Spitfire produces the finest virtual instruments from the finest musical samples in the world. It is a beacon of quality not just for it’s own productions but the endorsements it offers to third party sample developers and fellow sound smiths it goes into production partnerships with. At the heart of Spitfire’s evolution is the greatest recorded selection of orchestral samples on the planet thus far, alongside a recent expansion in scope to cover all areas of the music spectrum.
Spitfire was set up by a British group of composers, sound smiths, producers, engineers and technologists wanting to revolutionise sampling and bring it back to the centre of the music industry. Like any new music technology from radio to synthesisers, sampling was perceived as a threat to music making and music makers. Spitfire is at the vanguard of changing that opinion; Spitfire’s main goal is to promote British music making the world over whilst (via an ever growing distribution chain) distributing royalties to it’s contributors (musicians, engineers, technicians, artists and producers) based on sales. Spitfire puts millions of pounds back into the British music industry whilst supporting charities and initiatives both in the UK and beyond. The fact that Spitfire has become the 2nd biggest contributor to UNICEF via JustGiving.com by giving away samples in return for donations, is just one example of this.
By doing this we get to work at the best places, with the best people to make the best sounds on the planet today.
Is a belief that the people who make the best sounds are not software developers or purpose built “samples” companies, but the decorated artists we look up to in awe.
The Oscar, Grammy, Brit, Emmy, BAFTA & Ivor Novello Winners. The people who produce music that goes triple platinum and soundtracks for films that generate billions of pounds worth of sales. By peppering these people along every point in the evolution of a sound from its genesis to its distribution, every step of Spitfire’s production line exudes quality, experience and taste.
As a crack team of award winning composers and technologists, Spitfire are not only the developers but also the end-users. So from planning sessions to the minute of editing and compilation, Spitfire curate with their high quality bar and sophisticated level of taste.
As producers of countless award winning film and TV scores Spitfire knows how to get the best out of it’s musicians. By involving them in the royalty stream, the sessions always start on a good foot. Spitfire then engineer the best way to get the most life out of the difficult procedure of sample gathering. They also believe that the room is as important as the player inside it so numerous mic positions are captured to preserve a sense of place, which Spitfire believes cannot be created artificially.
For Spitfire it’s not just the instruments, it’s the players and the room it’s recorded in. So a large part of Spitfire’s output is recorded at the hall in Air Studios. Commonly regarded as one of the finest scoring stages on the planet, Air studios has played host to the biggest films of a generation. From Gladiator to Terminator, Bond to Bourne, Harry Potter to How To Train Your Dragon. With hit TV series Downton Abbey & Poirot and many more alongside world beating music acts Coldplay, Paul McCartney, George Michael and Muse.
Spitfire also experiments in other great studios and venues London has to offer and has recently built its own series of dynamic spaces for more intimate recordings.
One of the reasons for picking such great venues is the gear. Spitfire’s aesthetic is soul and vibe. So the finest, rarest and priceless microphones are employed via unique Neve Air monserrat pre-amps, into fine Neve desks, onto 2″ tape via pristinely maintained Studer decks and finally realised to digital via the finest Prism ADs.
All of this supervised by the same Grammy & Music Producers Guild award winning engineers as can be found on the biggest selling music and films over the last 10 years.
London is a cultural melting pot with over 80 theatre pits, 2 world class opera houses, 4 world class symphony orchestras and countless chamber groups playing in some of the greatest live spaces in the world. From the Wigmore to the Albert Hall. With it’s simmering Jazz, pop, rock and dance scenes this is all brought together at locations like Air Studios to produce music that composers, artists and film, TV and games makers travel from all corners of the world to utilise. There is nowhere else on the planet today that has this portfolio of musicians to draw from.
By paying the top union rate and voluntarily agreeing to distribute sizeable royalties, Spitfire can call on the creme-de-la-creme of British musical talent. When you book them you’re not just investing in their years of practice, experience and simmering talent. You are also investing in the sound of some of the most rarefied and priceless instruments ever built. Stradivari valued in the millions played with bows that would fetch hundreds of thousands each pepper many of Spitfire’s sessions.
Recording is not where the sonic TLC ends. Everything Spitfire records is then remixed, balanced and noise reduced to the highest standards and by top class, award winning engineers before it’s large team of highly qualified editors set to work at the Spitfire HQ in Kings Cross, London. This is then passed on to the genius compiling and scripting team to create instruments that are robust on a number of systems and just sparkle out of the box. The more work we do here the less work the end-user has to do. So we exhaustively use the award winning composers in our team to curate, beta test and refine.
Once the product is finished it is packaged according to Spitfire’s strict design ethos placing the musicians and artists at the centre. We deliver via our own top-grade dedicated downloader applications via the world’s fastest Amazon S3 servers. Installation is simplicity itself. Whilst Spitfire prides itself on building robust V.I.s when there is a problem we offer one of the most responsive and helpful service teams there is with an average response time of under 24 hours.
But it doesn’t stop there. Spitfire likes to keep its products fresh, so it updates more frequently than any other V.I. company often with additional content that is always provided for free. It then goes about calculating the royalties the musicians and freelance technicians are due and proudly distributes millions of pounds back into the British music industry!
Spitfire was formed in 2007 by award winning composers Paul Thomson and Christian Henson who had grown tired of the cold, lifeless and unrealistic samples available to them at that time. Having both conducted experiments in isolation they had independently come to the conclusion that there may be a better, more effective way of recording and creating V.I.s. A chance meeting on Myspace resulted in a beer in a pub in Soho. From there a plan was hatched to form a non-profit project that would create a private library of top-end samples for A-list composers.
Having assisted top composers on major projects like Spy Game, Narnia, The 10th Kingdom and Bridget Jones’s Diary, Christian first approached the likes of Harry Gregson Williams, Anne Dudley and Patrick Doyle. Once they were onboard word quickly spread and within 4 years almost every A-list composer in Hollywood and beyond had bought into the “Bespoke” range. With credits on films like Avatar, Spitfire for soon became famous the world over as the new benchmark in sample libraries.
Having created an entire private orchestral range not-for-profit Christian and Paul investigated different models so that they could expand the scope and reach of their tools. In 2010 Spitfire launched the hit, award winning, entry-level “Albion” range which brought the wonders of British musicians and studios to a worldwide audience and user-ship.
As Spitfire’s users grew by an extraordinary difference in magnitude Paul and Christian looked to creating partnerships with trailblazers in music. The first partnership of this type was working with multi decorated Hans Zimmer on his definitive cinematic percussion collection. As the scope of their tools grew so did the need to build a physical infrastructure and team. Spitfire has a portfolio of over 50 products and a royalty distribution chain of over 200 musicians and technicians. They are now based in a purpose built HQ with its own state of the art recording facility in central London.
What’s next for Spitfire? Well Hans Zimmer was the first in a series of truly historic recordings, Spitfire is excited to reveal that there are many incredible and historic events to come. Spitfire will continue to keep sampling at the centre of the British music industry and keep promoting British musical talents the world over. Making music-makers’ jobs easier whilst inspiring them to push the envelope to make finer music, the kind of music musicians like to play.