Hello Composers, Mike here! =)

Today I will review a great orchestral instrument collection called Palette Orchestral Series, by Red Room Audio. Watch my Full Video Demo of Palette here.

My Overall Impression: I am totally blown away with how much content there is in Palette Orchestral Series. The sketchpad alone covers pretty much all you need to compose orchestral music, and with the added brush packs you really get all the colors you need…a full palette indeed!

Palette Symphonic Sketchpad

Palette Symphonic SketchpadPalette Orchestral Series starts with their flagship product: Symphonic Sketchpad, and then adds on what they call “Brush Packs”, which are essentially extra standalone products which cover other colors of a cinematic music composers’ toolbox.

The “Symphonic Sketchpad” gives you access to the complete orchestra from strings, brass and woodwinds…to percussion, and even trailer effects.

It is a great collection of orchestral and cinematic instruments which even without the extra brush packs is very powerful on its own.

Here’s a video walkthrough of Palette Symphonic Sketchpad:

As you can see in the video, the interface is very well thought out, as are the feature set available.

My Favorite things are:

  • The Expression Sliders at the bottom
  • Clear Layout of the Articulations
  • Custom Editing of Articulations
  • No “pages” to browse through
  • The Visual Image of all Percussion Instruments
  • NKS compatible (NI Komplete Kontrol)

An added bonus I particularly liked was that both the strings and brass come in 2 versions. One standard full ensemble size, and another smaller chamber size.

Palette Melodics

Palette MelodicsThe first “Brush Pack” to Palette Orchestral Series is called Melodics, and is of course focused on writing melodic and lyrical lines in your music compositions.

The main selling point of the “Melodics Brush Pack” is of course the actual instruments and articulations available here, which are all focused on melody and lyrical writing.

Personally I love the fact that there are true recorded combinations (meaning no scripting, but actual unison and octave recordings).

For example: Trumpets + Horns in octaves, Tuba + Trombone in octaves, Low Brass + Low Strings in octaves.

Teaser: Not only do they sound wonderful since they are real recorded combinations, but I love the ease of use and workflow boost this gives me as a composer!

Here’s a video walkthrough of Palette Melodics:

As you can see in the video, the interface and features very much follows the same layout as the Symphonic Sketchpad flagship product.

My Favorite things are:

  • True Recorded Instrument Combinations
  • True Legato on most of the Instruments
  • Easy to adjust the focus of the Combinations in the Mixer
  • Detailed control of the Legato in the Editor
  • Fairly dry recordings so you can add your own reverb
  • NKS compatible (NI Komplete Kontrol)

As an added bonus there are also several solo instruments included, which you can play monophonic or polyphonic.

Palette Orchestral FX

Palette Orchestral FXThis is probably one of the most important type of orchestral library you can have.

Why? Because you can’t make these type of “orchestral fx” sounds with standard orchestral libraries.

These are unique performances of both classic and unusual orchestral effects that can be used to add tension, drama and energy to your music compositions in a very organic way.

I have to confess that it took me a while to learn how to use orchestral effects like these.

I had trouble learning what sound to use, and when and where…I guess it’s because I was not used to using these types of sounds.

However, I learned that by adding just a hint of them here and there (like spices), it can really level up your music composition in both quality and interest, as well as tension and energy.

Here’s a video walkthrough of Palette Orchestral FX:

The orchestral effects are divided into: Strings FX, Woodwinds FX, Brass FX, Choir FX and the powerful “Orchestral FX Builder”.

And there are a lot too go through: Rips, Clusters, Risers, Falls, Runs…Most focused on adding dissonance and tension, but some on simply adding some “spice”.

My Favorite things are:

  • The Orchestral FX Builder (Layer up to 4 FX)
  • The Categorization of the FX Patches
  • The consistent “Articulations” Mapping
  • Quick Customization with Mic Controls + FX Rack
  • NKS compatible (NI Komplete Kontrol)

As a bonus you can even change the root note in the Orchestral FX Builder patch, and you get unique control of all layers on volume, pan, tuning, sample start etc.

Palette Runs & Arps

Palette Runs & ArpsRuns and arpeggios are incredibly important in orchestral and cinematic music, to give it that flare, flow and spark of energy.

Programming runs in particular can be a tedious job, considering the timing, scale, direction etc.

Palette Runs & Arps features both strings and woodwinds ensembles performing scales in 6 common modes, each with up to 13 variations, plus 20 kinds of arpeggios.

And the best part is that these are real recorded phrases, not scripted, which makes them particularly lively and organic.

Here’s a video walkthrough of Palette Runs & Arps:

One of my favorite things about this product is that you can drag and drop the MIDI from any run or arp currently selected in the interface, directly into your sequencer.

This means you can actually use any of these runs or arps (1600 phrases in total) on any other library or even synthesizer you have in your composer toolkit.

My Favorite things are:

  • The Interface shows the Scale, Key and even Notes
  • The Key Switches & Mapping is very well implemented
  • Detailed control over the Sound, Timing and Sync
  • MIDI Drag and Drop is a Blessing to have available
  • NKS compatible (NI Komplete Kontrol)

As a bonus, since the mapping is unified, you can perform any run or arp on both strings and woodwinds in the same Kontakt instrument.

Palette Orchestral Series – My Summary

Mike - Founder of Professional ComposersPalette Orchestral series was a huge and wonderful surprise for me. Don’t get me wrong, I knew it was good…but I had no idea it would be THIS good.

The entire series feels very unified in the workflow, and as a matter of fact, the very workflow and well thought out features and controls are what I especially love about Palette.

I honestly feel that this is one of the absolute top collections for composers of Orchestral & Cinematic Music.

It covers the foundation with Symphonic Sketchpad, adds the lyrical aspect with Palette Melodics, the flare and flow with Palette Runs & Arps, and the final touch with Orchestral FX.

I am very much looking forward to see if Red Room Audio will add another brush pack to expand this collection.

Learn more about Palette Orchestral Series here, and get all specifications and listen to audio demonstrations here.