Review: Symphonic Shadows by 8Dio
Though inconsistent in gestures between sections, Symphonic Shadows is enticing on the orchestral side and heavy-hitting on the sound design side. The multitude of great options ready at your fingertips, plus the versatility to design many more outweigh the limitations of the polyphonic sample set.
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Review: Symphonic Shadows by 8dio
Symphonic Shadows is an orchestral aleatoric and dark sound design library by 8Dio. 8Dio is a forerunner in developing robust and highly customizable Kontakt instruments. Symphonic Shadows comes as a reimagining of orchestral samples of strings, brass and woodwinds produced by Olaijde Paris coupled with sinister sound design features to create a library that occupies the “twilight zone between conventional sampling and musical sound design.”
Symphonic Shadows is available for $299 from 8Dio
Symphonic Shadows is large but easy to navigate, containing an array of offerings from each of three orchestral groups; strings, brass and woodwinds. The raw orchestral samples have some very useful colors and gestures that you can insert at key moments of your score. With a library of this type, be prepared to spend a lot of time auditioning individual samples as you hunt through the many options to find the right sound.
The patch names are descriptive but you still have to listen to the actual sample to determine their characteristics.
The patch names are descriptive but you still have to listen to the actual sample to determine whether the likes of “Fury” or “Frantic” has the characteristics you want. Fortunately, the custom browser lets you quickly jump from patch to patch without spending time searching or reloading your previous choice. It also lets you layer the patches within the same browser.
The library has a lot more to offer on the sound design side. The effects features are very deep, and allow almost unlimited expansion of the available color palette. For instance, there is a custom textural convolution delay which allows you to warp the “Long” patches into a multitude of unique textures. Some other included effects are LFO, Delay and Dual Stereo Delay, EQ, Bit-Crusher, Distortion, and Pitch.
One thing that can make the library a bit difficult to work with is that the samples are polyphonic.
I found this limited the way in which I would use the raw samples. Many are not quite chromatic enough to be what I would consider clusters, and some of the raw samples just sound like a section warming up before rehearsal.
The polyphony aspect makes the library in general a bit like using glitter glue—magical when it fits with what goes around it, but not really feasible to blend with your paint. It can create some orchestration oddities; for example, if you play three keys simultaneously in the Woodwind patches you are hearing twelve flutes at once. While this sort of detail is not an issue in all contexts, it does cause trepidation if you need to be doing a full orchestration throughout your piece and minding your part numbers for consistent balance and blending.
While I found a lot of useful patches, I would have liked some of the gestures replicated in the other instrument groups. For example, several of the patches included in the brass group would be great to pair with strings doing the same thing if there were a string group counterpart to the brass figure. Obviously not all figures are idiomatic to all sections, but a few of the woodwind patches in particular have great gestures built in, and unfortunately lack a string or brass counterpart.
Overall I found this library enticing on the orchestral side and heavy-hitting on the sound design side. With a multitude of great options ready at your fingertips, plus the versatility to design many more, Symphonic Shadows is a great option for dramatic scores, games, or trailers.