Wednesday, July 31, 2019

REVIEW: ORBIS David Fanshawe by Spitfire Audio

 Discover a new world of over 2500 extraordinary sounds, born out of organic performances, then treated and transported to epic new dimensions.
EDNA Engine

(This interface houses our own sample-synthesiser engine. You can use it to combine two sounds and modulate between them with envelopes, filters and wobbles per sound, as well as a selection of go-to FX.)

 The Master FX PAGE

 (This view allows you to control 32 different FX across each sound. It also gives you access to the master mix and aux sends.)

Gate Sequencer

(The gate sequencer allows independent gating between these two bays and unified control of amount, shape, speed and length of sequence.)


Spitfire Audio surprised me with their release of Orbis. Instead of another Kontakt instrument, they released a synth plugin that contains thousands of recordings from around the world. Orbis features sounds from places we might never get to visit. This library has samples from India, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Indonesia, Egypt, and more. They were recorded by composer and sound explorer David Fanshawe who over four decades collected over 2,000 hours of recordings. His sounds were used in film scores like Seven Years in Tibet and Gangs of New York. Mr. Fanshawe is also known for over 50 scores for films and television. Unfortunately, David Fanshawe passed away in 2010 and what he left was an archive of history from around this planet. These samples were recorded from 1967 to 1994. There was a total of 3000 analog audio tapes and 200 digital audio tapes. The idea behind Spitfire Audio Orbis began in January 2015, when David Fanshawe’s wife Jane Fanshawe introduced Spitfire founder and composer Paul Thomson to Fanshawe’s archive of recordings. These were later meticulously selected by the Spitfire team to create a tremendous tribute to a real-world explorer. It’s hard to find fault in something with so much cultural history.

Inside Orbis, there is a cornucopia number of rhythmic/playable loops, one-shots, short phrases, and pads. All the samples can be treated with effects or non-treated with the options of Clean, Dirt, Crunch/Low Crunch, Mess, Shimmer, Distant, Hollow, Metal Space, Stretched, Warm Hall, Slow Fuzz, and Space. The EDNA interface has a clean layout that is large enough to see everything easily. You have plenty of options and tools. Near the top of the GUI, there is the preset selector and below that is the Main Controls (Volume, Dynamics, and Knob). Below the main controls, you’ll see the A+B Soundbays, Wobbles, Envelope, and Oscillate Mixer. In the middle of the interface, you’ll find access to the Master FX section. Inside the master fx page, you’ll find the FX inserts for both A+B soundbays. There is Eq, Sends, Stereo, Tape Flanger, Phaser, Convolution reverb, and Limiter.  There is also an Aux FX section with Chorus, Flanger, Delays, Phaser, Reverbs, and more. Inside Orbis, I found plenty of sound-shaping abilities. I even took some 3rd party plugins like Eventide Blackhole and created some of the most amazing cultural atmospherics I’ve ever heard. The last page is the Gate Sequencer, where I had a lot of fun producing some compelling rhythmic sequences. I do have to admit though, at first, I wasn't that impressed with some of the clean samples, and I could tell they showed their age. The quality was slightly lacking until I began adding the effects. So, when I started to sculpt and shape the sounds, I began hearing this library's true potential.

This is a plugin created out of historic adventures throughout this man’s journeys and is installed as a VST2, VST3, AU or AXX. This is not a small library, and it downloads at a weight of 21.14GBs. I imagine David in the far reaches of the earth recording these organic performances and it gave me chills. What a life he lived and what a gift he left us. Not only will you discover sounds from all over the world, but you will also hear some beautiful lush pads and moving textures. If you’re a composer scoring a cultural documentary, or even a film needing some ethnic soundscapes, this may be a must-have. There are many possibilities with Orbis, but you must devote the time to dig into this library. I created some beautifully epic sounds with just a little work that captivated my imagination. I believe David Fanshawe would be very proud of Spitfire Audio’s work and to have his legacy featured in other composer’s scores may be the ultimate tribute to this man’s legacy. 

Orbis is like a global audio encyclopedia that I adored exploring and was truly inspiring. When I was finished playing it, I felt like my voyage had just begun. Thank you Spitfire Audio, thank you Jane Fanshawe, and thank you, David. May the spirit of Mr. Fanshawe be alive and well in many compositions to come.

5 Out of 5 Stars

Written by Steve Montgomery
(Composer for Infinite Mindscape & Darkmood

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