OIC, which was produced in collaboration with SoniVox, is actually four separate Live Packs, which can be purchased either independently or as a bundle. It covers Orchestral Strings, Winds, Brass and Percussion.
At install, each bundle is unlocked with its own unique code and you'll need 24-odd GB of free hard drive space to run the lot. Once installed, dedicated Instrument Racks for each of the libraries appear in the Browser and, within these, you're greeted with a full list of instruments and articulations.
As with all Live Instrument Racks, it's then a simple process to drag and drop the one of your choice onto a free MIDI track before trying out ideas. By default, OIC's samples open using the Simpler Instrument, which is included with Live 7.
The secret of a successful orchestral sample package is to provide high-quality sound in the most straightforward, immediately playable way imaginable. This might sound easy but the sheer range of orchestral instruments and their articulations means that you pretty quickly end up with an unfathomably long list of sound choices if you're not careful.
Ableton gets around this problem by creating master instrument patches for each instrument or instrument group, which bundle all of the available articulations into a single preset. An Articulation knob then lets you scroll through each playing style in turn, which can, of course, be mapped to your MIDI controller of choice.
So, for instance, you can use the mod wheel to scroll from legato, through staccato, to pizzicato playing styles on the fly.
There are separate presets for orchestral sections, smaller ensemble groups and solo instruments. So, for example, you get solo string quartet samples alongside violin, viola, cello and double bass section presets, plus full string orchestra preset groups.
This system is repeated throughout the orchestra, with solo winds and brass included alongside section 'bundles'. There's no harp or piano, though these instruments are covered by Ableton's Essential Instrument Collection, which is available separately. Otherwise, you won't find too much missing.
One thing that impressed us is that OIC offers extremely consistent velocity layering, not just within a single articulation but across different playing styles. As you switch from staccato to legato, for instance, you won't find the volume or performance dynamic of an instrument changing wildly, as can be the case with other libraries of this kind.
In short, OIC is a triumph for Ableton and SoniVox. The quality of the samples is extremely impressive and the way they've been organised simply begs you to play them, particularly as the velocity layering is impressively consistent.
The articulation list covers all bread-and-butter basics and, unless you're particularly drawn to the more extreme playing styles, you'll find what you need here. The Ableton engine remains utterly reliable and the provision of 'cutdown' versions of instruments is great for when your CPU is considering the odd spike. Seriously impressive.
Hear the Orchestral Instrument Collection in action: