Spitfire Audio has released Spitfire Chamber Strings, a 16 string player sized chamber sting library with the aim “to to create the definitive chamber strings project that gives you the widescreen Hollywood sound we all desire, with a detail and ability to articulate that is harder with larger sized string sample libraries.”
The core features:
- 244 articulations; 38 shorts, 53 longs, 19 FX & 45 legatos. (72697 Samples, 107.3 GB Uncompressed .WAV)
- 16 Top London string players.
- Recorded in situ (ie in the positions they would sit as a whole section)
- Recorded by priceless valve and ribbon mics.
- Neve Monserrat Pre-amps into a Neve 88R desk.
- Recorded digitally at 96k via 2″ Studer tape.
- Deep sampled with multiple dynamic layers and round robins.
- Diverse and detailed with essential, additional and some totally unique articulations
- Legatos designed by Andrew Blaney
- Individual sections and ensembles.
- 3 Essential, diverse and most favoured mic positions: C(lose), T(ree), A(mbient)
- Kontakt Player included
- New intuitive GUI with inline help system.
As a big Spitfire Audio fan, I am quite honoured to get my handy on this fantastic new product for a review. After I received the licence it needs to download and install the about 80GB! heavy-sized library. Fortunately Spitfire Audio provides a nice and clever tool – the Spitfire Audio Library Manager – for downloading and installing all the samples and the complete Spitfire Chamber Strings library.
Once you are connected and logged in, the Spitfire Audio Library Manager does the rest for you and downloads everything, it even checks if there are software updates and new sample content available. The installation took about 10 hours with a 30Mbit/s connection, so it does need some time and impatient people who want to start using the library asap would maybe suffer a bit :) Good to know that the Library Manager can do all of it’s tasks in the background while other things can be done – like preparing a new template for this library.
What’s inside Spitfire Chamber Strings
A quick view on the description does help to set up a proper track naming and routing to add the chamber strings to existing mock-up or orchestration templates. The string ensemble consists of 5 sections, the 1st violins (4 players), the 2nd violins (3 players), the violas (3 players), the cellos (3 players) and the basses (3 players). In total that is 5 instruments plus one ensemble instrument that includes 5 sections in one patch. Sounds not much, but wait! – there are 244 articulations (38 short, 53 long, 19 FX, 45 legato) for (almost) every instrument.
A demonstration and a test of every single articulation would go far beyond the scope but for a full list of all articulations and features please check the table below or visit the Spitfire Audio website here: http://www.spitfireaudio.com/shop/producers/spitfire-chamber-strings/
It’s all about articulations
All these 244 different articulations (that’s up to 45 articulations per instrument section) are categorised and combined to several patches within the _Advanced_ folder. In this folder there are 4 sub folders: Extended techniques, Individual articulations, Legato techniques and Other patches.
Extended techniques – Core & Decorative
The Extended techniques folder comes with 2 different patches, called Core techniques and Decorative techniques, for each instrument section. This results in 10 patches where all the different articulations can be switched with key switches. For example in the patch a – Violins 1 – Decorative techniques there is not just one tremolo articulation but 6 including two tempo synced (150BPM and 180BPM).
Within the Individual articulations folder there are folders for each section and for the ensemble and in each folder you can find every single articulation as a patch. Depending on the preference some composers like to use these instead of using key switches. Generally I also prefer to have an individual patch for each articulation, but there are so many of them that it would just take ages to map them properly in a template and as mentioned above there are up to 45 patches for a section. In the end we would end up with 244 tracks which is quite a bit.
Properly the highlight of Spitfire Chamber Strings is the Legato techniques folder which offers another 9 patches. Except of the basses every of the five section comes a Legato decorative and a Legato performance patch. Up to 12 legato patches are available per Legato decorative instrument including bowed, fingered, fast, flautando, con sord etc. and several also as portamento versions. Not many libraries have such a deep level of variation.
The Legato performance patches do not cover as many articulations but are very easy to use and composer friendly as they have some clever programming feature. If you play very soft and silent you get portamento and as you play more hard you will get legato fingered or bowed. A faster playing leads to fast legato and very fast playing results in runs.
The Other patches folder consist of several additional patches like Economic patches, light resources or time machine patches.
Watch the Chamber Strings Walkthrough
Spitfire did record all these different articulations with the 3 different microphone positions close, decca tree and ambient at Air Studios in London (http://www.airstudios.com/), where most of the other Spitfire libraries where recorded as well.
The Spitfire Chamber Strings library is outstanding and sounds just awesome! The ensemble patches are balanced very well and by just playing around you get instantly inspired. Every mic perspective sounds different but blends very well with each other. As with all the other Spitfire Audio libraries.
There is no need for an additional room or reverb plug-in. The detail, the lush and very dynamic sound of the strings is stunning and it’s just so much fun to work with the different patches and articulations. Some people would say that a chamber string section does not fit to the typical Hollywood sound – Spitfire Audio proved that this is absolutely wrong!
Be sure to checkout the quick video review that demonstrates the amazing sound of this library below.
Overall Sound Quality
Summary and Total Rating
This library is a must for any serious film composer who wants to add intimate, mysterious and lush strings to it’s arsenal.