[REVIEW] Spitfire - Sable Strings

Discussion in 'Software Reviews and Tutorials' started by Andrew, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

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    Warning
    This review will contain spoilers
    This review was written by non-native English speaker. Please excuse any language discrepancies, such as grammar errors, misused tenses, wrong spelling, etc.


    [​IMG]

    Spitfire Audio - Sable Strings​


    About Spitfire

    If you would have asked me one year ago, "Do you know Spitfire?", I would probably tell you, "Those fighters from WWII piloted by Royal Air Force, yes I do!". :rofl:
    Nowadays, for me the term Spitfire quite frankly gets associated only with "Spitfire Audio" *yes*

    Spitfire Audio was for a long time hidden from general public. They recorded thair famous AIR project and sold it exclusively to some notable film composers, only recently they started their public projects.
    Being based in London, Spitfire Audio has access to some of the most excellent players in the world. That is perhaps one of the reasons their libraries are that great!

    Prologue
    At first I was pretty much reluctant to believe that British string sound is actually sampled. While listening to my all time favourite Braveheart score, I thought, "It would be amazing to work with that sort of sound". And then I discovered Sables and the dream came true.

    Sables and Spitfire libraries in general boast with excellent programming and breathtaking sonic quality, which is quite uncommon in Kontakt sampling region. At first glance, you have the excellent coders, but poor sound technicians, while some others are experts in the acoustic region, but do have difficulty finishing their sonic masterpieces with decent coding.
    Spitfire take experts from either field and combines their powers for unprecedent result!

    Introduction
    Sable Strings comes with all sections of a string orchestra in divisi form, 1st Violins, 2nd Violins, Violas, Celli, Basses. Their first volume is focused on exploring the nuances of 1st Violins and Celli, the second one is dedicated to 2nd Violins, Violas and Basses and finally the third volume is all about extended techniques and effects.

    Layout and specifics
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    The layout is straightforward and well-arranged. It is easy to control everything there is about the sound. Whether you want to mix microphones, switch articulations, change legato transition speed or play non-vibrato, everything is well visible on the main GUI.

    All Spitfire libraries are equipped with neighbour-borrowing algorithm, which you can turn on and off. This increase realism for sustains and triples the available round-robins for shorts.
    Noteworthy is also their crossfading algorithm, which is very similar to Audiobro's approach, there is in fact no crossfading, the modwheel simply increases the volume of a single set of samples, then at certain value, the script crossfade to the next set. Amazing! No more phasing problems!

    Spitfire Sable strings are filled to the top with articulations, basicaly every single articulation on strings was recorded (perhaps except Détaché) in loads of round-robins. So you can finally enrich your pallete with Short Con Sordini, Sul Pont Sustain, Flautando and digged Staccato!

    I was curious whether the staccato articulation is misplaced in stereo field as it so happens in some other libraries, but to my great relief, all articulations are spot-on and sound extremely realistic.

    little drawbacks
    The library is overall very enjoyable to play with, and any of these little drawbacks isn't a huge problem, though I'd better point them out
    In Sable vol. 3, the tempo-synced measured tremolo does not work properly. That patch itself is silent, only in Violins and Celli there is actually something playing. The sound out of these patches are way inconsistent and pops a lot in different tempo.
    Vibrato control is just on-off switch. This might not be a problem, but the patches are unable to do crossfades in vibrato as LA Scoring Strings and Cinematic Strings 2 do. Spitfire commented on this, that crossfading vibratos actually sound like twice the amount of players, but I have never experienced that sound in LASS or CS2. They could at least offer the option to crossfade OR on-off.

    Conclusion
    I would recommend this amazing library any day. Though quite expensive (list price £1097), it's far more worth the money than stacked ProjectSAM stuff with little control. Spitfire Audio recently donated £30,000 to charity, so you're indirectly helping the children as well.
    Be sure, however, to test the stuff before you buy it. It might be something different than you originally anticipated. :thumbsup:

    Happy New Year!
    Andrew
     
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  3. Catalyst

    Catalyst Audiosexual

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    Awesome I've been waiting for this. Great review, well worded and to the point. Thank you so much for taking the time Andrew. Happy holidays. :mates:
     
  4. jayhind

    jayhind Ultrasonic

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    I was put off by the uselessness of the Albion series but you have convinced me that Sable Strings is a worthy String library. One thing that annoyed me in Albion is different KS for sustain and legato, these should be together. How is it handled here? Also have you tried 8dio Adagio? How does Sable compare to Adagio?
     
  5. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

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    Thank you for your question, Threadkiller.
    Adagio put more focus on legato transitions than any other library, however completely lacking extended articulations that you get with Sables. The playability is also a bit worse, you have no control of the attack, legato transitions are often misplaced in stereo field and there is little to none dynamic range.
    You can however choose from wide variety of bowings, but still you'll be stuck with single legato technique that you loaded (no on-the-fly switching).

    About Albions, Spitfire codes the legato script in quite different way than for example CineSamples does. Polyphonic legato lines MUST be played in single velocities, e.g. one line played with one velocity, the other one with different.
    Otherwise you are right, you need separate keyswitch for legato in Albion as well as in Sables, but if you ask me, that's not a big hassle :mates:

    One thing I forgot to mention, Sables sounds well together with CS2, the instrument placement is nearly identical. Good idea would be to use Sables as expressive divisi and CS2 as full sections.
     
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