After a lengthy wait (as in several years!) the new Omnisphere 2 Hybrid Digital Synthesizer from Eric Persing and the gang at Spectrasonics is finally out. As I learned, there was good reason for the delay: the new version has over 12,000 sounds with 4,500 brand new patches and sound sources. There’s a completely redesigned interface, new browser, 25 new effects units, over 400 new waveforms and even the ability to import your own audio as a sound source. Needless to say, this thing is deep.
The first thing I noticed upon opening it up in my Pro Tools rig is the increased size of the instrument itself. This is good; in my opinion, more is better when it comes to viewing software plug-ins. There’s an all-important mini Patch Browser pane on the left side that can be expanded to full screen, allowing for enhanced searching. I wont go into the basic layout of the instrument itself, as its quite similar to the older version (with a few tweaks, of course). Personally, I was far more interested in what is inside.
With 12,000 sounds, you certainly need a good search function, and the new version is far better than the previous. For example, type in Piano and a huge list of all piano-related sounds is retrieved. Once you load in a patch, you can then use Spectrasonics’ Sound Match to find other sounds that are similar in nature. I stumbled across E-bowed Piano Groove 2 this way and couldn’t stop playing it! I also noticed that the patches in this version load much faster than in Omnisphere 1 or Atmosphere.
Another cool feature is called Sound Lock, which “locks” in certain aspects of sounds as you browse. The drop-down menu allows users choose from such parameters as Arpeggiator, Tuning Scale, Polyphony, Solo, Effect, Filters, Envelopes and more—very powerful stuff!
Its ability to take a stock patch and manipulate it is extensive. It allows the creation of sounds that are unique to each individual’s creativity; it’s one of key features of this synth, adding to its usefulness and longevity. For example, I took Bowed Colors > Bowed Drones > Joyful > Crescendo of Bowing Light and loaded it. On its own it was very cool, consisting of two sound sources: something called Elephant Bow Bass (A) and Bowed Acoustic Guitar (B).
As indicated on the screen, the mod wheel modulates a Harmonia mix, adding a high and airy vibe. First, I reversed the Elephant Bow Bass using the Reverse button on Tab A. I then used the Gran (Granular) button in Oscillator Zoom A to turn on the preset Barber Pole Sweep FX. Next, I clicked on the FX tab and added the new Innerspace to the rack using a drop down menu to load two patches [for Innerspace, users load impulses rather than patches] within it called HyperBrush Wiggle 1 and Air Blow Decay 1. I then adjusted the balance between the two using the plug-in’s A/B balance knob. Next I added ProVerb reverb to the subsequent rack space followed by Bassman, a cabinet simulator.
That’s just a few of the things you can do, and there’s plenty more. Needless to say, the sound was creatively inspirational; it took a matter of just a few minutes to create a patch (using the Utility > Save Patch menu) placing it in my own custom folder for future use. I had to write some dark TV cues for one of those mystery crime shows; a few notes of this wild sound was all it took.
With Omnisphere 2, the sheer diversity and quality of sounds is stunning. To build something of this magnitude is no easy undertaking, and Spectrasonics should be applauded. It will certainly take more time to truly learn how deep this goes, but that’s part of the fun of exploring new software.
Since installation, I find myself turning to it constantly for inspired composing. The only thing I would like to see in future versions is a numbering system of patches, which just helps even further with organization. From way-cool pianos, strings, and EDM sounds to melodic cave stalactites (yes, really!), it can be used as a traditional synth or a wild sound design tool, seemingly limited only by what your mind can think of. I can only type so many words about it; it’s simply something that you have to hear for yourself.
Pricing: $499, $249 upgrade from Spectrasonics website and retailers worldwide; $199 VIP Pricing (for previous customers owning Omnisphere, Trilian and Stylus RMX via standard licenses, direct via Spectrasonics website only)
Spectrasonics | http://www.spectrasonics.net/products/omnisphere/