Spitfire has recently released Symphonic Evolutions, an orchestral string library with a twist. It uses the trademark Sptifire Evo Grid to create alluring string textures/pads, that are usually extremely hard to reproduce with ordinary string libraries. The library, as most Sptifire products, has been recorded at the lovely Air Lyndhurst Hall in London. I have been using the library for about a month now, so let’s see what I think of it.
Content and Sound
The library features 16 1st Violins, 14 2nd Violins, 12 Violas, 10 Cellos & 8 Basses. The library is capable of performing 48 evolutions orchestrated by established contemporary concert composer Ben Foskett. It was recorded at 96kHz via 2 Studer tape machines, with priceless valve and ribbon mics, using the same equipment used for the major scores, the resulting sound is emotive, musical and almost magical.
While the library comes with numerous patches, that are basically pre-programmed Evo Grids or single evolutions spread through the entire keyboard, the main patch Symphonic Strings Evolutions is really the only patch you need. The Evo Grid looks overwhelming at first, but you get used to it pretty quickly, but more about this later. The full list of available evolutions/articulations can be found here:
The sound of the library is truly unique. Load up the Symphonic Strings Evolutions patch, sit down, press the randomize button and your favorite chord on your midi keyboard and enjoy the atmosphere that is evolving in front of you. The longer the note/chord is held the more the sound will evolve. I was amazed by the beautiful sounding textures I was able to produce with this library and how easy the process goes.
I use the library primarily to add texture and depth to my ordinary string libraries (mostly together with sustained ensemble strings or I mixed it with some warm synth pads. It works magic while scoring parts with dialogue, since the sound is very soft yet rich in nature and because it is constantly evolving, it never gets boring. What I really have to mention, is that the library sounds extremely realistic. You have the feeling the musicians are standing right in front of you.
GUI Evo Grid
The GUI looks very daunting at first site, but it is very easy to use. Even, if you do not want to spend the time to get to know it well, pressing the randomize button, the dice found on the top next to the “Evo” text, will work wonders. In a nutshell the Evo Grid is a square on which the y axis represents the tones and the X axis represents the different evolutions available, while the different color dots represent the evolution type selected. I had no trouble at all getting used the this fancy looking GUI. At the end of the day it is most important, that you get a general feeling about what sound you are trying to achieve and being able to get as close to this sounds as possible in as little time possible.
The other functions of the GUI are similar as in most Spitfire libraries, but all settings are found right on the main page, which is very handy. You can adjust the microphone positions, ADSR, reverb, delay or tape saturation settings. All in all I really like the feel of this GUI.
Price performance and conclusion
Symphonic Strings Evolutions retails at 309 EUR, so they are one of the cheapest libraries by Spitfire. I do have to say, I think the price is right for this product, since it has so much potential in being used in numerous styles, genres and projects. As I have said previously, I have been using the library for about a month now (3 documentaries, a video game and a few commercials) and I have used at least one instance of Symphonic Evolutions in every single projects to date! Symphonic Strings Evolutions has become an essential part of my orchestral and scoring template. I would highly recommend this product to all professionals in the field of composing for media. There are very few libraries out there that, with which I have been so infatuated by!