Native Instruments Action Strings review

Hey what’s good!

I’ve been getting a lot of requests to review this one since it came out last week, so here it is.

Today I’m checking out the new Action Strings library from NI

Let’s check it out!

So what is Action Strings?

The whole concept behind this library is to provide you with a flexible collection of cinematic style orchestral runs and phrases.

These are live string phrases played in an epic orchestral style for movies, games, and general music production.

You can switch through the phrases with keyswitches on the lower end of the keyboard and play the phrases in either single notes or chords on the upper end.

These are actual audio phrases that can be used at various tempos thanks to Kontakt’s 5′s Time Machine Pro alghorithm.

Quick Specs

  • content: 14gb (9gb compressed) 154 phrases
  • format: Kontakt, Kontakt Player
  • price: $339

How does it sound?

I really like the actual sound of the recorded phrases, they really have a nice acoustic tone to them.

I love that you can change the mic location from stage to far to suit your taste as well.

Having access to the reverb and eq as well as being able to boost the dynamics easily makes it flexible even for static audio phrases.

The phrases themselves are very flexible and divers, from basic chords to more dense arrangements and runs, you can really come up with some unique and epic sounding tracks quite quickly.

I also like the fact that they sound good at multiple tempos thanks to the built in time stretching in Kontakt 5, really allows you to work these into pretty much any type of production you need.

The inclusion of a playable staccato instrument is also very appreciated.

What’s the bottom line?

The bottom line is this is a great sounding cinematic orchestral phrase library.

If you know what you’re looking for when you look at this library then I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

I give Action Strings 4.5 out of 5 subs, it’s an instantly usable library that’s simple to use and yields great results.

The one thing I think would have taken it to the next level is the inclusion of a single sustained patch of the entire ensemble.

That matched with the staccato patch and the phrases would really have made it an even stronger cinematic string toolkit.

However, even without that, this library stands on it’s own in sound quality and phrase variety, as well as the instant usability.

Definitely checkout the demos on their website: https://www.native-instruments.com/#/en/products/producer/powered-by-kontakt/action-strings/

Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think!

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25 Responses to “Native Instruments Action Strings review”

  1. Trzarector says:

    How would you compare this to other string packages like cinematic strings pro?

    • JLiRD808 says:

      Does cinematic stings pro have pre-articulated runs/rhythms/melodies, etc?

    • saintjoe says:

      Well, they are different in that Cinematic Strings Pro isn’t audio phrases, they are actual instruments you play yourself, where this, you only get a staccato patch/instrument that you can play yourself, everything else is live string phrases. So it depends on if you want to play your own stuff or if you want to quickly put together cinematic phrases.

  2. JLiRD808 says:

    How would u say the learning curve is on a beast of a program like this?

    • saintjoe says:

      This is actually very easy to use compared to some others I’ve seen. You just press the keys, and change the patches you want to play. They really made it simple to use.

  3. Colin McLeod says:

    Excellent review! Comprehensive and thorough, really showed what the software can do whilst at the same time identifying areas that could cause frustration. A first rate review, very well done!

  4. mercbeatz07 says:

    fam! i really appreciate the work you and “knock” be puttin’ in; these strings are some of the best ive heard for production; im glad i found ya’ll up here…thanks a milli; peace!

  5. E.I. says:

    Excellent product review SJ! This is one for the future buy list. Thanks!

  6. Baddboy2000 says:

    SJ: These strings are “Hot”. NI has put together a package that has my ears burning & my mind thinking of all kinds of creations. Thanks greatly for reviewing this one.

  7. hdom says:

    There is something I don’t understand with all these libraries, such as Orchestral Runs 2 and the like, is that the Midi dots would just be for keys you play, not the runs themselves; this would mean that you just end up with audio, yes, but no MIDI file; but then when you import the file into Notion or Logic and want notation, you would not get much! Do mod wheel movements translate as MIDI commands? I suppose they must do.
    I think you would like Orchestral Sphere which runs and legato, I thinjk!

    • saintjoe says:

      Right, they are just audio phrases, so the midi would be just the notes you hit like keyswitching or phrase switches. They are very focused tools, probably more for people actually doing work in which they need quick mock ups of convincing orchestral runs. For those, they will find it useful, for folks that are just looking for a good string library, it may not be flexible enough.

      • Hdom says:

        Thanks, and sorry for my stupid question; I mean the whole point of a DAW sequencer is that you generate your own riffs and runs, complete with velocity bars, which can be tweaked down to the individual note! It is just a matter of copying and pasting; the next thing I will want is a program that composes for me, lol, and can mix me a drink at the same time!

        • saintjoe says:

          The whole point of a DAW is to put together midi, audio, fx, and everything else into a finished product :)

          Doesn’t matter what you use to get there :)

          Everyone has their own ways of working, some would find this very useful, some wouldn’t. I know I probably couldn’t put together live string phrases that sound like some of the phrases here, so why not use a professionally played orchestra library for it :)

  8. Dan says:

    Looking at getting action strings but I need a midi keyboard controller. I didn’t want to spend a lot, but also don’t want to buy garbage. What should I be looking for in a midi controller? And how many keys? Can I use 49 keys or is better to go to 61? Any other features I need or should have to use Action Strings? Thanks

    • saintjoe says:

      I use a 49 key, you may want to go 61 though depending on how you like to play. Look at the M-Audio range, or Novation.

      • prvnimnl says:

        On Action strings I have blue and red notes on the virtual keyboard. The problem is that the red notes are the ones that changes between the various phrases from action strings and those red notes are located outside my keyboard range ( it has only 61 keys).

        Another problem is that the mod wheel controls the dynamic and my keyboard only has the pitch bed wheel.

        So, my question is: Can I reassign the red notes to others inside my keyboard range? And can I reassign the mod wheel function to my pitch bend wheel ?

        • saintjoe says:

          I believe you can go into the settings and change the notes for the keyswitches, also you can midi learn the dynamics to any wheel or knob on your controller.

          • prvnimnl says:

            thankyou. but it is not changing..even though im changing the key swithches it is in default mode only. can u elaborate..

            • saintjoe says:

              Thought I replied, sorry. If you can’t do it directly in the interface, click the script icon in Kontakt and you can add a preset called transform which lets you change the notes. So you can set a higher note on your keyboard to trigger those lower ones. It’s right next to the aux button at the top of Kontakt.

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