Review: Orbis by Spitfire Audio
Orbis by Spitfire Audio is described by Spitfire Audio as the 'World Synthesizer'. Its a collection of samples and loops from around the world, powered by Spitfire's eDNA engine. The sounds are beautiful, and the interface powerful, but I think this library is an example of something that is not designed for me. Its available now for $269 until August 1st, where it will go back up to $349 - https://www.spitfireaudio.com/shop/a-z/orbis/
Orbis has its roots in a collection of sounds recorded by David Fanshawe, totally over 2,000 hours of recordings. David Fanshawe (1942-2010) was an English composer, sound explorer, and ethnomusicologist (whoa) who travelled the globe to gather an enormous archive of sounds. This massive library was curated by the Spitfire team, and turned into a dynamic collection of loop-based and sample-based instruments. The bulk of the Orbis is comprised of loops from around the world, mapped to the keyboard to easily pitch to the song you're working on. Orbis loads directly into your DAW - no Kontakt required.
Here's the stats:
Dedicated GUI, no Kontakt required
Runs in the Spitfire eDNA engine
22GB of disk space required
As i've mentioned the bulk of the library is made up of loops that are pitched on the keyboard. Some of these sounds are full compositions recorded by musicians from the culture they represent, so the India themed loops are actually recordings from Indian musicians in India. Sometimes these loops are static notes with a rhythm, and other times they're actually percussive loops. The loop portion of Orbis is split between mapped loops and separated loops, the separated loops allow you to play all the loops from each culture in one convenient location (good for chopping these up to make your own loops).
The one-shot section of Orbis is more akin to a multi-sampled library. Some of these are phrases, but many of them are actual single notes giving you access to a large database of ethnic instruments you won't find anywhere else. To me this was the most useful part of Orbis, but if you're a film composer you might find the loops to be much more beneficial. As a musical artist i'm mostly interested in libraries to use in my own music, and its rare that I want a Chinese composition as a layer in my tracks.
I made a video demonstrating some of the presets from Orbis, so you can get a feel for what the library sounds like out of the box. Check it out:
Orbis eDNA Engine
I'm not going to go in depth on the eDNA engine here, because I think its covered very nicely on their website. Basically the engine allows you to choose up to 2 samples or loops, and each sample has its own set of ADSR, filtering, tuning, panning, and FX that can be applied to it. Its very powerful, but not the most intuitive thing in the world in its execution.
Conclusion and Score
Orbis follows the fate of many of Spitfire Audio's libraries. The quality is very high, and the options are nearly limitless, but the library is super specific to who its target audience is. I think the ideal person to buy this library is a film composer that needs ethnically accurate sounds in their film. If you're an artist that uses a lot of organic sounds, and likes to sample full compositions, you may also find this very beneficial. However for 90% of music creators out there, you'll want to skip this one.
This isn't to say Orbis is bad in any way. Just like the British Drama Toolkit and the Eric Whitacre Choir (both by Spitfire Audio), this library was written for one specific group of music composers. If you fall into the category of 'person who needs this', you know that you need this and you're probably PUMPED that they made this thing. Personally i'm probably only going to use about 10% of this library to its potential, because so much of it is these looped elements. That being said if I get into a situation where I need a very organic sound in a song, this library is likely one of the first places i'll go.