8Dio has concluded their ambitious Adagio series strings with Adagio Basses, Vol 1. This bass library for Kontakt takes up a bit over 10.5GB of space (with NCW compression,) and includes so many sections options that we’re not sure how they plan to fill a Volume 2.
For more about the 8Dio Adagio system, you might want to start with our review of Adagio Violas, Vol. 1. To sum up, their approach is to record the standard crossfade samples as well as recording the strings without any crossfading. So on top of the mod wheel-controlled dynamics you get with most string libraries, you also get recorded swells, diminuendos, and much more.
Instrument arrangement and legato
All programs are arranged by section size, either solo, divisi (2-players), or ensemble (4-players) sections. Each of these sections has an instrument with short notes, sustained notes, dynamic notes (swells), louré (repeated notes in a single bow), and two legato instruments.
Each instrument includes three mic mixes: close, far, and mixed (the default.) Three output busses allow the mics to be routed in 5.1 surround if required.
Something that we didn’t notice in Violas is that the Adagio strings are recorded with each section right in front of you, rather than seated in their traditional placement on stage left. This style, shared by VSL, allows more flexibility when mixing, and if you want them seated “European style” at center left then you can do that. You might hear some phasing when panning the reverberant mic positions, although we didn’t notice the sound get thinner when narrowing the panning image as it does with some other libraries. Whichever your preference is, now you know.
The solo bass legato choices are “Geisha” and “Emo Slur,” divisi and ensemble get “Cantabile” and “Soft Slur.” Aside from recording the legato samples in two different flavors, each has up to 11 different keyswitches for the following notes. There is no separate sordino legato patch, but sordino articulations were recorded and are included in the sustain patches.
All of the keyswitches start with a crossfade sample, because you might start the line hard or soft. The second and following notes have the flavor of the crossfade. For example, load up the Ensemble Cantabile instrument and select Short Bow 1. The first note you play will be a looped crossfade sample that you can hold as long as you like. The second note you play will end in a quarter note. Other keyswitches have extra vibrato, a built-in swell, or louré notes.
The crossfade keyswitch has a smooth, looping tone. All the other keyswitches have a more pronounced bow change in the middle of the note. This has a more realistic sound to my ears but might be distracting in some arrangements. If it jumps out during playback, you can always keyswitch back to the sustain crossfade sample.
More note types
Short notes have spiccato, staccato, marcato, pizzicato, and Bartók pizz. All of the articulations sound lively and woody. They each have a lot of dynamic range, controlled by keyboard velocity. Sustains with and without sordino, tremolo, and trills in half/whole steps are included.
The dynamic instruments are some of our favorites in the collection. Having the live section play a long swell sounds exciting and dynamic, compared to playing it from the mod wheel. The dynamic instruments are recorded in sordino and unmuted. They’re also tempo-mapped for Kontakt 5’s Time machine. There are no Kontakt 4 tempo-synced swells, so go upgrade already. Louré notes and legato instruments are also provided in tempo-synced formats using K5 Time Machine, though Louré with tempo sync are also provided for K4.
Finally, there is one multi to help set up your template, and a selection of ambiences created by processing the bass samples.
The Adagio string collection has a distinctive sound and a different approach from some of the other libraries out there. We would like MIDI controllers to be an option for articulation switching instead of just keyswitching. Perhaps this will be added in the future, or we could use a program like TransMIDIfier to achieve this.
Quickly comparing all of Adagio strings to Audiobro LA Scoring Strings, Adagio doesn’t have the three separately recorded divisi sections. Nor does it have the auto-divisi, bass harmonics, sequenced patterns, and effects in LASS. However, Adagio gives you many different legato performances, dynamic instruments, and louré instruments. They’re both great, state-of-the-art string libraries. Our advice is always to buy both (and one other) to cover all bases.
So far we’ve reviewed the Adagio Viola and Bass libraries and come away very impressed. It’s a great-sounding, unique approach to sampled strings. The multiple legato styles and dynamic instruments might take a bit more time than using regular crossfade samples, but it creates a great sounding string section. Check out the demos below, and give them a try if you think it might fit your workflow.
8Dio Adagio Basses, Vol. 1, is available as a direct download from 8dio. The library is now available at $199, but the price is set to go up to $249. A bundle of all four string sections is available for $1098. Learn more at the 8Dio website.