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Spitfire Audio introduces Abbey Road 2: Iconic Strings (Music software review)

Written By | Feb 28, 2022
Spitfire Audio, Abbey Road 2, Iconic Strings

Photo of Spitfire Audio studio and string ensemble. Image courtesy of Spitfire Audio via the company’s website.

CANTON, Ohio – Just when you think Spitfire Audio has taken enough of your money, they come at you with another compelling product. This time around, the iconic sound of Abbey Road Studios is melded with beautiful recordings of string soloists to bring you Abbey Road 2: Iconic Strings.

Looking through the product initially, one may wonder how an outfit like Spitfire Audio, which presents such a “small shop” identity and intimate façade, can consistently crank out so many wonderful products so quickly. Frankly, one also wonders how they can keep up such a pace while retaining their high quality standards. Yet maintain them they have.

Opening the package: First impressions

Not surprising, the latest Spitfire release, Abbey Road 2: Iconic Strings, continues a recent trend in the company’s line. Namely, this new product embodies a move toward creating dry and intimate products in contrast to the expected “Air Studios” sounds their customers love them for.

Users accustomed to the famously ethereal yet always- present Spitfire production value may find themselves taken aback by how dry the samples in this new product are. Indeed, they do lose some of their magic in this approach. Yet place them a reverb of your choice, and the details and wonder of these captured performances immediately comes to life.

Spitfire offers a base model and a higher end version of this product

Spitfire Audio offers the its Abbey Road 2: Iconic Strings library in a “core” version of Iconic Strings. Currently offered for $299 MSRP, it takes up 46GB. Those requiring a “professional” version of the package, which takes up 292 GB can purchase it for almost twice the price of the core version. We reviewed the core version.

The good news? Both editions of Abbey Road contain all of the same instruments, patches, and samples. The difference in price and content comes in with mixes and additional available mic positions in each version. In terms of preset mixes, the core version provides a “Vintage” and “Modern” mix. The professional version strives to give you the famous sound of the Abbey Road Studio vintage signal path.

The only major musical omission from the standard (core) edition involves the portamento/legato articulation, something composers likely will miss. Yet this one significant difference aside, the standard edition, for our money, absolutely can do the professional job.

More comprehensively, those on a budget should also look into Spitfire’s the generous sales, bundles, and student discounts the company offers to its customers. Longtime Spitfire users may also see in this quintet a worthy successor and replacement for the Sacconi Quartet library.

Spitfire Audio, Abbey Road 2, Iconic Strings

User screen, Abbey Road 2: Iconic Strings package by Spitfire Audio. Image courtesy of Spitfire Audio.

Classical vs. Pop sampling

We should note at this point that Spitfire Audio chose not to imitate a classical ensemble in Iconic Strings. Rather, they chose to imitate the solo and ensemble strings from iconic pop performances captured at Abbey Road. But the library’s comprehensive nature, its plethora of additional techniques, and the musicality of many of the patches easily makes the product effective for classical music and film scores. It just requires a change of setting via your favorite reverb plugin.

The package’s default “ensemble” setting presents a “one instrument at a time” arrangement of the quintet as a whole. This offers a great tool for quick work, sketching, and even as a layering instrument to provide “section leader sounds” for larger ensembles.

A delightful bonus…

Just like every Spitfire library, this one includes a handful of sounds that could become your absolute favorite. In our case, we absolutely loved not only the standard extended techniques. But we loved as well the new “brushed” technique and individual measured tremolos, along with the “Spiccatissimo” articulations.

On the other hand…

The legatos on this instrument were ultimately not my favorite in every case. I also found some aspects of playability a bit reserved.

That said, as an addition to my existing favorite strings libraries, this new Spitfire offering brings a significant power, options, and versatility to musicians and composers. So Spitfire Audio, perhaps unsurprisingly, succeeds again with Abbey Road Two: Iconic Strings. As a result, composers will once again find themselves losing many hours exploring the amazing sounds in this package.

Product Rating: *** (Three out of Four Stars)


Mark Nowakowski

Dr. Mark Nowakowski is a composer whose works have been performed across the United States and Europe. He holds five degrees in various music concentrations