VSL Opus 1 full review

The Vienna Symphonic Library Horizon Series Opus 1 Orchestra or, VSL Opus 1 for short, is the relatively affordable version of the already-legendary Vienna Symphonic Library. Only available for Logic’s EXS24 sampler on the Mac and GigaSampler on the PC, there are slight differences between the two platforms, but they are broadly speaking comparable. The advantage of using the Mac version is its integration with Logic. This is also its main disadvantage – it won’t work with any other software on the Mac. Nevertheless, it makes a great system, especially when used with Logic Pro and Emagic’s Space Designer convolution reverb, with its incredibly realistic-sounding halls.

Supplied on four DVDs, the library files are self-extracting archives – so you have to activate them before use. This process is buttock-clenchingly slow, however – it could easily take half a day or more to install, extract and set up the library.

Taken from the Orchestral Cube and Performance Set Pro Editions, Opus 1’s sample library is comprehensive. You get 25GB of strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion samples, including the Legato Performance instruments and a selection of the most important single-note articulations. There are major-scale legato octave runs for every key note on the chromatic scale played by the violin and viola ensembles; and for trumpets and horns you get fast repetitions and glissandi. Various less-popular instruments have been omitted and solo strings are missing – although these are available as a set on their own. Crescendos, diminuendos, grace notes, upbeats and other specialized articulations aren’t included either.

The standard set of samples includes single notes made using many different articulations and playing techniques. The Performance Set is where the real magic is created. Applied to the Performance Set samples, this tool accurately recreates legatos, portamentos, slides, glissandos, spiccatos, repetitions and so forth, letting you achieve the superb realism that the Vienna Symphonic Library is famous for.

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