[REVIEW] Spitfire - Albion Series

Discussion in 'Software Reviews and Tutorials' started by Andrew, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

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    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Spitfire Audio - Albion Series

    Prologue
    Albion, the very first public library released in 2011, in its style close to Symphobian stacked ensembles, providing however much more control, was a huge success then and still is. Albion, the epitome of little control, but consistent sound and amazing out-of-the-box results. Certainly worthwhile library when you are racing against time to please movie directors.

    Introduction
    Albions, same as Sables come in three installments:
    • Albion 1 - Main focus on big orchestral sound, with full sections, percussion and some additional content
    • Albion 2 Loegria (="England") - Loegria breaks down into smaller sections and same as Sables, focus more on the expressiveness. It however does contain percussion in the form of shakers and metal hits.
    • Albion 3 Iceni (="Brythonic tribe") - Iceni was built for one thing only - low end. With 24 Celli and 8 Basses as well as Cimbassi, Bass Trombones, Contrabassoons and Bass Clarinets, this is the stuff for "staying low" :dancing:

    As with nearly all Spitfire libraries, Albions come with 4 microphone positions - Close, Tree, Ambient and Outrigger. Iceni is an exception here, since 24 Celli players take up lot of space, they did Close Celli and Close Basses separately.

    All Albions also include Stephenson Steam Band, a bunch of 'steamy' pads, Byron Tapes, looped old school recordings and Brunel Loops, Beats and Fenton Reversals for sound design. Those additions are however far from being useful and most of the time, you'll be fine with Albion Orchestra and Darwin Percussion.

    Quite recently, Spitfire put up updates, known as REDUX, which unifies the GUI and also bring additional functionality...and well, bugs.

    Specification and Layout

    Contrasting to Symphobia with single Strings, Brass and Woodwinds patch, Albions offer you two Strings patches (Hi/Lo), three Brass patches (Hi/Med/Lo) and two Woodwinds patches (Hi/Lo) named respectively based on pitch. As Cello overlays the Viola range, this Hi/Lo separation gives much more control than single patch. They could have gone a bit farther and split Violas and Violins though. :bleh:
    [​IMG]
    Fig. 1 - Articulation selection to illustrate different approach of each installment

    As you can see, the layout is again straightforward and easy to understand. Loegria has the most articulation on Strings, also featuring Col Legno, Flautando and Short Con Sordini. There is also half-section recorded for more intimate sound, but you'll be probably better off with Sables for that. :wink:
    Albion 1 offers three different legatos for Hi strings - Octaves, Con Sordino and Normal. You can of course change the transition speed on the fly. *yes*
    And we even get Ostinatium articulations!
    [​IMG]
    Fig. 2 - Three legato styles - Octaves, CS and Normal

    All patches comes in different versions. Punch Cog patches allow you to modify each and every sample individually, Time-Machine patches let you stretch short articulations, Combined and Ensembles enable you to play the section's full range and lastly with Overlay patches, layering multiple instruments become fun!
    [​IMG]
    Fig. 3 - Patches comes in different versions
    The sound is very consistent, no stereo-image hopping and no misplaced shorts. Good work, Spitfire!

    Problems & Drawbacks
    Well, we had to get there. :rofl:
    Yet again, not a big deal here.
    • One thing that struck me from the arranger's perspective is, WHY WOULD ANYONE PUT OCTAVES WHERE THEY DON'T BELONG. High Brass, that's what I'm talking about. Low brass is still tolerable. Sure there aren't many hi-brass instruments except for trumpets and cornets, but that single patch might mess up your melody lines with unnecessary doubling, so keep that in mind.
    • Also let me tell you something about REDUX. It works great, add valuable velocity attacks for longs, but UI for Albion 1 Con Sordini is broken. So in my case, I've kept older Albion 1 and REDUXed only Loegria. Othewise no problems.
    • Be sure to turn off CC1 Mapped Vel. for longs, it'll disable the velocity attack.
    • Don't use presets, it happened many times that they messed something up and then the instrument didn't play.
    • And lastly, as Threadkiller pointed out, you cannot switch Legato and Long articulation with single keyswitch. You can however set the velocity limit for each one or remap the keyswitch (hold Ctrl and click on desired articulation).
    [​IMG]
    Fig. 4 - broken UI for instrument range

    Conclusion
    Albions are definitely worth a try. They sacrifice a bit of control for faster result, but still provide enough tools to express yourself faithfully. Packed with typical British sound of Lyndhurst Hall, they form a great on-the-go packages, ready to give epic feel to energetic tracks as well as to broaden the emotion of slow and tender cues.
    They should definitely not miss in your orchestral pallete. Also they are great replacement for Symphobia!

    Reviewer's rating: :rofl:
    8 out of 10 stars
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. phloopy

    phloopy Audiosexual

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    I love your reviews Andrew! :wink:

    Myself: I didnt like the Albion serie at all ... to many patches alike and all the stuff with odd sounds that hasnt anything to do with an orchestral library! But thats just me!
     
  4. SillySausage

    SillySausage Producer

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    I seriously need to get me some more hard drive space :wink:
     
  5. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

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    Every time I finish such review, I feel like I left out something important. :rofl:
     
  6. phloopy

    phloopy Audiosexual

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    Andrew

    Im very sure you make a lot of people in here very happy because you take the time doing this job - Respect!!!!
     
  7. Introninja

    Introninja Audiosexual

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    Great Job Andrew!!!! :wink:

    I'm awaiting your HZ Percussion Review lol. Cheers
     
  8. Catalyst

    Catalyst Audiosexual

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    The utmost respect for these excellent reviews Andrew, the new year is shaping up to be the best yet. No worries about leaving anything out, if you ever think of anything that is important to add you can either edit the review or add it as a comment. Thanks again mate. :thumbsup:
     
  9. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

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    Haha, great!
    Once I get hold of it, I'll surely write one.

    I would like to also review Hollywood Strings in honest detail as more and more people seem to be disappointed with it. There's nothing like spending $500 only to find that the most appraised string library is a total crap...or maybe not :thumbsup:
    Again once I get hold of it... :break:
     
  10. transporter1333

    transporter1333 Member

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    We all had the luck in the last two months to have the opportunity to download and test the most amazing libraries developed for KONTAKT we were waiting (some for a long time ...). There were so many that leave us some sort of doubt: What is the best for this or that kind of work? What is the best cost benefit? Which delivers the best quality?

    Andrew your contribution is very important to help us to clarify the things.

    Thanks for your time and dedication.

    Maybe we could have a space dedicated to this type of information. It would be great for us all I think.

    Thanks again Andrew!! :wink:
     
  11. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

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    Ha, HZ Percussion were just released.
    Since the library is pretty huge and may not fit everyone,
    I will make writing that review a priority :wink:
     
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