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Orchestral Tools – Berlin Con Sordino Strings (Review)

Berlin-based developer Orchestral Tools recently released Berlin Con Sordino Strings. This new sample library features real, muted string recordings, and includes numerous bowing techniques and deeply-sampled articulations for all string sections. Designed for Orchestral Tools’ own (recently updated) SINE Player sample engine, Berlin Con Sordingo Strings claims to be capable of offering unique textures and colors for the modern film composer.

Without any further ado, let’s find out what Berlin Con Sordino Strings has to offer!

OVERVIEW

Berlin Con Sordino Strings features 8 first violins, 6 second violins, 6 violas, 6 celli, and 3 double basses. The library comes with multiple articulations including:

  • sustains (normale, soft, expressive, non-vibrato) along with true legato
  • sul tasto
  • col legno tratto
  • portato (long & short)
  • staccato
  • spiccato
  • tremolo (long & short)
  • rips and fifth drops
  • swells
  • playable runs
  • harmonics
  • harmonics tremolo
  • arpeggios
  • louré repetitions

All sections have been recorded in situ (meaning at their position in an orchestral setup) at the Teldex Scoring Stage in Berlin, Germany. The library features 6 microphone positions and takes up about 50 GB of hard disk space.

THE INTERFACE

As with other recent Orchestral Tools releases, Berlin Con Sordino Strings is designed for and runs exclusively on the free SINE engine. SINE Player recently got updated to version 1.1.1. With this version came a number of quality of life improvements, such as far greater fluidity, a snappier interface, and more visual aid/feedback for the users.

ARTICULATIONS & SOUND

Berlin Con Sordino Strings features an unheard-of number of articulations for muted strings. Most of the content covers long articulations, as one of the goals of this library is to provide textural capabilities and options for color blending. Most of these long articulations are recorded in 3 dynamic layers which give plenty of room for performing nuances.

Normale Sustains are presented in several useful variations, such as soft attacks, expressive playing including a swell, and even a non-vibrato option for the violin sections. Most of the sustains also come with a performance slider assignable to a MIDI CC controller, allowing users to switch between subtle vibrato and a more expressive one (molto vibrato). Overall, these sustains are really beautiful and very capable of conveying emotions musically.

Berlin Con Sordino Strings also includes real legato transitions for all sections. Again, several different legato types are included: fingered, expressive (akin to a slurred transition), and playable runs. By default, these are triggered by velocity and playing speed but that can be modified via SINE’s bottom right control menu. These legato transitions are buttery smooth yet very agile, and in my humble opinion, some of the best Orchestral Tools has produced to date.

Further textural long articulations such as tremolo, harmonics, and swells are, of course, also present. The Sordino Harmonics are a fresh addition to the palette and I found them particularly interesting to listen to and play around with. Another type of mute is also included: the “hotel mute”. This type of mute is typically used for training purposes only. In practice, though, this mute is even more pronounced and could make for quite an atypical texture. Nice!

Short articulations are also represented in various forms, some of which have never been sampled before with real mutes. The common spiccato, staccato, and portato articulations are obviously included, with 3 to 4 dynamic layers each. More uncommon are the rips and drops, which can be particularly useful to give scores a certain drive. The playable runs work smoothly as well, thanks to their great-sounding, fast transitions. They allow for very precise and believable fast performances.

We can also find performance articulations, such as recorded louré repetitions which are reminiscent of the Time macro & micro series. The recorded arpeggios are also a very nice surprise and will be very useful for neo-classical works. The arpeggios have been recorded in 2 to 3 dynamic layers. As a small drop of bitterness, they haven’t been recorded for violas, unfortunately.

MICROPHONE MIXES 

Berlin Con Sordino Strings features 6 microphone positions: Spot, Leader, Tree, Outrigger, AB, and Surround. These are in line with the rest of the Berlin series, and make the library easy to blend in with other Berlin products. As with their previous Berlin Symphonic Strings, the Leader mic allows adding focus, emotion, and a sense of intimacy when dialed up. The Outriggers and Surround mics add a significant sense of width and space – perfect for big cinematic and epic movements.

CONCLUSION

With Berlin Con Sordino Strings, Orchestral Tools released a unique sample library full of character and with an unseen number of articulations for muted strings.

This library is a great choice for composers wishing to add further nuances to their scoring templates. Using the same array of microphone mixes, Con Sordino Strings blends instantly with the rest of the renowned Berlin series, and therefore totally fulfills its role as a textural blending tool.

Moreover, the programming and sampling of the library are to a very high standard, with a generous number of dynamic layers for all playing techniques and probably the best legato transitions Orchestral Tools has presented to date. As such, the library totally delivers on its promises and we would warmly recommend it to any professional film and TV composer!

Pros

  • Fantastic tone of real muted recordings
  • Generous variety of articulations
  • Fantastic-sounding smooth legatos transitions
  • Several mute options to choose from

Cons

  • No full ensemble patch
  • Violas are missing recorded arpeggio articulations
  • Non-vib longs are limited to violin section only

RECOMMENDED: 9/10

Berlin Con Sordino Strings is available for €499 (plus VAT) via Orchestral Tools’ online shop.

BERLIN CON SORDINO STRINGS – VIDEO WALKTHROUGH

Berlin Con Sordino Strings Video Walkthrough

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