Spitfire Symphony or BBCSO, any difference?

Is there a difference between the new Spitfire Symphony library and the full BBCSO library? I mean both are basically the same company. Both work with NPPE, but is it worth having both? I currently have BBCSO and I use it a lot. I’d be interested in hearing some feedback if someone has experience with both.

Completely unrelated other than being released by the same company.

Totally different recording in a different studio.

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I owned a few of the individual symphonic instrument sections prior to this year, when they also sold them separately, so earlier this year when they folded all that under one product (SSO 2024) my upgrade price was really good so I went for it.

But otherwise I’d already been a BBCSO Pro owner. I have and use both NPPEs, and only last week did the NP update allow me to use the complete SSO. I spent some time running previous orchestrations through both just to compare.

It’s hard to say, they really do sound quite a bit different due to the rooms especially. SSO which was recorded at Air Lyndhurst, and the mixes they use, is definitely wetter than BBC recorded at Maida Vale, all other factors being equal. Of course you can isolate close mics, but out of the box SSO is more wet.

But weirdly, a handful of my orchestrations sounded much clearer through SSO – in my A/B testing of the same musical material I would say the most noticeable reason why is BBC has more midrange mud all around, which builds up in a dense orchestration. This isn’t always a bad thing though, as in the right context BBC sounds warmer and thicker. I find the clarinets, low winds, and strings to be warmer than SSO. But SSO’s high winds, brass, and percussion have better clarity to really cut through.

So I’m using a combination of both for what I like most from each:

BBC for mid & low winds, strings.
SSO for high winds, all brass, and all percussion.

I personally have been underwhelmed by BBC’s percussion from day 1, and have never really found the brass that great, opting sometimes to simply use NP’s native brass instead.

Is it worth having both? Well in my case the upgrade discount made it a pretty easy choice. But at full price, I don’t know that I would say it’s worth having both. In spite of the issues I mentioned, BBCSO is still a really fantastic sounding orchestra.

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Thanks all! Everyone has been extremely helpful and have provided me with some really good insight into the two libraries and the differences between them. I am going to plan to add the new SSO to my library. Now I need yet another SSD to store it on as my drives are filling up fast. SSO is around 340 GB.

If you are using NPPE, especially, you need to be very mindful of how much RAM you have. I wouldn’t even think about trying to use both with less than 64GB.

I do have 64GB of ram. I currently use BBCSO Pro and it works fine.

@leeholdridge I think it’s really cool that one of my favorite composers is a Dorico user. Great to see you on the forum, Lee.

Thank you! Dorico is great, it’s an ideal composer’s tool and with NPPE you can just concentrate on composing and simply load a great palette and off you go!