Most orchestral sample libraries provide an expansive set of instruments and articulations that often require ninja-master MIDI chops in order to produce believable results. Albion ONE, on the other hand, boldly goes in a different direction, giving composers and producers the tools to create convincing cinematic soundtrack music without all the fuss.
Technically, Albion ONE isn’t new: It’s a major update to one of Spitfire’s earlier collections, Albion Volume 1, released in 2011. In fact, Albion ONE is essentially four sample collections organized into themed categories: Albion Orchestra, Darwin Percussion Ensemble, Brunel Loops and Stephenson’s Steam Band. As with every good sequel, Albion ONE offers more of everything that made the original a hit.
For starters, Spitfire sampled a bigger orchestra—utilizing a total of 109 players—in the legendary Air Lyndhurst Hall, where many blockbuster scores have been recorded. Samples were tracked to 2-inch analog tape before being transferred to computer for editing. The combination of “analog warmth” and Lyndhurst Hall’s luxurious room characteristics give the resulting instruments a unique, stately character that stands out in contrast to many other orchestral collections—simply gorgeous.
Albion Orchestra is the place to start for conventional scoring needs. Here is where Spitfire breaks from the pack: Rather than sampling individual sections performing an array of articulations, the developers recorded orchestrated sections, such as unison across the entire orchestral range, high/mid/low instrument combinations, and so on. By sampling typical orchestral combinations, the instrument’s presets deliver more life-like results compared to what you get when layering separate sections such as “violin 1” and “violin 2” using MIDI. Consequently, there are only six primary presets—Brass High, Brass Mid, Brass Low, Wood High, Wood Low, and Strings—all of which include multiple articulations.
If hybrid scoring elements or epic percussion is in order, the remaining three categories are sure to please. Featuring newly recorded material, these instruments benefit from Spitfire’s clever user interfaces, which make heavy use of Kontakt scripting. For example, Stephenson’s Steam Band (SSB) and the Brunel Loops employ the “electronic DNA” (eDNA) interface, which offers an impressive set of synthesis features, allowing you to warp and customize Albion ONE’s non-orchestral sounds in cool, interesting ways.
The material in SSB is a smorgasbord of synthetic textures created by processing the raw orchestra samples. These instruments have an “electro-organic” quality that would work well in many musical styles. Creative kickstarters abound.
On the rhythmic side, the Brunel Loops category is chock full of pulsating percussives that fit nicely in a mix to create a sense of propulsion. And for programming bombastic, epic rhythm parts, Darwin Percussion Ensemble is a treasure-trove of traditional and “world” percussion that would be perfect for your next action cue.
Albion ONE is a tremendous value. It combines a beautifully recorded large-scale orchestra with a range of hybrid soundtrack timbres, all brilliantly produced and paired with innovative synthesis tools and creative effects that truly inspire.
Pros Wide range of topnotch sounds that covers conventional and modern/hybrid scoring needs. High degree of programmability.
Cons Missing a few traditional orchestral percussion instruments, notably timpani and tubular bells.
Albion ONE is an ideal entry point for those just starting out, and a no-brainer addition for anyone who composes music for media. Serious bang-for-the-buck factor.