BBC Symphony Orchestra, Spitfire App, and Spitfire Dedicated Plugin Suggestions

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8 comments

  • Official comment
    Luke

    Hi Peter and Sacha,

    Firstly thank you both for your feedback. The BBC SO was a huge undertaking for us that we're very proud of, and we're certainly grateful for any feedback that comes in from users to help us make the library even better.

    A lot of what has been mentioned are things that we are aware of (some of which are even planned for the next update), and anything else mentioned I have also passed along. In the meantime I'm happy to address a couple of the points made here:

    Microphone Positions vs Dynamic Layers

    This is one that we actually see mentioned a fair bit, but as a comparison it's a little unbalanced when it comes to the recording process itself. The issue here is recording time, where recording more dynamics requires far more recording time, and in comparison recording microphones will be happening regardless. The goal of the BBC SO was a full orchestra at an affordable price point, so we do have to draw the line somewhere in regards to the recording time, especially given the scale of the content included. As a side note, we strongly believe that microphone positions play a key part in the sound/depth of sampled instruments, and this is something we will continue to include. 

    Subscription Service

    Just to clarify, we currently have no intentions to move to a subscription model. Sometimes things change, so we cannot speak with 100% confidence about the distant future. For now however, we have no intentions to do this.

    Feedback

    We are absolutely listening! In case you are uncertain, currently the best place to send in feedback/requests is through our support system at spitfireaudio.com/support. This will go directly to our support team, who can make sure it gets seen by the correct people. We do of course keep an eye on all other areas we can in social media, but the best place will always be through contacting us directly.

    Best,

    Luke

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  • Sacha Kämpfer

    I would like to second these remarks. Especially the second point.

    Generally, the whole concept of BBCSO is great, and the cohesive sound of the whole orchestra is fantastic.

    But there are glaring issues.

    Please do not take the following as offensive, but as constructive criticism from an otherwise very satisfied user of many of your products, which generally are of the highest standard.

    I realize that, at this price point, compromises have to be made regarding the amount dynamic layers etc. But as has been mentioned - shifting through the dynamic layers is often very very bumpy and too abrupt, in no way comparable to some of your other beautiful products.

    • The brass, and especially the horns, are nearly unusable as is. There is no ff layer, and the dynamic crossfades are very bumpy.
    • The shorts, especially on the strings are in many cases not properly and consistently cut, resulting in sever timing issues. The tightening options does not fully correct this.
    • The player has a severe memory leak (I am on OS X, using both Logic and Cubase).
    • The player regularly crashes Cubase, while no other plugin (Kontakt, with very big libraries, SINE) does.

    Please read the threads on dedicated forums (VI-Control and others) and YouTube videos - dozens if not hundreds of power users are stating these observations. 

    In my personal opinion, the trade-off between many microphone positions versus less of these, but instead more dynamic layers and a more precise preparation of the single instruments / samples, is less than ideal, but of course this is your business decision.

    Note: all in all, BBCSO is a fantastic product! We just mention these things because it could be even better. I know many people who would be willing to pay separately for a "pro" version that corrects some of the above mentioned faults / aspects (especially more dynamic layers / less obvious transitions between the dynamic layers).

    I sincerely hope that updates will correct some of these aspects, and / or that a "pro version" will become available one day.

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  • Manoj Dinakaran

    BBCSO is my first orchestral library. I straight away purchased the Pro version. The brass samples sounded very unrealistic to me at higher dynamic range. Expecting Choir libraries as an update. 

     

    Thanks,

    Manoj

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  • Richard Fennig

    I’m also very upset by the dynamic layer transitions. There has to be a way to compensate for this in the programming somehow. Perhaps automatically decreasing the volume when the new dynamic layer kicks in? I’m using the modulation wheel and nothing is ever fluid on longs when they increase their dynamics. We want sound quality differences as an instrument plays louder sure, but we don’t want the instrument to all of a sudden go immediately louder when that happens.

    -Phil

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  • Richard Fennig

    Perhaps I’m just doing it wrong with this library and should do slow swells with the volume fader more and reserve dynamics for color and more instantaneous switches or when more notes are being played, even though all the videos show the dynamics being controlled for fluid movement between p to f. Or I guess just reduce the range I’m moving the dynamics fader. I admit this is my first full on orchestral library, even though I know what I’m doing with music and Logic Pro.

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  • Richard Fennig

    In conclusion, I get the reasoning behind not including more dynamic layers, and I don’t necessarily even need them per say (though it would help). The real issue I’ve noticed (almost instantly the first time I sat down to use it) is the blending of the samples at the CC transition points. I would think this would be able to be fixed with an update, but what do I know :P

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  • Peter Stelzer

    A few thoughts I've have since the first post.

    I am a bit confused with what is going on with the brass, especially since the manual and the plugin doesn't give the user many technical details.  I've learned since my first post more about sampling and I do not thing 3-4 dynamic layers are limiting; but I am not sure how many BBCSO brass have and I suspect they are not implemented well, but I have no way to know for sure. 

    BBCSO was my first completely orchestral library, and since my first post, I've purchased Cinematic Studio Brass.  The first thing I noticed when comparing the two is that the BBCSO brass sounds muffled and indistinct.  For the life of me I cannot get it to sound as intense as CSB.  I am not really sure what is going on there.

    I wish the plugin told us what was happening with the legatos.  Some feedback when in use like CSS does.  I think it would make them much more usable if you knew more than portamento, and the lack of feedback make me suspicious of quality which I am sure is just in my head.

    I wish the Spitfire app gave users the option to download select mic signals.  There are a few I never use and I'd like to lessen the 600gig load on my HDD for other things.

    Final thoughts:

    I regret how harsh I has in the initial post.  I still believe BBCSO is a good library and I suppose I was just disappointed that after 1000 USD it wasn't the end-all-be-all I expected (though SA did hype it up to be something such #ONEORCHESTRA).  I do like what they have done with the different price points, though I would rather see CORE have less articulations/instruments in exchange for the CTAO mics; and the version switching feature does explain the dedicated plugin, though the Kontakt workflow is a very important concept for beginners and loading a new plugin for each instrument is a hassle especially with the quirks it has with Cubase.

    I am hopeful and curious to see how Spitfire continues the library.

    -Peter

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  • Gary Gimmestad

    I've just purchased and opened up BBCSO Pro and discovered a few behaviors which I think I can attribute at least in part to the speed of my SSD. I encountered a few of the performance issues mentioned above, but with further experimentation I discovered that not only was the slow load-in from my SSD delaying access to the patches (they arrive a few notes at a time), it was also delaying smooth implementation of CC live automation. Once I'm firing on all pistons, most of the bumpiness in executing legato, portamento, vibrato, expression, and dynamics smooth out. There's clearly a period of adjustment in reconciling between what I think should be happening and learning what the instrument wants from me. For example, massaging the mod wheel at various speeds seems to establish more solid communication between the controller, the software instrument, and me, the performer. I'm learning how to navigate the instrument. In other words, I'm not rushing to quick judgment about bumpy crossovers. I started a ticket regarding the issue of SSD download / upload speed and the performance of BBCSO and I may have answered a few of my concerns with experimentation, but I do need better understanding of data routing to know whether popping another few hundred bucks on a speedy SSD is worth the expense.

    I thought I had discovered an issue in the Vibraphone - a distortion in the E above middle C. I just played it again and it's fine. I'm not certain, but a lot of what I'm encountering seems to be related to the samples not being fully loaded before I start playing. Will a faster SSD mitigate that? 

    This is an exceptionally responsive orchestral instrument. The character of the brass, to my ear, is fitting to the whole project. Is there brighter brass out there? Of course. But the instruments in this plugin are cut from the same cloth and writing to them produces an instantaneous sense of each instrument belonging to the whole. That is something to celebrate and exploit as composers and arrangers. Does that mean that it will be more difficult to make it play well with others? I don't think so. As always, that's in the arena of mixing and mastering. If you're writing to standard orchestra, it's never been easier to work right out of the box and get astonishingly good sound with little need to mix as you write. The spatial possibilities with the mics is both marvelous and daunting (for my CPU as well as my brain which his overwhelmed with choices). 

    I don't begrudge the  sometimes over-the-top hype in the adverts. None of us will use ALL of this stuff. We'll pare it down to fit our most typical contexts and turn off a lot of it. But I can also see a variety of templates which take advantage of different orchestral personas - a smaller band which takes advantage of a wider variety of articulations, for example. The options are there.

    Yes, of course I look forward to tweaks and improvements, better crossovers, more expressive control, etc. I love a lot of the East West and VSL samples as well, but the immediacy of Spitfire's designs – it's "playability" is winning me over. I'm delighted with this plugin. It's too damned expensive is my biggest complaint. But I shelled out because, in my opinion, it's the most useful, beautiful-sounding orchestra available at the moment, produced by a very forward-looking company. 

    So, I begin this period of discovery on a high note, forgiving of undone work and trusting in upgrades. Great job, Spitfire! Keep it coming!

    Gary

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