Vir2 Instruments is a division of Big Fish Audio, the US company whose excellent Prosonus series helped kick‑start orchestral sampling back in the '80s. Two decades and hundreds of libraries later, the company bring you Elite Orchestral Percussion, which is 40 times the size of your average '80s sample CD, and a good deal more musically comprehensive.
EOP's palette is a mix of orchestral, ethnic and Latin percussion, aimed squarely at media composers but with plenty of applications in the wider production world. The orchestral staples are good, the bass drums sound suitably weighty and the tymps have a fair amount of 'bang' when played loudly. There's also a generous selection of crisp, bright and generally rather high‑pitched snare drums, and a big set of splashy piatti and suspended cymbals. My only minor criticism is that the tam-tam gong has no real power and sounds very distant.
Standout tuned items for me were the glock and xylophone; both sound fabulous. Handbells feature a cool 'waved' patch in which the movement of the bells through the air produces a lovely, natural chorus effect. The vibraphone (sampled here without its vibrato effect) and tubular bells default to playing muted short notes. To play a long note, you have to hold down the sustain pedal before pressing the key. Although this emulates the instruments' real‑life behaviour, it's an unnecessary and awkward restriction in a sampled instrument.
The ethnic selection combines exotica, such as Indonesian angklung rattles and Alpenglocken tuned cowbells, with a sizeable menu of common Latin percussion instruments and a couple of African drums. Though the world menu is necessarily more restricted than those of specialist ethnic percussion collections, you'll be glad it's there when you're programming your film score rhythm tracks. One minor gripe: I would have appreciated some information about the instruments, as the manual tells you nothing other than their patch names.
The success of EOP lies in its sampling depth and breadth. The range of instrumentation, large number of instrument makes, different mallet types and articulations give users a lot of useful options. (The only articulation I missed was a fast crescendo 'swoosh' on a mallet cymbal.) Most instruments contain just the right amount of ambience for me, but if you want a wetter sound, the library's excellent convolution reverbs feature some cataclysmic (and extremely long) concert hall and cavern ambiences. A set of 'trigger keys' appended to each instrument generate automated rolls, chokes and user rhythm patterns, which is a nice, helpful feature. Another impressive sound library from the Big Fish team. All I can say is "Vir2 now?” Dave Stewart
£260 including VAT.
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