Spitfire Audio has provided exceptionally high-quality sound libraries over time. The Top 11 Spitfire Audio Libraries & Plugins 2023 are the result of our decision to dedicate a whole post to them.
Two distinguished composers, Christian Henson and Paul Thomson, established Spitfire Audio. They pooled their resources and decided to record their string samples at the renowned AIR studios in London as a result of their common displeasure with string sample banks.
They first only allowed a select group of friends and acquaintances to purchase copies of their samples, but soon rumours about this exclusive sample club spread around the songwriting community across the Atlantic Ocean.
Within a year, some of the most well-known film and television composers joined, and Paul and Christian decided to make their samples available to the general public. Over 100 sample libraries have been recorded and made available by Spitfire Audio so far.
They have worked with some of the biggest names in media composition, such as the London Contemporary Orchestra, Eric Whitacre, Lafur Arnalds, and Hans Zimmer. From the soundtracks of big Hollywood movies to Radiohead and U2 records, their sounds can be heard everywhere.
The initial side project of Paul and Christian is today a successful multinational music technology company with an outstanding and diverse team, all focused on a single goal: to motivate a new generation of songwriters.
The core of their company continues to be their staff of composers, who use their expertise as compulsive music makers to examine the requirements and preferences of their fellow composers.
It’s time to check out this great lineup of sounds they have available in 2023.
1. Spitfire Audio – Hans Zimmer Strings (Plugin)
Renowned virtual instrument manufacturer, Spitfire Audio, produced Hans Zimmer Strings with the help of the legendary composer for Dunkirk, Interstellar, and Inception.
As with many virtual instruments by Spitfire Audio, Hans Zimmer Strings had a high investment in quality and detail. Recorded in London’s Lyndhurst Hall, the plugin featured 344 professional string players who performed various exciting techniques.
Hans Zimmer Strings suits exceptionally well in film scoring productions; its orchestral quality can be leveled to the fantastic Spitfire Audio’s Orbis plugin, as both deliver authentic and organic sounds fitting for every great cinematic project.
The Spitfire Audio team gathered many strings players in AIR Studios and recorded a substantial range of techniques from different mic positions and angles. They include long super sul pont, tremolo, marcato shorts, harmonic waves, legato, long superb flautando, and col legno tratto.
- Spatial Distribution
The developers arranged the players in different locations for sound enrichment. For the violinists, twenty in each direction, center, left, right, and further filling the galleries. For violas, twenty at the close center and both sides. Cellos featured the same distribution as violins, and basses were twenty-four at the very center.
The sampling field of Hans Zimmer Strings is excitingly whole. The process of capturing the samples delivered astounding results for every particular instrument. With 251 GB in download size, the plugin has more than 360,000 samples, 246 presets, and up to 26 mic positions for the best possible outcome at producing astounding levels of string detail in any thematic score.
This plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.10 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Spitfire Audio delivered a fantastic and brilliantly designed string virtual instrument with the assistance and production techniques of legendary composer Hans Zimmer. With different options, you can choose between Violins, Violas, Basses, and Cellos to compose an entire orchestral piece.
It offers many ways to alter the instruments’ feelings by featuring different techniques, mic placements, and presets to achieve any texture in a score.
2. Spitfire Audio – Abbey Road One Orchestral Foundations (Plugin)
This plugin features samples recorded in a coveted studio room and brings cinematic quality to your orchestral sounds.
Abbey Road’s Studio One has seen a lot throughout its history. This room is famous for its sonic capabilities and adequate space to fit an entire ensemble, from iconic bands to ambitious recordings. Thinking of such big standards, Spitfire Audio carefully recorded a 90-piece symphonic orchestra with excellent microphones, amazing acoustics, top engineers, and the best players available. As a result, every instrument gets the deserved attention, so it’ll sound as it should, with amazing precision regarding sonic details and dynamics.
- Five distinct libraries
Each of five distinct Abbey Road One library is designed to evoke a particular aspect of your project. “Vibrant Reeds” adds brilliance and color to your track by pairing oboes and clarinets with oboes and Cor Anglais at the same time; “Grand Brass” merges horns and tube with horns and cellos for maximum deepness; “Wondrous Flutes” brings more brilliance with flute and piccolo performances; “Legendary Low Strings” combines the cello and bass sections for a beautiful low-end; and, finally, “Sparkling Woodwinds” adds the deserved higher harmonics to everything.
- Articulations and dynamic layers
This collection features 69 different articulations paired with five distinct dynamic layers. You can also find your perfect sound by selecting up to 10 individual mics (with great options like a pair of RM1B and some ribbons mics) with two mix signals. Varying these parameters allows you to enhance the overall sound quality and craft a unique approach to your score.
- Iconic spot
Abbey Road is perhaps the most famous recording studio globally, but there’s a reason for that: the unique recording rooms, with their exquisite acoustics, make everything played there sound fantastic. Studio One featured many amazing recording sessions for famous movie soundtracks, such as several “Harry Potter” scores, “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi,” “1917,” and “Avengers: Endgame,” just to name a few.
- A cinematic experience
The sections are organized into ensembles, featuring different instrument combinations that can inspire you quickly and easily. The strings are divided into “Low” and “High,” brass section into “Low,” and horns, trumpets, and woodwind into “Low” and “High.” Dividing these instruments into lower or higher sections can instantly help you find great sound as if they were just recorded in your room.
- Five distinct libraries
The library is available for macOS 10.10 to 11 (64-bit only) and Windows 7, 8, or 10 (64-bit only and the latest Service Pack required). It comes in VST2, VST3, AAX, AU, and NKS plugin formats.
Spitfire Audio is an excellent software developer when it comes to orchestral sounds. Attention to detail is always satisfying, and this is definitely a must when it comes to cinematic plugins.
The dynamic variety, allied with the amazing acoustics offered by none other than Abbey Road’s Studio One, undoubtedly makes this a must-have option in your arsenal.
Although it’s more focused on cinematic productions, you can use this excellent collection to add any orchestral bits necessary to make your track sound as good as if you’ve just recorded with an actual orchestra.
3. Spitfire Audio – Abbey Road: Iconic Strings 2 (Plugin)
Discover the sound of strings at a legendary studio with this detailed sample library by Spitfire Audio.
Abbey Road has represented the epitome of fame a music studio could have throughout modern music history. And since its opening back in 1932, the Abbey Road Studio Two has remained the most renowned studio space ever, thanks to notable recordings by The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Oasis, Adele, Ed Sheeran, etc.
Spitfire Audio’s Iconic Strings 2 virtual instrument allows you to bring the same acoustic space to your music studio with in-depth sample recordings. There are two editions of his sample library: Core and Professional. The Core is the smaller library with only 46 GB of sample content, whereas the Professional sizes at a whopping 292 GB.
I’ll be describing the Professional edition for this review. However, I’d recommend you check out the Core edition if budget and disk space are issues.
- The Instruments
The plugin features five of London’s top string players playing the following instruments: violin 1, violin 2, viola, cello, and contrabass. Each includes many articulations, playing styles, multiple dynamic layers, round robins, etc., that help create authentic string parts. These include everything from traditional legato, pizzicato, spiccato, spiccatissimo, staccato, etc., to sul pont, sul tasto, flautendo, brushed, etc. In total, there are 112 articulations.
Similarly, each solo instrument features three legato modes: performance legato, slurred legato, and portamento legato. The performance legato mode includes slurred, alternating attacks and fast runs, allowing you to play a variety of styles without switching articulations.
- Technique Triggers
Iconic Strings offers five ways to trigger articulations or techniques. These include key switches, CC, velocity, MIDI channel, and playing speed. Key switches allow you to change the articulation by pressing a configurable note on your keyboard, usually on your keyboard’s lowest and highest octaves. You can easily adjust a key switch by dragging it across the virtual keyboard. Similarly, CC mode lets you assign a CC number (like modulation wheel’s CC1) and choose a range or a specific value to trigger a technique.
Furthermore, the velocity mode allows you to trigger articulations based on how hard you play. Likewise, the MIDI channel mode is excellent for making rapid switches without writing key switches or CC data. And finally, speed mode lets you specify the time interval between notes to switch to a specific articulation. It’s useful when you want faster notes to be spiccato, whereas the slower ones play legato.
Iconic Strings comes with various options and features that may help you get the most out of your performance. First, Neighbor Zone RR doubles the round-robin count using transposed adjacent samples. Similarly, Layer x2 modes play two round-robin samples together to thicken the sound. And Layer +2 or -2 layers the round-robin notes two semitones above or below the note you’re playing.
Similarly, the plugin provides six bowing patterns for all spiccatissimo, spiccato, and staccato articulations. These patterns change how the players bow the instrument. These are the bowing patterns available, where D means downbow and U means upbow: Dx1 Ux1, Dx2 Ux2, Dx4 Ux4, Ux1 Dx1, Ux2 Dx2, and Ux4 Dx4.
Furthermore, the main interface allows you to control the Tightness (sample start offset), legato speed, etc. Additionally, long techniques (like legato) will enable you to adjust the string release sound and feature three layers of vibrato.
The Arranger section is only available for ensemble patches, which spread all five of the instruments in the plugin across your keyboard. You can change the playable range of each instrument and allow polyphony per instrument or stick to monophony. You can also overlap two or more instruments.
There are eight microphone positions in Iconic Strings. These include the Decca Tree-inspired LCR 1 with three Neumann M50s and LCR 2 with three REDD 47 mics. Similarly, the Close Condenser configuration uses a condenser mic on each instrument: Neumann KM86 for violins, KM140 for the viola, and UT FET47 on the cello and bass. Further, the Close Ribbon uses Coles 4038 mics on each instrument, whereas Close Vintage uses Neumann KM54 on the violins & viola and U47 on cello & bass. There are two Stereo positions and an Ambient configuration with two omnidirectional mics.
In addition, there are four mic mixes. These include Mix 1 (close condensers + LCR 1), Mix 2 (close ribbons, LCR 2, Stereo Mid, and Ambient), Vintage Mix 1, and Vintage Mix 2. The Vintage Mix 1 features the classic REDD desk passed through a J37 tape machine. And the Vintage Mix 2 adds automatic double-tracking.
The Iconic Strings plugin has the acoustic space of Abbey Road Studio Two. So, you’ll find a small amount of built-in reverb, although it’s rather raw, dry, and up close. However, it also features a Reverb knob that lets you add additional reverb to your sound. Furthermore, you’ll find a Compress knob that adds a fixed 2:1 compression.
Iconic Strings is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.10 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Iconic Strings is an excellent solo strings instrument plugin that sounds high quality and natural. Add a little reverb, and it’s the perfect companion to the Abbey Road One cinematic instrument plugin. Of course, it’s ideal for adding backing strings on pop or rock songs.
The various mic positions and mixes effortlessly help you emulate vintage vibes and contemporary styles.
Furthermore, the plugin has a clean and intuitive user interface, which gets you started without referring to a manual. So, it’s excellent for intermediate and advanced users.
4. Spitfire Audio Epic Brass & Woodwinds (Plugin)
Add some epicness to your orchestration with the Originals Epic instruments.
The Epic Brass & Woodwinds plugin provides basic brass and woodwind ensemble sounds. I don’t recommend them as the only brass or woodwind plugin for your whole project. Instead, Epic Brass & Woodwinds is for layering with existing samples to add a grittier and bigger tone.
For example, you could use it to make your French horns sound more massive than they did before.
The plugin provides three types of audio signals: close, room, and distorted. The close position sounds slightly more intimate than the room signal, which is a combination of a Decca Tree, ambient, and outrigger mic setups. Conversely, the distorted signal adds a grittier sound that works well for adding character.
The plugin sports two faders on its user interface that control the expression of the instruments. These include expression and dynamics control. As you’d expect, the expression control (CC 11) modifies the instrument’s volume. However, the dynamics control (CC 1) changes the dynamic layer of the instrument, making the instrument softer and harder while naturally changing the volume.
Epic Brass & Woodwinds features two sections: brass and woodwinds. Each contains three patches: live, long, and short. The short patch provides the staccato articulation, whereas the long articulation plays legato. Similarly, you can change the plugin’s reverb, release, and tightness. Here, tightness changes the sample start position, making the short articulation tighter and more on time.
The plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.13 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Epic Brass & Woodwind is an excellent collection of electrifying brass and woodwind sounds. You will find the sounds most useful for making your film scores bombastic and adding large tutti hits in hip-hop songs.
Furthermore, the plugin retails for a very low price, making it an excellent starter pack. However, as mentioned before, I don’t recommend it as your sole woodwind or brass sample plugin.
5. Spitfire Audio – Abbey Road One Sparkling Woodwinds (Plugin)
Capture the iconic sound of Abbey Road’s scoring stage Studio One, the world’s largest recording space.
The studio is a part of the success of iconic film scores like The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and Harry Potter and songs by artists like Stevie Wonder, U2, and Harry Styles. And Spitfire Audio’s Abbey Road series of instruments brings the renowned sound to your studio.
Sparkling Woodwinds is a straightforward sampled instrument featuring woodwind instruments and a glockenspiel to add a nice “sparkle” to the sound. It’s ideal for creating woodwind runs and lyrical passages that sound magical and beautiful.
Of course, you could also use it to play chords and harmonies. However, the lack of control over the various instruments in the woodwind ensemble may make the plugin appear limiting in some use.
- Three Articulations
The plugin features three types of playing techniques with multiple dynamic layers: legato, long, and staccato. Each of them has two or more instruments playing together in octaves to create a magical feel. Furthermore, the legato is monophonic, whereas the long articulation is polyphonic and excellent for playing chords. Likewise, you can trigger the articulations with the following parameters: key switch, CC range, velocity, MIDI channel, and speed.
Sparkling Woodwinds come with multiple mixes and microphone positions. These include the following: mix 1, mix 2, vintage 1, vintage 2, pop close, pop room, close mics, Decca tree 1, Decca tree 2, ambiance, outriggers, and spill mics.
Mix 1 and 2 are based around the Decca tree 1 and 2 setups, mixed by Simon Rhode. Similarly, the vintage mixes feature classic outboard gear at Abbey Road Studios. Conversely, the pop mixes are excellent for contemporary music with intimate sounds. And the rest of the microphone setups feature multiple microphones to deliver a wide variety.
Alongside changing their volumes, you can adjust the stereo width of the close and spot signals and pan the microphones. Similarly, you can assign each signal to a new stereo output to have the entire mix in your DAW’s mixer. Then, you can add third-party effect plugins to suit your taste.
The effects section features the following: reverb, release, vibrato, overlay level, and overlay speed. The overlay level controls the volume of the glockenspiel, which you can also find on the main page. Similarly, the overlay speed changes the responsiveness of the glockenspiel. It plays in sync with the legato transition at 0%, whereas increasing the parameter makes it more responsive.
Sparkling Woodwinds is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.10 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Sparkling Woodwinds is an orchestrated woodwind section with a glockenspiel, ideal for creating brilliant woodwind passages and runs. It doesn’t overwhelm you with parameters and simply works. Furthermore, its sound is easily recognizable, thanks to the true sound of Abbey Road’s Studio One, which adds the cinematic vibe to your scores. So, if you are after an affordable woodwind plugin that is excellent for film scoring, look no further. And have a look at Spitfire Audio’s other woodwind plugins in the same range: Vibrant Reeds, Mysterious Reeds, and Wondrous Flutes.
6. Spitfire Albion ONE (Kontakt Library)
Albion ONE by Spitfire is an all-in-one scoring tool featuring a 109-piece orchestra and many synth sounds.
This library is probably the first thing people recommended you to buy when you stepped into the film scoring world, and there’s a reason for it. Albion ONE offers an extensive range of sounds fit for modern films and games, including orchestral multis and synth sequences.
Albion ONE features a 109-piece orchestra featuring acclaimed players from London. They were recorded performing various articulations: short notes, long notes, tremolos, pizzicatos, etc. The sounds are divided into sections: Brass Low, Mid and High, Woods High and Low, and Strings. Hence, you cannot play each instrument individually.
Albion ONE features phrases for commonly-used orchestral flairs that are triggered using a single note. Similarly, you will have four mic options: close, tree, outriggers, and ambient. And finally, it features an ostinato designer or sequencer for tense, rhythmic pieces.
- Percussions and Loops
Of course, the library also features an extensive collection of percussions ranging from gentle vibes to action-packed blockbuster strikes. Furthermore, you can mangle and manipulate hundreds of percussive loops using the built-in Brunel Loop module.
This library requires Kontakt Player 5.6.8 or higher, which requires Windows 7 or macOS 10.10 or higher for both 32-bit and 64-bit.
Overall, you will find Albion ONE to be a mix of traditional and modern film scoring cultures, capable of producing a wide range of sounds. In addition to what we’ve talked about so far, you will also find synth loops and hybrid sounds for good measure. It’s truly a versatile library that every score composer should have.
7. Spitfire Audio Solo Strings (Kontakt Library)
Designed to stand out while at the same time fitting in with the rest of the orchestra.
Featuring six of Britain’s most prestigious players, Solo Strings provides expression and intimacy through lyrical solo passages, layering the solo strings, or string quartets. Recorded in the world-famous Lyndhurst Hall in London and captured with state-of-the-art equipment, this sample set boasts around 41,000 samples of great quality.
Six instrument patches conform the library: one contrabass (Leon Bosch), one cello (Richard Hardwood), one viola (Max Baillie), and three violins recorded independently; these are Virtuoso (Jack Lieberck), 1st Desk (Clio Gould), and Progressive (Thomas Gould), coming each with their own set of articulations and placement in the hall with the intention to provide the users with a gamut of colors that fit their creative needs.
- Intuitive GUI:
When loading a patch, we first see an overview panel offering quick access to all the articulations that come with the corresponding patch. This panel also provides the user with several assignable sliders controlling Dynamics, Vibrato, Release, Tightness, and Expression. Additionally, an Easy Mix slider blends and balances the signal between close and far mic positions.
- The White Wrench:
At the top-left side of the GUI is an icon of a white wrench; clicking on it displays the general control options consisting of round-robin behavior, sample purging, transposing, CC mapping, tempo syncing, and more specific controls for mic positioning (Close, Tree, Ambient).
Clicking on the short articulations (at the bottom of the interface) displays a control panel called Ostinatum, a combination between a step sequencer and arpeggiator, allowing the user to create complex patterns by providing plenty of customization options.
- Advance Controls:
This folder contains the Performance Legato patches for each instrument group. These patches come with an intelligent script that adapts to the user’s playstyle by analyzing the velocity and speed when hitting the keys and triggers transitions based on that. Playing slowly and softly, the script produces slurred portamento transitions; at medium velocity, a neutral-fingered legato transition is triggered, while hitting them hard triggers a quick bow change legato.
The library is available for Kontakt Player 5 or higher. Kontakt is available for Windows 7 or higher and MacOS 10.10 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Spitfire Solo Strings is the go-to sample library of many musicians for a good reason: It’s well-recorded, masterfully programmed, and carefully organized, with articulations beautifully crafted and a versatile mix of microphones providing users with great possibilities. Nevertheless, it’s a fairly expensive product, so be sure this is the right one for you before purchasing.
8. Spitfire Audio Harp Swarm (Kontakt Library)
The harp is elevated to a new level by Spitfire Audio. There are many features in Harp Swarm, and it has a beautiful sound.
Air Studios’ hallway was filled with nine harps playing at once. From creepy slow and quick tremolandi to long and short plucks, harmonics, and what may be the most astonishing collection of cascading glissandi I’ve ever heard. You may find a wealth of ideas and applications in the second section of the Swarm tale.
A hauntingly enormous melodic cosmos is created by the pinched harmonics, which will gladly expand over louder orchestral compositions in any dynamic. However, the Spitfire team created that the slow, rapid, and granular tremors, ranging from a gentle sea of calm coral to a fierce downpour, give this library its true charm.
The default view of the overview panel allows us to control the key features. We can adjust Dynamics, Speed, Release, and Expression as with their other Swarm plugins. Here I see that the microphone mixer has another user interface called Easy Mix, which aids in blending the microphones in a more intuitive way than technical, simulating how the sound is transmitted.
This feature is quite helpful. Finally, we have a more comprehensive choice for the micro blend mix on the general control panel, where we may choose presets, transpose, and alter the pace.
Your options for combining the microphones offered in this plugin are virtually endless. For example, it is possible to use a microphone in a location such as Close, Tree, Ambient, Outriggers, Surround Tree, or Gallery. In addition, Spitfire Audio provides you with three microphone mixes, Fine, Medium, and Broad, in case you don’t want to use this feature entirely. In the general control panel, you may find these settings.
- The Ostinatum
You have the option to contribute notes to the pattern sequencer via this interface, which results in an immediate creation. You only need to choose the Key and Speed at which you wish to sing. It resembles an arpeggiator on a synth.
The compressed 10.5GB download bundle contains the 7768 samples simultaneously recorded by nine harps set up in parallel in a soundproof room at Spitfire Audio in London. The plugin takes up 15.8GB of space when installed. Therefore, a Disk space of 21.00GB is needed for the duration of the installation.
The full version of Kontakt 5.8.1 or higher is needed. It runs on macOS 10.9 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only).
It is a plugin that nicely rounds out the collection of virtual instruments from Spitfire Audio. You have a lot of options, thanks to the distinctive textures of this plugin.
The little blend engine has benefited from a lot easier-to-use interface, and the glissandos are of high quality, making this plugin more accessible to novices.
Although it lacks numerous effects and has a tiny interface, future upgrades will undoubtedly include these requirements.
9. Spitfire Audio Riccoti Mallets (Kontakt Library)
An extensive collection of hammered instruments, skillfully recorded in the room at Spitfire provides you with a variety of sound options. The Spitfire Audio Riccoti Mallets plugin offers unheard-of capabilities.
Frank Ricotti, an all-around percussionist and jazz vibraphonist, has had a distinguished career as a composer and session musician. He has contributed to countless records and film scores, including those for Inception, Skyfall, Interstellar, and the Bourne series, to name a few.
You can hear the guy doing straight hits, rolls, and slides on marimba, glockenspiel, crotales, and xylophone using Spitfire Audio’s Ricotti Mallets. The xylophone has been added to the first three instruments, originally offered as special items and combined into one set.
The xylophone’s immediate descendent, the marimba, is similar to that instrument. Even though composers have written a lot for this instrument since the 1950s, it has only lately started to shine as a member of the modern orchestra. The softer and deeper sound of the marimba gave rise to a new kind of music, even though the playing style is the same as that of the xylophone.
- Glockenspiel and Crotales
Glockenspiel is difficult to capture properly or create convincingly, so you have more possibilities with our wide selection of microphones than with plugins to achieve the sound you want, from delicate and bell-like to brilliant and sparkling. Small bronze discs called crotales are stacked like keys on a piano to generate chromatic tones. They will cut through even the greatest orchestral arrangement for moments of enchanted beauty since they are one of the brightest percussion instruments.
A Marimba-like instrument with wooden bars and a brilliant tone. A collection of mallets would be lacking without this primary rhythm section, whether used to scale a ladder in a Tom and Jerry cartoon, provide the high end for an incredible system percussion session, or convey deeper malevolence in a Jon Brion composition.
- User Interface
The primary interface for melodic instruments is the overview panel. The primary feature controls and a straightforward microphone mixer are included in the default layout, which also shows all playback options. The General Control Panel offers more comprehensive instrument control, displays all accessible signals and feature controllers, and allows the user to delete procedures from memory to save system resources. Additionally, The Ostinatum’s pattern sequencer allows you to add notes, choose the key it triggers, and play to create an ostinato instantly. It is comparable to a synthesizer’s arpeggiator.
The full version of Kontakt 5.8.1 or higher is needed. It runs on macOS 10.9 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only).
Spitfire Audio Riccoti Mallets is providing a wide variety of rhythm patterns, the plugin broadens the expressive potential of music beyond the conventional harsh and brittle sound found in orchestral compositions. I enjoyed the hard and soft roll possibilities, enjoyed the mid-soft beaters’ tone, and found the glissando performances to be the ideal foil for cartoon comedic pratfalls.
10. LABS (Plugin)
A part of a collection of free plugins made by musicians for musicians.
Spitfire Audio’s LABS series is renowned for bringing loads of different, unique instruments to the hands of producers and musicians worldwide. This packaging gained notoriety by including very specific options, like choirs and cello samples, in a friendly and lightweight package that can be of use in almost any kind of production you can imagine.
- Elegant interface
All bundles present in the LABS series feature a minimalistic design interface that helps you to focus on what really matters: tweaking the sounds you want without much visual pollution. The plugin is very lightweight and will be friendly to most users with a not-so-potent CPU power, with equally good sound results.
- Simple controls
Spotting only three distinctive controls, LABS Wurli contains a green fader on the left that controls the overall volume of the library loaded and is connected to MIDI CC value 11, whereas the red fader on the right of it deals with dynamics and overall articulations, and it’s connected to MIDI CC value 1. The big central knob activates the FX menu and indicates the amount of FX used.
- Iconic sounds
All samples in this collection are provided with the excellent recording quality, with special attention to details and nuances. This may not be so important in other series installments, but in Wurli, you’ll get all the good smoothing sounds and delicate dynamics that this instrument can offer.
- Elegant interface
The plugin is available for macOS 10.10 to 11 (64-bit only) and Windows 7 to 10 (64-bit only). It comes in VST, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
This is probably the most comprehensive high-quality free library accessible to musicians that are looking for any specific instruments.
11. BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover – Spitfire Audio (Plugin)
The BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover is likely the most complete orchestral package you can find for free.
On top of sounding incredibly high-quality, the BBCSO Discover plugin features thirty-three orchestral instruments with an easy-to-use user interface. It has pre-mixed strings, woodwind, brass, and percussion ensemble sections.
Furthermore, each instrument in the sections provides multiple articulations. So, if you are currently learning orchestration, BBCSO Discover could be the ideal orchestral plugin and even a stepping stone to the paid versions for you.
- Instruments & Articulations
Of course, the most important part of any orchestral plugin or library is its arsenal of articulations. And BBCSO Discover provides plenty to create a complete piece of music! In the string section, you’ll find violin 1, violin 2, violas, celli, and bass. And each of them provides long (vibrato), spiccato, pizzicato, and tremolo articulations.
Similarly, the woodwind section features piccolos, flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons with long and staccatissimo articulations. And the brass section employs French horns, trumpets, tenor trombones, bass trombones, and tuba, again with long and staccatissimo articulations each. Likewise, the percussion section includes a harp, celeste, timpani, marimba, glockenspiel, tubular bells, and untuned percussions.
- Mode Switching
After you’ve composed some pieces of music using BBCSO Discover, you might decide to purchase a more in-depth and comprehensive orchestral library. And if you choose either the BBCSO Core or Professional, you can easily make your project compatible with the new library. Furthermore, if you receive a project done with BBCSO Professional, the plugin can play the project with either BBCSO Core or Discover, giving you complete freedom to move from one edition to another.
BBCSO Discover is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.10 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
BBCSO Discover is an excellent starting point for any orchestral composer, even if you own the paid versions of BBCSO. It features all the fundamental articulations necessary to get a piece of music started.
Further, if it isn’t a complicated piece, you could even finish it using this plugin. And although the string section is notably prioritized in this plugin, the woodwind ensembles are still highly usable. So, you could either use them as your main sounds or layer them with other libraries.
However, note that since it only has a single mix, the samples have quite a long reverb, making additional reverb unnecessary.
We’ve grown accustomed to using high-quality Spitfire plugins over time. The accuracy with which these plugins were captured is astounding. They provide plugins with top-quality samples merged in an attractive and highly user-friendly plugin, in addition to having an engine that works very well with the Kontakt player.
These Spitfire solutions cover various genres and are frequently used in movies, games, and music. For instance, Spitfire Audio – Abbey Road One Sparkling Woodwinds provides music from musicians like Stevie Wonder, U2, and Harry Styles for several films, including The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and Harry Potter. For crafting woodwind sections, the Sparkling Woodwinds sounds are perfect.
As well as acknowledging Spitfire Audio’s “Abbey Road: Iconic Strings” Using this plugin, bands like Pink Floyd, Oasis, and Adele provided us with excellent music. This plugin offers a variety of effects that aid in the creative process. Additionally, the microphones used to record them are in two stereo locations, providing four mic mixes at the end.
The plugins I have frequently used since then and mentioned in publications are Ricotti Mallets and Spitfire Audio Harp Swarm. The Dynamics and Expression modes, which are simple to discover in their layout, and their user-friendly design make them quite welcome. Both the ability to mix mics and the flexibility in instrument articulation were appealing to me.
Last but not least, I’d like to recommend their free plugins, which are simple to use and are available almost anywhere on the internet. We’re referring to LABS and Discover by the BBC Symphony Orchestra on Spitfire Audio. These plugins are exceptional for the simple reason that they are not difficult in the slightest. The BBCSO also gains from a more detailed version, but there are occasions when it’s beneficial to adhere to the fundamental articulations required to make music. Its free version is welcomed because of this.
We strongly advise using the Spitfire plugins; they are practical and, once you get used to the way the sounds are provided, you will undoubtedly experience a more intense creative process.
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Death metal enthusiast here. I am a Romanian musician and producer with over 13 years of experience in the music industry. I’ve experienced all types of Metal up until now, playing Melodic Death Metal, Brutal Death Metal, and Black Metal with different bands. Learning by doing is my base principle, which is why I’ve been drawn to sound design from an early age. Read more…