Gear of the Year 2018: Best Orchestral Instrument

Spitfire Audio Hans Zimmer Strings

Here’s our pick for this year’s best orchestral instrument!

Gear of the Year 2018, Spitfire Audio Hans Zimmer Strings

WINNER: Spitfire Audio Hans Zimmer Strings

Price £699
Contact Spitfire Audio

When Hans Zimmer puts his name to something, you know it’s going to be good. Just look at – or rather listen to – the host of Hollywood films he’s been involved with. Likewise, in recent times, when Spitfire puts its name on something, you’re pretty much guaranteed quality. Older (much older) readers who remember the TV series Hart To Hart might start thinking about the phrase: “When they met… it was murder!” (pronounced ‘moider’. Okay, maybe we’re on our own with that one.

But look, Spitfire plus Zimmer should equal ‘top notch’, and Hans Zimmer Strings certainly does not disappoint. Just look at the stats: 344 string players, 200GB download, Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass sections, plus a myriad of recorded mic positions and dynamics. “There’s a space and air around the sound which I haven’t heard elsewhere,” Dave Gale said, “achieved through the vast number of players, rather than just expansive ambience and reverberation. It’s also rather wonderful the way that the players blend together, forming a truly organic pad-like layer. Where HZ Strings scores really high is in the sheer scale and breadth of some of the sampling, but the forte of this seems to be far more in the area of subtlety, making it excellent for interesting string colours at the quieter end of the texture spectrum… There’s plenty of scope within the realms of creative soundtrack composition.”

Read our full review here.

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Highly commended

espressivo

Sonokinetic Espressivo

Price €249
Contact Sonokinetic

There seems to be a growing number of companies out there producing orchestral software titles, so it stands to reason there must be a growing need for them – hence us producing an Award category dedicated to them a couple of years ago. Sonokinetic, however, is pretty unique in that it concentrates on phrase-based libraries.

Espressivo is based on aleatoric music, referencing composers including Karlheinz Stockhausen, Charles Ives, John Cage, and more cinematic scorers such as Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann. “Espressivo soon won us over,” Mark Cousins said, “and was an interesting springboard for more abstract compositions. Espressivo’s aleatoric sound will always have a Marmite-like appeal, but as far as we’re concerned, it’s a winner!”

Read our full review here.

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