Spitfire Audio adds ultimate piano to trailblazing Signature range from Hollywood hotshot Hans Zimmer
A distinctive pattern, product, or characteristic by which someone or something can be identified. So reads a typical dictionary definition of the word signature. Spitfire Audio’s Signature sample library luminaries certainly have a signature sound — hence the apt appellation. As one of the most successful, influential, and prolific film composers of his generation, it is only fitting, therefore, that Hans Zimmer — himself no stranger to the virtues of successful sampling — should effectively have his own such Signature range to himself. Having hitherto collaborated with Spitfire Audio on the definitive collection of hybrid cinematic widescreen percussion ensembles in the multi-award-winning HZ01 – HANS ZIMMER PERCUSSION LONDON sample-based virtual instrument, its well-received HZ02 – HANS ZIMMER PERCUSSION LOS ANGELES followup, featuring the premier percussive talents of world-renowned rock drummer Jason Bonham — son of legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, before last year’s HZ03 – HANS ZIMMER PERCUSSION LONDON SOLOS successfully completed a far-reaching percussion project painstakingly several years in the making, HZP – HANS ZIMMER PIANO presently represents the ultimate piano library, lovingly recorded in Lyndhurst Hall within London’s legendary Air Studios over many weeks with Hans Zimmer’s personally-chosen crew of engineers working with Spitfire Audio’s award-winning team to tackle the task.
That task was simple… on paper at any rate. Reality has always bitten Hans Zimmer hard during two-plus decades of being busy composing and producing Oscar-winning and world-renowned film scores, leaving little time to take a rare moment of ‘downtime’ to play the prestigious piano in the inspirational ambience and attractive acoustic of Lyndhurst Hall at Air Studios. Saying that, those all-too-brief solitary sojourns thereon and therein often ignite a spark of inspiration for the next Hollywood-blockbusting film-composing commission — time and again, in fact, forcing Hans Zimmer to pose the proverbial sixty-four-thousand-dollar question: what if I could capture that piano’s potential inspiration, box it up, and take it anywhere?
A no-holds-barred approach was agreed upon over a series of impassioned phone calls with Spitfire Audio Director — and fellow film composer — Paul Thomson. With Hans Zimmer himself having used and favoured certain piano VIs (Virtual Instruments) over the years, a carefully calculated plan was thereby hatched to ensure that this once-in-a-lifetime project would ultimately yield success. Says a semi-serious Hans Zimmer: “This is one of the most beautiful pianos I know in one of the most beautiful halls. People always forget that music sort of happens between very quiet and sort of middle volumes, as opposed to everybody else giving you a lot of loud notes. I’m not regretting it. Everybody at Spitfire’s probably regretting it, because there’s no sleep for the wicked… and they’re very, very wicked boys, those Spitfire chaps! So, that’s why we did it — because it always inspired me.”
No regrets at all here at Spitfire Audio, as it happens. Hans Zimmer has what he needs as a composer to inspire himself to write and create musical masterpieces from the wonderfully performed and captured set of recordings that form the basis of the ultimate piano that is HZP – HANS ZIMMER PIANO. Put it this (technical) way: HZP – HANS ZIMMER PIANO passes the combined signals of over 60 microphones through unique-sounding Neve ‘AIR Montserrat’ preamps put through the world’s largest Neve 88R console before blossoming into stunning-sounding 24-bit/96kHz digital audio via high-end Prism Sound AD convertors, ready for some truly scrumptious sampling and scripting… some 452.7 GB of uncompressed .WAV files, equating to 88,352 samples, no less!
Lest we forget, the ‘Hans Zimmer Piano’ in question — a world-class stretch concert grand — was played utilising a mixture of technical wizardry and dogged performing talent to produce literally days of recordings. Realised from a huge array of round robins, dynamic layers, staccato and long note to some extraordinarily detailed studies in the quietest layers of the piano, plus a vast collection of effects and additional techniques, the Spitfire Audio team of over a dozen highly-qualified editors subsequently spent nearly 12 months treating each and every sample like a little rough diamond, cutting and polishing by hand until they shone sonically like no other before being carefully placed in a queue awaiting implementation, experimentation, and review by the whole Spitfire Audio team and Hans Zimmer himself. However, their journey to musical glory did not end there. Thereafter, recall sessions were booked back in Lyndhurst Hall for yet more days of recording to ensure the full timbral ‘gallery’ of sounds were duly captured before being cut and polished by the tenacious team at Spitfire Audio again. Afterwards, the final version of the resulting HZP – HANS ZIMMER PIANO was further refined by expert technicians working alongside esteemed piano players to test it using a number of different keyboard controllers — including Hans Zimmer’s preferred LMK4+ monstrous MIDI master-keyboard model from Doepfer Musikelektronik back in the ‘old country‘ — to make the most responsive, true, and inspiring set of piano-based virtual instruments from anyone anywhere!
According to Spitfire Audio Director Paul Thomson, “This is a project that we began planning with Hans in March 2014, so it’s had a very long planning and gestation period. We’ve been into Air Studios many, many times to do different tests, to try things out, work out the best way of recording this, and then, finally, for days and days of actual recordings and actual session time, the idea being that we really wanted to do this in such a way that we never wanted to go back in and do it again — to really try and produce something that, for us, was the kind of ultimate sampled grand piano in a beautiful room! We really have honed and honed and honed this piano, so I think people will have a lot of fun using this. It’s a really enjoyable and inspiring instrument to play, and when we go right back to the beginning of those first conversations with Hans in March of 2014, it all came down to that. It’s about inspiration. We wanted to design an instrument that is really flexible, that has lots of great sounds in it, but, ultimately, what you want to do is sit, start playing, and feel and hear that sound and just go, ‘Wow!’ The beauty of a beautiful piano recorded in a beautiful space… that’s what it’s all about.”
HZP – HANS ZIMMER PIANO can be purchased and downloaded directly from Spitfire Audio for £299.00 GBP (— approx. $450.00 USD/€419.00 EUR) from here: https://www.spitfireaudio.com/shop/a-z/hans-zimmer-piano/
Note that Spitfire Audio’s free Download Manager application for Mac or PC allows you to buy now and download anytime, while HZP – HANS ZIMMER PIANO comes complete with Native Instruments’ free KONTAKT PLAYER.
For more in-depth information, including several superb-sounding audio demos, please visit the dedicated HZP – HANS ZIMMER PIANO webpage here: https://www.spitfireaudio.com/shop/a-z/hans-zimmer-piano/
Watch Hans Zimmer himself introduce his new namesake piano sample-based virtual instrument library produced in collaboration with Spitfire Audio here: