Today I want to have a look at “Albion V – Tundra“, an orchestral Library for Kontakt from well-known folks at Spitfire Audio in the UK. Spitfire has been one of the top players in sample library games for several years, and by how everybody agrees at least on one thing, if they do something they do it well.
The “Albion” series has been what many composers started their collection with and remains to this day something I recommend to students as a solid choice for a first library in terms of orchestral sound. But by no means are they “beginner libraries”, they are among the most comprehensive, highest quality libraries I know, in terms of full orchestra, and coloration and I still use them frequently.
Albion libraries contain not just the orchestral recordings, but also percussion, as well as a full synth engine with many patches and a variety of microphone positions, allowing you to mix the sound on the fly.
Why it’s different
While Albion ONE, has a more”general” sound, all the other ones in the series have a particular type of character they represent. So does this one too.
Spitfire Audio themselves say this library is “recorded on the edge of silence”. In a time where musically we seem to strife for bigger, louder, more epic, it is not what I would have suspected to be their next overarching theme. Having played with the library though, I must say that I welcome what seems almost like a counter move to our current trend, very much.
Albion V Tundra contains not just many phrases that are hard to come by anywhere else, it also does create a new found awareness for the power and importance of silence. A sound that you can just make out, straining your ears to catch subtle changes, paints a color that is very different but not less important than the loud.
As soon as you start playing with Albion V – Tundra, you understand it’s name “Tundra”. Even if you are no big fan of the typical Scandinavian sound, pop music always has its percentage of that sound, so you are bound to recognize it. It is a very particular coloring of sound that, to my knowledge, has not been compiled before, and making it available will definitely help diversity and change to remain constant factors of the scoring music history.
The sound of “Tundra” is not very loud, but extremely powerful. As always, the microphone positions add an enormous level of flexibility to the sound, and the great sound quality really makes it easy to see the point of this library. It has once been said that the spaces between the lines are responsible for the meaning of a picture. Albion V really shows that there is truth to that, and that good sound does not depend on volume.
And while the sound does match the icy feel of Scandinavian beauty, I found it to do warm and tender just as well, and be as flexible as I have grown to expect from Spitfire Audio’s libraries.
For those of you who know the Spitfire interfaces, there is not much new, but we know that just because there is nothing to fix if nothing is broken. I felt right at home in the comfort of the simplistic but extremely elegant and functional User Interface. For those new to it, it may take a few moments, but it’s fairly intuitive and quick to learn. Plus the very helpful tool-tips that appear on the first start, make it easy for everyone to get the ins and outs right away.
The Pegboard of the Evo Grid might not be something everyone is familiar with, but it shouldn’t take anyone long to figure it out since it is so intuitive. But even if it doesn’t feel the same to you, and you don’t want to read the help text, there is a tone of tutorials out there that will help you get the most out of it.
For most of us, it is just like coming home though, and I would like to point out how great it is to open a new library and instantly feel familiar. SpitfireAudio maintains that tradition for a long time by now, and I know I am not the only fan of it. Still they manage not to stagnate. Changes happen and there is always an improvement. They just manage to implement it so subtly that it never throws you off, and always feels familiar.
As far as orchestral libraries go, there come the point where you have everything you need, and the only reason to get something new would be a significant improvement in either sound quality, or the colors the library can represent. Albion V is one of those cases. Because of its very specific sound, I wouldn’t quite call it a must-have for everyone, but especially considering the price point and quality, I would definitely recommend it and call it a “must for lovers of silence” and a “should” for everyone else.
I absolutely love this Kontakt library and it adds a rare level of confidence to silent moments in a composer’s repertoire.
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