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Spitfire Audio AIR Studios Reverb

Spitfire’s first effects plug‑in captures the unique ambience of an iconic London studio: AIR Lyndhurst Hall.

Thirty‑three years after its acquisition by Beatles producer Sir George Martin, AIR Studios Lyndhurst remains a sought‑after recording facility. While other London studios buckled under the weight of business rates hikes /the Home Recording Revolution /Brexit /Covid /Liz Truss (delete where inapplicable), AIR weathered the storm and emerged with a stellar client list (including Adele, Coldplay, Dua Lipa, Paul McCartney and Billie Eilish) and a string of award‑winning scores for blockbusters such as Gladiator, Interstellar, The Dark Knight, Inception, the Dune movies, Atonement, No Time To Die, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, Grand Budapest Hotel and All Quiet On The Western Front.

The studio’s popularity with film composers stems from the amazing acoustic of Lyndhurst Hall. Built in 1884 for congregational singing, this hexagonal, 5000‑square‑foot galleried space is blessed with a rich natural reverb that creates a glorious sonic halo around anything, from a guitar amp to a full symphony orchestra. AIR’s former Chief Engineer Geoff Foster describes the hall as “a creative space in which you just want to perform”, thus fulfilling George Martin’s vision of a musician‑friendly environment within a spectacular recording location.

AIR Lyndhurst Studios, Hampstead, London. Built in 1884, the former Lyndhurst Road Congregational Church was acquired by producer George Martin in 1991 and converted into a state‑of‑the‑art studio facility.AIR Lyndhurst Studios, Hampstead, London. Built in 1884, the former Lyndhurst Road Congregational Church was acquired by producer George Martin in 1991 and converted into a state‑of‑the‑art studio facility.

Over the years, two of Lyndhurst Hall’s most frequent visitors have been Hans Zimmer (composer of seven of the aforementioned soundtracks) and UK company Spitfire Audio, who recorded their first orchestral sample library at AIR in 2008 and subsequently returned to capture dozens more. This longstanding relationship has led to a significant double first: AIR Studios have given Spitfire unprecedented access to sample the acoustics of their historic studio space, allowing the samplemeisters to create their debut effects plug‑in, AIR Studios Reverb.

You can mix between eight different stereo mic signals and adjust the source radiation between five orientations.

Spitfire Audio AIR Studios Reverb

Overview

AIR Studios Reverb, or ASR as we’ll call it, is a detailed convolution reverb plug‑in that uses Spitfire’s proprietary Virtual Positioning Technology to tailor the acoustics of the Lyndhurst Hall in any way you choose. This feature allows you to position your sound source anywhere in the hall while capturing the precise ambience of its acoustic spaces. You can mix between eight different stereo mic signals (see box) and adjust the source radiation between five orientations: you can also instantly switch the room from Spitfire’s standard orchestral layout (players facing the control room) to Hans Zimmer’s preferred orientation, which flips the whole setup by 180 degrees.

To generate the 67,000 impulse responses (IRs) required to model a large three‑dimensional space, Spitfire recorded full‑spectrum sine sweeps played through 10 ATC SCM25A Pro active monitors: the speakers were set up in a row and systematically moved across the floor to collectively cover 28 positions, thus providing full coverage of the performing area.

Swivel‑top stands were used to rotate the speakers between left, right, front and back orientations, with custom‑made wooden trays laid on the stand tops enabling each speaker to face upwards. In a repetitive rigmarole lasting a full week, overlapping sine sweeps were recorded for nearly four minutes for each orientation, then repeated as a safety backup. Not my idea of a fun listening experience, but a member of the recording team...

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