You are here

Orchestral Tools Salu

Sample Library By Mark Nowakowski
Published June 2023

Orchestral Tools Salu

Orchestral Tools get up close and personal with some intimate soundscapes.

Orchestral Tools have recently been stretching out into new sonic territories, with their offering Salu, subtitled Close‑up Soundscapes, being the more adventurous companion to last year’s luminous Tallinn library. While Tallinn brought us the evocative and ethereal sounds of the world‑class Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Salu takes us to the Arvo Pärt Centre recording studio to explore more intimate and experimental musical textures. The library features solo strings, a string quartet, a folder of interesting and sometimes gorgeous voice instruments, keyboards, plucked instruments, percussion, and a final folder of processed interpretations. The recordings are dry and close, allowing for great customisation in the production process.

Collected Sounds

Beginning in the Strings folder, we encounter a String Quartet instrument capable of playing lush legato passages, stacked sustains, doubling at octaves, and a host of techniques from portatos to swells and even maj/min arpeggios. The ensemble unison sometimes limits the range, but the instrument is agile and plays beautifully. While a solo violin is not included, an effective solo viola and solo cello patches round out the capabilities of this folder. There is an unevenness of dynamics at times — such as the top dynamic layer of the sustain patches being outgunned by the volume of the arpeggio patches — but these are small concerns next to the deeply personal sound of these patches. Close and intimate is the key here, and the dynamics of the performances are tastefully restrained. A particular favourite from the solo instruments were the circular bowing patches.

The Voices folder contains male and female ensembles, a folder of extended techniques, along with solo alto and basso voices. Beginning in the Female Ensemble, each instrument is organised into unison legatos, sustain patches, different syllables, crescendo lengths, hums and swells. The solo voices sound great as well, although some odd chorusing and smear was encountered in the legato patch. Doubtless this will be addressed in a future update. As to the special articulations folders, they contained a number of techniques to supplement a standard choral instrument, with the irregular repetitions and cascading vowels a particular highlight of the folder.

A real highlight of the collection is the Plucked & Keys folder. The unison kannel/harp/piano patch has a breathtaking and shimmering immediacy; from the irregular repetitions to the minor‑key arpeggios, there is much to like here. The three instruments are also sampled individually: the solo kannel open arpeggios patch was full of soundtrack moodiness, while the irregular harp repetitions and octave drops sound great layered. The excellent solo piano is dark and moody, with rich and gorgeous irregular repetition and arpeggio patches.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the collection is the Percussion folder, which contains multiple techniques sampled across 11 instruments. Highlights include the sonorous soft‑mallet tubular bells, a velvety vibrato induced by dipping the bells into water, glock and crotale bends, bass drum played with a rubber ball, a vibraphone with random vibrato for each note, and a folder full of amazing thundersheet sounds: I predict the sound of bowed thundersheet will be popping up in soundtracks all over the place. It’s an exceptional collection which can deeply supplement any standard percussion library.

Finally in terms of sound design, the various synthesized textures emerging from this library provide some sound‑design glue to go between the natural recordings. Just go into the Evolving folder, for instance, and pick Upright Dreaming for instant sparkling piano accompaniments, or Tranquil Tides for an immediate evolving plucked pad for your next ethereal track.

Salu is a feature‑rich, varied and frequently beautiful library capable of richly supplementing existing standard instrumental libraries.


In the final analysis, Salu is a feature‑rich, varied and frequently beautiful library capable of richly supplementing existing standard instrumental libraries. If Orchestral Tools have made two mistakes, it’s in underselling the depth of their latest collection, and also not providing a convolution reverb to allow greater sonic matching with the Tallinn library. While the €478.80$399 price tag is appropriate for a library of this magnitude, the option to purchase individual instruments for as little as €26.40$22 is a more affordable way to sample these highly satisfying and musical virtual instruments.


Orchestral Tools Salu provides an intimately detailed set of musical tools to deeply supplement more standard instrumental libraries. The instruments are musical and highly playable, containing many surprising sounds. A few minor hiccups in execution will hopefully be ironed out in updates.


€478.80 including VAT.