Review: Spitfire Mural Vol 1

If you're looking for a high-quality large string section library then you might be tempted to explore Spitfire Audio's BML range. Toby Pitman puts Mural Vol 1 to the test.  

Spitfire Mural is the latest string library in their BML (British Modular Library) range. Mural brings you a much more symphonic approach with the full section counts reaching 60 players. All recorded at AIR Studios London the library is aimed at a more grandiose sound as opposed to the more intimate Sable library.

After downloading (around 30 GB) and installation you’ll find Mural in the ‘Files’ browser in Kontakt. It contains folders for the five sections. 1st Violins (16 players), 2nd Violins (14), Violas (12), Cellos (10) and Contra Bass (8). 

You’ll find all the usual patches that Spitfire provide alongside the main instrument (full) patch like Individual articulations etc.

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Loading a patch you’ll see the familiar Spitfire interface. The start page has a simplified view with controls for performance parameters, microphone control and the articulation selector at the bottom. If you're familiar with Spitfire’s products you’ll be away in seconds.

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Advanced view is left for round-robin and polyphony (for Legato patches) and various other options. There’s also the Ostinato page for building phrases and arpeggiations.

New Features

Some new features have cropped up in Mural regarding the sample performance. There are now controls for Intensity which gives you a more pronounced Legato transition. Release can tighten up the end of the notes or give you longer trail after the bow stops. Lastly there’s Tightness which plays with the sample start time giving you a well, tighter feel by chopping off some of the bow start! 

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There’s also a new Leader mic position which is placed closer to the lead player (first chair).

Articulations

There’s plenty to keep you busy in Vol. 1 which covers all the main workhorse articulations. There are some particularly nice longs here with Cor Sordino (muted), Sul Ponticello (at the bridge) and a really beautiful Flautando articulation that has a lovely rich, soft tone to it. 

I did notice that there’s no sustain pedal control for long notes which was odd.

The Legato articulation found in all the sections is fingered so the transition is quite fast. As yet there’s no Portamento version to give you those sweeping transitions, but I’m sure they’ll turn up in Vol 2. These would be nice to have as they sound beautiful on a big 1st Violin section for those big emotive melodies.

The shorts are also really great to play with some Pizz and Spicatto for those big ostinato lines. There’s also some very good harmonics but again you’ll have to wait till Vol 2 for things like trills etc.

The full patches can get quite large on the memory side so switch off any articulations you don’t need. At first I was also unsure if there was any default key switching. Upon further investigation I found these in the lowest octave of the keyboard. 

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Conclusion

If you're looking for a high-quality large string section then Mural will tick a lot of boxes for you. It’s capable of some pretty amazing results at both ends of the dynamic spectrum. Check out the demos on the Spitfire website and see for yourself.

Price: £399 GBP / $670 USD (aprox)

Pros: Quality symphonic string sounds. Very playable with plenty of performance options.

Cons: No Sustain pedal on long articulations. 

Web: http://www.spitfireaudio.com/bml-mural-volume-1

For the past 20 years Toby has worked as a professional guitarist, programmer and producer. Clients include Sir Paul McCartney, George Michael, Shirley Bassey, Yusuf Islam, Giles Martin as well as the London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies. He has also worked extensively in TV, Advertising and Film. As well as composing himself he has also ... Read More

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