Strings samples libraries reached a new step since release of LASS2 (LA Scoring Strings), that included convincing new legatos (without the latency found in Hollywood Strings, and with easier control), advanced mixing features (stages colors for various music contexts), and programmable repetitions. Here are reviews and tips based solely from users reportings in forums and listen of audio and video demos (officials and from users), as I (only) own Symphonic Orchestra (NI Gold/XP, PLAY Platinum), Kontakt’s VSL, Strings Essentials 2, Hollywood Strings and Roland’s (looking to get LASS2 then).
These improvements were possible due to huge competition between samples editors relying on Kontakt scripting (compared to vendor players). Despite not being the most elegant nor most powerful software, it is somewhat a working compromise: PLAY looks nice and is easy to use (for managing mic positions for example), however it still experiences latency problems, notably due to huge libraries size compared to others. Also EastWest libraries are released with many wrong samples mappings, clicks or lack of release ones (it wasn’t the case for previous NI based Symphonic Orchestra, recorded and mastered by another team), and technical support is late (as problems discovered at post-production stage can’t be fixed – no rerecording option, only use of lower or upper samples in mapping if available and right). VSL libraries provide perfect samples and mapping, with better dynamic (notably for brass – listen to their VSL Epic Horns, only 600 MB), sligthly less size/memory use, however its player is very unfriendly, despite providing most advanced features.
LASS2 in Kontkat provides both perfect samples quality (even with slight out of tune, that was heavily used by Roland’s strings samples found in SRJV-16 Orchestral Strings 2 / SRX06 Complete Orchestra – perhaps too much for these later), nice looking UI (since version 2), easy to use (automatic legato while sounding realistic and not requiring huge resources nor memory), minimal samples size thanks to automatic legato (only 2.8 GB for LASS2 Lite ), and is then the least resources demanding strings library at that quality level. It was also righthly priced recently ($399 for the lite version, with a nice upgrade path to the $999 full version – only $50 fee plus difference).