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Spitfire Audio – Abbey Road Orchestra: Cellos Professional (Review)

Only two months after releasing Abbey Road Orchestra: 1st Violins, Spitfire Audio is back with another exciting addition to their new flagship orchestral range: Abbey Road Orchestra Cellos. 

In line with the previous Abbey Road Orchestra modules, this brand new chapter once again aims to give composers full control over a particular instrument section and access to the sound of Abbey Road’s famed Studio One scoring stage.

Spitfire Audio kindly provided us with a review copy of Abbey Road Orchestra: Cellos Professional.


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Abbey Road Orchestra: Cellos – Launch Trailer


Abbey Road Orchestra: Cellos Professional features a section of 10 cello players. They were recorded recorded in-situ (at their position in the symphonic orchestra), by veteran sound engineer Simon Rhodes.

As with the previous 1st Violins module, this new sample library ships in 2 editions: Core and Professional. Both editions share similar techniques with the same sampling depth in many common articulations. The main difference between the two – apart from the lower entry price of Core – is that Core has only one mic signal option (Simon Rhodes’ ‘Mix 1’), while Professional offers 16 signal options. The Professional version also includes extra techniques labeled ‘Extended’ and additional legato content.

Since I am reviewing the Professional edition of Abbey Road Orchestra: Cellos today, let’s look at some of its key features:

  • 8 advanced legato techniques
  • Extended patches featuring alternative attacks
  • Controllable vibrato
  • An extensive set of articulations featuring flautando, tremolo, trills, spiccatos, marcatos and many more
  • 16 microphone signals

With all this, Abbey Road Orchestra: Cellos Professional requires a hefty 93 GB of hard drive space once installed.


Cellos Professional is hosted within Spitfire’s proprietary, free sampler engine, which is compatible with all major DAWs. All the Abbey Road Orchestra ranges load up in the same plugin and therefore also share the same interface.

The upper half of the interface contains the most commonly used MIDI parameters. The familiar big knob design is used to assign one of a few different functions. Next to it, you can find sliders to control expression and modulation. They can be controlled through MIDI CC11 and CC1 (modwheel).

The bottom half of the screen includes the articulation selection, the microphone mixer, and the effects page. Users can pick and choose which articulations are loaded at any time using the technique editor (pen icon). The “Eco load” function, introduced in Abbey Road Orchestra: 1st Violins, is also present in the new Cellos module. When engaged through the Settings menu, the sampler only loads samples of the technique that is selected into the RAM, avoiding long initial loading times.

Additional controls include an algorithmic reverb, as well as a Tightness control that allows users to cut into the sample starts – very useful for responsive live performances. The legato offset is similar to the Tightness control but only affects the length of legato transitions. Since you can automate this setting, it gives you more options and flexibility when you’re programming MIDI.


For this review, we tested version 1.1.1 of the library which was released shortly after the initial launch. This update mainly improved playability and sample edits.

Abbey Road Orchestra: Cellos Professional has a stunningly beautiful sound which is surely helped by the iconic room tone of Abbey Road’s Studio One. The samples capture a great amount of depth while sounding vibrant, perfectly demonstrating Spitfire Audio’s high standards for the series.

The library contains a wealth of articulations that cover the most common playing techniques for orchestral music. A wide range of short techniques are featured as well, consisting of Spiccatissimo, Spiccato, Staccato, Pizzicato, Marcato, and last but not least, Col Legno. All these were recorded with 4 to 6 dynamic layers and can be combined smoothly. Here is a demonstration of the dynamic range available – a repeating phrase gradually increasing in intensity over time:

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These short articulations greatly benefited from the recent v1.1.1 patch, which corrected their timings to be in line with the previous 1st Violins chapter. While playing around with the short articulations, I found the Short Release function to be an excellent feature. It will modify for how long the release portions of short techniques will ring out, depending on how long we press down the keys. This is extremely useful when playing fast rhythms or ostinatos as it avoids muddy frequency buildups. Finally, a Tightness setting allows for full control of the sample starts, from 40 ms to 80 ms.

Let’s check out the long articulations now. Here you can find sustains, flautando, harmonics, trills, and tremolos. Again, the sound of these patches is exquisite and the natural room tone makes them shine. The dynamic control is excellent once again. 5 dynamic layers are offered for the normal sustains, while most of the other long techniques have 3. The transition between these layers is smooth and consistent. Here is an example of a slow emotional progression using some of the lower dynamics:

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Abbey Road Orchestra: Cellos Professional also has great vibrato control. The transition from non-vibrato to full vibrato is truly natural and gradual, making it a joy to work with. It helps you write expressive melodies, adding emotion and realism to your programming.

The same new legato technology that Spitfire Audio introduced with their 1st Violins module is featured in Abbey Road Orchestra: Cellos as well. The 8 legato types included are designed to cover a massive variety of orchestral phrasings and styles, going from subtle and discrete all the way to bold and marked transitions. They are of course all available as separate articulations but also grouped through two special “Extended” patches. These cleverly programmed patches regroup a selection of legato types and will trigger them depending on note velocity, timing, and playing. They can also blend two different types of legato, giving even more flexibility and control.

The genius in this approach is that these patches can work for live playing as well as step-by-step programming, as you can adjust the note values and velocities after the fact, one by one. Thankfully the manual has very handy reference tables (from page 29) when it comes to fully understanding how the Extended patches work. To demonstrate this, here is a short example using said Extended patch, and showing a variety of different legato types, from slurred to bowing/allegro:

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In Abbey Road Orchestra: Cellos Professional, you will find the same set of microphone signals that are also featured in the other Abbey Road Orchestra modules so far: an exhaustive ensemble of 16 individual microphone positions. These include a set of Close, Mid, Decca Tree, Ambient, Outriggers, Spill, and Vintage Ribbon mics. A Leader signal is also included which focuses on the leader of the cello section and is an excellent choice for adding intimate detail and texture.

I’m happy to see that the selection of microphone positions is consistent across all the existing Abbey Road Orchestra chapters, which makes it easy to create balanced and authentic-sounding scoring templates with full control over the sound.

This wide selection of microphone positions opens the door to exciting sound combinations, and on that note, I particularly loved combining Tree1 with the Ambient signal.

On top of the generous selection of individual microphone positions, Abbey Road’s senior engineer Simon Rhodes also created two ready-to-use mixes. The first mix has a grand, cinematic vibe and a wide sonic image. The second mix is more detailed and intimate. Both present an excellent starting point for composing and can be great time savers when you don’t want to fiddle around with all those individual signals.


With the release of Abbey Road Orchestra: Cellos, Spitfire Audio consistently demonstrates a commendable level of excellence. Capturing all the beauty of Abbey Road’s Studio One, Cellos Professional captures and preserves a unique sonic character that has been inseparably tied to AAA Hollywood soundtracks for decades.

Thanks to its incomparable control capabilities and consistent editing, the library is a joy to play and program. As with the previous 1st Violins module, Cellos Professional represents some of the best string sampling Spitfire Audio has achieved to date.

As of note, Spitfire Audio seems to have revised the pricing of their new modules: The Core and Professional editions are now priced at €169 and €289 respectively.  Considering all the content included and the effort that went into producing this library, this represents an outstanding value. 

With its pristine tone and flexibility, Abbey Road Orchestra: Cellos Professional is designed to meet the needs of composers who want a flexible library with lots of options for control.


  • Pristine cinematic sound
  • Extensive microphone collection
  • Comprehensive expression and control capabilities
  • “Eco Load” function is a handy RAM-saving feature
  • Short Release control tidies up rhythms and ostinatos


  • I would have wished for a function to download microphone positions one by one to save some hard drive space


Abbey Road Orchestra: Cellos Professional is available as a download through the Spitfire Audio online shop for €289. The Core edition is priced at €169.



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