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Spitfire Audio – Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion (Review)

Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion is the latest installment in Spitfire Audio’s flagship Abbey Road Orchestra lineup. Aimed at professional composers, this brand new library features the expressive sound of 58 deeply sampled metal instruments, all recorded meticulously at the incredible sounding Abbey Road Studio One in London, UK.

Recorded under the supervision of master engineer Simon Rhodes and performed once again by the incredibly talented Joby Burgess, this brand new chapter focuses on versatility, expressiveness, and impeccable sonic quality.


Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion includes a broad selection of metal percussive instruments and even various metal objects. It was designed to pair flawlessly with the first two installments in the Abbey Road Orchestra line-up, which we reviewed in the last few months.

Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion works within Spitfire’s free sampler engine, which is compatible with all major DAWs. The library is housed in the same plugin as the first two chapters and therefore shares an identical interface and controls.

Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion interface

Let’s review some of the key features of the new Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion:

  • wide selection of instruments ranging from orchestral triangles and cymbals to thunder sheets, oil drums, and metal chains
  • variety of beater types and striking techniques for each instrument
  • 409 articulations in total
  • up to 10 round robins and 10 dynamic layers per instrument
  • two-handed key mapping
  • 16 distinct microphone signals to choose from

Given the significant size and details of the samples, Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion requires 136 GB of space, which makes it the largest entry in the Abbey Road Orchestra lineup so far!


Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion sounds exquisitely detailed right out of the box. Playing with the different instruments quickly reveals the same sampling depth and consistency the first two Abbey Road Orchestra chapters offer. Spitfire Audio once again did an excellent job recording and capturing the full sonic footprint of these instruments, supported by a state-of-the-art signal chain and the impeccable Abbey Road Studio One.

As expected, the new Metal Percussion library includes traditional orchestral metal instruments like cymbals, piatti, crashers, tambourines, windchimes, triangles, and anvils.

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More non-traditional metal percussion from Joby Burgess own collection was also recorded, including temple bowls, thunder sheet, wind gong, waterphone, cabassa, bell tree, and guiro.

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Finally, Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion features an exciting collection of unusual and experimental metal objects, such as brake drums, scaffolds, oil drums, chains, and trash cans.

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This vast selection definitely adds a ton of versatility to the library and can be very useful as a starter for sound design endeavors as well.

The sampling quality in this new installment is, again, remarkable. All samples contain an authentic depth and a superb stereo image. As expected for metal instruments, the high end of the sonic spectrum can be prominent and cuts through mixes, but it never gets strident or unpleasant. This is particularly important since it makes the detailed release tails that the iconic Abbey Road Studio One has to offer even more enjoyable.

As with its predecessors, Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion features an extensive amount of articulations and playing techniques across its instrument range. Performances were recorded using sticks, rods, brushes, and mallets. Apart from the standard center hits, scrapes, damped and choked hits are also available for several instruments. As a new addition to the series, some instruments also include bowing techniques, which are extremely useful for adding tension. These bowed sounds could even be used as a starting point for suspenseful cinematic sound design.

All these playing techniques have been recorded with up to 10 dynamic layers, giving the library more than sufficient depth to be used in orchestral mockups. All the layers are programmed evenly and consistently, and the library responds insanely well to live playing, making it easy to add contrast and nuances to your scores.

As with the first two chapters, the repetition-playing capabilities of the library are not to be underestimated. The true left- and right-hand recordings allow for even more authenticity when playing accented rhythmic phrases. Here again, the sampling editing has proven to be excellent.


Owners of previous Abbey Road Orchestra libraries will instantly be familiar with the interface, as Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion runs in the very same plugin module. As with the other installments, the design of the interface is sleek, clear and features all the controls of previous releases.

Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion articulations

The most common settings are easily accessible through the main screen. Expression/volume and dynamics/modulation are assigned to two sliders located next to the library’s title. They can be controlled through MIDI CC11 and CC1 (or the mod wheel).

Reverb and tightness can be set via the main central knob. The reverb amount control adds an algorithmic reverb which is useful if you want to add an additional layer of reverb tail to the amazingly natural sonic response of the Abbey Road Studio One. The Tightness control allows you to shape the responsiveness of an instrument while playing it and is meant to be used with short articulations. When set at 0%, the sample start point cuts right into the first transient of the sample. This will allow for instant playback, while a 100% setting restores the full bowing motion of the original recordings, which gives short articulations a more natural sound but also takes away from the responsiveness during the live MIDI performance.

The bottom half of the screen includes the articulation switcher, a microphone signal mixer, and the FX page. On the first page, users have the option of editing which articulations are loaded at any time using the technique editor (pen icon). This is a great way to save some computer memory. The right-hand part features more controls for round robins, transposition, and keyboard mapping.

The signal mixer is easy on the eye and features a significant selection of mic signals as well as individual solo/mute buttons, pan, and stereo width controls. The only drawback is that there are so many signals that the entries are spread over 3 pages. Finally, the FX page is a callback to the effects accessible through the GUI’s main round knob.


Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion was recorded using the same microphones and microphone positions as its predecessors. A huge array of 16 individual microphone signals are available as well as two professionally designed stereo mixes.

Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion microphone selection

These two mixes have been created by the experienced Abbey Road engineer Simon Rhodes who has worked on many famous movie soundtracks, such as Avatar, The Magnificent Seven, and The Amazing Spider-man, among many others.

The first mix, aptly called Mix 1, provides a wide cinematic sound and can work in a broad range of cinematic music applications. Mix 2 focuses on a more intimate, narrow, and detailed sound, giving it an interesting sonic character. Individual microphone positions include the usual close, mid, tree, ambient, outrigger, overhead, spill, and vintage mics (1940’s RCA ribbon mics). The now-famous pop-close mic signal is featured as well and can be used for impressive close and wide percussion sounds away from a symphonic orchestral layout.


As the third chapter in this new Abbey Road Orchestra series,  Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion continues on the steps of its predecessors.

Showing the same level of detail, depth, and consistency and featuring excellent sample editing, this new addition sets a high bar for any metal percussion library to come.

Priced at $449 like the two previous entries, the library resides once again on the higher end of the sample library. Putting that consideration aside, Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion fully delivers on its promises with its huge dynamic range and impressive repetition-playing capabilities. Used in conjunction with the previously released high and low percussion installments, the library is a welcome addition for filling another area of the sonic spectrum.

From intricate temple bowls to chains slammed into trashcans, the many instrument types offered give the library extraordinary versatility. Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion is capable of being used in final professional mockups, without the need for any tweaks and adjustments. I’m sure that Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion will be a formidable tool for composers of many genres, from traditional orchestral to modern production music.


  • Versatile selection of metal percussion and metal objects
  • An impressive number of round robins and dynamic layers
  • Excellent array of microphones


  • High price point, aimed at professionals
  • Substantial hard drive space requirements (largest Abbey Road Orchestra entry to date)


Abbey Road Orchestra: Metal Percussion is available through the Spitfire Audio online shop for $449.



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