Today I'm gonna review Spitfire Audio's new choir the Eric Whitacre choir. This is a beautiful, lush choral standalone VST. It doesn't require Kontakt.
Note: this review is based on a free review copy of the plugin, I was not compensated otherwise.
Here is a video review of the Choir so you can actually hear it in action:
The Eric Whitacre Choir Sound
The Eric Whitacre Choir sounds great for so many different types of choir sounds - especially these lush arrangements. Sounds that sort of move effortlessly.
But there are also shortcomings to it though which we'll get into in a second.
The Eric Whitacre Choir Interface
The interface is very easy to understand. This is a standalone VST, like I said, so it's not a familiar Kontakt player(for better and for worse).
I think it works pretty well it's not too different from the Kontakt VSTs that Spitfire makes. And it's very similar to Spitfire's free line of Labs instruments.
This plugin is loaded with techniques: shorts, longs, evolving sounds, legatos, and FX. All of these sound great, except for the shorts, which just don't feel convincing to me. Additionally, some of the legatos sound a little synthetic, but most are beautiful.
Additionally, the Eric Whitacre Choir doesn't have a vocabulary builder function, so you don't have much control over the sounds the choir makes. You're generally locked into: "oooh," "aaah," "mmmm," "meh," and "oh." But the Evos and effects have some different sounds as well. But some choirs out there give you a ton of flexibility to script the sounds. Instead, this plugin is focused more on the texture of the voices, which sound incredible.
I'll add that I've tried other choirs that really only excel at the short sounds. For example, I've got a Oceania, which has incredibly powerful, epic dramatic short stabs. I've never used one choir that is all things to all people, and I'd say that the Eric Whitacre Choir definitely succeeds in the long lush world of choral music.
Another cool feature is this thing called the Evo choir grid, which creates these incredible evolving sounds. It will just evolve in its own unique way and is a great method of just getting really interesting textures that would take forever to program. It makes for a really rich sound that you can apply in the background very well.
There's also loads of transitional swells and articulations. You've got swells, a soft breathy "ah," short shouts and more. Plus there's this pitch clashing stuff and then some effects as.
It's arranged so that you've got the MIDI controls and all the settings up top, then at the top you have a menu where you can both choose the presets. The Eric Whitacre Choir has a really great preset browser where you can sort by type from legato to effects, shorts to longs, and then also by which voice you're looking for: e.g. soprano, bass, or all of them.
Voila - if we were to go to long tenor you should just see all the long tenor patches so it's really easy to use and find what you're looking for.
Below that you have the main interface panel. This sliders control the volume, one of which is automatically mapped to the mod wheel and controls the dynamics. It makes it really easy to do swells and fades.
The big knob is sort of a universal control with variable functionality. By default it does reverb (and the reverb sounds pretty good). But depending on the patch, you can click on knob and it will also let you control some other parameters, like release, tightness, or vibrato.
In EVO mode, which is a slightly different take on the main plugin, there is a grid that lets you assign semi-random evolutions to notes over time. This allows for these crazy, wonderful episodic techniques. You just hold a note, and automatically things start to happen.
Below the main panel, there's a technique browser that lets you choose the different techniques within the preset you've loaded. And if you move to the next section of that panels, there is a mixer where you can choose the microphones. This lets you choose to have a more ambient sound, for example by putting the ambient microphone on or the galleries probably even farther away.
But then you also have the option of mixing in the individual sections as well! So let's say you want the bass section to really come through, you just mix in a little more, which can be really helpful in dialing in the exact sound you want. It also comes with a few pre-mixed sections. So if you just want it to sound small, for example, or big, it automatically will pick the right mics. You can also control the stereo width.
Finally, in the last page of the bottom panel you've got the effect section. Like I was saying, it's contextual based on the patches, but it lets you control tightness, vibrato, etc.
Eric Whitacre Choir Review in Conclusion
In conclusion, this is probably one of the choirs that I would put on my short list if I was looking for the swelling sort of Cathedral style choir or if I was looking for something that was kind of modern and a little scary. But I don't think this is an aggressive choir suited for epic orchestral sounds. But lord it sounds really lush, and it's very playable and I've enjoyed using.
Please let me know what choirs you're using I'm always interested in that I've been looking around for choirs for a long time and this one is one of the ones that I like the most.