First Look: BBC Symphony Orchestra – DISCOVER by Spitfire Audio


Spitfire levels the playing field with a $49 entry-level version of it’s BBC SO Orchestra library. But does this “Change Everything” like the developer’s marketing implies? And who is this library for? In this first look review, we find out!

Jump to the Videos of BBC Symphony Orchestra- Discover by Spitfire Audio

Jump to the Demos of BBC Symphony Orchestra- Discover by Spitfire Audio


Review: BBC Symphony Orchestra- Discover by Spitfire Audio

In the video above I share a demo mock-up using BBCO Discover, share details of the library, a first look playthrough of instruments
and then close it out with thoughts about the release and who I think will benefit from utilizing the instrument.

More thoughts and information about BBC SO Discover below.

BBC Symphony Orchestra – Discover sells for $49.00 from Spitfire Audio

BBCSO Discover Interface

Today Spitfire Audio announced two “lite” versions of its flagship BBC Symphony Orchestra library: BBC SO Core & BBC SO Discover.

BBC SO Core Interface

BBCSO CORE Interface

While BBC Orchestra CORE contains the full-depth of sampling and all the same articulations as it’s big brother, Core is limited to one set of samples (the Jake Jackson first mix of the BBCSO) and no lead instruments for sections. Core downloads as 22 GB and normally sells for $449 (currently on intro promotion price for $300).

Spitfire Audio have shared this comparison to understand the differences across the BBC SO family line.

BBCSO DISCOVER is an impressive feat taking the original 500+ GB BBC SO library and funneling it down to an entry-level version that weighs in at under 200 MB! (Yes that is mega-byte, not a typo.)One of the most impressive bits of the release is the developers attention to a simple integrated method for working seamlessly between all 3 sample sets.

“Each edition is fully interchangeable through Spitfire’s innovative mode switching technology, making it easier than ever to share and collaborate with fellow composers, regardless of which edition they own. This makes Discover an extremely useful tool for composers of all levels writing on the go, or with the most basic technical setup, who can then go on to complete their compositions in Core or Professional.”


Let’s get back to the BBC SO Discovery now.

Graphic Interface for Instrument Selection

Delivered with Strings, Brass, Woodwinds and Percussion, BBC SO Discover hits the marks on quality and usability while offering a streamlined graphic user interface that will have anyone trying out orchestral parts in no time. The opportunities for just about anyone with a laptop to start composing for orchestra in their computer are now limited to having a compatible computer system and an internet connection.On top of that, the developer has also announced that those individuals facing financial hardships have an opportunity to fill in a questionnaire for consideration to receive Discover for free.

Spitfire Audio‘s teaser pre-release of the BBCSO  DISCOVER . . . to be honest we were skeptical.


If you can’t tell yet we are bullish on the release of Discover to live up to it’s “Its All About to change” marketing verbiage given that the plugin sells for just $49 and runs in Spitfire Audio‘s standalone plugin. To understand how a 178 MB sample library manages to hold such great quality of sound and cohesion we have to look back to the sample source.

For the sample set, Spitfire Audio recorded the orchestral players of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in their home court of Maida Vale Studios. The studio itself is highly in demand and is known for the sonic warmth and rich musical history.

The sample-set for BBC SO DISCOVER was distilled down from the original recording capturing the BBC Symphony Orchestra in their home base of Maida Vale Studios.

Lots of orchestral sample libraries are recorded with a collection of studio musicians pieced together by a contractor. Recording libraries in this manner can deliver a varying of performances. By starting with a world-class orchestra, here the BBCSO, Spitfire captured a group of players who are used to playing together in their home base studio. Considered by many to be the “creme de la creme” of the British Orchestral recording, Maida Vale Studios was built in 1909 and has been home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra since 1934.

For BBCSO Discover, Spitfire was shooting for an “Absolute Entry” for sampled orchestra. To reach the directive and offer price the developer did have to impose limitations. The first, DISCOVER is offered with a bare bones articulation list.

Most instruments load up with options for long sustain and short staccato (or staccatisimo), while several string instruments include pizzicato and tremolo sample sets.


DISCOVER is offered with the “bare bones” of orchestral articulations


The next limitation is the single stereo mix output. There are no mic controls or placement controls and listening back the developer must have tightened up the number of sample steps from low to high dynamics and instead used a cleaver crossfade between limited dynamic layers to get smooth range from pp to ƒƒ.

We see Discovery as offering students and those who want to explore composition now have easy access to a streamlined, stand-alone instrument with really nice playback. But what I am also seeing, as a composer scoring for media professionally, is the opportunity for collaboration.

With the release of Core and Discover, Spitfire have updated the BBC SO plugin to be compatible across all versions. Meaning you can work in BBCSO Discover, then and send files to your collaborator to open and work within BBCSO Core or the full BBC Orchestra Symphony Orchestra.

Switching samples sets through the MODE drop-down menu inside the BBC SO plugin.

Testing this integration out for myself I have to say this is easily one of the best solutions I can think of as all samples are housed in the BBC SO plugin and you simply select which “MODE” you would like to work in from your instruments interface.

After a couple days with BBCSO I have to say my big take away is that this could democratize orchestral composition. By delivering a great sounding balanced orchestral instrument at a cost anyone can afford it encourages every level of music maker, from hobbyist to student to professional to create and collaborate on orchestral music.

I think educators will love this plugin. As a composer who at time teaches private virtual orchestration lessons, one of the biggest obstacles for students is trying to get a variety of orchestral sample libraries to sound like they are performing in the same space. Discover would eliminate that obstacle . . . for $49.

I also see how this will be a welcome addition to a professional composers travel set up/ Having the ability to sketch mockups on a laptop on the go with very little RAM dependency and then open sessions on a studio computer DAW with instant compatibility with the CORE of BBC SO full sample set make this very appealing.

Spitfire Audio may not have “changed everything” for working media composers who already have balanced out templates and working scoring studio setups with this new release. But, DISCOVER certainly has the possibility to change music-making for the masses delivering a great sounding balanced orchestral instrument at a cost anyone can afford.


BBCSO Discovery downloads a 174.8 MB and is an orchestral sample library of Strings, Brass, Woodwind and Percussion.

The instruments are housed in Spitfire Audio’s dedicated stand-alone Plugin compatible with VST2, VST3, AU, AAX & NKS standards.

BBC Symphony Orchestra- Discover sells for $49.00 from Spitfire Audio


Demos of BBC Symphony Orchestra- Discover by Spitfire Audio

Videos of BBC Symphony Orchestra- Discover by Spitfire Audio