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What's not to like about Spitfire Chamber Strings?

StillLife

Senior Member
The current sale on SCS is very tempting. Still, for non-professionals like me, it remains a considerable amount of cash. I know SCS is lauded pretty much anywhere, and the demo's are great, but since there is no try before you buy option I want to know from the users the quirks and not so ideal elements of this lib (no lib is perfect, or is one?), so I can make up my mind whether I would need this lib as much as my GAS says I want it.
So, SCS is great, I want it, but what do you users wish to be different/altered/added in SCS?
 

Jimmy Hellfire

Senior Member
It has all the typical qualities of Spitfire libraries and all the drawbacks.

Generally I'm a fan of SCS - the sound and character are just unparelleled - but the things I sometimes struggle with are:

1) It really is very very ambient, and it's something you kind of have to live with. You can never really eliminate the rich reverb tail - not even with the close mics.

2) It's not a library that allows combining many different articulations to a fluid, cohesive performance without extensive editing and fumbling around. The note attacks and decays, their general responsiveness, and volume/dynamics I would describe as a bit unwieldy and sluggish, if you're trying to do more nimble, agile, or intricate stuff. The articulations are seemingly meant to stand on their own and often don't really behave as if they were meant to "play together". Sculpting a performance in which you, let's say, alternate between firm, resolute bowings, short notes and softer arcs requires quite a lot of massaging.

3) It's a minor thing really, but the library includes an extensive wealth of articulations, which are spread over several NKIs by a seemingly erratic logic, so organizing the patches you really need is a bit of a mess.
 

NYC Composer

Senior Member
Let me respond to Jimmy-

1. Well, once I go with close mics I don’t feel I’m drenched in anything. It’s still got some ambience, but it’s a pretty marked difference from the other mics.

2. If you make full use of it, I’d agree. Personally, I use the ensemble patch for most shorts and have Performance legato by section and full keyswitched patches per section, and leave it at that. Depending on how many shortcuts you’re willing to take, it doesn’t have to be terribly hard to get a performance.

3. Agreed, but see above.
 

jaketanner

Senior Member
I have Chamber, and considering the pro upgrade tomorrow. Sound wise, it's fantastic, and allows you to get chamber size as well as a bit larger in sound...but not quite fully Symphonic. The performance legato patches I think are great to just be able to "play in" a sketch and get some inspiration going...then you can replace it with the individual articulations if you wish more control. As with any other library, especially of this size, there are going to be some drawbacks and a bit of a learning curve to truly get the most out of it.

There are some patches that has slight tuning issues and repeated noises, that when played inside an obstinate, are clearly audible...but there are work arounds.

I have never had any issue navigating the library, but then again, I haven't had the need for any intricate articulations...and there are many.

I'd say that this purchase would be a smart one if you do not already have a chamber type strings, and/or want to get into the Spitfire game at a great discount, as 50% off is the lowest you are going to find...even during Black Friday. For $350...it's definitely worth it. It's true that for a bit more you can get other libraries such as CSS...but that's a totally different animal.
 
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AllanH

Senior Member
I essentially use SCS as described by @NYC Composer. One of the subtle, but valuable, aspects of the chamber size is that the instruments are more "well defined". By that I mean, that if a V1 line, for instance, needs to stand out a bit, simply add a SCS V1 instance and the smaller size of SCS will make the V1 stand out more.
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
Some issues with the legato, especially in the violin 2 and viola. Generally they are fine as part of string choir writing but will crop up if you feature those sections.

Fast legato is sometimes a bit dodgy.

Getting the effect of a rebow for repeated notes in a melody can be tricky in the legato patch because the repeated note can’t overlap the first one or it won’t sound. And sometimes this dropout appears even when the notes abut but do not overlap. (This is a general problem with SF legato programming.)

I also agree with the complaint that the organization of the patches outside the main one is quite scattered. On the pro side a similar criticism could be lodged against the microphone layouts being spread across essentially four different versions of the library.
 

Saxer

Senior Member
Like most Spitfire Strings there's a tendency towards 'pumping' when playing mid tempo melodic phrases. There's a little swell in each long note which is espressive on it's own but connecting them is like laying a way of cobblestones instead of bricks. Not as evil as I wrote it but I just can't describe it better. But soundwise I never heard a more elegant and non-scratchy small string library.
 

Batrawi

Active Member
I think this could be more of an ear-fatigue but the more I've played with it, the more I could not tolerate its exaggerated vibrato nor the nasal quality of the small sections. But that's just me. If you like the sound already then I think there is no much to dislike about this library.
 

Mason

Active Member
I like everything about it except the legatos in the double basses. Come on, I think professional double bass players would get a bit offended ;)
 

thesteelydane

Senior Member
What everyone else has said- BUT - even after that, it’s still one of the best string libraries money can buy, and for me, the pro version is absolutely worth it, but I guess that depends on your needs. As a string player, it’s one the most real sounding libraries out there. And that ambience that everyone’s complaining about is what makes it so, in my book. String instruments are designed to be played in a space like that, and a million artificial reverbs could never match that sound. So it’s not without faults, but it is spectacularly good.
 

Karma

Spitfire Audio
Speaking as a composer and not a Spitfire employee for a moment: SCS is definitely my personal favourite String library, and despite what you'd think can actually sound quite large too.
If you wanted an example, this John Williams mockup is SCS using the Outriggers/Ambient as the main microphones. No Symphonic Strings in there at all, just some Solo Strings layered in.
 

jaketanner

Senior Member
Speaking as a composer and not a Spitfire employee for a moment: SCS is definitely my personal favourite String library, and despite what you'd think can actually sound quite large too.
If you wanted an example, this John Williams mockup is SCS using the Outriggers/Ambient as the main microphones. No Symphonic Strings in there at all, just some Solo Strings layered in.
Is says SSO demo in the description. I can hear that it's not as big a library as SSO, but strange link. Having said that, I love Chamber strings.
 

Mason

Active Member
Ah yes, that's because I used the rest of the SSO in the mockup as well. I generally include Chamber Strings as part of the SSO.
That’s interesting! Do you layer it with SSS or Albion or just the solo strings? When do you (if ever) choose symphonic strings instead of chamber strings?
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
What everyone else has said- BUT - even after that, it’s still one of the best string libraries money can buy, and for me, the pro version is absolutely worth it, but I guess that depends on your needs. As a string player, it’s one the most real sounding libraries out there. And that ambience that everyone’s complaining about is what makes it so, in my book. String instruments are designed to be played in a space like that, and a million artificial reverbs could never match that sound. So it’s not without faults, but it is spectacularly good.
I agree with this. One reason I know the flaws so well is because I use it so much—far more than any of my other string libraries (all of which also have flaws, and more serious ones for the things I want a string library to do). I also agree with you about the pro version being worth the extra money, though the core version is excellent too, so if anyone needs to save some money, you can get very good results with the CTA.
 

ka00

Senior Member
Speaking as a composer and not a Spitfire employee for a moment: SCS is definitely my personal favourite String library, and despite what you'd think can actually sound quite large too.
If you wanted an example, this John Williams mockup is SCS using the Outriggers/Ambient as the main microphones. No Symphonic Strings in there at all, just some Solo Strings layered in.
Wow. You’ve got quite some midi programming chops. That sounded fantastic.
 

Karma

Spitfire Audio
Wow. You’ve got quite some midi programming chops. That sounded fantastic.
Thanks, I just spent a lot of time on it is all!

That’s interesting! Do you layer it with SSS or Albion or just the solo strings? When do you (if ever) choose symphonic strings instead of chamber strings?
This piece had so many divisi parts that I opted for SCS in the end. The unison moments could have probably benefited from SSS too, however at the time my template was maxing out my RAM enough anyway...

It’s SCS with Solo Strings layered, so no Albion, Symphonic Strings, etc. I’d probably reach for SSS when I need something that is naturally bigger. I actually used SSS recently for a snippet of a John Powell mock-up as it was more fitting.
 
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StillLife

Senior Member
I agree with this. One reason I know the flaws so well is because I use it so much—far more than any of my other string libraries (all of which also have flaws, and more serious ones for the things I want a string library to do). I also agree with you about the pro version being worth the extra money, though the core version is excellent too, so if anyone needs to save some money, you can get very good results with the CTA.
Yes, the pro-version is tempting too, since it is 'only' 150 more tomorrow. I just don't understand what the stereomixes do. I thought all the articulations were recorded 'in situ', also in the core lib? Then what do stereomixes add? I don't think I will use the extra mics that much, but maybe those mixes are useful to me?
 
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