Review of BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover
I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I saw Spitfire Audio was offering a smaller version of their BBC Symphony Orchestra titled ‘Discover’ at an affordable £49. Not only this but if users can’t afford the ‘buy it now’ price, Discover is available for free if you complete a short questionnaire and wait 14 days to download.
What is BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover?
So how and why has Spitfire done this? The concept behind Discover is to create an accessible gateway into orchestral composition for music creators at every level. Discover is a smaller version of larger BBCSO editions and features the same professional and detailed recording process for 33 instruments and 47 techniques, but is under 200MB.
Download and installation
The download process for BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover is extremely clear and simple, and options are given for choosing from a version for either Mac OS X 10.10 or later, Intel Core 2 Duo, or Windows 7, 8 or 10, Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64X2. Once you’ve selected the correct option for your computer, you can then open BBCSO as a plugin that is compatible with most music creation software and DAWs. The download and installation was quick, with easy to follow instructions and took a matter of minutes.
The Instrument Sounds
As soon as I’d installed BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover, I was like an excited kid, eager to open a project and start making noise. The first thing that struck me was the realism of the instrument sounds; Spitfire Audio did not skimp on the quality in Discover, and I was instantly impressed. Another element that I appreciated was that Spitfire kept the playable range of each instrument voice true-to-life; a decision that not only keeps the caliber of the sound where it should be but one that will also benefit learners who are finding their way around the orchestra.
The controls available to each instrument are intuitive and easy to navigate in the plugin window, and everything is labeled clearly. All instruments have three sliders that control the amount of expression, dynamics, and reverb.
Playing techniques are specific to each instrument, with options including long vibrato, spiccato, pizzicato and tremolo on all strings (minus tremolo on double bass). Woodwind and brass instruments offer long or staccatissimo. The percussion section provides realistic staccatissimo techniques for harp plucks, celeste, timpani hits and untuned percussion, tubular bells, marimba, xylophone and glockenspiel.
Depending on which DAW you are using, your articulation controls and methods will vary. Babylonwaves have created free Cubase Expression Maps and Logic Articulation Sets which are created to assist those who are struggling with these elements in Discover. This can be really helpful for learning and understanding how articulation can be used, and this shortcut should add to the creative experience rather than feeling like a separate and arduous task. The Babylonwaves free download is available here. https://www.babylonwaves.com/2020/05/07/free-art-conductor-for-spitfire-bbcso-discovery/
Other notable points
The library can be installed on up to two computers at a time, which is a nice option for people on the go, who are away from their main workstation. Spitfire has made it easy to copy the downloaded folder over to other devices for this purpose. With this in mind, owners of the Professional and Core versions of BBCSO will automatically receive Discover for free, and all editions are fully interchangeable and compatible with each other thanks to mode switching technology. The other editions of BBCSO are Core at £399, and Professional, which is £899.
The approach Spitfire Audio has taken with the BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover edition is one that provides high-quality instrument sounds to all, while also offering an insight into the more advanced packages that users can aspire to own when they have maximised their options and need to move on up. Personally, I can’t praise Spitfire’s approach enough; they have created a truly accessible option for orchestral composition without fault – there’s no catch, no compromise on quality and no hard sell. Discover is a highly pleasing product that stands alone, delivers more than expected, and authentically supports music makers and composers of the future.
You can find out more about BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover and download here: https://www.spitfireaudio.com/bbcso/discover/