Review : Berlin Inspire by Orchestral Tools

Berlin Inspire is another addition into the popular (and ever-so-crowded) category of “All-In-One” orchestral sample libraries. These libraries are aimed at a specific crowd: those who may be newer to the field of composing with MIDI in a DAW and want a good starting point, or those who may not be able to afford (either with income OR computer resources) the large and detailed libraries featuring full orchestral sections. There are quite a few of these libraries which are recommended commonly on the internet : Spitfire Audio’s Albion One, Orchestral Tools Metropolis Ark 1, and Audio Imperia’s Jaeger. These libraries, however, seem to be aimed towards a more specialized approach: making music that is more modern and bold (able to produce a louder dynamic range), with large ensemble sizes and no solo instruments, as opposed to focusing on the sounds of traditional film scores and classical music. Enter BERLIN INSPIRE!

Berlin Inspire is an all in one orchestral package from Orchestral Tools. It includes arguably the most comprehensive list of instruments for a traditional film score or for writing classical music. To my knowledge, it is the only such package to include solo instruments (flute, clarinet, horn, trumpet), as well as a harp, piano, and timpani/orchestral percussion, in addition to the standard Strings, Brass and Woodwinds. Each section is also very detailed, offering a patch solely for first and second violins and first chair strings as well as the full string ensemble and high and low string 8va patches.

Included are the most common articulations for each instrument section, including sustains, spiccato/staccato, pizzicato and tremolo (strings), marcato (brass), and trills (woodwinds). You also get a few combined sections, such as Trumpet+Horns 8va, Trombones+Tuba 8va, Flutes + Clarinets 8va, and Bassoons + Clarinets 8va. Having solo instruments as well as smaller combined sections goes a long way to add detail and clarity to tracks created using this library.

The sound of this library is very detailed and crisp, the shorts in particular sound impeccable. Every instrument is recorded in their natural seating position, meaning everything is pre-panned right out of the box, which is very nice and adds realism (some may prefer a centered recording approach, but I believe pre-panned works for the style this library represents) The “Whole Orchestra” multi is an amazing tool to load up for sketching out ideas and fleshing out tracks that may be lacking thickness or punch. The first chair strings sound appropriately intimate and are a welcome addition to provide a more close and detailed sound. The inclusion of a harp and piano are nice, however the harp I found sounded quite disappointing compared to the Kontakt Factory Library VSL Harp patch. The percussion included performs very nicely, the timpani especially. Also included are a glockenspiel and a combination patch featuring a marimba and xylophone (this patch sounds great, the glockenspiel, however, isn’t my favorite). Besides these exceptions, the sound is amazing and lives up to the high standard set by previous libraries by Orchestral Tools, and it stands as a great starting point for those wanting to dive into the sounds this company offers without spending thousands of dollars.

Not every instrument features legato, and while it performs beautifully for the solo instruments (the solo horn especially sounds amazing) and for the instruments which it was specifically recorded for, the emulated legato transitions on the other instruments aren’t anything to write home about, though it is nice to have it included. This library also tops out fairly early in terms of dynamics for the sustains. For instance, for the “whole orchestra” staccato patch, it sounds incredibly punchy and full of life. When you switch to a sustain articulation on the same patch, it does not go into the same realm of punchy-ness and intensity, instead sounding a bit mellow even in the highest dynamic range. It does however easily provide enough loudness and range to fulfill the needs of a classical composer.

My biggest complaint is on the lack of any extra mic positions, only offering one, which sounds fine for me, but more control over the mic positions would go a long way (and also add to the hard drive space and resource consumption of the library, so it’s perfectly understandable why this feature was left out).

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The Verdict-


Pros +
+ Amazing amount of content for the price.

+ Very detailed and focused sound, perfect for traditional film scores and classical music.

+ Nice variety of articulations.

+ Includes First Chair strings and Solo Instruments, most comprehensive ‘all in one’ package.

Cons -

- Only one mic position

- Emulated legato transitions, plus the sound of the harp and glockenspiel, aren’t my favorite.

- Sometimes fast staccato/spicatto phrases fall out of sync in certain note ranges (for instance: low full strings aren’t properly synced when playing fast)

Overall, Berlin Inspire is a great choice for anyone seeking a detailed and traditional orchestral package, as it is full of great and realistic sounds, without breaking the bank or requiring a super powerful computer.