Review: Century Ostinato Strings Chapter II by 8Dio

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String ostinatos are one of the most frequently used gadgets in a composer’s toolkit. In Century Ostinato Strings Chapter II, 8dio brings forth a unique and beautiful collection of recorded ostinato string phrases. While there are only 15 initial patterns to choose from, the innovative use of the Speed and Retrigger buttons multiplies each pattern and extends its usefulness. In Century Ostinato Strings II, quality trumps quantity.

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Review: Century Ostinato Strings Chapter II by 8Dio

8dio’s Century Strings series has been one of my absolute favorite orchestral instrument libraries since its initial release in 2017. The sample set is crisp with a warm, rich tone, while the articulations are unique and second to none in realism. Century Ostinato Strings Chapter II continues this tradition while narrowing its focus to only producing realistic and unusual recorded ostinato string patterns. This is the kind of tool that make a working composer’s life easier while adding realism to her/his tracks.

Century Ostinato Strings Chapter II sells for $298,00 from 8Dio

Thoughts

Ever since the release of Adagio Violins way back in 2012, 8dio have been at the forefront of realistic orchestral string sampling. Adagio brought a passion and emotion to sampled strings that had never been achieved before. Five years later, in 2017, 8dio raised the bar even more with the release of the Century Strings series. For me, Century Strings has set the gold standard by which I have since measured all other orchestral string libraries. The beauty of the sample set, coupled with the range and uniqueness of the articulations, have raised the bar so high that it’s going to be difficult for me to be impressed by virtual string instruments again. I know it will eventually happen, but right now it’s almost hard to imagine a set of virtual strings that could sound much better.

Originally releasing Century Ensemble and Century Sordino Strings, 8dio later added to the Century Strings series with Century Ostinato Strings I – a smaller library dedicated to straight-forward ostinato patterns. This library provided commonly heard tempo-synced ostinato string patterns in a variety of speeds and styles. 8dio continues to dig deeper into the world of string ostinatos with their latest release, Century Ostinato Strings II. Whereas Century Ostinato Strings I focused on more common ostinatos, this second installment goes a bit more outside of the box to offer more unique patterns.

In total, there are 15 different ostinato patterns within the library (as opposed to the 13 included in the original installment of Century Ostinato Strings). These range in style – from more straight-forward patterns to syncopated patterns, as well as ranging in timbre – from staccato to more sustained patterns.

The magic of this library lies in its cohesive tone; something that is difficult to tease out of a traditional virtual string library. The fact that the library was recorded in entire phrases versus via individual notes means the notes feel more connected, and thus “real.” This solves what is normally a problem for composers who look to add realism and depth to their tracks and orchestral mockups. I particularly like the staccato ostinatos within this library and find them especially useful.

While, as in the first library (and for the price), I would have liked to have had more patterns to choose from, 8dio have done a brilliant job of extending the usefulness of each pattern with the fantastic Kontakt engine. As in each Century Strings library, you are given a great selection of microphone positions along with a highly customizable interface that allows you to select where and how you want to enter each articulation. 8dio’s Century engine was already among my favorites for ease of use and flexibility, but it has been refined even more so to fit the particular needs of the string ostinatos within this library. Whereas the first installment of Century Ostinato Strings came with mostly vanilla controls to use for shaping the ostinatos (i.e. Speed, Response), the Century Ostinato Strings II engine has been tailored to offer more flexibility, thus extending the usefulness of the library.

While this one still has the typical controls for Expression, Response, Attack, and Release, there is now both a Speed control and a Retrigger control. While the speed control is self-explanatory, offering speeds from ½ to 2X, the Retrigger dial allows you to control how often the pattern will retrigger – from turning it off altogether to having it retrigger every bar, every 2 bars, 3/4, and 3/42. This leads to entirely new patterns being created, which is really nice.

The one big advantage that the original Century Ostinato Strings library has over this one is that it offered individual patches for each stringed instrument (Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass), whereas Century Ostinato Strings II only comes in ensemble form. However, there are four additional .nki patches for Close Spread, Mod Wheel, Poly-Time Legato, and a Pre-Loaded template. Of these, the Poly-Time Legato patch deserves the most recognition.

Over the last few years, 8dio has begun to master the art of poly-legato scripting – the ability to play legato in the midst of a pattern phrase without retriggering the beginning of the phrase. I can’t tell you just how useful and cutting-edge this feature is. My one complaint is that the Retrigger control is locked for this patch, meaning you are more limited in how long you can play each phrase; it will not retrigger automatically. However, the inclusion of this poly scripting in any way is already something to praise. I really hope this is a feature that is explored in more depth in the upcoming update to the original Century Strings. I am so excited for that update!

8dio continues to raise the bar for what a string library should be. Quality trumps quantity in Century Ostinato Strings II, meaning the price is high for content you get, but the content you do get is exceptional.

Facts

Century Ostinato Strings II requires the full version of Kontakt 5.8+ and is not compatible with the free Kontakt Player. The library is 18.8 GB compressed to 7.97 GB. There are 15 tempo-synced phrases included. Century Ostinato Strings II is available from 8dio for $298.

Century Ostinato Strings Chapter II sells for $298,00 from 8Dio

 

Demos of Century Ostinato Strings Chapter II by 8Dio

 

Videos of Century Ostinato Strings Chapter II by 8Dio

 

Contributor Raborn Johnson reviews Century Ostinato Strings Chapter II by 8Dio
8dio brings a unique collection of recorded ostinato string phrases. While there are only 15 initial patterns to choose from, quality trumps quantity.”