Review: Spitfire Audio - Albion ONE

Original review from FilmAndGameComposers.Com - find it here

Albion One, a complete reboot of the legendary Albion

A few years ago, Spitfire Audio released something that would find its way into many composers’ sonic arsenal – Albion. It featured an entire collection of orchestral sections, percussion, cinematic electronic sounds, and more. It has been praised as a “golden nugget” in the sample library world, has won several awards, and I’m sure very few would disagree that it has been one of the best orchestral libraries out there.

This time around, Spitfire Audio have gone back to the workshop, redesigned the mighty original Albion, and created Albion ONE – stronger, bigger, fatter, and better than ever. Featuring a gigantic 109 piece orchestra, a whole new GUI, new loops, synths, percussion, and many more new controls,  Albion ONE is a real competitor in the industry for a near-complete library designed for orchestral music writing, with a generous amount of hybrid scoring tools featuring the eDNA engine developed by Spitfire themselves.

Quick overview

  • 319£
  • 89,8 GB of uncompressed .wav
  • Strings, Brass, Woodwinds
  • Many articulations including legato, shorts, con sordino, tremolo, and more
  • Thunderous percussion & impacts
  • An generous amount of hybrid loops, bass synths, keys
  • Recorded in Lyndhurst Air hall
  • Close, Tree, Ambient, Outriggers mic positions
  • A big and lush sound

… and much more!

What’s inside of Albion ONE?

Let’s take a look at what comes with this library. Here is the folder structure inside of Kontakt 5 (note that the legacy content from old Albion is still included in many of these!)

Albion ONE Orchestra

  • Brass High, Mid and Low (articulations)
  • Strings (articulations)
  • Woods High and Low (articulations)
  • Legato, Runs, Cog, Time Machine, and Individual folders

Brunel Loops

  • Extreme Warped Brunel Loops, Organic Brunel Loops, Organic Mutations, Warped Brunel Loops

Darwin Percussion Ensemble

  • Darwin Percussion Ensemble, Easter Island, Hyper Toms, XXL Percussion

Stephenson’s Steam Band

  • Epic Adventures, Epic Atonal Adventure, Hybrid Orchestra, Steam Drones, Steam Pads, Steam Plucks

The Albion Legacy

  • Brass High, Mid, Low
  • Woods High and Low
  • Strings High and Low
  • Piano

The sound

When I first heard the demos of Albion ONE, I immediately recognized the familiar “grand” sound of Spitfire I had gotten accustomed to. It felt like Albion, but it sounded so much bigger, wider, much more powerful, and precise. And this doesn’t come as a surprise to me – after all, they have spent many years refining their sample development skills, and have gone about recording brand new samples for this one. My opinion: it soundsfantastic!

The fabulous thing about these patches is that Spitfire haven’t faked the octave patches for the different sections by layering two sampled sections together – they have actually recorded strings, brass, and woodwinds playing real octaves, and this resonates differently, in a more vibrant and realistic way.

The strings shorts deliver more bite, are more precise, and are overall just better than in the previous Albion. And as for the legatos, I was simply laughing with glee when I first played the full section legato. It is simply the best big section strings legato I have ever heart, and I will be using these for EVERY single big orchestral track I create. How do they do it?!

Con sordinos, col legnos, tremolos, and longs all sound rich and beautiful. The sordinos will particularly come in handy for me because of their characteristic soft and warm tone.

The low woods have a thick and strong sound that sits well in the bottom end of the orchestra, and the legatos are smooth and realistic. High woods sound clear and beautiful, and the legatos are sweet, so to speak. The brass is thick and juicy too. It doesn’t go all the way up to fortissimo, it seems, but I have other libraries for that – this one does pianissimo to forte gorgeously.

Albion One Orchestra

The main focus of this library is, of course, the orchestra. You have the functionality of controlling Tightness, Release, Dynamics(MIDI CC 1), Expression (MIDI CC 11), and a quick slider that changes the mic levels for more of a Far or Close sound. Mic positions are the Spitfire usual: Close, Tree, Ambient, and Outriggers. The Ostinatummode is again available to help program your next great ostinato. In some patches, you also have the self-explanatory Lush reverb slider, providing extra reverb from within the patch.

With the strings you get full, mid, low and high legato, spiccato, spiccato/staccato, pizzicato, col legno, longs, con sordino, tremolo, low 8ves shorts and low 8ves longs.

Woodwinds have high and low legato, shorts, longs, short arranged and long arranged. The arranged mean that they have orchestrated the woodwinds section with good orchestration and recorded that. The low woods have regular legato, shorts and longs.

The high brass have legato, shorts, longs, shorts (octaved) and long (octaved). The mid brass have legato, shorts and longs, and the low brass have legato, shorts, long, shorts (nasty) and long (nasty).

Darwin Percussion Ensemble

The percussion has also received a huge makeover, moving on from the old Albion. They are bigger and more powerful, especially the Easter Island hits. The actual Darwin Percussion Ensemble has a very wide range of useful percussion to play with, all the way from low drums (they’re all about that bass) to high metallic clings. These percussion sounds are great and useful for a variety of applications.

Brunel Loops & Stephenson Steam Band

Anyone who is already familiar with the Albion range will know what these are: basically a collection of great sounding synths, pads, and loops that serve as cue-starters, and some of them come with organic sound sources from their recordings. While I think that the orchestral parts are Spitfire‘s forte, these synths and patches made from organic samples are really useful as well. They are also all wrapped up in the eDNA engine, which I’m already familiar with, so I’m personally having a blast with these patches.

The small drawback

The only real dent I noticed in Albion ONE was that there is no option to play legatos with only one note – they are almost all in octaves (except for the mid strings). As it stands now, we have the option of full strings legato (I believe this is played as note + 8vb + 15vb, i.e. 2 octaves below the played note), low strings (played note + 8vb), mid strings (played note unison) and high strings (played note + 8vb). It would be fantastic to have the option of playing only one note unisons in the high and low strings.

I do however recognize that this would mean Spitfire need to record extra samples for both high and low strings, which means extra work and expense, and that would make the library pricier than it is now. So I’m really fine with this, and the sound of these octaved sections is spectacular.

I also think that the interface in the percussion patches can be somewhat confusing and overly complicated, but I think I simply need to sit down more with them to optimize them for my workflow.

Conclusion

This complete reboot of the old Albion from Spitfire Audio that is bigger, better, and more bad-ass than before.

I have always loved the Albion series. They have been very useful for sketching out ideas, beef up parts, give inspiration (Albion 3 blew my mind when I first got it), and a lot more. They boast great sound and incredible utility, and Albion ONE is nothing less. You can write full scores with this alone, because you just get so much in it. The legatos are very powerful and silky smooth, the brass is thick and full, but still very clean, the strings are edgy and rich, and the woodwinds are gorgeous. It’s a much bigger sound than the original Albion due to the increased ensemble sizes, and the programming is simply more advanced today. The more synthesized patches are chock-full of inspiration, and many of them have an organic feel that helps them fits right into orchestral soundtrack contexts.

There are almost no drawbacks to this library other than the fact that some high and low patches don’t have single-note unison legatos, but the price and sound of the octave legatos make up for that many times over.

Albion ONE now has a permanent place in my music. Those strings legatos… Oh man. Very well done, Spitfire Audio.


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Walid Feghali

Co-founder of Evenant, Walid is a composer, mechanical engineer, 
concept artist and entrepreneur from Sweden. Travelling and exploring new opportunities, always looking for new things to learn and create.