Tutorials » Spitfire Audio » Combination palettes

In this blog I'll be looking at the combination palettes included in Spitfire products such as Mural and Sable, and explaining what they are, how they work and when to use them.

The Split into Volumes

Sample libraries such as Spitfire Audio's Sable and Mural are massive  libraries, packed with an huge amount of playing styles (up to 40+ per-section at last count - have a peek at the library tour here). To make this more managable, these big libraries were split into 'volumes'. For example, Sable Volume 1 included basic articulations for Violins 1  and Celli , Volume 2 included the same for Viola, Violins 2  and Basses , Volume 3 provided extended legato (fast, flautando, con sord, etc.) for all sections and Volume 4 contributed more esoteric or rare playing styles.

With the exception of a few articulations, each volume of Sable includes Kontakt patches spanning the techniques found solely in that volume. For example, Sable Volume 1 includes both non-vib and vib samples that you can cross-fade between. Sable 3 includes just the new molto-vib sustains. Each volume includes a slight variation of the Longs articulation:

  • Non-vib and vib long sustains (volume 1),
  • The molto-vib long sustains (volume 3).
Problems with split volumes

With the patches mentioned above, what happens if you own both Volume 1 and Volume 3, and want to cross-fade from non-vib to molti-vib? We could load up both instruments from each volume and manually cross-fade ourselves using CC11, but that's a bit of a long-winded way of doing it, and using all-in-ones complicates it further. What we really want is an extra variation alongside the two above:

  • Non-vib to vib to molto-vib long sustains (both volumes)

This is exactly what the combination palettes are. Inside each Sable instrument you'll find a folder called Combination brushes. Inside this folder you'll see variations of the same core/decorative/etc. palettes, but with the samples from multiple volumes utilised, as indicated in the filename. For example, With Sable V1 we have:

That's a bit confusing! Which one should I use?

If you own multiple Volumes of Sable, I personally recommend exclusively using the largest Combination brushes you have access to. For example, if you own Volume 1 and 4, use the (vol1+4) combination palettes where available. If you own Volume 2,3 and 4, uses the (vol2+3+4) palettes. Sometimes there may not be a combination available (for example, if adding Volume 4 to Volume 1/3 adds nothing extra). In this case, use the largest available, or the original core palette in the instrument's main folder.

Sometimes it is essential that you use a combination palette. For example, V1 - Fast legato requires both Volume 1 and Volume 3. To use this articulation you should load V1 - Legato Performance palette (vol1+3).nki.

What about the extra individual brushes folder?

Inside the Combination brushes folder, you'll also have spotted another version of Individual brushes. This extra individual folder contains separated articulations that span multiple volumes. An example of this, mentioned above, is V1 - Fast legato. If you want to load Fast legato outside of the performance palette, you'll want to use the Combination brushes/Individual brushes/V1 - Legato (Fast).nki patch.

You'll notice that there's generally no mention of volumes in the individual brushes file names. The patches in this extra folder will always try to use samples from all possible volumes. If you do not own all volumes you may encounter the Missing Samples dialog while loading these.

Other advantages to using the combination palettes

There are also further advantages to using combination palettes. Lets take a look at some of them:

  • Every available articulation is included in the one palette with no need to load multiple patches or dig for volume-specific articulations,
  • Some volumes grant extra functionality. For example, Volume 3 of Sable adds Marcato attacks to the Volume 1 longs and legato,
  • You're getting the maximum playability and know that you'll have full access to all available nv-moltovib, or dynamic ranges,
  • Articulations relying on multiple volumes (Fast legato, Con Sord legato, etc.) will work correctly.
To wrap things up

Combination palettes allow you to merge the articulations and functionality from several volumes of a sample library and are found in folders called Combination brushes. Always try to use the best combination you have access to as this will ensure your library is working to it's full potential. The examples above focused primarily on Sable, but the points apply to all Spitfire libraries split by volume.

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