Tuesday, February 4, 2020

REVIEW: ALBION NEO by SPITFIRE AUDIO







ALBION NEO


Introducing the next chapter in the Albion series: 

Where Albion ONE was for blockbusters, NEO is flexible across genres, designed to inspire a new wave of forward-thinking composers, artists and producers looking to create a closer, more emotive, hybrid sound – for TV, films and beyond.



OVERVIEW




THE OVERVIEW PANEL



This is the main interface for melodic instruments. Its default view displays all available playing techniques, has a simple microphone mixer and includes the main feature controllers.







GENERAL CONTROLS PANEL



This view allows further in-depth control of the instrument, showing all available signals and feature controllers, as well as the ability to purge techniques from memory to reduce system usage.


  


THE OSTINATUM


In this view you can add notes to a pattern sequencer, select which key it triggers on and then play for instant ostinato creation. It’s like an arpeggiator on a synthesizer.







NEO BRUNEL LOOP BROWSER



Choose the Menu button to playback the stems at their original pitch, click on the dots to load up individual instrument stems spread across your keyboard.







EDNA ENGINE

This interface houses the sample-synthesizer engine. You can use it to combine two sounds and modulate between them with envelopes, filters and wobbles per sound, as well as a gate sequencer and a selection of go-to FX.





36 piece orchestra recorded to tape at AIR Studios, London 
54 multi-dynamic orchestral articulations split across Strings, Brass and Woodwind ensembles 
Multi-mic control with Close, Close Ribbon, Tree, Ambient & Outriggers 
Recorded digitally at 96k via 2" Studer tape, using priceless valve and ribbon mics 
Multi-mic control with Close, Close Ribbon, Tree, Ambient & Outriggers 
Single patch, for easy playability 
Two specially curated mixes 

23 Strings (Divisi):

Band A - 12 (3, 2, 2, 3, 2) 
Band B - 11 (3, 2, 2, 3, 1) 

6 Woodwinds:

Flute 1 - dbl Alto 
Flute 2 - dbl Bass 
Clarinet in Bb - dbl Bass 
Bass Clarinet 
Sax 1 - Alto dbl Baritone 
Sax 2 - Tenor dbl Bass 

7 Brass:
2 Horn 
2 Flugelhorn 
2 Euphonium 
1 Bass Trombone 










REVIEW




It's no surprise that at the beginning of a new decade, Spitfire Audio would roll out Albion NEO that in my opinion, will have the sustainability of the legendary Albion One. Even though I try to save my results at the end of my review, I must say Spitfire delivered a magnificent library! However, please read on to get the full details on how I came to my conclusion. 


First off, Albion NEO is what I've waiting for from Spitfire Audio. It's a modern orchestral library that includes a full array of hybrid scoring tools. There are emotive textures, loops, and you can complete an entire film score right out of the box. The inspiring sound of NEO is what pulls at the heartstrings. Blending the chamber-sized orchestra, intimate strings, and evolving dream-like presets hits an emotional nerve that other libraries try to obtain. Orchestral libraries keep evolving, and what I experienced in NEO is at the cutting-edge of what composers will utilize in this new decade of film-scoring. 



What do you get in NEO? 



Albion NEO is loaded with content and weighs in at a large 59.4 GB. The full 36 piece NEO Orchestra is comprised of Strings A, Strings B, Woodwinds, and Brass. There is Harmonium that contains two combinations of stops, 116 Brunel Loops, 85 Segla Textures, and a collection of 108 Stephenson's Steam Band hybrid synth presets. The Steam Band resides in the eDNA engine created by Christian Henson and Spitfire producer Harry Wilson. They used Mr. Henson's collection of rare vintage synths and produced them using a modular rig with an ample amount of effects.

Albion NEO includes 54 articulations recorded by 36 first-call session musicians. Spitfire also teamed up with Ben Foskett, who's an award-winning orchestrator to assist on the project. NEO was brilliantly recorded by audio engineer Jake Jackson at the famous Hall at AIR Studios in London using five microphone positions and is constructed with two mixes that the player can choose from.


When you open Albion NEO within Kontakt, you'll find five folders. The first folder is called Albion Orchestra, which contains two sub-folders named Advanced and Mixes. The second folder is named Brunel Loops. The third is Harmonium, which contains two sub-folders named Warped Content and Mixes. The fourth folder is called Segla Textures, consisting of three subfolders called Electronic, Organic, and Dev Kits. The final folder is Stephenson's Steam Band, which contains three folders titled Electronic, Neoclassical, and Dev Kits.


If you are familiar with the eDNA interface in other Spitfire Audio products, you'll find they added an arpeggiator for the first time. This is a great addition to the eDNA interface. The gate sequencer and arpeggiator offer an expansion in rhythmic possibilities. 

There is a little percussion within the Brunel loops, but it doesn't contain a percussion ensemble inside the NEO orchestra, which is slightly surprising. However, this orchestral library is more passionate and expressive in a more delicate way. A percussion ensemble isn't necessary to capture that stirring emotion, which Albion NEO delivers very effectively. 


Albion NEO is special. The Brunel loops and Segla textures are magically inspirational. The intimacy of the chamber orchestra is beautifully crafted, and I did have a difficult time stopping myself from playing with the library. It's is a perfect scoring tool for many genres of film, including drama, mystery, crime, documentaries, fantasy, and more. If you're looking for more of an epic orchestra library, then I'd pick up Albion One, if you haven't already done so. Mixing Albion One with Albion NEO elevates your composition on a whole other level.



The strings, woodwinds, and brass in NEO sound phenomenal. The playability is solid, and the inclusion of the hybrid content becomes hypnotic. This is a striking release from Spitfire and hits the mark completely.

It is Kontakt player compatible, so users who have not yet purchased the full version of Kontakt can use this library without restrictions. I am also amazed at how low my CPU ran loading up multiple instruments within one instance.


ALBION NEO by Spitfire Audio is significant in many ways and stimulates new life in musical stagnation. NEO pulled me in and rewarded me with a modernistic sonic canvas.



5 out of 5 STARS !























Written by Steve Montgomery 
(Infinite Mindscape & DARKMOOD)

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