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Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
I thought this had been discussed recently, but a forum search did not turn up any hits on relevant discussions.

Today I finally got around to doing my most thorough review of Anvil libraries ever (in terms of what I already own), and was a bit surprised by the one shining star, and the long list of disappointments.

Anvils are so important to me that I was almost about to buy one from Grover via Steve Weiss Music. But I was afraid they might be too loud in person, and attract the cops.

I have annotated each library source below, with its peculiarities or special attributes. It was a big shock that EW Symphonic Orchestra came out on top, by a good country mile. I'm also surprised that VSL still only has some random Metals vs. actual Anvils.

I didn't realize how good EWSO's Anvils were until I did my own mic mix and stuck to the All Anvils patch vs. the other two. I am setting Close Mic to 9, Stage Mic to 4, and Surround Mic to 2. This seems to preserve the bell-like timbre, and strong dynamics, without getting muddy or too ambient, while also giving a big sound for a large orchestral context such as the one I just used it in.

Note that I do not own the somewhat recent Strikeforce from Laboratory Audio:


If someone knows of any Anvil-specific audio demos (I only found three "very Hollywood, big drums" demos at their site), or owns it and has anything to say, I'm sure several people here will appreciate it, as on paper it SHOULD be the best (22 anvils, of different sizes, pitches, and articulations, plus ensembles!).

Anyway, here's my ranked listing. If I missed some parameters that expand what some of these have to offer, feel free to correct me.
  1. EW Symphonic Orchestra: Percussion: Metals: All Anvils (Play) — many articulations
  2. Spitfire Percussion: Unpitched - Metal: Anvil (Kontakt) — hit, horn, and pipe
  3. Vir2 Elite Orchestral Percussion: Accessories and FX: Anvils (Kontakt) — several articulations
  4. Spitfire Hans Zimmer Percussion: Metal (HZ AE) (Kontakt) — only one (low) articulation
  5. NI Symphony Series - Percussion: Metal: Anvil (Kontakt) — only one (high) articulation
  6. Xsample Library: Percussion: Small Anvil (Kontakt) — only one (high) articulation
  7. Sonokinetic Fe: Anvil (Kontakt) — atypical timbre for anvil and strikers; grainy recording
  8. ISW Rhapsody Orchestral Percussion: ROP Metals (Kontakt) — no horn articulations
  9. Post Musical Instruments Anvils (Kontakt) — many articulations; grainy recording
Having adequate coverage took priority for me over quality of sound, but even if factoring only for the latter, my list wouldn't change by much (Hans Zimmer would simply go to the top of list).

Is Hollywood Percussion from EW as good or better as the ancient EQ Symphonic Orchestra Percussion? I know several here have said they don't like the space it was recorded in, in comparison to the older room.
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Space Explorer
VSL still only has some random Metals vs. actual Anvils.
Rails, actually, which are used here on Vienna's stages and orchestra pits in those cases where anvils are asked for (AFAIK). There's a quite "fat" version in the "Processed Percussion", too. :emoji_hammer:

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Yeah, I thought the VSL "Metals" were probably Rails, which sometimes can stand in for Anvils (depending on which articulations one was looking for with the Anvils to start with). I think the Hans Zimmer library took this approach as well, if I recall correctly.

I tend to get very specific about bluntness of attack, pitch, etc., with this sort of stuff, as it is often critical for balancing and for cutting through. I just feel that most libraries don't offer enough choices to be applicable in every single project; the old EWQL symphonic library comes the closest.

Ultimately, one should just buy the real deal, but it's hard to find them for sale and to be sure of what one is getting. I've asked some local people who play in the percussion sections of big bands, but it doesn't seem to come up in that context, so I'll need to consult a symphonic percussion player.


I use a lot of anvils and very often pick up Albion One metal shop. Easy to mix and a wide variety of sounds.
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