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Review: Spitfire Audio Sable Vol 1 and 2

Toby Pitman on 2013-07-26 05:05:02 in Review  1 comments

There's some good orchestral libraries... and then, there's some truly great ones! Toby Pitman
discovers which category Spitre Audio's Sable Volume 1 and 2 falls into in this review.

Spitre Audio have been producing some seriously good orchestral libraries for some time. It used to be you could only
get hold of them if you were a pro composer, and they werent cheap! Luckily Spitre Audio now make libraries that all of
us can enjoy at a very reasonable price. And thats a very good thing!
Sable is Spitre Audios latest oering. It features a world class 16 piece string section over two volumes. Its the rst part
of Spitres new British Modular Library (or BML) range.
Recorded at Air Studios by the best musicians in London, Spitres libraries are pure class. This is the same space that is
responsible for some of the most iconic movie scores in the last 20 years having hosting composers like Hans Zimmer,
Danny Elfman, David Arnold, Alan Sylvestri, Brian Tyler and James Horner (to name a few).

All youll need is a full version of Kontakt 4.2 or above to run the library. So whats it all about?

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Sable comes in two volumes (with a 3rd on the way). Volume 1 consists of Violins 1 and Cellos while Volume 2 contains
Violins 2, Viola and Contrabass. All this gives you the full range of an orchestral string section.

The actual sections are kept quite small and give you a more focused sound compared with the more symphonic palette
of Spitres Albion (to which this makes a great companion). Violins 1 uses four players while the remaining sections all
use three players.
This can actually be an advantage as its possible to build larger sections by stacking the same patch (youll nd a clever tip
on this in the manual under General Controls). This is great for thick single note section parts (especially Legato lines).
Well have a look at some nifty Divisi features later.

Spitre have gone all out to give you all the reverberant beauty of Lyndhurst Hall and also the great mics that Air Studios
has to oer. Each volume comes with four separate downloads which contain patches and samples for a wide variety of
dierent microphone placements.
Main Mics - Features Close mics, Decca Tree, Ambient and Outrigger.
Alt Mics - Features Close Ribbon, Gallery and Stage.
Stereo Mixes - Three premixed ambiences. Less memory intensive.
Surround Mixes - A set of 5.1 mixes.

You can mix and match any combination you like as long as you have the RAM for it. The Close mics will give you upfront
denition which is great for pop strings while the Gallery and Ambient mics will give you the expansive reverb of a
hollywood score.
The recording path is the best you can get. Neve AIR Montserrat preamps, Neve 96 channel 88R console, Prism
converters into Protools at 96 kHz. Probably the most interesting thing is that all this is sent via good old 2 tape! Yes,
tape! As youd expect the results are... pretty darn good!! All this comes into Kontakt at 24 bit / 48 kHz.

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You can load a set of mics by pressing the RAM icon under each fader. To unload just press again or turn the level o.
These faders can also be assigned to MIDI CCs (22-25) for riding the ambience. Nice!

Once installed, youll nd the patches from the Files Tab in the Kontakt browser by navigating to the install folder.

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Spitre give you a generous amount of patches. The main patch for each section gives you access to all the articulations
which can be loaded as and when you need them plus all the other cool features.
There are also patches for Single articulations and Economical patches for things like Short, Long and Decorative (Trills
etc) articulations.

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You also get some extra patches suited to layering with other Spitre libraries as well as a nifty patch called The Punch
Cog which lets you deal with any round robin samples your not keen on.

Theres a wide range of articulations for all sections (with more coming in Vol 3). These cover long note articulations

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including Legato (with three transition types - ngered, bowed and portamento), Sustained, Cor Sordino, Harmonics,
Tremolo and Flautando.

The Legato patches are incredibly realistic due to the various transition types and really nice to play. The Cor Sordino and
Flautando are superb for softer passages.
The short note articulations include Staccato, Spiccato, Spiccato Feathered, Staccato Dig, Cor Sordino, Pizzicato, Pizzicato
Bartok and Col Legno. Theres also Major and Minor trills.
Spitre have kept it real with the shorts here too with some realistic imperfections in timing between players. You can
always tighten these up with the Punch Cog patch if you like.

Articulations can be loaded and unloaded depending on what you need by clicking the small RAM icon underneath each
one. This can save you memory especially if you have lots of microphones loaded.
All articulations can be key-switched in the usual manner and can even be switched by velocity ranges or driven by MIDI
channel. Theres plenty of round robin samples to keep things real for all the articulations too.
All articulations feature velocity layering. Long note dynamic layers are crossfaded via the Mod-Wheel. By default short
note layers are triggered by velocity but you can also control this via the Mod-wheel too if you like. Vibrato can be
crossfaded via CC16 and you can also control the speed of the Legato transitions on the Legato patches via CC21.

Theres enough here to take care of pretty much any string arrangement, and with Vol 3 aiming to provide things like
measured trems, extended trill intervals, Sul Ponticello and FX youll not nd yourself wanting.

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Ostinatum Machine
The short articulations have a nice feature called the Ostinatum Machine which allows you to program rhythmic and
melodic patterns. You can think of it like an advanced arpeggiator.

There are eight patterns that can be layered or individually key-switched. This is a great way to create rhythmic passages
and new ideas.

Polyphonic Legato
One very nice feature carried over from the Albion Loegria library is Polyphonic Legato. This is probably the best (and
cleverly simple) implementation of this Ive seen.
Traditionally, Legato patches can only play one note at a time, being the nature of legato. By enabling the feature and
setting the required voice count Sable splits the voices by assigning them to velocity ranges. Say you have 2 voices
selected. One legato line will play at velocities 0-63 and the other at 64-127.

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As the type of Legato transition is based on velocity youd think this might be a problem but its not as Sable has a set of
key-switches (F0-A0) to control the transition type that overrides velocity.
This function makes playing Divisi legato lines within a section from one patch a breeze!

The detail and quality of the sounds in Sable are in my opinion pretty hard to beat. All the sections and articulations are
recorded to the absolute best quality available. The samples are really fun to play with a whole heap of control over
dynamics and expression. Like anything in life you get what you pay for and for the money your getting the players and
venue that would cost ve times the price of Sable per day. So whether its a realistic mock-up or a nished product Sable
delivers on all fronts.
You can check out some great walkthroughs with Spitre founder Paul Thomson on their YouTube channel. To nd out
more about Sable and check out some demos, head over to Spitre Audio and prepare to open your wallet!


review, orchestra, sample, sampler, kontakt, Kontakt library

Toby Pitman
More articles by this author

For the past 20 years Toby has worked as a professional guitarist, programmer and producer. Clients include Sir Paul McCartney,
George Michael, Shirley Bassey, Yusuf Islam, Giles Martin as well as the London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies. He has also worked
extensively in TV, Advertising and Film. As well as composing himself he has also ... Read More


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