13 Best Cello VST Plugins 2022

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Best Cello VST Plugins

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The cello is an absolute must-have in orchestral settings, a delight in ambient soundscapes, an emotional counterpart in acoustic singer-songwriter tunes, a dissonant distraction in horror / thriller projects, and much more.

With its four-octave plus range, the cello is the musical bridge between the viola and bass, and that makes it versatile for melodies, riffs, bass parts, comping, and a great deal more.

In this guide, we look at the best cello VST plugins.

Here's the quick version:

Best Overall:

Top Pick

Title

  • Composer: Cellist Mátyás Ölveti

  • 70 freely combinable phrases

  • 10 themes in different keys

Best Premium Option:

Title

  • 1,8553 samples in NCW format

  • Multiple FX and controls

  • Import your own samples

Best Budget Option:

Title

  • Composer: Jean-Philippe Feiss

  • 1,174 samples in NCW format

  • Great for horror and thriller applications

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Lyrical Cello Phrases by Sonuscore – Best Overall

Lyrical Cello Phrases by Sonuscore – Best Overall

Sonuscore created Lyrical Cello Phrases as your access to a world-class cellist.

The developer was challenged by composers to create a virtual legato cello instrument with a great sound, a faster workflow, and creatively inspiring features, and Lyrical Cello Phrases is their best effort in making these wishes a reality.

Cellist Mátyás Ölveti (with recording credits like The Elder Scrolls Online) was captured on this occasion, with 70 freely combinable phrases, including 10 themes throughout all key signatures, and two bonus themes.

Altogether, Lyrical Cello Phrases comes with over 70 phrases, 10 themes in different keys, and two bonus themes.

Legato may be its main function, but overall, this is a great, authentic sounding instrument.

You will need the full version of Kontakt to work with Lyrical Cello Phrases.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Nørdic Cello by Have Audio – Best Premium Option

Nørdic Cello by Have Audio – Best Premium Option

Based on their success of Nordisk Kontrabass, Have Audio set out to create Nørdic Cello, complete with a new ICE blend FX, Time Warp, arpeggiator, REVERSE FX, as well as quality reverb and delay algorithms.

Some of the new features include a drag and drop slot to import your own samples, loops, and expansion packs, ADSR, convolution reverbs, six new effects (EQ, compression, saturation, chorus, phaser, Leslie), four FX macros, and a new random mode in the arpeggiator.

The deeply sampled virtual instrument features 14.16 GB of content, 1,8553 samples in NCW format.

There are two patch / articulation categories. The first is Melodic, featuring True Legato, Harmony of the North, Staccato, Pizzicato, Tremolo, Sliding Fourths, Sliding Down, and Mixed Articulations (six main articulations in a single patch).

The next category is Textures, which includes Body Hits, Body Textures, Low Engines, Rises, and Bouncing.

FX and controls include two mic positions (solo / blend STEREO mic with DI), Ice for blending multiple samples, Time Warp, Arpeggiator (with five modes) up to 32 steps and four octaves, REVERSE FX, Dynamics control, 82 convolution reverbs, delay algorithm, six new effects with three controls, four FX macros, Envelope, drag and drop, and tempo sync for loops.

As you will soon discover, this virtual instrument can produce many different types of sounds. The onboard FX and parameters open all kinds of unexpected possibilities. See what I mean in the video below.

Nørdic Cello requires the full version of Kontakt.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Cello Textures by Have Audio – Best Budget Option

Cello Textures by Have Audio – Best Budget Option

Have Audio’s Cello Textures was created with dark, cinematic textures in mind.

Performed by Parisian cellist Jean-Philippe Feiss, Have Audio processed the material through modular synthesizers and analog effects pedals to create pads, soundscapes, and textures.

Cello Textures comes with three Kontakt instruments, including Cello Textures Acoustic, Cello Textures Electronic, and Cello Textures Dystopian.

Altogether, Cello Textures comes with 1,174 samples in NCW format, over 3 GB uncompressed content spanning three instruments, and three NKI files.

Keyswitches and sound banks include textures and effects, one-shots and granular textures, vintage drunken cellosynth, movement textures, distorted textures, distorted horror textures, dystopian pad, and PowerCello.

The built-in FX section features a filter, convolution reverb, infinite delay, delay feedback and distortion, convolution reverb, and special freeze reverb.

Overall, this is a freaky sounding cello library. You’d probably use this for horror and thriller applications, but you never know – you could try it for other projects. It can certainly do ethereal as well.

Cello Textures requires the full version of Kontakt.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Pathfinder Cello by Ben Osterhouse

Pathfinder Cello by Ben Osterhouse

Ben Osterhouse describes Pathfinder Cello as a rhythmic legato library, ideally suited to creating ostinatos and expressive phrases.

What’s cool about it is that you can feed it a chord and it will turn the chord into phrases based on the notes provided.

Pathfinder Cello comes with host tempo-sync microphrases, tempo sync multiplier, preset browser with over 108 presets, 2.4 GB of content, and 9,082 samples (each sample is a two- to four-second microphrases).

I could see this being a great virtual instrument for creating textural and rhythmic interest to your tracks.

Pathfinder Cello requires Kontakt Player.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Cello Textures by Ben Osterhouse

Cello Textures by Ben Osterhouse

Ben Osterhouse’s Cello Textures is a virtual instrument with various expressive cello articulations.

It comes with four cello articulations, each recorded with three tonal qualities (normale, ponticello, fingered harmonics) – Staccato, Accent, Dramatic Swell, and Slow Swell.

Each articulation can be octave shifted, reversed, or looped, and there’s an option to randomize articulations as well.

Altogether, Cello Textures comes with 971 samples at 48 kHz / 24-bit played on a Frederick Bethke cello, 770 MB of samples, five snapshots, and four impulse response reverbs.

As the name would suggest, Cello Textures is ideally suited to textural applications – perfect for backing tracks.

Cello Textures requires the full version of Kontakt 5.8.1 or above.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Legato Cello by Murst Instruments

Legato Cello by Murst Instruments

Murst Instruments’ Legato Cello is a monophonic, legato cello instrument focused on the expression and articulation of a solo cello. One close mic and one room mic was used to capture the bowed sound from the body of the instrument.

The instrument comes with three velocity layers, scripted vibrato, and add articulation.

Legato Cello also comes with effects, volume, envelopes, and FX sends controls, two octaves of monophonic Cello sustains, and modulation controls for the filters.

Legato Cello requires Kontakt Player.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

NOVO Modern Strings by Heavyocity

NOVO Modern Strings by Heavyocity

Heavyocity’s NOVO Modern Strings barely requires an explanation. It’s up there with some of the best (if not the best) premium strings libraries available. And it was developed as a bridge between the past, present, and future of strings sounds.

In total, NOVO Modern Strings includes 38 GB uncompressed content, 21,254 samples, 308 snapshot presets, 57 NKAs, eight NKIs, six sections (violin, viola, cello, bass, high ensemble, low ensemble), string designer, loop designer, sample browser, CYCLE page (advanced granular and rhythmic playback), and MACRO knob for dynamic multi-parameter control.

This makes NOVO a very customizable strings setup. Take advantage of the built-in traditional strings, hybrid string designer, and string loop designer to access a variety of sounds and tones.

NOVO Modern Strings requires Kontakt Player 5.6.6 or higher.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Zilhouette Strings by Cinematique Instruments

Zilhouette Strings by Cinematique Instruments

Cinematique Instruments’ Zilhouette Strings generously includes every recording of stringed instruments they’ve done to date.

Complete with seven violins, seven viola, seven cellos, and two basses, German session and live orchestra musicians were captured to create this entry. Various dynamic and condenser mics were used to capture the performance.

The separate instrument groups can be mixed based on your own needs. You can even change the seating and place them in an ambience.

Zilhouette Strings comes with three articulations – Shorts, Longs, and Pizzicato. The long variations are simple to use. All you need to do is move the mod-wheel and you will slide through all dynamic layers.

The Players option lets you choose between differing numbers of players, with options for Quartet (1/1/1/1), Full Range (7/2/7/2), Chamber Ensemble (6/2/3/1), Just Lows (0/0/7/2), and Just Highs (7/2/0/0).

Each instrument has its own volume slider for easy control. If you want to leave out single instruments or instrument groups, it’s easy to do.

There are two seating options – American and German. There’s also a “sweetness” function, which allows for the sound of the instruments from natural to sweet and smooth. There’s also a reverb with eight types.

Overall, Zilhouette Strings comes with three articulations, mixable instrument groups, five true players sizes / ensembles per articulation, two seating arrangements, and several reverbs.

A singular, cello instrument it is not. But there is certainly the option to use cello only if you so desire. And, to my ears, Zilhouette Strings sounds quite nice. Worth a look if you want a more comprehensive strings instrument.

The full version of Kontakt is required for Zilhouette Strings.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Sordino Strings by Sonokinetic

Sordino Strings by Sonokinetic

Sonokinetic Sordino Strings is kind of a unique entry in that the orchestral strings collection was captured with a Sordino (mute) on the strings. It was also created as a complement to Sonokinetic’s Orchestral Strings collection.

This baby includes poly-legato and auto divisi. They’ve included several MIDI functions, including MIDI import, MIDI manipulation, as well as a piano roll editor.

You can use the Runs engine to play chords and trigger runs that will play notes based on the specified chords.

The Phrases engine lets you construct Patterns, including 12 patterns autosaved. Up to 12 x 12 x 12 phrases can be shared between instruments and projects. If you own any Phrase-Based products, you can drag in phrases from those as well.

The instrument patches include first violins, second violins, violas, celli, and basses. There’s one orchestral string section recorded in divisi with mutes, including 16 Violins I – 12 Violins II, 10 Violas – 10 Celli, and eight Basses.

There are four recorded mic positions, including close, Decca tree, wide, balcony (far), and a pre-mixed Tutti version.

All in all, this is a versatile entry with an organic sound. Not a standalone cello, but a good strings instrument for a variety of compositional and songwriting needs.

Sordino Strings works with Kontakt Player or the full version of Kontakt.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Augmented STRINGS by Arturia

Augmented STRINGS by Arturia

Arturia’s Augmented STRINGS combines sampled strings with synthesized strings to deliver a fresh sound you won’t find anywhere else.

For composers, producers, and sound designers, the Augmented STRINGS multi-engine empowers you with the ability to build your own ensemble. This tool features two layers, each with two sound sources.

There are over 60 articulations, multiple mic setups, solo and ensemble performances, four types of synthesis, and built-in FX, for added versatility.

The Morph control is a powerful tool that lets you create huge soundscapes out of a single sound, move and transform between Layers A and B, and adjust up to eight custom destinations.

In creating the samples, Arturia used 22 musicians performing as soloists and as an ensemble comprised of double bass, cello, viola, and violin. Premium mics and preamps were used to record the instruments in a variety of positions.

The synthesis section comes with four synth engines including Virtual Analog, Granular, Wavetable, and Harmonic, inspired by Arturia’s own Pigments and V Collection of plugins.

Besides the Morph control, you’ve also got access to color, time, motion, FX, delay, and reverb parameters for fine tuning.

The dual engines can be adjusted within each layer. There’s click and drag modulation routing, an arpeggiator, two FX slots per layer, and macros.

Altogether, you’re getting a dynamic hybrid string instrument with two layers within each preset and two customizable sound sources, and detailed string sample library (solo and ensemble, with double bass, cello, viola, and violin, close and far mics, and over 60 articulations).

The synth engine includes a virtual analog synth with TAE technology, and a granular, harmonic, and wavetable engine.

The Morph control lets you move between A and B Layers and affecting up to eight custom destinations. There are seven more macros in the form of time, color, motion, FX A, FX B, reverb, and delay.

You also get two LFOs, two function generators, two random generators, four keyboard modulation sources, dedicated vibrato and tremolo, two FX slots per layer with 14 FX (ParamEQ, Bitcrusher BL-20 Flanger, and others), and dedicated delay and reverb sends with five spatial- and time-based algorithms.

There’s also a built-in 16-step arpeggiator, over 250 presets, MPE compatibility, and MTS-ESP ODDSOUND micro-tuning compatibility.

For the price, Augmented STRINGS is a steal of a deal. If you’re looking for a strings solution that’s going to set you apart from the rest, it’s well worth a look.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Hyperion Strings Elements by Soundiron

Hyperion Strings Elements by Soundiron

Created as a strings library for all types of users, Hyperion Strings Elements is a highly rated and highly favored strings solution for teaches, students, composers, producers, arrangers, songwriters, bands, and sound designers alike.

Hyperion Strings Elements includes a full ensemble preset, as well as four master and true legato section presets for eight violins, six violas, five cellos, and four double basses.

There are fingered and gliss true legato for vibrato and non-vibrato sustains, tremolo, short note speeds / styles, as well as modular dynamic expressions including crescendos, decrescendos, sforzandos, and swells.

Overall, Hyperion Strings Elements comes with nine master presets for ensemble, violins, violas, cellos, and basses, articulation maps, seating arrangements, arpeggio patterns, and FX chains.

There are 20,148 samples and 10 GB of content in 24-bit / 48 kHz stereo lossless NCW format, multi-dynamic sustains, multi-dynamic long and short staccatos, spiccatos and pizzicatos with loose / tight variants and 4x round-robin, Bartok pizzicato snaps, and Col Legno bow string taps with loose / tight variants and 4x round-robin.

There are crescendos, decrescendos, sforzandos, swells, all with time-stretching, tempo-syncing, and automatic release. You’ve also got free soundstage positions for each section with various FX environments, Adaptive Play Assist, and an Arpeggio system.

As an all-rounder strings solution, Hyperion Strings Elements is a very competent and useful solution. All things considered, it’s not too expensive either.

Hyperion Strings Elements works with Kontakt Player.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

String Studio VS-3 by Applied Acoustics Systems

String Studio VS-3 by Applied Acoustics Systems

As you can probably guess from the interface, Applied Acoustics System’s String Studio VS-3 is a synthesizer, namely a multitimbral synthesizer with unique string oscillators replacing traditional VCOs, DCOs, and operators.

The oscillators consist of picks, bows, and hammers interacting with a modeled string. The interface also includes a soundboard, classic filters, envelope generator, LFO, and effects.

VS-3 is the latest iteration of the plugin, featuring an array of new tools – two-voice multitimbral, new modulators, PEPPED factory library, signature sound packs, new browser, improved musicality of filters, compatibility with String Studio VS-2 sounds, improved microtonal tuning via Scala scale files, and expanded multi-effects module.

String Studio VS-3 also features 800+ professionally created presets, four signature sound packs, 22 synthesized sound categories, and much more.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

JJP Strings & Keys by Waves

JJP Strings & Keys by Waves

Waves’ JJP Strings & Keys was created in collaboration with Jack Joseph Puig. This has been set up to be an intuitive tool for shaping and bringing out your keyboard parts and orchestrations.

Whether it’s a delay effect to create more width, or some air for added ambience, there are controls that can help you quickly dial in and find your ideal tones.

This is an all-in-one multi-effect for keyboards and strings. While it might not be of much interest to those seeking standalone cello or strings solutions, it could come in handy for mixing and post processing, which is why I thought it might be worth highlighting.

Learn more: Waves

What Should I Look For In A Cello VST Plugin?

When it comes to cello VST plugins, ultimately, there are only so many to choose from. An argument could be made that some of the best cello VSTs are, in fact, strings VSTs. Lyrical Cello Phrases and Nørdic Cello are among the best so far as cello focused virtual instruments are concerned.

The plugins in this guide are all highly rated and competent, but depending on what you’re looking for, some of them may not apply to your situation. Strings Studio VS-3 is more a synthesizer than anything else, and JJP Strings & Keys is a multi-effect for use in mixing keys and strings.

To navigate the many variables that exist, as well as the confusion that can come from comparison shopping, we’ve identified three key criteria you should consider when shopping for cello VST plugins. They are as follows:

  • Sound quality
  • Features
  • Budget

Let’s dig into each.

Sound Quality

The most important factor of all is how the plugin sounds to your ears. Some will certainly sound better than others. Some will have a more realistic sound, while others will sound a little more synthesized.

No two cello or strings plugins are exactly alike, so once you’ve pinned down a few options you’re considering, it’s worth checking out the audio samples as well as video reviews and demos of each. This should give you a good idea how they compare to each other.

Since there are many plugins featuring sound design elements, it may be worth listening to more isolated monophonic cello elements, versus those mixed in with pads and atmospheres, as that should provide a better reference point (almost everything sounds good with pads behind it).

Features

Cello and strings VSTs can come with many extras. The list of items usually includes sound shaping parameters, effects, articulations, arpeggiator, presets, and the like. Of course, some developers have proprietary technologies, enhancers, and helpers they add to most if not all their plugins too.

If you want a plugin with more features, you will naturally pay more for it also. While you can always do sound sculpting using your own favorite tools, or by utilizing multi-effects like JJP Strings & Keys, it is convenient when you’ve got all the tools you need in one, convenient location.

The other tradeoff, of course, is that plugins with more features also tend to sound better. So, more is more, rarely is less more.

That said, there are options to complement every budget, workflow, or project. All you need to do is identify what you need for your projects, and it will make the purchasing process easier.

Budget

You simply can’t forget your budget when it comes to musical purchases. Cello and strings plugins come at different price points, from about $30 to $500. So, planned spending is encouraged. Never go into debt for a purchase.

Also remember – depending on your selection, you may need to purchase Kontakt (if you don’t have it already). Most cello and strings VST plugins have been created as Kontakt libraires.

But there are two versions of Kontakt, the free Kontakt Player, and the premium Kontakt.

Top Cello VST Plugins, Final Thoughts

Now you should have everything you need to purchase a cello VST plugin suited to your needs. With this purchase, you’ll be able to enhance your tracks with amazing strings sounds the cello is known for.

Don’t forget to spend some time messing around with your new plugin(s). It will help you figure out your workflow, which will only benefit your future projects.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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