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Garrison Orchestral Strings Update

Sample Library By Mark Wherry
Published September 2002

What does a sample developer do after creating an acclaimed orchestral strings library? Take a holiday? Not if you're Gary Garritan...

The Garritan Orchestral Strings library, originally reviewed in SOS May 2002, set new standards for sample libraries. Although it's unusual for sample developers to produce updates in the way that software manufacturers do, this is exactly what the Garritan team have done with this free two-CD update.

GARRITAN ORCHESTRAL STRINGS UPDATEThere are several new instruments included in the update: some based on the sampled material from the first release, and some featuring 'new' samples from the original sessions. One of the few criticisms of GOS, like many Giga libraries, was the lack of looping. This update answers a couple of these concerns, and 'sustain loops' have been added to all the Lite GIG files, for example.

Possibly the most welcome additions are looped versions of the first violin, second violin and viola Grand Detaché instruments, named as 'Grand Sustain' instruments. These are the work of GOS user Ashif Hakik, and are fantastic for defined, sweeping romantic phrases, where longer sustained notes are necessary (Ashif didn't loop the cello and bass instruments, however, as he found the sample length sufficient). Only two velocity layers are provided, but these seemed perfectly adequate. I love these new instruments!

Ashif has also programmed 'aggressive' short-bow bass, cello and viola instruments, modified from the original samples to provide faster attacks. While I noticed a few artefacts out of context, these aggressive short bows lived up to their name when used in context.

Additional slides are now included, along with instruments featuring extended and exaggerated ranges, plus some custom patches created by TV composer Jeff Beal. Other notable highlights are the new 'tender' long bowed instruments, based on the original p/mp samples, which are ideal for softer and more intimate phrases.

With this update, GOS is now the first string library to include release trigger samples, which can be added to the existing instruments in the library to add extra, albeit sometimes subtle, realism to the bowing. And if realistic ambience is your goal, you'll be pleased to find three impulse response files (two concert halls and a vintage Hollywood soundstage) supplied by renowned acoustics expert Ernest Cholakis. I tried these out with Nuendo's Acoustic Stamp facility and got some good results when applied to otherwise dry final mixes.

Cherries On The Top

MaestroTools is now Windows XP compatible right out of the box — however this current version is untested on Windows 2000, though the Garritan team expect it to work. MaestroTools now installs MIDI drivers directly on all versions of Windows, doing away with the need for MIDI 'loop back' utilities.

For those who run Logic, one inventive user has recreated MaestroTools-like functionality in an Environment, which is particularly useful if you run Logic and GigaStudio on the same machine.

Part of the update is labelled 'Friends of GOS' and includes contributions from third parties. There's a sample string-writing lesson from Alexander University, which gives some brief advice about closed and open-voiced harmony, and a short excerpt from Paul Gilreath's The Guide To MIDI Orchestration. Dave Govett has contributed a sample video tutorial about crossfades from his recently released GigaStudioMastery CD-ROM, and Chicken Systems have provided a special Windows and Mac demo version of Translator. Although this version doesn't allow you to convert any files, it does allow you to browse and audition GIG files.


The only aspect that struck me as a shame is the fact the update's documentation is supplied as a PDF file, rather than a set of pages that could be added to the GOS binder. Clearly, if that's my only real complaint, it's safe to say that I'm generally impressed by this update. Despite the presentation, the documentation is actually very good, providing clear instruction on how to install and apply the updates.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect to this update is the community spirit demonstrated, with users extending the original material to suit their needs, and feeding it back into the library to share with everyone else. This has resulted in a wide variety of new 'treasures' to explore, albeit one that, you could argue, lacks a definite focus. If you're a registered GOS user, you should already have received your free update; and with the whole library (including the updates) still available for the cheaper introductory price of £666, there are now even more reasons to buy GOS if you're looking for the ultimate string library.


  • Grand Sustain instruments.
  • It's free!


  • None worth mentioning.


A varied, interesting collection of additions and improvements make the already great GOS library even better.


Giga CD-ROM (18-CD or two-DVD set) £665.99 including VAT.

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