Review Spitfire Chamber Strings by Spitfire Audio

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Spitfire Chamber Strings is a beast of a library weighing in at 80GB with 244 articulations. It sounds fantastic, but might just be more library than many composer can use.

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Jump to the Videos of Spitfire Chamber Strings

Jump to the Videos of Spitfire Chamber Strings

At the time of review Spitfire Chamber Strings had a special intro price of £412 till August 1, 2016.

Review: Spitfire Chamber Strings by Spitfire Audio

Spitfire Audio is known for creating some of the finest sample libraries around. One of the crown jewels of their creative tools has been the Sable series libraries. The Sable modules (no longer available) were one of Spitfire Audio’s most critically acclaimed libraries. With the release of Spitfire Chamber Strings, the developer has consolidated all modules into one package.with the most commonly used mic options: close, tree, and ambient.

Those Sable instruments have been the secret weapon of many composers as I found out when I had a chance to interview Christian Henson in January of 2016 and he admitted that the Sable String Ensemble patch often make into his finished mixes without separation of string parts or sections. That was one of the reasons I was thrilled to get my hands on Spitfire Chamber Strings to review as it has replaced several all 5 of the Sable volumes with a simplified folder structure which is easy for new users yet still familiar for Sable veterans.

The Sable Strings have been a “secret weapon” of many pro composers I know so I was very excited to get a chance to check out the sample set that has been re-packaged as Spitfire Chamber Strings.

Spitfire Chamber Strings is a beast of a kontakt player library with over 72,000 samples and downloads as 80GB. The library is KONTROL keyboard compatible. Past purchasers of any SABLE product are all entitled to a discounted upgrade path. Also, important to note again that this is not a new library, this is a “refreshed” sample set with an updated interface and scripting formerly known as Sable.

Spitfire Chamber Strings sells for £549 (BPs) from Spitfire Audio.

 

Thoughts

The 6 main kontakt instruments (Violin 1 & 2, Viola, Celli, Basses and an Ensemble nki) load up with 9 lush sounding articulations.  Just checking out these 6 instruments alone you instantly hear the beautifully sample sets. The interface will be familiar to anyone who has been using Spitfire libraries and if you get lost the helpful “info bubbles” can usually clear things up.

On the front of the interface the “Easy Mix” options let you dial in your sound quickly, and the clean interface has dynamics, vibrato, speed and expression at the ready.

MainVlns

One thing thats strikes me immediately is that with most libraries I tend to end up muting the built in reverb and effects and adding 3rd party premium reverb plugins. With Spitfire Chamber Strings I found that just the close/room mic’s alone were enough to get amazing sounding sections and lush performances. Lush and full of life, Spitfire Chamber Strings is one of the best sounding string libraries I have used. Tastes of course differ so be sure to listen to all the demos and playthroughs to form your own opinion of the sound.

Lush and full of life, Spitfire Chamber Strings is one of the best sounding string libraries I have used.

The sample set comes from recording 16 players, four 1st Violins, three 2nd Violins, three Violas, three Cellos & three Bassists.  The playback is surprisingly full from such a small chamber group. All of the articulations were recorded with multiple round robins, dynamic layers and presented with 3 microphone positions.

This is likely the deepest sample set I have ever had my hands on as well with 244 articulations! The articulations span from the expected shorts articulations to shorts with more character like the Spicatto Feathered and Staccato Dig.  I especially love how the legato patches (Violas Decorativeplayed in the in the video review) provide such a smooth transition and balance between using velocity and mod wheel for dynamic range and expression.

The library also comes with a giant serving of effects and extended techniques like the  Disco Falls, Runs, slides, Tense, FX, Trills m2, M2, m3 & 4ths articulations which are available in the Individual Articulations folder.

Ensembles

The ‘Ensemble’ patch comes with a selection of articulations and techniques and is designed for “sketching and composing with ‘out of the box’ satisfaction.”This is the patch that Christian Henson shared was his favorite instrument when I interviewed him earlier this year. Now, I see why. It sounds great and I have grown very fond of sketching as well as using the ensemble patch for final mixes.

Keyswitchrange

The interface is similar to the other Spitfire libraries I have an it does the job allowing you to get around and get the instruments set up. The articulations are accessed as you would expect with keyswitches, which load up by default ascending from  C-1. I personally don’t like using C-1 for keyswitches (off the standard 88 keys). This is an easy adjustment as the interface allows for “Advanced” adjustments (the wrench icon) then dragging the “Keyswitch” adjuster in the lower left hand corner.

The Advanced editing mode allows for editing several parameters including adjusting key switch position and the ability to unload individual articulations which will cut back on your instrument’s footprint.

While in the Advanced editing mode you have several other parameters for control including the ability to Unload individual articulations which will cut back on your instrument’s footprint.

Ostinatum

Digging further in the instruments feature an “Ostinatum” feature when one of the short articulations are loaded up. This give you the ability to program rhythms and to some degree patterns with a variety of parameters (note order, chords, etc) and save/load your own custom created ostinatos.

This library is a beast. At the end of the review the 107.3 GB of uncompressed samples “feel” like 500! Just about every string ensemble articulation, I can think of is playable through this library. But I don’t think I can recommend this to everyone. The price point is high. It’s not that they Spitfire is asking for too much coin for this library more so that most composers won’t need this many articulations. If you’re not a pro working on scoring spots, TV, film or game music or working on a major label release this library might be way more than you need.

This is the most extensively sampled string ensemble library I have ever used.

For previous owners of any of the Sable modules there are upgrade paths and from what I gather from previous Sable reviews it looks like Spitfire has streamlined the folder system making it much easier to navigate. It also looks like the interface has been re-designed with a clearer articulation interface. The old articulations (and the one I am used to in other Spitrefile libraries) was represented in notes on a staff which I always found a little confusing. The instruments also have added crossfades for vibrato. I have also read that a few bugs were fixed from the last version, most notably inconsistencies in velocity based articulation switching.

There is no manual and instead Spitfire opts for what they are calling a “Dynamic Manual” which comes in the form of “Help Bubbles” I do like that they are included in the instrument but as a reviewer sometime the easiest way to get to the heart of an instrument is to reference the dreaded Manual.

Facts

For a full list of all artiualtions and information on the instrument visit the official Spitfire Chamber Strings page.

Spitfire Chamber Strings sells for £549 (BPs) from Spitfire Audio.

 

Demos of Spitfire Chamber Strings

 

Videos of Spitfire Chamber Strings