Libraries You Need #2 – Spitfire’s Albion

Well, it’s probably not a library you need.  But since I’m mostly focused on film / game music, some sort of orchestral library is needed.  So I’ll continue writing these “Library” tutorials titled this way, even though you probably only really need Komplete 7/8 and the rest is just suggested expansions if you haven’t already chosen something.

If you read my previous post in this section, you’ll already know that Komplete comes with a basic selection from the VSL orchestra library.  While the basic stuff you get with Komplete is pretty good, there are limitations that I think are covered extremely well by Albion.

Pros:

  • Ensemble patches make orchestration easy
  • Mixing between mics allows you to control thickness of the ensembles
  • The natural reverb from the stage and hall mics is actually very pleasing
  • Woodwind ensemble is top notch
  • Cello / Bass staccato patches will be used in all your mixes
  • Ensemble legato patches are highly regarded
  • Orchestra effects + Percussion nicely round out this library

Cons:

  • No solo instrument patches
  • Some of the staccato patches can have poor timing
  • Percussion library without cymbals

The cons sound pretty bad.  The only one I think that’s really a mark against this library is the lack of solo instruments.  Not that I’d really expect them with this price though.  I also find that while I do frequently use solo strings (from LA Scoring Strings), it quite often doesn’t apply to game music.

The percussion library is pretty deeply sampled, the toms are awesome.  It is missing cymbals, so you’ll have to find some other way of adding those to your mixes although the metal shop does have some nice metal hits that can take the place of cymbals in many cases.

The library’s patches are split into basically 6 sections.  String, Brass, and Woodwinds each with a “hi” and “low” set of patches.  Inside here you’ll find patches labeled as follows: “Long, Short, Long CS (con sordino), Legato” and optionally “Ostinatum”.  This simple layout allows you to quickly bet a nice full orchestra sound with only a couple instrument channels and definitely helps me compose something quickly even if I end up swapping out some of the patches later.

The highlight ensembles for this library are clearly String-low and Woodwind-hi/low for me.  The woodwinds cover a section I have basically been ignoring and just filling in with whatever I can find.  String-low has a nice full sound, the Celli/Basses are blended well together and sound quite powerful.  The shorts and the legato are awesome, and the Ostinatum patch is great for the low strings too (depending on if you need it of course).  You can read more about how to use the Ostinatum machine that also comes with this library (very cool feature).

The high strings, and high brass ensembles have some of the round-robin samples that are off time.  This becomes apparent when you’re trying to use them at a higher temp0 playing lots of staccato hits.  I’m hoping spitfire has a patch for this coming out soon as it’s one thing I think that’s really holding the library back.  The round-robins have a reset key, so it’s possible to manually fix the timings in your DAWs piano roll, but it can be tedious.  Strangely, the first hit for all of them (from what I can tell, on every note) is right on time so if you turn round-robin off and you’re careful with repeated hits at repeated velocities, everything will sound fine.

All in all, I’m happy with the purchase and will likely be using at least one patch from this library in most songs (at least the ones that need an orchestral sound).  The percussion library that comes with it is great if you’re looking for something, the ensemble effects are a great added bonus.

At about a quarter of the price of Symphobia 1+2, you get a nicely featured orchestral library that sounds great.  Does it sound better?  Probably not, but depending on your needs saving yourself more than $1k is definitely a plus.

Spitfire Audio’s Site


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