articulations, Single Articulations, The Orchestra Complete 2
Knob 4 – Sub Bank: Bartok Pizzicato , Brass FX, Col Legno , Flutter Marcato , Flutter Sustain, Harmonic Marcato , Harmonic Sustain, Harmonic Tremolo , Keys, Legato, Marcato, Muted Marcato , Muted Staccato, Muted Sustain, Percussion, Pizzicato, Staccato, Strings FX, Sul Pont Spiccato , Sul Pont Sustain, Sul Pont Tremolo , Sustain, Tongued Staccato, Tremolo , Trills, Morin Khuur High | Low Ensemble, Animated Orchestra, Orchestral Colours, Orchestral Rhythms
Knob 5 – Type: Bowed Strings, Brass, Flute, Organ, Reed Instruments, Mallet Instruments, Percussion, Piano/Keys, Plucked Strings, Sound FX, Vocal
Knob 6 – Sub Type: Pipe, Cello, Double Bass, Viola, Violin, Ensemble, French Horn, Trombone, Trumpet, Tuba, Grand Piano, Concert, Bassoon, Clarinet, Oboe, Bell, Kit, Timpani, Female Choir, Male Choir, Orchestra, Glockenspiel, Harp, Wind Ensemble, Mixed Choir
Knob 7 – Character: Acoustic, Arpeggiated, Sample Based
Quite a healthy selection of instrumentation there I think you will agree, and the detailed level of categorisation is appreciated when filtering to find a specific instrument or certain orchestra section.
It is interesting that all of this content can be boiled down to just three entries in the ‘character’ category which for me questions the viability of it’s existence as a separate database field, or rather suggests that it could be replaced in favour of the ‘Banks’ category for A-series and M32 owners, which would be of far greater benefit overall.
Plug-in Edit Mode NKS Parameter Assignments
There are a couple of different NKS mapping templates for The Orchestra 2, which change depending on what type of preset you have loaded from the three different banks. I will list them accordingly below:
Multiple Articulation Presets
Page One – Equalisation & Reverb
Knob 1 – Equalisation On/Off
Knob 2 – Low Gain
Knob 3 – High Gain
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Reverb On/Off
Knob 6 – Reverb Mix
Knob 7 & 8 – Unallocated
Single Articulation Presets
All as per Multiple Articulation mappings (above)
The Orchestra Complete 2 Presets
Page One – Volume
Knob 1 – Slot 1 Volume
Knob 2 – Slot 2 Volume
Knob 3 – Slot 3 Volume
Knob 4 – Slot 4 Volume
Knob 5 – Slot 5 Volume
Knob 6 to 8 – Unallocated
Page Two – Panning
Knob 1 to 5 – Pan Control for Slots 1 thru 5
Page Three – Send & Reverb
Knob 1 – Slot 1 Send
Knob 2 – Slot 2 Send
Knob 3 – Slot 3 Send
Knob 4 – Slot 4 Send
Knob 5 – Slot 5 Send
Knob 6 – Unallocated
Knob 7 – Reverb On/Off
Knob 8 – Reverb Return
Page Four – Equalisation & Compressor
Knob 1 – Equalisation On/off
Knob 2 – Preset 1
Knob 3 – Preset 2
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Compressor On/off
Knob 6 – Threshold
Knob 7 – Make up
Knob 8 – Unallocated
If you just read through the available NKS parameters included with TOC 2, you may be asking where are the multiple microphone controls, the sample offset or tightness mappings that you might generally expect to find within an orchestral sample library.
Well, there truth is that there actually aren’t any , which would account for TOC2’s ability to squeeze so much content into such a modest data footprint, and also the very fast preset load times.
It also explains the apparent shortfall in NKS mappings, particularly with the Single & Multiple Articulation bank presets literally having just the one page for only rudimentary tweaking of the equalisation and Reverb parameters.
The Orchestra Complete 2 bank presets offer a little more by way of layer mix levels, layer panning, E. Q, Reverb and Compressor controls.
Despite this apparent sparseness, I did not feel that TOC2 overtly suffered from any truly catastrophic accessibility show stoppers, certainly not in the basic functionality and playing stakes.
Where we do miss out, is in the ability to make use of the TOC2 Arpeggiator/sequencing section, so the creation of our own orchestral loops and rhythms is sadly out of reach for now.
This is not really down to Sonuscore, but more of an inherent limitation of what NKS is capable of with the user interface versus hardware assignments, and we frequently see this in most libraries that offer in GUI sequencing facilities.
A possible future solution might be to create this midi based data within our DAW, and potentially import it, but the current UI does not accessibly support this approach, so we will have to for now live with the supplied presets, of which there are at least a healthy supply to ease the pain.
Using The Orchestra Complete 2…
If we look at the three available banks within TOC2, there are three separate types whose related presets offer different usage capabilities.
In reverse order, although arguably order of importance, for me the engine room of TOC2 is the bank sporting it’s library namesake.
The Orchestra Complete 2 bank and sub-banks play host to a large collection of tempo synced as well as static thematic orchestral arrangements and instrument ensembles.
The style and genre of which are suggested by their preset title , rather than having any specific mood based filtering in the Komplete Kontrol browser, although the non-accessible GUI browser does have more complex filtering capabilities.
These patches are spread across your keyboard in pitch ranges that reflect their position within the orchestra, from double basses to piccolo flute and everything in between.
You could argue that some of this pre-programmed sequenced content reflects a good number of orchestral musical tropes, however if you listen to a cross section of orchestral scores, just as in standard pop, rock or even hip hop, many are in common use, with this in mind it would be unfair to level criticism in this respect, as they all have their musical place and applications, and serve to provide essential core beds for general score writing.
Everything here has a storytelling use case, and perhaps more importantly has the potential to spark further creative ideas.
Sonuscore have overcome Komplete Kontrol’s inability to load Kontakt multi .NKM files, by scripting the TOC2 interface in a way that allows for the loading of individual instruments into five possible slots.
As I mentioned previously, we are currently unable to influence what each of these slots contain, either by loaded instrument sound or music and rhythmic sequences.
We can however,control the levels, which effectively removes any of the five elements that are present within any given preset, which has the possibility to go onto then alter our perception of an overall mix/mood.
Just as an example, removing some rather up front bombastic sounding brass, to leave just a light string pad and Arpeggiated piano can emotionally change the mood entirely.
These tempo synced presets (created in a variety of time signatures) despite being pre-programmed, do allow you to play in such a manner where you will still have entire control in being able to dictate the key and major/minor chords of the overall theme, so you are not bound or restrained in any melodic sense.
I did note that the Kontakt .NKM file presets found within the multi’s folder, contained patch names that were not duplicated within the Komplete Kontrol environment as snapshots, so potentially there could be a whole bunch of further presets to explore, if only we could load them within KK, rather than just Kontakt.
The Animated Orchestra and Orchestral Rhythms sub-banks handle all of the tempo-synced and moving rhythms within TOC2, with the Orchestral Colours sub-bank serving to provide instant complimentary ensembles and instrument mixes, which are freely playable without having the sync pre-enabled.
These are particularly useful, as you can go from having a tightly orchestrated rhythmic section, to a freely played down-tempo section that feature similar instrumentation , by having the rhythmic section in one instance, and the free play section in another, each on separate tracks.
The reverb in TOC2 can be mixed or turned off completely, leaving quite dry sounding samples, this is great news, as it then allows you to apply your own choice of ambience with greater control than that which is afforded by the default reverb.
The equalisation, despite being limited to just low and high controls, does nevertheless provide a semblance of emulated distance when applied to the multi and single articulation presets, however the E.Q. did not seem to do very much when applied to the animated orchestra patches.
By default CC1 is assigned to the mod wheel to control dynamics for those gentle or even more aggressive fades, which is usually standard practice and good to see.
Single & Multiple Articulation Banks…
These two banks do exactly what they say on the tin, the multiple articulations bank containing all instruments and articulations, which can be changed using key switches on the lower end of the octave, and for me at least this was the preferred way to work.
The single articulations bank, also contain everything, but each articulation has it’s own dedicated preset.
TOC2 has an abundance of instrument content, lively sounding brass which includes the newly added evil and rasping ‘Horns of Hell’, rich string sections, melodic and tonal woods, harp, mallets and even a full new pipe organ with 10 articulations, and not forgetting the healthy palette of percussion sounds, all making for a full roster of everything you will need to make your own authentic orchestral scores.
As usual I will provide some links to video content at the footer of this review. Sonuscore’s own product page has some very good demos, but there are also ample independent reviews that really do showcase the sound and musical potential of the library.
All essential articulations can be found for each instrument, either in the multi presets or individually, in a separate bank.
Sustain, Legato, Staccato, Marcato, Pizzicato, Tremolo, Trills, Sul Pont Sustain, Sul Pont Tremolo, Sul Pont Spiccato, Col Legno and Flam Marcato, all make welcome appearances in their relative instrument types.
TOC2 uses natural, as opposed to scripted legato. this to my ears is audibly more subtle, and in practice the transition between notes seem a little less pronounced.
As mentioned, The Orchestra Complete 2 now also includes the ‘Strings of Winter’ and ‘Horns of Hell’ libraries, these were previously available and sold separately as add-on content, so it’s nice that Best Service/Sonuscore have included them here in what is now their flagship product.
There are also some very useful orchestral FX presets, which provide naturally played Crescendi, risers, Falls, hits and trills etc, which can be used to add further dynamic realism to your tracks. It’s worth noting that this content is not tempo synced so if you want to synchronise a riser to fill a deliberate space in your composition, there may be a little jiggery pokery involved, but it is doable.
Thoughts & Conclusions…
I was really very impressed with The Orchestra Complete 2 as a one stop package.
being fortunate to have several orchestral libraries in my armoury that span price points both higher and lower than The Orchestra Complete 2, I feel this fills out the mid range price point well, with a raft of useful features.
I believe it is the ‘best of all worlds’ approach that Best Service/Sonuscore appear to have infused into the TOC2 package that appeals to me.
Yes, there are limitations with accessibility in terms of GUI access, that if somehow were made accessible, would certainly release even greater potential. Choosing and loading instruments into sound slots, engaging with the Arpeggiators and tweaking the more detailed editing parameters are something we all constantly hanker after in the majority of NKS products we purchase.
TOC2 does however still instantly provide the full power of an orchestra in an immediate and immensely gratifying way. Once you get over that initial power crazed feeling of knowing how John Williams must feel when stood in front of a scoring stage with a raised baton in his hand, you are likely to settle down and explore the rich creative potential of the very many presets, instruments and articulations this immersive library can offer.
Whether you are a novice orchestrator, or a seasoned pro seeking a processor friendly sketchpad, The Orchestra Complete 2 has something for everyone.
It’s a sample library movie score in a box just waiting to happen!
Best Service/Sonuscore ‘The Orchestra Complete 2’ can be purchased from the Sonuscore or Best Service web site at a price of 459.00 Euros, with various upgrade options for existing product owners
Sonuscore – The Orchestra Complete 2 Product Page:
The Orchestra Complete Review – SLR:
The Orchestra Complete 2 – User Manual:
(C) Chris Ankin
September 10th, 2020
The author accepts no responsibility for subsequent purchase decisions made as a result of this article,or Any inaccuracies found within this review. All opinions or product functions stated are based solely on information perceived as a blind user whilst using the product or gathered from official factual sources on the web or product manual.
About the Author
Chris Ankin has worked previously as a freelance review contributor with articles published in Sound On Sound, Home & Studio Recording and ST Format Magazines.