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Review: Studio Orchestra Series by Spitfire Audio

With the recent release of Spitfire Audio’s Studio Woodwinds Professional library, the Studio Orchestra Series is now complete and includes Studio Strings Professional and Studio Brass Professional.

This series was recorded at Air Studio One by multiple Grammy-winning engineer, Simon Rhodes.

There are two collections available – the Core and the Professional, which has more instrument and microphone choices including “close, tree, outrigger and ambient mics, or any combination, with two expert mixes from Simon Rhodes.”

The interfaces feature Spitfire’s customary design, with immediate access to an “easy mix” mic continuum (close to far), dynamics, vibrato, reverb, expression and articulation settings. Advanced settings provide control of round robin features, transposition, CC mapping, stereo width, ostinatum, mic choice and levels.

In the Professional series, Rhodes used Neumann, Schoeps and Sennheiser mics among others and “the largest 88R Neve console in the world” to record onto pristine 2” analog tape before being converted with the top-of-the-line Prism AD converted at 96k.”

There are a multitude of articulations across the full range of orchestral woodwinds, brass and strings instruments. The variety is comprehensive and impressive:

  • Piccolo
  • Flute Solo
  • Flutes a3
  • Alto Flute
  • Bass Flute
  • Oboe Solo
  • Oboes a3
  • Cor Anglais
  • Clarinet Solo
  • Clarinets a3
  • Bass Clarinet
  • Contrabass Clarinet
  • Bassoon Solo
  • Bassoons a3
  • Contrabassoon
  • Horn Solo
  • Horns a4
  • Tenor Trombones a2
  • Bass Trombone a2
  • Trumpet Solo
  • Trumpets a2
  • Tuba
  • Cimbasso
  • Violins 1 (4A, 4B, 8, 16)
  • Violins 2 (3A, 3B, 6, 12)
  • Violas (3A, 3B, 6, 12)
  • Celli (3A, 3B, 6, 12)
  • Basses (4)

The addition of the Cor Anglais, Contrabass Clarinet and Cimbasso are great for expanding the timbral palette and often used in film scoring textures.

The articulations include the standard flavors plus many extras such as:

  • Strings: falls, rips, slides, super sul tasto, runs, various grace notes, bushed bowing, trills from a minor 2nd to perfect 4th, short harmonics and several flavors of long and short notes.
  • Winds: key noise, multi-tongue, air, rips, falls, long hollow and flutter, and swells.
  • Brass: various stopped and bells up artics for the horns, multi-tongue, rips, flutter and several varieties of short and long notes.

As with all good orchestral libraries, you can trigger articulations with programmable key-switches and a purge function allows the user to conserve RAM if necessary. The Tightness control is a great feature that allows the notes to affect the timing of the attack which could range from a realistic lag to a more temporally accurate rhythmic placement.

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These libraries differ from other Spitfire releases and other orchestral libraries in general thanks to the dry stage nature of Air Studio One in London. The location is smaller than most orchestral settings, offering the possibility of tight and detailed samples recorded in a way that is suitable for small to large ensemble configurations. The samples are beautifully responsive to expression control and highly playable for realistic lines and articulated gestures. These libraries are perfect for the composer that requires more control in terms of the spatial characteristics of the sound and instrumental combinations.

If you’re looking for pre-configured ensembles and a slew of audio processing effects, look elsewhere. The Studio Orchestra Series is like a collection of perfectly recorded, untouched raw materials that await the skills and imagination of a composer/orchestrator to mine the sonic beauty that lies within.

The Professional collection is enormous requiring significant storage space and a really fast drive to load the instruments in a reasonable amount of time. As with many sample libraries, an SDD drive is advisable, although not mandatory if you have the patience, RAM and are not running too many instances at any given time.

Spitfire Studio Orchestra Professional
425 GB
$959 (special introductory price as of this writing – regularly $1297)

Spitfire Studio Orchestra
32 GB
$479 (special introductory price as of this writing – regularly $647)


Check out my other articles, reviews, interviews and my video tutorial series, Synthesis 101 available exclusively on The Pro Audio Files.

Follow me on Twitter: @PMantione
Instagram: philipmantione

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Philip Mantione

Philip Mantione

Philip Mantione is a composer, synthesist, guitarist, educator and sound artist active in the LA experimental music scene. His music has been presented in festivals, museums and galleries worldwide. His current project is TriAngular Bent, an electroacoustic trio featuring Don Preston (founding member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention) and circuit bending virtuoso, Jeff Boynton. Details at philipmantione.com
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