Review: Anthology by 8Dio
Great sounding Sample Set Across All Sections Sizes
Very intuitive interface
Easy to use
Wonderful convolution reverb selection
Articulation Controls adjust for each articulation
Great deal for upgrade path for owners of previous String libraries
Would have liked option for a Tempo based speed control
Inconsistent articulations across NKIs
Some stereo "jumping" with isolated playback
No Harmonic articulations across entire library
With Anthology, 8Dio have re-imagined their massive collection of Adagio & Agitato libraries and come out swinging with an easy to use and intuitive interface. The library is not without some hiccups, but it is hard to deny this amazing sounding sample set.
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Review: Anthology by 8Dio
With Anthology, 8Dio have taken the amazing sounding sample set from their highly regarded Adagio and Agitato string libraries and “re-imagined” them into a very easy to use interface.
The task of taking the dozen or so libraries from the Adagio and Agitato line and trying to consolidate them must have been extremely challenging, and yet 8Dio has managed to collect a majority of the sounds and functionality of the celebrated string series into only 3 streamlined NKIs.
The library is organized with one folder and 6 NKIs. A “preloaded” and “empty” Kontakt preset for Ensemble, Divisi and Solo instruments. One of the main innovations in taking this gigantic sample set from hundreds of instruments into just these 3 NKIs is by redesigning the interface to accommodate 10 articulations slots.
It’s easy to load up articulations. You just click and select one of the different articulations to assign them to the chosen slot. The new interface allows you to assign your own keyswitch or midi cc to change articulations at your own discretion.
The interface makes it easy to select which instrument section (or sections) you’d like to use for playback. It’s extremely intuitive to click over into the Sections panel and just select the section (Violin, Viola, Cello or Bass) you wish to play or mute.
Playing through the Ensemble instrument I was really impressed. You have 14 articulations to choose from including Sustains (w/ vibrato control), 2 separate Legatos (w/ 3-layers of real legato samples), an Advanced Arc, Tremolos, 2 Trills, 2 Spiccatos, Staccato, Marcato and Pizzacato as well as Bartok Pizzicato.
There is also a set of muted articulations for the Ensemble with Sustains, Legato, Advanced Arc Control and Arc Long and a Spiccato Muted.
Each of the articulations load up with a customized set of Articulation Controls (dynamics, expression, speed, vibrato, legato, etc).
The first thing that stands out about Anthology is the sound quality. This is a huge highlight of the library, the brilliance of the sample set itself. It sparkles and exudes a live feel with plenty of presence and low end. I am not surprised about the sample quality, as I was a huge fan of the Adagio String Bundle (I reviewed it last year) and Anthology uses the same sample set.
The 2 different Legatos each have their own character.
The 2 different Legatos each have their own character. Legato I feels more lyrical while Legato II is smoother and more multipurpose. The new Arc articulations are really nice and feel so natural. The way the library is set up you will need to take into account the “speed” Articulation Controls for your Arcs to line them up for your desired length of playback.
Switching over to the Divisi instruments I was pleasantly surprised again by just how present and live the smaller sections sound during playback. The Divisi sample set is made up of 3 players per section. In this patch the highlight is using the Close mics as to expose the intimacy of the instruments during playback. Just a note here that after looking into it, there isn’t any scripting going on to mimic real-life divisi or intelligent distribution of notes across players.
As much as I am loving the sound, this is where my first bit of criticism comes in. Looking at the articulations available for the Divisi presets, I see it is limited to Sustains, Legato I and II, Advanced Arc Control and Spiccato Feathered. The same can be said for the solo instrument articulations. Here you are limited to just the Sustains, Legato I, Spiccato Feathered, Marcato and Pizzicato.
I would have really liked to have had all of the articulations from the main patch consistent across the Divisi and solo instruments.
The Solo instrument sample set is extremely detailed and holds up to the playback quality that I expect for premium, dedicated solo string libraries. The Solo instruments timbre is rich, live and present.
These instruments can be used alone, or along with an ensemble, as “first chair” doubling your ensemble lines to give them a little more realism. The downside is you are limited in the articulations so you are not able to fully express some ideas with the solo instruments alone.
The interface also has options for microphone positions. By default, the instruments load up with the “Mixed” mic option. But also gives you options for a close and far.
There are also a dozen or so convolution reverb settings and they’re very clear and clean but again I think a lot of the credit still goes back to the sound quality of the original sample set. There is also an EQ on the front of the instrument although with most Kontakt instruments I prefer to use a channel strip EQ.
The Adagio/Agitato libraries had received some criticism on the web for stereo image inconsistencies in playback. It sounds to me like that has not been addressed with the re-imaging. With the work and mocks ups I did with the library, I can say that listening to a bare instrument there seemed to be a little bouncing in the stereo field.I didn’t really notice this when playing back with multiple instruments. I didi find that by adjusting my mic levels and doing a little panning as well as running the output through my favorite premium reveb unit did seem to minimize this.
There was a lot of talk on forums and some groups about Anthology having some loading time issues. From what I can tell that looks like it might be isolated to a Windows antivirus conflict. I had no problems loading up the sample set after doing a batch re-save, I was getting loading times of as little as 13-15 seconds even loading the Close and Far mics of the Ensemble for a whopping 3.67 GB sample pool.
I am a big fan of this workflow for the instrument. I like the ability to have the Articulation Controls for each specific articulation load up when you need them. I would have liked to have seen an option for a Tempo based speed control, or at least the option to toggle back and forth between a speed control knob and an intelligent Tempo based setting. That might have saved me another pass or two of recording midi CC info.
In my previous review of the All Adagio string bundle I noted that it was almost overwhelming in the number of presets and the way that they were organized. 8Dio has definitely solved that obstacle with this new interface and workflow for Anthology. If you are coming from using 8Dio’s string bundle (ALL Adagio Strings or ALL Agitato Strings), You will instantly see improvements in your workflow with this new interface that is so intuitive and quick to work with.
I also felt like I might be missing out on some of those wonderful 36 Legatos and Loures that came with the All Adagio Strings Bundle, but after spending some time with the instrument and wondering if I might be able to simulate most of them given the new Articulation Controls that 8Dio has included on the interface, I might not be missing them as much as I first suspected.
Given the re-imagining of this great sounding sample set, which in it’s original releases sold for almost $3,000, asking $699 for Anthology seems to be a fair price.
8Dio is offering discounts on upgrades for owners of previous Adagio/Agitato libraries ranging from $100 off to FREE which might make this upgrade a no-brainer to those who already use 8Dio Strings in their workflow.
Anthology contains 66,634 Samples and downloads as 43 GB (109 GB compressed). The library has
3 Microphone Positions (Mixed, Close & Far) and 3 main NKI presets for section type (Ensemble, Chamber & Solo) with Violins, Violas, Cellos & Basses accessible for all instruments.
Anthology sells for $699 from 8Dio