Review: Intimate Studio Strings by 8Dio


Intimate Studio Strings offers a flexible sized ensemble with just the right amount of control and a variety of articulations

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Review: Intimate Studio Strings by 8Dio

8Dio’s Intimate Studio Strings very much follows the “dry and flexible” approach to deep sampling. Hence the name, Intimate Studio Strings focuses on a small ensemble of 5 violins, 3 violas, 3 celli, and 2 basses, with ensemble size controls that let you go down to individual solo instruments. Despite the huge amount of articulations available, the stripped down mic mixer and overall simpler interface makes this library very intuitive and playable. Once you learn how to tame such a close and dry sound, there’s a lot of flexibility and beautiful sounds to be found in Intimate Studio Strings.

Intimate Studio Strings sells for $298.00 from 8Dio


When I start to dig into a detailed orchestral library like this, I usually worry about how much of a learning curve I’ll have to deal with to start getting the most out of it. But Intimate Studio Strings keeps things surprisingly simple and streamlined in its interface.

First off, there are no individual instrument patches – only patches that include them all. One that holds all articulations, and then individual patches for different articulations. The articulation specific patches are the same as the full patch, but without the articulations browser. So we’ll focus on what you see in the full patch.

Opening the full patch shows you this menu first. You can load up to 10 articulations and mix their volume here. To the right you can set keyswitches or CC methods of articulation switching by clicking the piano icon and moving the number on the end up or down.

Double clicking a slot opens this browser where you can choose from the various articulations, which are nicely categorized.

Clicking on “Instrument” brings you here, which is where you do pretty much everything else there is to do. All four instruments are represented highest to lowest. The numbers at the top are how you select your section size. Below that is a mixer for each instrument. The white circle on top of the mixer enables and disables the instruments, so this is how you get isolated sections/instruments if you prefer to work that way. The mixer gives control over solo, mute, volume, pan, distance, and outputs. By default, everything is as close as possible. Increasing the distance narrows the stereo field and lowers the volume to simulate distance. It might also be doing some very subtle EQ, but it’s hard to tell without opening up the instrument scripting.

The bottom row has a few basic knobs. Dynamcis (cc1), Expression, Speed (for performance articulations), release (volume of all release samples), response (velocity sensitivity for shorts), and offset (legato transition offset/speed). There’s also a “noise” toggle, which switches on a constant room tone noise bed for the sake of authenticity.

It took me a little bit of time to come around on the raw sound of Intimate Studio Strings. So many orchestral libraries are recorded in big halls with tons of mic positions, but 8Dio went for close and dry, which can be jarring and harsh to hear for the first time. But with the technology of modern reverb plugins and other stereo placement techniques, this dry sound can be incredibly flexible. I’ve found that this library is most fun to play with some light hall reverb and a touch of EQ to tame the airy and scratchy frequencies.

As stereotypical as it is for orchestral instruments, my favorite articulation is definitely legato. The legato sounds best with individual instruments rather than the combined ensemble. Higher velocities trigger a nice and quick transition, while lower velocities provide more of a portamento transition. Using the “offset” knob, you can cut off these transitions a bit to make them faster and more agile. This library’s true legato is one of the best I’ve ever used.

I found that the staccato and spiccato options feel more like spiccato and spiccatissimo. Both are very quick and punchy, which is useful for playing fast passages.  but I would have liked the staccato to be a bit more fluffly and slow to really differentiate it from spiccato.

The effects and performance patches have some really good stuff, although I probably won’t use a lot of the “bowed” patches because of how specific they are. They consist of prerecorded swells at one speed, which makes them only work in certain circumstances. The measured tremolo and portato is nice to have, although for some reason the measured tremolos don’t loop continuously. There are recorded runs that go up to 5ths or octaves at two different speeds. All of these performance and effect articulations can be sped up or slowed down with the speed knob, and certain ones are locked to the host tempo, which makes them much easier to implement.

My favorite part of Intimate Studio Strings is the ensemble size control. With that added layer of flexibility, this library can also function as a really solid solo strings solution. Even though this is an ensemble library, I can tell that a lot of detail and care went into recording each individual player. I think I actually prefer treating it as a solo library!

However you decide to use it, Intimate Studio Strings sounds very good and polished. It’s full of quality recordings and can take you surprisingly far if you have the production chops to treat it properly.


Intimate Studio Strings is a flexible ensemble sized strings library recorded in a dry studio. The ensemble sizes range from 5 violins, 3 violas, 3 cellos, and 2 basses all the way down to solo instruments. There are over 60,000 samples across dozens of articulations, both traditional and performance based, weighing in at 45gb installed. All samples are 48Khz / 24bit.

The full retail version of Kontakt 5.7 or higher is required.

Intimate Studio Strings sells for $298.00 from 8Dio


Demos of Intimate Studio Strings by 8Dio

Videos of Intimate Studio Strings by 8Dio