Monday, December 9, 2019

REVIEW: BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA BY SPITFIRE AUDIO







BBC Studios and world known BBC Symphony Orchestra teamed up with Spitfire Audio team to record what no other sample library has done before. Strings, Brass, Woodwinds and Percussion, all housed inside an award-winning standalone plugin.

OVERVIEW

This is the Main GUI Interface


(1. TOP MENU 2. PRESET SELECTOR 3. MAIN CONTROLS 4. TECHNIQUE SELECTOR)



This is the 2nd page of the Interface where you'll find the SIGNAL MIXER





This is the 3rd page of the Interface where you'll find the FX Controls.




REVIEW


Spitfire Audio partnered with the BBC Studios and the BBC Symphony Orchestra to capture what could be the most meticulous sampled orchestrated library to date. The BBCSO was recorded at Maida Vale Studios in London, which is the home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. This studio also recorded such acts as The Beatles, David Bowie, and Jimmy Hendrix. This library uses its dedicated plugin that is VST2, VST3, AU, AAX, and NKS Ready. It contains a complete section of strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments. I was amazed at how many mic positions there are, and is probably one of the reasons this library is so massive. It downloads at approximately 565GB, and you need 600GB of space to install it.  There are also over 1,000,000 samples used to create the library. You can either download it or order it on an SSD drive. If you have the funds, the SSD drive is might be worth it because the download time was excruciating. I’m not sure if it was my service provider throttling my download speed or Spitfire’s server, but I was only getting 23-29 Mbps. I pay for 150 Mbps and I wasn’t getting anywhere near that. So yes, it took me a few days to complete the download and installation. After that, I received a warning from my internet service provider that I was about out of data and that I would be charged if I went over. Come to find out I have a 1TB limit per month, and I do a lot of streaming, so I was almost out of data. So, check with your internet company to see if you have a data cap before choosing the download option. Now that I got that experience out of the way, let me tell you about the library.



The GUI is clean and simple to figure out. Some of the fonts could be a little small to read when using a laptop, but the layout is intuitive. There is a volume and dynamic layer control next to a large center knob. The Knob controls parameters that be configured. In the second half of the interface, you'll find the Technique Switcher, Mixer, and Effects. Inside the Mixer, the page is where you can adjust the various signals and mixes to obtain your customized sound. The Effects page gives you several options including Release, Speed, Variation, Vibrato, Tightness, and Reverb.



The Techniques of each instrument are of large scope. Spitfire recorded 55 instruments in total. The melodic instruments contain 418 techniques with 33 legatos. It took me about 15 minutes to create a template in my DAW, and in about 20 minutes, I had a short 2-minute cue that sounded like it came right out of a John Williams score. At first, I was slightly disappointed that there were no ensembles, but after I created my ensemble template, it didn't bother me much. Another thing I want to point out is that I installed this on my SSD drive and loading times were fast. My CPU ran efficiently on an I7 Windows 10 laptop with only 12gb of ram that I used to test this library on. I'm impressed with how Spitfire's plugin was able to run this instrument so effective.


How does it Sound?


Incredible!



The strings and woodwinds are expressive, authentic, and play with striking realism. The strings include Violin 1 (Leader), Violin 1(16), Violin 2 Leader, Violins 2 (14), Viola Leader, Violas (12), Cello Leader, Celli (10), Bass Leader, and Basses (8). The Woodwinds include Flute, Flutes a3(3), Piccolo, Oboe, Oboes a3 (3), Clarinet, Clarinets a3 (3), Bass Clarinet, Contrabass Clarinet, Bassoon, Bassoons a3 (3), Contrabassoon, and Cor Anglais.




Next up, let's look at the Brass section. As I played through the brass, I couldn't help but hear Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, and the main title of Apollo 13. These brass instruments fit perfectly in this type of film score, and I doubt you'd never know it's a sampled instrument. Don't forget to try out each Mix and Mic signals to hone in on the sound you're looking for. I love all the variations available in this library, like adding in the spill mics and so forth.  The Brass include Horn, Horns a4 (4), Trumpet, Trumpets a 3 (3), Tenor Trombone, Tenor Trombone a 3 (3), Bass Trombones a2 (2), Contrabass Trombone, Tuba, and Contrabass Tuba.


The last category of instruments is Percussion. This is a complete selection of Orchestral Percussion, and each instrument includes various techniques like rolls, rim-shots, stick hits, hit chokes, and more. The instruments included are Tuned Celeste, Harp, Marimba, Crotales, Glockenspiel, Timpani, Tubular Bells, Vibraphone, Xylophone, Untuned Avil, Bass Drum 1, Bass Drum 2, Cymbal, Military Drum, Piatti, Snare 1, Snare 2, Tam Tam, Tambourine, Tenor Drum, Toys (Castanets,Woodblock, Vibraslap, Cowbell, Sleigh Bells, Short Guiro, Long Guiro), and Triangle. 



I feel that Spitfire did what they set out to do with this library. They pushed the boundaries in Orchestral sampling and released another Orchestra library that needed to be on the market. Composers looking for patterns or loops will have to look elsewhere. Also, no ensemble patches yet but could be available in a future update. For me, this doesn't affect my rating of this powerful orchestra library. 

Is it too large? 
maybe who you ask

I thought it might be at first, but having the flexibility of customizing so many mic positions, the variety in the mixes, the articulations, and the sampling of so many instruments in a full-scale symphony, I'm convinced, the size is necessary for this library. There's so much depth and realism with the BBCSO. Having it recorded in such a spacious room at Maida Vale Studios captures the beauty of the performances. 
 
The is a tremendous release by Spitfire Audio.



The BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA is a trailblazing chapter and crowning achievement in the orchestral virtual instrument universe!



5 OUT 5 STARS!
































Written by Steve Montgomery 
(Infinite Mindscape & Darkmood)


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