For composers and music producers, Spitfire Audio's Labs UNICEF releases have become as much a part of Christmas as elevated liver enzymes on Boxing day.

Firstly this is not what I would call a real review, it is more of an appraisal with the emphasis on praise with regards to the Spitfire Audio Labs range and this year's Christmas offerings within this range.

Out of incredible generosity and an admirable sense of social responsibility, Spitfire give all the profits from their LABs series to UNICEF and have raised a whopping charitable figure approaching the £90,000 mark with the proceeds from their free (well nearly free…a few pounds for this year's collection) downloads usually released at Christmas.

This year the sample releases are as follows:

1. Mandolin

2. Melodica

3. Bike Bells

4. Scary Strings

5. Peel Guitar

6. Plucked Upright

7. Trumpet Fiddle

8. Cajon

9. Djembe

10. Mini Harp.

In life I have found that you tend to get get what you pay for but the Labs range of samples (especially the more recent releases like this years and last years offerings) are living proof that not everything with a low price tag is of poor quality.

Keyboard-2 © The Economic VoiceFar from it, because the samples in the Labs range are world class quality with some of them recorded at Air Studios…. so not in the bedroom with dictaphone then squashed haphazardly through Logic.

No, these are serious samples.

There is a slight rustic edge blended with clarity which I love about the Labs range, granted they are not as refined in their GUI options as lets say the BML or Albion ranges, but that is part of the fun with them and they almost dare you to come out with something wonderful because of the price and raw presentation.

For less money than you spend for a couple of pints and a curry on the way home you can purchase all the Labs range, which will give you all the tools to make serious quality soundtracks using some quirky and wonderful sampled instruments.

Last Christmas Spitfire released the amazing Tangerines release that gave a very authentic set of Tangerine Dream samples but this year they have gone one step further in the eccentricity with the Trumpet Fiddle and  Bike Bells.

I will not take your through each sample because you should just get yourself over to the Spitfire site and buy them because the proceeds go to an amazing charity that is helping children across the world right now.

And that brings me quite neatly onto a composition I made using the Labs series.

Well, as providence would have it, I watched a very moving appeal on the television by UNICEF centered around raising money for hats and gloves to help the displaced 7 million children in Syria keep warm as they face a very cold Christmas this year in sub zero temperatures totally unprepared for the environment they find themselves in, many who have been orphaned in recent conflicts.

As a father of 4, watching these young children in these conditions cut me to the quick and left me feeling quite helpless to be able to help them in any meaningful way.

So after downloading this years Christmas Labs releases and setting to compose, images of these desperate young children sitting cold and frightened in refugee camps and alone huddled in remote mountain locations inspired me to write a piece of music (in video below).

To my amazement everything I was thinking and feeling I could articulate perfectly into music through the Labs samples in a very short space of time…and all with  samples that border on being free.

Okay, so writing a piece of music doesn't help the world, but the proceeds from the downloaded samples used to make it will.

I am not going to go into each individual sample in this year's Labs range because they are all used in the aforementioned composition below with no other instruments added…just a bit of post effects but that's it.

So to conclude this review I give this years Labs release (and all of the Labs range for that matter) a score of………Perfect.

Perfect because the quality is as to be expected from Spitfire and perfect because there are few businesses I know of who take charity as seriously as this.

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