Review: Angel Strings Volume 1 by Auddict

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Auddict have come up with a real winner here with all of the main boxes ticked: great sound, brilliant performances, a simple user interface, mic positions galore and unusual but useable patches.

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Review: Angel Strings Volume 1 by Auddict

“It’s strings Jim, but not as we know them!” Fresh off the success of their huge United Strings of Europe range, Auddict are back with another string offering. Responding to the increasing exploration of the stranger side of strings by modern composers, Angel Strings is nothing short of a full frontal attack upon the domain of alternative articulations.

Angel Strings Volume 1 sells for £150 from Auddict

Thoughts

Auddict is a London based developer and they have released some excellent orchestral libraries in the last few years. Perhaps the best known (and my favorite) are Drums of the Deep I & II, but they are no strangers to the more melodic side of the orchestra. Auddict is also known for very thorough sampling and Angel Strings continues this ethos being tracked at Angel Studios with all sections at once, via a number of microphones.

Simplicity is very much at the centre of this project, and with only three Kontakt instruments included, Auddict have indeed proven that it is possible to create a deep and complex instrument without the need for excessive patches to scroll through.

Runs and Tremolos contain just two articulations, SFX has nine, and the Tonal Longs and Shorts patch contains ten, with very similar GUIs for each. Albeit very clear, it is yet another Kontakt interface that looks like the controls of a spaceship and I feel it could have been a bit classier on the eye. Also, some controls are not as intuitive as they could be.- The pan, for example, is a circular fader, where a simple left to right would have worked better.

 

Each nki patch contains two pages. The first page displays articulations, which you can then toggle either by mouse click or keyswitches in the upper range. Under that is a knob (that looks like it should do something but does not!) and a mini keyboard icon to reassign key switches. The only other thing you can change here is the sample start time, which allows you to easily shorten a pitch dive for example. In the Runs and Tremolos, this setting enables you to sharpen the attack time as well as the release simultaneously. In that patch there is the addition of an eight-step sequencer – an integral part of the timed trem articulation which can be locked to the host tempo to create realistic tremolo patterns.

The second page, the mixer, shows where a great deal of the work has been done. There are four mics capturing the whole ensemble (tree, outriggers, room and ribbon) with a further five faders for each section. These close mics were actually a position per desk (pair of players) that were then mixed down to a single control for each string section.

Combine this plethora of mic positions with the ability to pan the sections or leave them in situ and also control the stereo width and you have a massive amount of options over the final sound.

However, I was a little surprised to hear how short and somewhat unexciting the natural room ambiance is, which might be why they included a channel with everything run through an (unspecified) hardware reverb. Finally, a LP/HP filter and ADSR provides additional sound shaping control should you need it.

Sonically, this library is outstanding and the sound signature remains consistent across the entire 35 GB of content. Not only are the various articulations and aleatoric performances played incredibly beautifully and with skill, but the basic tonal signature is very pleasing indeed. Rather than being mild, subtle and scooped in the mid-range as some other libraries lean towards, Angel Strings is a breath of fresh air – the sound is rich and quite forward. It is definitely not tame (or angelic!) and will cut through a dense mix superbly. In-line with the Auddict brand style these samples are raw and honest, with some of the shorts employing up to 15 round robins for superb realism. It’s worth noting that the dynamic range of the patches is quite extreme, and the mod wheel has a very long throw in this regard. However, even at the lowest settings the patches still retain that bold and assertive tone.

End users should be aware that this library is very much a string FX specialist.

End users should be aware that this library is very much a string FX specialist. Whilst some of the tonal longs could work well in conventional scoring, many of the articulations here sound a little bit like these Angel Strings came directly from hell, especially the grinding scratch tone articulation. It really serves as an accompaniment to a more fully fledged string library. That been said, it covers many unusual ways of playing that have either not been covered or not done in quite the same way in competing for aleatoric collections.

The behind the bridge atonal articulations and risers are particular standouts.

In terms of playability the library is very responsive and ‘quick’, due in no small part to the aforementioned sound signature. One of the key selling points for Angel Strings is that the whole string section is spanned out across the entire 6 octaves of the keyboard. So, in effect you’re playing the whole section at once. This makes sense, as, when it comes to string clusters, risers, dives, scratches and noises there’s often no need to get too finicky about particular sections. Simply choose a key and enjoy! Having the whole string orchestra at hand makes it easy to find the right pitch, and allows you to do even more wild things like have the orchestra play multiple notes – cluster clusters anyone?

Such deep sampling across multiple microphones, unfortunately, does have a downside and that is memory usage and CPU. I think developers are increasingly assuming every end-user has the latest top spec computer with 128GB of RAM! If you plan on using every mic available to create a unique mix you’re looking at around 4GB memory per instance. My CPU on a late 2015 iMac was spiking sometimes too. The developer confirmed that there is currently no articulation purge function, but hopefully, they add one in an update as it would really help. One other caveat is that there is very little on offer in the way of subtlety. Soft and floaty fluffiness is not on the menu.

Auddict have come up with a real winner here with all of the main boxes ticked: great sound, brilliant performances, a simple user interface, mic positions galore and unusual but usable patches

Auddict has come up with a real winner here with all of the main boxes ticked: great sound, brilliant performances, a simple user interface, mic positions galore and unusual but usable patches. There is plenty here to suit both traditional and more modern hybrid orchestral composers. The fact that these sonically confident patches really poke through a mix and can stand up to a barrage of drums, guitars and synths shows just how well thought out this project was and displays how on-point Auddict are with the latest trends and requirements of the modern musician.

 

Facts

Angel Strings is a 35.2 GB download requiring the full version of Kontakt. It contains 36,000+ samples and 3 Kontakt instruments.

Angel Strings Volume 1 sells for £150 from Auddict

 

Demos of Angel Strings Volume 1 by Auddict

 

Videos of Angel Strings Volume 1 by Auddict