Canadian Musician - September/October 2017 - Page 22

ROAD TEST Spitfire Audio's Spitfire Symphony Orchestra Sample Library By Ryan McCambridge S pitfire Audio has continually pushed to be at the forefront of developing software tools for composers. Since the company began in 2007, I’ve had the opportunity to try many of its products and see the brand grow, diversify- ing into all aspects of sound design. At its core, though, there has always been an emphasis on orchestral libraries, and Spitfire’s tenacity and ambitiousness was evident in its British Modular Library (BML). Now, after a decade of development, Spitfire has rethought its flagship library and morphed it into the Spitfire Symphony Orchestra (SSO). Overview SSO is 273,758 samples on 255.1 GB of disk space, though 510.2 GB is required during installation, which includes close mic, Decca tree, and ambient mic positions. It runs within the Native Instruments Kontakt environment and Kontakt Player is available for free to those who don’t own the full version. The advantage to Spitfire affiliating with Native Instruments is that it has pushed SSO to be fully NKS ready, meaning those who own NI NKS controllers can take advantage of the integration they provide for software instruments. The foundation of SSO is comprised of three main software instruments: Strings, Woodwinds, and Brass. Each share a similarly redesigned GUI, which is accessible enough for even the most modest of composers but will also be familiar to BML users. In fact, I would say that the overall orga- nization of SSO is one of its most appealing aspects. Creative work demands workflows where technology is virtually transparent. I would go so far as to say that the strength of Spitfire’s BML was also in many ways its weak- ness: the breadth of the library allowed for specificity and articulation but at the expense of complexity within their catalogue. This was at times overwhelming. SSO has remedied that with a more streamlined organization of their folders and samples within them. It seems like a small detail but this improvement is quite impactful. 22 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N In Use With SSO, Spitfire has maintained the beauty of the BML sound, with many of the samples ported over but also the inclusion of new samples. SSO is instantly cinematic, carrying forward Spitfire’s loyalty to recreating the ex- perience of recording music for film. All players are seated “in-situ” in the iconic Lyndhurst Hall at Air Studios, which remains one of the world’s premier scoring facilities. The Decca tree and ambient mics really exemplify the character of the hall, as does the gallery mic expansion that Spitfire has created for the Spitfire Symphonic Brass instrument. Exploring SSO, I was amazed at how much the Expression and Dynamics sliders affect the articulation of the instruments. The expressive- ness of the samples over the various velocity levels, coupled with the round robins, really responds to manipulation of these param- eters. With relative ease, I was able to make a convincing orchestration by using only the instrument’s core articulations. If you consider the inclusion of the lesser-known “extended techniques” as well, I think it’s safe to say that SSO presents great value for those seeking an expressive software orchestra. This is furthered by the introduction of Masse, Spitfire’s ready-built orchestral instru- ment that comes coupled with SSO. Masse utilizes SSO’s samples to create predefined blended sections curated by Spitfire. There’s still control over the most important sonic aspects of the instrument, like mic position, expression, dynamics, etc.; however, the ensembles are already predetermined, so writers and composers needn’t worry about the granular details. This is helpful for sketching ideas or building an orchestral bed. I admit that I fully expected Masse to sound like an “orches- tra in a can,” but it is surprisingly dynamic and convincing, and I’m sure those who need to work quickly will get a lot of use out of it. My only real criticism of SSO is that there are no percussion instruments. Though it’s debatable, I think most would agree that an orchestra comprises four pr [X\HX[ۜۙHوX\Z\[ˈو\K]\B\]H]^[[[[[Y\\\B[ۈ[]\H\\[ۈX\Y\]^B\HۜY\Y\\]HX[[\YܙHH[Y][ۘ[[[ۙHš\[܈H[ܘ\Hܚ] ۘ\[ۂ[[\H\HH\\X\[HوXܙ B[Y[\HY[\\[KH]BXۛYHH[\ܝ[HوH]œ[XZ[[Y[ZHZ\H[\]Y[\˜[\ܞH[]]\][\[[\ܝ[K\[KZ\Y[\X[[[\][[[\]]\H[\x&\YKB[Z[HYܝ[[HۛYH]\\\Y]H[X]Z[ Y][]\\XHH[YYYܘ\H^Z[[ZYH\و[ B\[ ]\Hۜ][ۈوܝ][Y]\[Y]H\۞H]H][Y[وXK[\\HوX\\X[\K\H][\Z[H^[[ۈوXY[ˈ]܈Hو\[&]\YBH[H[XۚX[\\]\B[\۞Hܘ\H\[[[ܙYXB][ۈ[HܙX][YKX[X[XYH\HY[[HX\ܚ]\0[[[Y\HܙY][YH\ \و[[\Y\H\]Y[\Yۈ[X[ۈ]ܚ˜[[]\]Y\[\H۝X[وH[Y\\[ۋ܈[ܙH[ܛX][ۋ\]˜X[[X[XYKH[0˘X[Y\\[ۋK