Earlier this year, Berlin-based sample library developer Orchestral Tools started porting their formerly KONTAKT-powered libraries to the company’s very own new sampling engine SINE Player. After we got the amazing Metropolis Ark 1 & 2 for SINE, Orchestral Tools continued with two other highly popular products: Berlin Orchestra Inspire 1 and Inspire 2. Upon release, they made both sample libraries available as a bundle called the Inspire SINE Bundle, and we are going to check it out today!
The Inspire SINE Bundle combines the two symphonic orchestral libraries Berlin Orchestra Inspire 1 and Berlin Orchestra Inspire 2, which are designed as a comprehensive sketching tool for modern-day film composers. The samples are taken from Orchestral Tools’ flagship Berlin series and were streamlined for composers with smaller setups or mobile working environments.
The first Inspire volume, also dubbed “The Laptop Symphony Orchestra”, offers a bread-and-butter cross-section of the most essential instruments found in an orchestra. These range from strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion to a concert harp and even a Steinway Model D grand piano. The instruments and sections were recorded in Berlin’s highly-acclaimed Teldex scoring stage where they were positioned in a movie-standard symphonic orchestra seating.
Berlin Orchestra Inspire 2 complements the core orchestra with a more atmospheric, emotive set of colors. Here, you will find melodic and harmonic instrument combinations that are perfectly suited for cinematic underscoring and emotional writing. Inspire 2 features soft solo and ensemble strings, a warm brass ensemble, a female and children’s choir, and an organ – just to name a few.
Both sample libraries are powered by Orchestral Tool’s own (free) SINE Player engine and can be downloaded directly from within the VST plugin. Together, they weigh in at around 34 GB and feature 49 playable instruments.
INSPIRE 1 – THE LAPTOP SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Inspire 1 gives access to a full symphonic orchestra with all its significant elements like strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion. In contrast to Orchestral Tools’ Berlin series though, which offers control over each and every instrument group in the orchestra, Inspire 1 went a two-way approach of combining pre-orchestrated ensembles and solo instrument patches. In doing so, they followed tried-and-tested instrument combinations that are not only staples of modern cinematic music but date back to the origins of symphonic orchestral music itself.
The combined patches were carefully balanced and arranged to give you the most authentic playing experience possible. Starting at the top, you get a massive Full Orchestra patch with four different articulations (sustains, staccato, FX, FX short). It unites all the strings, brass, and woodwind instruments under your fingertips so you can capture musical ideas quickly. When putting your modwheel to work, you’ll quickly recognize how the different sections all behave individually in terms of timbre and dynamics. At lower modwheel positions, you get a nice, lush blend of strings and woodwinds, with the brass section almost indiscernible. When you roll up the modwheel though, you can hear how the timbre of the brass section changes, gets more and more majestic, and overtakes the other sections in loudness. This gives you a very inspiring idea of how the dynamics in a real orchestra work and can help you to make your own arrangements sound more authentic.
The next four folders contain the orchestra’s main instrument groups. The strings, brass and woodwinds folders are all laid out in a similar fashion. You have a combined ensemble master patch at the top, followed by various smaller, pre-orchestrated sections and two or three solo patches of the particular instrument group. Taking the woodwinds folder as an example, you will find a Woodwinds patch that encompasses all the flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons in a neatly balanced, combined patch. Then there is a Flutes & Clarinets patch, as well as a Bassoons & Clarinets patch, both pre-orchestrated in octaves. Finally, you have access to a wonderful Solo Flute and a Solo Clarinet patch for melodic writing. With the exception of the Trombones & Tuba patch, all of the pre-orchestrated and solo patches have their own dedicated legato articulations.
In the percussion section, you will find both tuned and untuned percussion. Inspire 1 provides you with a beautiful sounding set of glockenspiel, marimba, and xylophone, as well as powerful timpani. On the untuned side, you will find a combined orchestral percussion ensemble that offers everything from thundering bass drums, snares, cymbals as well as a fun collection of auxiliary percussion and scraping effects.
Lastly, Orchestral Tools sample library comes with a incredibly good sounding set of “bonus” instrument, a shimmering concert harp and a Steinway Concert D grand piano that has the perfect cinematic tone quality. Both were captured on the same scoring stage as the orchestra which makes it a breeze to incorporate them in your orchestral productions.
INSPIRE 2 – THE EMOTIVE ORCHESTRA
While following a similar orchestral structure as the first edition, Inspire 2 adds a whole new spectrum of instruments, articulations, and tonal colors to the palette. Like Inspire 1, the second edition draws from recordings of OT’s Berlin series but also throws in a good deal of samples from their Metropolis Ark product range. In comparison with the first edition, the overall tone of Inspire 2 is more subdued and atmospheric, focusing more on the intricate detail and melodic quality of instruments instead of sheer power.
Instead of the Full Orchestra patches you get with Inspire 1, Inspire 2 provides you with a number of so-called “Orchestrations”. These are pre-orchestrated combinations of different instrument sections of the orchestra, like violins & children’s choir, solo french horn & celli, or flautando strings and woodwinds. The colors of these combined instrument groups complement each other beautifully and are therefore often used together in traditional symphonic music. The Orchestrations folder also features some other interesting ensembles like an earthy woodwinds ensemble, a soft and noble brass “hymnium” patch, as well as some deep, disturbing orchestral clusters.
Delving deeper into the individual orchestral sections, you will find a lot of soft articulations and swells, topped off with some beautifully recorded solo strings and woodwinds. The patches and articulations complement the ones found in Inspire 1 nicely, so you don’t get any redundant double content.
Two things to point out particularly are a six-player french horns patch that sounds astonishingly stately and bold without getting too raspy, and a collection of soft string articulations that are perfect for setting a dramatic scene.
Moving on to the percussion, we have two new patches in the tuned percussion section: a cool vibraphone that could also work well in a jazzy context, as well as a lively marimba patch played in a tremolo style. Two additional untuned percussion patches include a powerful taiko ensemble as well as a set of rumbling low percussive hits and bell-like, metal hits and scraping effects.
In the Keys section, we get another piano but this time it’s all about the softer dynamics of the instrument. With this Delicate Piano patch, you can create beautiful warm and contemplative underscores in a Scandi Noir fashion. The organ patch features an intricate small church organ that can be useful to convincingly display period time music or sacral pieces.
The Harp Ensemble patch is an interesting alternative to the solo harp instrument you get with Inspire 1, in that it gives you a broader, slightly more washed-out sound. It’s perfect for soft, arpeggiated beds in the background of a piece. Lastly, Inspire 2 features a beautifully haunting mixed choir that is truly one of the stars of this library. It’s made up of mixing a female and a children’s ensemble that offer sustains and legato lines in the softer dynamic areas.
A SOUND TO INSPIRE
Across both volumes, the Inspire Bundle gives you an authentic orchestral sound with a lush sounding room tone that’s neither too dry nor too washy. Although the set of articulations is obviously a bit more restricted than other Orchestral Tools libraries, it’s amazing how far you can go with the possibilities at hand. Both libraries work together seamlessly, the main reason probably being the use of the same scoring stage and gear.
While Inspire 1 gives you the bread-and-butter sustains, short notes, tremolos, and trills, Inspire 2 fills up the spaces with beautifully orchestrated, soft colors. For a set of libraries designed as sketchpads for modern composers, the sonic palette that is offered, and tonal quality of the samples is nothing short of astonishing.
Most patches are equipped with only two dynamic layers and up to three velocities, which sounds surprisingly better than it looks on paper. The transition points between the dynamic layers are programmed so smoothly that it’s hard to recognize where one sample fades into another. The same goes for the round robins which only become apparent when playing continuous repetitions in an isolated manner.
The fixed microphone mix you’re given is taken from balancing the close, room, and ambient mics found in the Berlin and Metropolis Ark series. It works very well for most of the instruments, although some few could have used a little bit more ambience.
For a product bundle designed as an entrance to the scope of Orchestral Tools’ amazing libraries, you’re given a truly comprehensive set of tools to work with. Regardless of whether you want to sketch out a new musical idea on the go or need to score a complete feature film, you can clearly do both with the Inspire Bundle. The portation to OT’s own SINE Player went flawlessly and even offers some nice additional features that make composing with the library even easier.
The sound quality and feel of the products are solid and preserve much of what makes the Orchestral Tools products so popular among film and game composers.
While certainly aimed at pro-level composers, the overall price of the bundle is quite reasonable. This is especially true when taking into account the number of instruments, articulations, and pre-orchestrated sections you’re given. With the Inspire Bundle, you get a great, all-around symphonic orchestral library that focuses on usability and sound quality. Well done!
The Inspire Bundle for SINE is available as a digital download through the Orchestral Tools online store or directly via the SINE Player plugin. Its price is set at €549 (plus taxes), which equals a discount of €240 in comparison to purchasing the two products individually. Owners of the KONTAKT versions of Inspire 1 and/or 2 can upgrade to the new SINE version completely for free.