Future Music

Sounds & Samples


Spitfire have always been an ambitious and forward-thinking company, and develop many products in collaborat­ion with important names in the composing and production arena. However, even Hans Zimmer can’t quite compete with the 90-year heritage of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBCSO). It is therefore unsurprisi­ng that the latest Spitfire product has arrived with such fanfare. As expected, BBCSO was recorded at the famed BBC Maida Vale Studios. Originally built for roller skating, the building was taken over by the BBC in the 1930s to house multiple studios – including the legendary BBC Radiophoni­c Workshop – and has played host to numerous bands, as well as various BBC ensembles in the intervenin­g years. Sadly, over the next few years, all the studios will be moving elsewhere, which means that this library may well be the first and last to be recorded in the large Studio MV1. Luckily, Spitfire have gone to town, employing 20 signal paths across 11 mic positions. There are also five ‘section spill’ mic feeds and additional full mixes, that include custom mixes specifical­ly for use with Dolby Atmos systems. There is certainly no doubting the technical depth and flexibilit­y here.

Audio recording excellence is all very well, but the instrument­s, performers and performanc­es need to live up to all this. Spitfire Audio have subtitled this collection a ‘Universal Starting Point’, and it is fair to say that the 418 playing techniques across 55 instrument­s, employing 99 players helps to justify this on most fronts. Each of the four main sections (strings, brass, woodwind and percussion) comes with its own set of solo and ensemble performanc­es, though they are all accessible simultaneo­usly via one instance of the Spitfire BBCSO plugin.

For many years Spitfire have employed Native Instrument­s’ Kontakt as the host for their libraries, though recently their free Labs instrument­s and more expansive releases have used a custom plugin. This is a largely good move, and allows for more freedom in design and functional­ity, with plenty of extra screen space. However, this expanded window is not used as optimally as it might be, so users still have to scroll through tabs of articulati­ons and mic faders for each instrument. There are also some less-than-clear visual aspects of the design that could be tweaked. Working with a huge library such as this, everything should be easily accessible from as few pages as possible.

Despite these niggles, there is no denying the quality in this excellent collection. The playing, capture and sample preparatio­n are of a high standard throughout, with the range of articulati­ons catering for plenty of scope when it comes to full scoring or adding orchestral elements to tracks. The main stumbling block for most FM readers – besides the 500GB of free disk space – will be the hefty price tag (though it is unfair to suggest that a collection of this type should be anything other than a well-considered purchase). But given its technical and artistic breadth, it stands up extremely well against competing ‘full orchestra’ alternativ­es. Bruce Aisher spitfireau­dio.com


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