BBC SO Pro upgrade from Core is it worth it?

I have BBC Core read through most of the threads which have not been updated too much. The demos I have found of Pro are less than Core especially walkthroughs and solo instruments. The Paul Thomson Walkthrough of Pro only gives seconds to the solo / lead instruments and then he plays chords!! Would anybody recommend moving from Core to Pro and for what reason. I have recently needed solo instruments so I bought Orchestral Tools Tableau strings for violin, viola and cello and used Core single instruments as solo instruments. OT gives 5 mic positions and more articulations than Core so the combination is sort of half way house to Pro which is expensive to upgrade to. Any recommendations or criticisms of Pro welcome

Hello Robert, welcome to the community! :slight_smile:
I personally opted for BBCSO Core, because I felt no need for all the microphone options. Now the solo instruments I miss, but unless you really want that coherent sound of the entire orchestra, there are other great solo libraries out there you can mix in. CSSS for strings for example.

Now of course the whole point of the BBCSO library was to have one single coherent orchestral palette in one product. However, I personally like to layer libraries, so I don’t see an issue with mixing different products in the same production.

Is it worth to upgrade? For me, no. For you, only if the ‘all in one’ coherent sound is very important to you.

Is CSSS CineSamples Symphonic Strings or something else, sorry I am not up with abbreviations. Thanks for your advice

Cinematic Studio Solo Strings:

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Thank you for clarification and link

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I don’t remember if @ComposerEverett (one of the members here) got the Pro version or Core of BBCSO. But perhaps he can chime in with his thought in any case.

I think I got Pro? But I am actually not sure.

I do like BBC a lot. Very sweet sounding strings—but not always easy to phrase, given my kind of writing.

I’ve moved to Berlin for most applications because I can almost always get the phrasing I want. But in upper register, BBC sounds the sweetest (for strings).

I don’t like the BBC horns. Not very cinematic—they won’t get brassy.

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I will check whether I have pro later today.

I’m not sure what you mean by “brassy”, do you mean for big swells, bright sounding fast rhythms, or something else?

PS. If you have more than one mix option, you have the pro version.

Hi Mikael, I just watched Christian Henson’s Albion, BBC SO and Abbey Road comparisons which lit a light bulb for me. I am new to this having done 4 or 5 piece rock band/prog rock recordings before. I started with violin in an orchestra before turning to Shadows cover band and so on through rock and prog rock bands. The Journey and the differences he mentions between these 3 seem to be profound and I wish I new about BBC SO Core before I bought it. I bought Originals Intimate Strings and Brass woodwinds so I can play full keyboard as he mentions Core and Pro are really individual instruments you have to put your own ensembles and own composition by instruments. Oh difficult for me as a beginner. He then mentions the Journey and now I feel I have turned left and gone into a siding ending up with 2 sample sets one Originals cheapo starter kit and BBC SO Core a big jump to then redo the instruments. I woud be grateful if you suggested a journey, just bear in mind I will not use Kontakt until they change it. This I believe would be very helpful from someone such as yourself. You might already have this somewhere but sorry to be so long but I think I need to press reset and start again.

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Hello Robert. Well I haven’t watched that video myself, and I only have BBCSO from Spitfire Audio. I do have a huge amount of sample libraries for Kontakt, even though I hate the interface of Kontakt.

I would stay with BBCSO if I were in your shoes. Learning to use one orchestral collection well, before diving into new products just because they ‘look shiny’.

If you still believe you need more options. Perhaps the new updated East West CC collection coming soon would be more interesting for you if you want to explore more options, without having to invest too much upfront.

I went with BBCSO Pro as my first ‘serious’ orchestral library after using EastWest for a while.

Have to say I really value having the mic positions - which I wasn’t sure I would get into at all - as they really help mould the sound you’re after (at least the sounds I’ve been after! :wink: Ph. and the ‘leaders’ (solo instruments) can work really well as well.

I have had some struggles with it. but I’ve almost always been able to get the sound I want, once I’ve added the right articulations and controller data. Including the Brass, which I know comes in for a fair bit of criticism, but for me, I’m very pleased with it.

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Mark, question for you as a Pro user. I have Core and I love the sound of it. But one thing I’ve had trouble with is getting a good quick attack on fast passages, especially with the brass. Since it’s got a fairly wet room sound, I wondered if being able to isolate the close mics would help getting a stronger attack. Would Pro help with that, or is that sort of thing still a struggle even with Pro?

Hi Mike - good question! I haven’t used it for this myself yet. I’ve used it for finer definition of the instrument, rather than articulations. But let me check that and and get back to you.

Hi - I just put a very quick (and messily played! - sorry) example file together for you.

I played a random phrase, with different articulations, but no controller data, and copied it sequentially across Horns a4, Trumpets a3, & Trombones a3.

The phrase is played 2x. Once with the default ‘mix’ mike settings, the 2nd time with just the close mike. The sound obviously goes much quieter, thinner with just the close, as it’s just 1 mike position, rather than the sound being multiplied by the multiple mikes in the mix. There’s a piano chord played to separate the patch changes, but you don’t really need it as you can hear the difference quite clearly.

For what it’s worth I’ve not used the close mike on its own in any piece. But I amend the balance between the mics depending on the sound I want.

Hope this helps!


Please may I ask if you have purchased anything else to supplement BBC SO Pro as I have to supplement BBC SO Core mainly to sketch stuff before I move into Core. Thank you

Well, I have a growing collection of different plugins for different things. Not necessarily because BBCSO needs them.

One thing I have found with BBCSO is I can generally remove any additional reverb (in fact it sounds better when I do) because of the tree and ambient mikes,

I do really miss an alto flute. One of my favourite instruments, which they bizarrely don’t have. I have occasionally swapped it for their bass flute, but it’s not quite the same thing. Or I supplement it with my EastWest Composer Cloud alto flute - but then the sound isn’t as cohesive as all from the same library.

They also don’t really have brass mutes, which for me is a real pity. Well, I believe they claim they do, if you use a low enough velocity. But I’ve tried a few times and it hasn’t reality worked for me.

I will occasionally EQ the sound, and possibly add some audio plugins, but I’m also realising the less I do to the sound the better the outcome.

This track is pure BBCSO Pro, unadulterated:

And this album is mostly BBCSO, but I was really just getting my mixing/production chops together, and think I made a few errors here - mostly by trying to be too clever. Think might have been better if I’d just left the sounds more as they were (but hopefully I’m being hyper critical here. I think it’s mostly not too bad!)

Cool. That does show the difference of the close mic quite well. It sounds like it wouldn’t do much for clearing up faster articulations, like I was thinking. But would mainly be for pinpointing the definition of the sound as you said. Thanks for sharing that!

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After this thread and talking to many people I decided with the 40% discount and gaining Aperture for free to upgrade to Pro. As I have said I do not like Kontakt so the only other real choice was Orchestral Tools and I tried Inpire Orchestra and found it to be more or less than the same as the free Layers. So now I have leads and mic positions which this thread is discussing. In terms of reverb and FX I already have a plethora of pedals and plugins from UA amongst others. I thank everybody for the discussion here and ask to continue on the use of Pro and Core