BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover (Free) by Spitfire AudioHow Good can a Free Orchestral VST Library be?

Hey everyone! I have took two hours today to compose a short piece which i hope will put to rest the capabilities of Spitfires free Orchestra. does it sound good, bad, indifferent? Well, we shall find out shortly :wink:

The Composition

First let’s talk about the composition and why i chose to write a piece in the style that i did. Well, simply put. I wanted to be fair to the library. i took around 3 hours yesterday playing around with it to see what it was capable of, and instantly I realized its a soft library.

This isn’t a library that has any capacity for extreme dynamics… or even really soft dynamics. so i wrote a piece that incorporates more of a gentle approach. as you’ll hear though, it does this quite well and the brass do give the orchestra the boost it needs. initially i thought this was a library that could possibly only do up to MP, but as soon as you add the brass into the equation they push it up to around MF, which makes this much more usable as an orchestral library.

BBCSO – Thoughts

Where to start. Ok, I’ll start with the good stuff as theres a lot to talk about in regards to this.

  • The library is part of another three libraries that are supposed to make it much more accessible for composers to get into writing for orchestra and collaborating… do i think they managed that? Heck yeah i do! as an introduction to orchestral composition this is fantastic, the sounds are great and its instantly inspiring to use.
  • the best part of the library for me is the tuned percussion, especially the mallet percussion, it has a warmth that ill probably end up using in a few compositions in the near future. theres also some good cymbal crashes and a beautifully soft gong that really does sound majestic.
  • the strings are very silky and actually sound decent, this as you can tell was a surprise to me. not the best string patch out there because of the limitations, but it does the job.
  • This last one for me is the best pro i could think of. this library is so light on the CPU that i didn’t have to worry about anything crashing while i was performing the parts in. it was actually as easy as breathing. so for me i think this library is perfect for those of us who are composing huge scores and need something extremely light to play back the audio at a reasonable quality… and the quality is definitely on par.

ok, so now for the Bad stuff.

  • There are a few bugs that I’m sure spitfire are aware of. one bug makes all notes play back occasionally when you press stop on playback… this isn’t too big of a deal. however, the next one means that this library isn’t bounce-able (until they fix the bug). I tried to bounce the file out several times and checked all automation, but every time I did the start of a few of the notes jumped in bounce down. this is very sad and is something that i couldn’t get rid of without going in and automating after bouncing to audio. For the purposes of this , I’ve included the spiked bounce so you can hear with your own ears.
  • only one dynamic layer and one round robin. yep, that is why the library feels so soft… however to me it actually sounds like some of the instruments only have one dynamic layer where possible… so just be aware of this. its not really a bad thing as libraries can sound great with just a few samples, as this one indeed does… but it is a limitation that i feel we need to be aware of as it should influence your approach to writing when using it.

Studio Orchestra

When I changed over all the instruments I also kept all the automation exactly the same on the Studio orchestra. everything is exactly the same to keep this as fair as I could.

Conclusion

overall this is a solid library and will come in useful to every composer. Its notable to say that this library much like a lot of spitfires libraries is aimed at the classical composer. the composer who doesn’t want to write epic zimmer scores. its a library that will give you a slightly better than average sound, even without automation.

I personally can see myself using this library as a pallet, so that I can write all my parts down before changing to another library.

Below are two versions of the piece i wrote. One is the BBCSO Discover samples, and the other is what I at least consider to be the best spitfire orchestral library, the Spitfire studio orchestra.



What are your thoughts about the sound? How do you think it stacks up? I would love to know! I have also enabled download of these tracks for you to reference as you write your own music, if you wish :smiley:

About the Composer

Iimage have been writing and producing music for over ten years. Since Graduating Bangor University I have been working freelance as a composer/engineer and songwriter based in Wales which has been a fantastic journey.

This has meant that I have been able to hear thousands of composers and songwriters music and assist them in their creative journey, while also creating my own music along the way.

My passion and goal is to become a film composer full time, which I’m happy to say is now on the cards.

You can find me on my social media channels that I have provided links to below:
Sound Cloud – https://soundcloud.com/geofcevans

Facebook – https://m.facebook.com/Media.Man.P

Instagram – themediaman09

Twitter – @GeoffCharlesEv


Mikael Baggström - Composer and Sound DesignerMy name is Mikael “Mike” Baggström, and I am a composer, sound designer, artist and educator.

PS. Do you want to LEVEL UP as a Composer? – Learn How here.