All in One-der

On the oddly popular Discovery Channel Show, Naked and Afraid, participants are allowed only one survival tool. Some take a knife or a pot, or something to make fire.  Now imagine there were a Naked and Afraid: Composer’s Edition.  If you were on a desert island, a snake ridden rain forest, or a deadly alligator filled swamp, and could only take one sample library with you, then Spitfire Audio’s Albion One just might be the one you would want to have.

Albion first came out in 2011 and catapulted Spitfire to global recognition.  It became their flagship product; constantly kept updated to their ever-growing standard.  Over the years, Spitfire developed state-of-the-art recording techniques and world class Kontakt instruments that were easy to use, did not require a course in orchestration to operate, and inspired composers from all genres and mediums.  They applied that knowledge to the “Legacy” Albion library, and the result is Albion ONE.  To hear the difference and the evolution from Albion to Albion ONE, you can check out this short video that was posted on Gearslutz.com.

Albion is four and a half complete libraries in one – and orchestra, a loop engine, a texture engine, and a drum library. In addition to those four main parts, they even snuck some “Legacy” favorites into the mix (conveniently stored in the “The Albion Legacy” folder), such as the tempered piano and tons of orchestral FX!  The new eDNA engine, which uses samples from the orchestra and drums as well as industrial and household sound sources, is like Signal”s Output with tons of tweakable parameters.  We will be reviewing each of these instruments, namely the Albion Orchestra, Brunel Loops, Stephenson’s Steam Band, and Darwin Percussion.  The only thing missing would be ethnic and solo instruments, but there is so much goodness in here that it feels like a steal to get this much greatness for one very reasonable price.

Combined with the other three Albion libraries, which we will be reviewing as part of this series, a video game composer could create music for just about any genre or emotion.  Albion II: Loegria is full of beautiful and esoteric chamber sized ensembles. Albion III: Icini is full of massive orchestral sections for dramatic and bombastic passages, and it also has synths, loops and drums – all focused on the low end (think Orchestral Dubstep.) To round off the series, Albion IV: Uist is a complete aleatoric, atonal and progressive sounds – orchestral, synth based, and loop based warped passage – enough to make Bernard Herrmann envious.

One could literally write a dissertation on this instrument, but we will try to focus in on the parts that we love best about it in our walkthroughs.  There are some great walkthroughs on the Spitfire site as well as a LONG list of instruments and details.

Specifications


Pros: One of the most complete single libraries available.  State-of-the-art-recording, interface, playablity, and variety.  Flagship product from one of the world’s leading sample library provider had better be good, and it does not disappoint!


Cons: Hard pressed to find any – if I had to dig something up, then I would say that some of the long articulations do stutter on my 7200rpm HD with all the mic positions on (they are fine on any SSD; Lawson can attest to that), and some of the features, such as the Motor and the Ostinatum are sparsely documented in the interactive user manual.


List Price: £319.00  (~$460.00 USD)


Website: www.spitfireaudio.com


Tech Specifications



  • 49884 SAMPLES

  • 89.8 GB UNCOMPRESSED .WAV

  • 53.3 GB DISK SPACE REQUIRED

  • 106.6 GB DISK SPACE REQUIRED DURING INSTALL

  • FREE KONTAKT PLAYER INCLUDED

  • Dynamic User Manual

Demos

Lawson Madlener’s Endless 

This demo uses only instruments from Albion One.  It is 100% out-of-the-box with no external processing.

Official Demos from Spitfire

Video Review – Part 1 – Albion Overview

This lengthy overview video covers all four major parts of Albion One – the Orchestra (which has 6 distinct sections – Hi, Mid, and Lo Brass; Strings; and Hi and Low Woods).  These are further broken down into various articulations in the individual patches.  For a complete list, you can head on over to the Spitfire website.

Video Review – Part 2 – Advanced Features – Legacy _COG, Ostanitum, etc.

Besides the default and individual patches, there is an entire other set of patches in the Legacy folder.  The Legacy instruments include some classic, fan-favorite patches from the original Albion.  In here are some patches that never grow old, including a tampered piano John Cage would be jealous of (though no coins or metal scraps were used) and a set of orchestral FX that even Jason Graves and Garry Schyman might envy!

Video Review – Part 3 – Albion Orchestra

This is the most undeniably British sounding part of the library, and when I play the ensembles, it reminds me of pomp of the royal court.  Regal would perhaps be the best description of this libraries main patches and articulations.  However, once you get to the more gritty runs and FX, you will soon be out of the Royal court and into Alice’s Wonderland.  This library is not as huge as Metropolis Ark, nor as focused as Soundiron’s Orchestral Series Brass Ensemble (both reviewed by this site), but it does cover a wide range of articulations and playing styles.  The legatos are fantastic, and the shorts (and corresponding Ostinatum) are jaw-dropping.

Video Review – Part 4 – Stephenson’s Steam Band

The Stephenson’s Steam Band is one of the coolest parts of this library.  It utilizes the samples from the orchestra and percussion, and allows you to generate some wonderful textures, pads, and ambiances.  I have found use for these in meditation tracks as well as for explore modes, whether in space or in a fantasy environment.  The near-infinite tweakability of the eDNA engine which powers the Steam Band is both fun and functional.  Start with the presets, but don’t settle for those…learn how to use this flexible engine to your advantage!

Video Review – Part 5 – Brunel Loops

Also powered by the eDNA engine, this looper and crossfader with gate sequencer and tons of effects is a sound designer’s dream.  Rhythmic textures based on clay pots and who knows what else, performed by live drummers with multiple performances per patch.  At times huge and at other times subtle, this will definitely be a place you want to spend a great deal of time under the hood!

Video Review – Part 6 – Darwin Percussion

To round out this fully fledged instrument, the aptly-named Darwin Percussion Ensemble brings a host of epic (and subtle) sounding drums, from simple sticks to the thunderous “Easter Island” drums. Taikos and toms, metallic hits, and cymbals – most everything is there.  Odd that there are no snares, though…



  • Cymbals and Gongs – Cymbals 1

  • Cymbals and Gongs – Cymbals 2

  • Cymbals and Gongs – Tams and Gongs

  • Swells

  • Darwin Percussion Ensemble

  • Easter Island

  • Hyper Toms

  • XXL Percussion

 

Conclusion

What’s not to love about this library?  It is British Royalty in a box.  Though not as big and boisterous as Metropolis Ark, it has plenty of epic sounds and a much wider range of articulations and subtlety.  Each of the four (and a half) sections does a brilliant job of what it is supposed to do – sound great and be easy to use.  Then, once you have spent more time with this library, you will continue to discover new things you did not even know were there – runs, FX, clusters, aleatoric patches, ASDR, crossfade engines, advanced Ostinatum features (pitch and velocity), a time machine, tons of useful effects and a sophisticated (but hard to learn) Motor engine that helps to power the fascinating eDNA engine.  Yes, I did say a time machine. The manuals are a bit sparse on the advanced features, but watch the videos in this review and you will get a better understanding of how to create some completely unique and edgy sounds for just about any video game score imaginable

Playlist of Videos

Here is a playlist for all the above videos.

About the Authors

Dale Crowley

Dale Crowley is a Managing Editor and founder of Designing Music NOW and the Director of Business Development of Elias Software, the premier Adaptive Music Solution for video games.

 

 

 

Lawson guitars 1000Lawson Madlener is an award-winning composer/musician who happens to be a college student and does consulting on the side. He plays many instruments ranging from violin to ukulele to drums to electric bass to viola, and many genres from classical to jazz to bluegrass to rock.

Lawson has been composing for longer than he can remember. He entered and won his first composition competition (boy, that’s a mouthful) at the ripe old age of 9! As with his playing, he can compose in pretty much any style, but his favorite is orchestral/cinematic. As of late, he’s been developing a taste for jazz bands!

In his spare time, you can find Lawson passionately researching new sample libraries. Sometimes he also spends hours and hours delving into older sample libraries too! Actually, you can just find him enjoying any and every sample library ever and whispering under his breath “so many sample libraries so little time so many sample libraries so little money.”

 

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