Symphobia 2 by ProjectSAM Review

  • By: Cory Pelizzari
  • Date: Monday, 28 March 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Symphobia 2 by ProjectSAM Review

Today we’ll be looking back at a stellar library released nearly a decade ago – Symphobia 2 by Project SAM, a cinematic orchestral library designed for fast and inspired composing for trailers, games and other media.

With all the hype surrounding the rush of similar cinematic orchestral libraries of late, we’ll be studying how this near-decade-old library holds up against its current peers.

Many composers know Project SAM for creating acclaimed libraries like True Strike and the original Symphobia, and its creators have always stuck by their products by releasing yearly updates and even bonus content for free, which makes Project SAM’s libraries a worthy investment for any cinematic composer – and Symphobia 2 is no exception. 

Symphobia 2 ships with a wide range of content, including sustains, staccato, and effects for full orchestra, various essential techniques and true legato for mixed strings and single string sections as well as brass and woodwinds, a trove of orchestral phrases, moving notes and aleatoric effects, and a healthy selection of brilliant sound design content for hybrid scoring.

The library even comes with expertly crafted multis for high-speed music creation and inspiration.

Symphobia 2 Multi
Symphobia 2 Multi

Installation

Installation to your chosen folder is a breeze via Project SAM’s library download manager, and a quick registration via the Native Access program you can download from Native Instruments.

Sound

The sound of Symphobia 2 is bold, lush, and full of energy – much like other libraries by Project SAM. The close mics are dry enough for intimate applications, and the stage mics are full of character without sounding washed out.

The full orchestra patches sound regal but controlled (they are actual recordings of all sections playing simultaneously) and offer an instant Hollywood sound reminiscent of the ’70s and 80’s film scores.

Playing these patches is instantly gratifying and it’s hard to resist the temptation to play your favorite film score phrases with them over and over.

Symphobia 2 Single Instruments
Symphobia 2 Single Instrument Categories

The mixed string sections and separate sections have all the articulations you could want for scoring, including a highly useful ‘grace-note’ articulation for violins and violas that captures quick halftone transitions both up and down – great for energetic movement.

These strings sound strong yet maintain a velvet-like texture, which is essential for that Hollywood tone.

Violins with Violas
Violins with Violas

The brass is bold and graceful, with soaring sustains and focused staccatos as well as soulful arcs for the horn section that is great for softer moments.

Symphobia 2 Single Eight Player Horns Ensemble
Symphobia 2 Single Eight Player Horns Ensemble

The woodwinds are genuine and lavish. The library presents them in various classic instrument combinations that sound great together in unison, and for those who find it harder to compose woodwinds, this controlled selection will streamline the process.

Adding to all this, the carefully curated legato ensemble and solo instruments are unique, gratifying to play and sound stellar – of particular note is the solo flute, which sounds absolutely amazing, with no phasing issues to be found (as can be heard in many libraries containing legato woodwinds), and a great Uilleann Pipes patch.

Symphobia 2 by ProjectSAM Review

The hybrid sound design is presented as a list of patches with names related to the sounds’ cinematic application (like ‘Announcing The End’ or ‘Demolition Tools’). These wonderfully inventive sounds are a library in their own right and offer hard-hitting trailer bashes, industrial grit and grime, mysterious soundscapes and even a fully functioning sampled chainsaw – a rare find in any library.

The sounds complement the orchestra perfectly and work just as well on their own as experimental scores.

Finally, the orchestral textures and phrases are a refreshing addition to all of the above – gently moving notes, powerful cluster stabs, rips and glissandi and other various effects for individual sections provide a goldmine of inspiring and unique content for a plethora of film score applications, and it all sounds fantastic.

So how exactly do these sounds match up to current peer cinematic orchestral libraries? Well, I’m happy to say that with SAM’s constant updating of its collection, the functionality of Symphobia 2 remains rock solid.

Keyswitching for articulations and phrases, the ability to stack articulations for larger sounds, the ability to use a midi CC to sweep through articulations, a handy slider for mic position control, and all the extras you could need – attack and release, reverb, velocity control, round-robin selection, midi octave, and transpose, and release tail volumes are all on the menu – allowing the user to get what they want and how they want it quickly.

Symphobia 2 provides many features other current peer libraries don’t (such as a top-notch collection of multis), which is interesting, considering that the library’s price has been adjusted over the years to match its peer libraries’ pricing.

This is smart product care at its best, and Project SAM knows exactly what they’re doing with their libraries.

Symphobia 2 All Multis
Symphobia 2 by ProjectSAM Review

Overall, one would expect Symphobia 2 to fall by the wayside compared to modern epic cinematic orchestral offerings with twice the gigabyte size – but that is simply not true.

Symphobia 2’s careful sampling and expert curation of instruments and unique ensemble recordings have captured something that other libraries of its kind still have not bothered to attain so many years later. Symphobia 2 is a library in which its creators have displayed just as much creativity in its creation as the composers who create with it… and that’s a lot of creativity!

Rating:  Five out of five stars

All in all, this library set the standard that inspired the imitations which came after it, and it still manages to outweigh them in one way or another, which is a genuine feat to behold. Symphobia 2 is inspiring, magical and somehow manages to work with the composer. It is a monument to sampling.

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