I’ll be frank with you, there are only really a handful plug-ins that come close to being the best choir VST, so let’s check them out here. There’s also a free choir VST option listed at the end, because the mentioned choices aren’t cheap. But if you need a flawless choir sound and have the money, I would highly recommend picking one of these choir VSTs.
Why are there only a few choir instruments worth buying?
It’s all in the features. Aside from having a great deal of articulation and control, the number one thing of value is the ability to generate actual, understandable words. This isn’t a new feature, just a very compicated one to produce from the software and sampling side of the equation. So, with that in mind, let’s dive into the list of best choir VST.
Eastwest Symphonic Choirs. $500.
This is hands down the number one choir VST in the world. It has more articulation choices than most people know what to do, ranging from microphone placement to all forms of sounds, whispers, vocal percussive sounds and so forth. What makes it absolutely spetacular is the WordBuilder though.
Using this built in WordBuilder, you can literally write out lyrics in plain English and the orchestra will produce those words right there for you. The WordBuilder has a fairly limited vocabulary in addition to a phonetic alphabet that works with it, so most basic words in English can be reproduced.
Pro tip: For words with multiple syllables, you break them across notes and key releases. I try to stick with single syllable words or sounds. For working with Latin I work with phonetic gibberish instead of using the WordBuilder’s built in phonetic alphabet.
For example: O Fortuna velut luna statu variabilis…
Becomes…. O for two na bay lit Lou na, Stay two bay Lee ah bo lease.
I have all of the lyrics transliterated like this. It works out just fine in the end. Symphonic Choirs will set you back around $500, but Eastwest also has student discounts which are completely worth it, if they apply to you. The sound library for Symphonic Choirs comes in at an impressive 40GB.
Requiem Light Symphonic Choir. $197.
Requiem Light is a professional symphonic choir library specifically designed for epic cinematic scoring and dramatic trailer composition. Whether you use it in your studio or take it on the road, it has a rich, dynamic cathedral choir sound that’s equally perfect for achieving soaring fortissimo power or sculpting delicately soft melodic detail. This library is powered by the Native Instruments Kontakt Player engine.
This library includes three true legato vowels, a variety of classic vowel sustains and staccatos, single-syllable Marcato words, long poly-syllabic Latin sustains and fast, aggressive Latin staccatos, as well as a big selection of classic and uniquely creative dynamic choral effects, a great collection of emotive solo soprano and tenor polysustains and a selection of sound-designed atmospheric pads, drones and choral atmospheres.
All of this content is wrapped in a newly redesigned intuitive and flexible graphical user interface for easy parameter shaping, real-time articulation layering and switching, fluid legato, customisable section blending and a fully-integrated syllable and phrase step sequencer. We’ve also included our modular FX rack, including 119 of our favourite custom reverb spaces. With a clean and responsive interface, pristine acoustic fidelity and excellent vocal performances, Requiem Light is your new go-to for classical and cinematic lead choral arrangements.
Interval – Les Femmes. $129.
Interval Les Femmes isn’t quite like anything else you’ve played. It is Insa, Mel and Basia – 3 wonderful female artists who have exclusively performed for this lovely and intimate choir instrument. Strictly speaking Les Femmes is a choir instrument, just layer some unique voices and you will achieve a rich, intimate and bright choir.
But Interval Les Femmes is much more. Inspired by contemporary compositions Interval pursues a new approach into building sounds. It is hard to explain, but in the broadest sense, Interval Les Femmes lets you build unique voice harmonies, organic choir patches and inspiring vocal atmospheres. You can do things with it you can’t do with anything else.
Antares CHOIR Evo. $73.
CHOIR Evo is a unique processor that turns a single monophonic voice into 4, 8, 16, or 32 distinct individual unison voices, each with its own pitch, timing and vibrato variations. When multiple instances of CHOIR Evo are assigned to individual harmony parts, the result is an amazingly realistic large vocal ensemble. Please Note: You must have an iLok USB Smart Key to use CHOIR Evo
Free Choir VST Instrument: DSK ChoirZ.
While you are saving money for one of the above VSTs, what is a starving artist to do? Go to the ‘Free’ section of course! While DSK ChoirZ doesn’t have any way to articulate words, it sounds like a choir and it gets the job done. It’s back to the basics but it sounds good and it works. You can download this VST on their site here.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many DAWs come with their own instruments. Be sure to figure out what you already have while you’re saving for the big toys.
Free Choir for Kontakt
In April 2019, Dave Hilowitz sampled his own voice 16 times (352 notes) and turned it into a choir patch. It comes in two versions. The Kontakt version requires the full version of Kontakt 5.3.1 or later. The more minimal SFZ version can be used with the free Sforzando VST plug-in. The whole library is only 68MB because it only has 1 velocity layer and doesn’t include round robins, so it doesn’t really compete with the commercial offerings listed above, but it’s great library to put a quick idea down, without getting bogged down in endless options.
When deciding which best choir VST you choose, let me leave you with some thoughts from someone that writes a lot of music using orchestral and choir elements. It’s all about whether or not the instrument is believable!
Does using one of these VST instruments give you the tools you need to trick your listener to thinking that you recruited a hundred people to sing for your piece? If you work them right then yes, you can! The implementation of words can definitely help create this illusion.
However, I do want to point out that there is a huge downside with using choirs in your tracks. If they are poorly mixed, and you don’t even bother with a word builder, you easily run into the problem of sounding utterly fake like a 1987 Casio choir.
My favourite technique for making the choir sound real and convincing is to properly mix it. Use the word builder and accompany that with one or two real people singing along with the choir. All of that mixed together will create a very large feeling and sounding experience.