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Harp VSTS have a very unique home in the music production world. They can be used effectively in film scores as well for modern music production.
Today we are going to be looking at the best harp VSTs currently on the market. There are some great options that can be used for all sorts of productions.
In my opinion, there are some pretty great harp VSTS that sound incredibly realistic. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of harps is the song, “Dust Land Fairy Tale” by The Killers. Yes, I know, the harp is used in many other forms of music, I just really love it in this song.
My Top Harp Plugin Picks
Note: The Links I have listed go to the top two plugin retailers: Sweetwater & Plugin Boutique. I prefer these for software over Amazon.
|Editor’s Pick||Harp By Elsyium||
|Runner Up||Harps By Garritan||
|Budget Pick||Bowed Harp||
Before getting into the best harp VSTS, let’s take a look at what exactly a harp is and when they became popular.
What Is A Harp?
A harp is a stringed instrument that dates back as early as 3500 BC. The crazy thing here is that harps are still extremely popular and they still have a place in modern music.
If you’re unfamiliar with harp VSTS, their main purpose is to emulate a real harp. Sound engineers capture the sounds of real harps in various elements to try and give you the most realistic sounding harp possible.
I have the opinion that VSTS are getting better and better with time. If you look at a lot of modern music production, you will find that producers are using more and more VSTS. While I totally get the love and need for real instruments, I think there is something super cool and fun with VSTS.
Things To Look For With Harp VSTS
Sound: The sound of the VST is going to be the most important thing to look for. Since there are so many other plugins that you can use to alter the sound, you will want to start with a good sound.
Effects & Dynamics: This is a department for VSTS that varies greatly depending on the price. Free VSTS and free DAWS are great, however, they are usually a little limited and they don’t allow for a ton of effects. The dynamics are important as they will allow you to make the sound seem more realistic.
If you’re a producer on a budget, you can browse my list of free DAW software here.
Price: The price will play a role in which harp VST you go with. It should come down to just how serious you are and what you can afford. It’s best to test the waters with a free VST before you dive in.
Best Harp VST Plugins
Elysium Harp – SoundIron
Elysium Harp should be a go to when it comes to harp plugins. This thing sounds incredible, however it comes with a steep price. I’ve had the pleasure of using this at my buddies house and I wanted to buy it immediately. If you’re into film scoring, you will love this.
Elysium Harp is a 47 string concert grand pedal harp virtual instrument. This is fully compatible with the free version of the Kontakt player. This is super nice as a lot of VSTS are starting to be compatible with the paid version only.
Elysium Harp was sampled with classic finger plucks, great sustains, and intense layering for each string. When you write a part using this harp you will notice how in-depth you go with it.
There are 3 stereo mic positions that you can switch between. To me, this is a VST that was well designed and thought out for the price. I don’t mind paying more if I’m getting more, which isn’t always the case. Elysium Harp warrants the price tag that comes with it as it is incredibly dynamic.
The sound with this plugin is top-notch. The attention to detail is insane in my opinion. I believe that this is the top-rated harp VST at the moment when it comes to the sound.
This is a VST I totally recommend if you can swing it. You won’t be disappointed in the sound and ability it gives you to create something that unique.
Grand Harp By Cinematique
Grand Harp by Cinematique is another go-to harp plugin. This is designed mainly for classical music as it has been sampled to do really capture the organics and dynamics of a real classical musician.
There are 7 articulations including:
- Plucked: Plucked With Fingers
- Fingered: Sharp and penetrating sound
- Pre de la table: Dry and nasally
- Xylophonique: Muted sound
- Prepared: Dissonant & percussive
- Harmonics: Warm & Soft
Overall, the sounds are spot-on. If you’re a fan of classical music composition, you will find yourself truly enjoying this plugin.
If you’re solely looking for plugins for classical music, I would recommend this. It’s brilliant sounding & I have used it countless times personally.
Harps – Garritan
Harps by Garritan is a VST that is more reasonable when it comes to price. I’ve noticed that a lot of people complain that their free VSTS can’t perform glissandos. If you’re looking for the glissandos, this plugin has your back.
This plugin is powered by the Aria player, so you don’t need to purchase an additional player. The good thing about this is that it saves you money if you don’t already have a player.
Because there is a direct correlation between ram and the amount of sounds that can be loaded, it is recommended to have a powerful computer or macbook.
I wouldn’t match the sounds up to the Elysium Harp, as I think they’re a grade lower. With that being said, you’re spending a quarter of the price, so it’s really something that you can expect.
I do think the sounds are definitely a few steps up from a free option, so if you’re wanting something that is above middle of the road, Harps by Garritan is a great choice.
This is for the music producer who doesn’t to break the bank on a harp VST. I think it’s a nice choice, but overall, it’s not the best option out there.
St. David’s Harp Hollow Sun – Free Harp VST
I had to put a free option in as I know that a lot of people will be looking for it. Personally, I’m happy to do so because I think the St. Davids Harp is actually a pretty solid option. It lacks a little bit in the sound department, but it still does sound like a harp more so than other free options I’ve tried.
To me, a free option is more so to get the idea down. Don’t get me wrong, if you totally fall in love with the sound of something and it’s free, use it. Just because you’re spending money doesn’t always mean you’re getting better quality.
I would say the sound is above average. It might not blow you away, however it has some great dynamics and effects that you can dive into.
This is a perfect option for beginners and people who don’t want to break the bank. So far, this is my favorite free harp VST that I’ve tried out.
Harp VSTS are super versatile and they can definitely elevate your game to the next level. The goal was to provide you with three options: an expensive, yet powerful harp VST, a middle of the road option, and a free option to let you get the hang of things.
Once again, my top pick is the Elysium Harp by Soundiron.
Do you have any harp plugins you’re using that I didn’t mention? Leave a comment below and let me know.
Just a few other options to beef up the list:
Orchestral Tools has a pretty extensive Harp: http://www.orchestraltools.com/berlin_series/libraries/berlin_symphonic_harps.php
EastWest Harp: http://www.soundsonline.com/hollywood-solo-series
I haven’t tried these due to their price, but for those who can afford and review them here, it would add to the options.
There is usually a Harp included in full Orchestral VSTs, but they are probably limited compared to dedicated ones.
Garritans Personal orchestra & Instant Orchestra both have them. EastWest Symphonic Orchestra has one as well as their “Goliath” Instrument, which has a little of pretty much everything. And Kontakts package of included instruments has 1 or more. Symphobia I, II & Lumina has a few somewhere in there.
Jim, thanks for the insight! I will be adding this in shortly.
Totally love Goliath and I have surprisingly haven’t tried EastWest Harp. I am addicted to EastWest pianos and I use them for pretty much every song haha.