There’s been a number of interim updates, but the whole-number step to version 2 has been a very long time coming. Then on April 30 this year, the latest incarnation of the cross-platform, VST/AU/AAX/RTAS sound-creation engine blew socks off far and wide, even picking up a Best of Show award at this year’s Winter NAMM. Why so?
Not that there’s a shortage of sounds already available, with more than 4,500 new patches and sources adding to the v1 library (the STEAM folder now occupies an immense 64GB disk space). Further new features include in excess of 400 new DSP waveforms for the Synth Oscillator, a new granular synthesis engine, eight new filter types, polysynth-a-like Unison Drift models, deep FM/ring-mod capabilities, extended modulation assignments… it goes on. Let’s get extra gen, and have a listen to Omnisphere 2 in action, courtesy of producer Eric Persing…
As you can see, Omnisphere retains the business-like front-end design which served well enough for the original. And while there have been many tweaks to other parts of the interface, the browser has seen the most radical makeover. It’s at the front! At least, there’s a Mini Browser on the front page, right where it should be at left, which means that the interface is a little wider, but it makes the process of tracking down the right patch way slicker than of yore.
While on the subject of loading patches, another pair of new features should help speed your workflow immensely. Sound Match, sitting to the right of the Attributes tab, takes a look at the patch currently loaded and displays related sounds - something already familiar to users of Toontrack EZdrummer 2 and its groove-matching facility. Then we’ve Sound Lock, offering the means to impose patch parameter attributes - like FX or the arpeggiator or filters - onto other patches to instantly create new, unique patches. Here’s a tip-style explanation, in video, from the developer…
You’ll doubtless have noticed that Spectrasonics has made a push to extend Omnisphere’s scope from more traditional synth timbres and soundtrack-style patches to the ‘very-now’ sonic mayhem of EDM. In fact, a big bunch of dance-friendly sounds is bundled in the new Spotlight EDM library and they’re pretty sharp, too.
As any dance-music producer will attest, EDM sound design evolves rapidly, so what might be the stab, pad, bass, rise or drop of the moment will be old hat in five minutes, hence there’s a frenetic race to generate new, ear-catching whiz-bangs. And Spotlight provides the chocks to help get you get going good and quick, while there’s the might of Omnisphere’s other audio-sculpting features providing further boost.
Looking further at synthesis capabilities, Omnisphere 2 has in excess of 400 DSP waveforms for the Synth Oscillator, each a morphing wavetable; think about that for a moment. We’ve good old Sine, Triangle, Noise and Saw, then a whacking great library organised by Classic Waveforms, Analog Timbres and Digital Wavetables, with numerous subheadings in each. For all the variety on offer, whipping up synthetic sounds from scratch, or devising sample-based combinations, is a breeze thanks to friendly, menu-driven design.
To whit, along with note transposition, speed up/slow down facilities and new modulation capabilities, an important newbie is ‘arp pattern lock while browsing’. Like Sound Lock, it’s a simple, yet well-realised means of speeding workflow so you’re concentrating on music creation rather than battling with the instrument.
And so to the ears. Omnisphere the First had quite the reputation for lush, organic sounds. Omnisphere 2 still has that depth of characterful timbre, but now totes a host of more modern, edgy sounds ready for dance-hall excursions, impactful videogame music and frenetic movie trailer soundtrackery. The new tools represent more than you’d expect from a whole-version upgrade and far from bloating, or breaking, an already excellent instrument, the developer capability has ramped Omnisphere’s capabilities to giddy heights.
If you’ve not used the original, then Omnisphere 2 should be firmly nailed near, or at the top of your must-have synth list (if it ain’t, grab a hammer). And if you already have the original, the upgrade is a no-brainer on a par with a double hemispherectomy.
SpectrasonicsVIDEO on YouTube where are promised videos of usage tips. Compared with some sound creation tools, Omnisphere 2’s ticket may seem a little pricey, but take a look at the features and bear in mind the reputation of the original: This is one sound-creation tool you cannot afford to be without.
Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 | £~285 / $499 / €399
Standard upgrade from v1: $249 or free if purchased after 1 Oct 2014
VIP upgrade for owners of Omnisphere, Trilian & Stylus RMX: $199
USA distribution: Ilio
UK distribution: Juno Medi, Music Matter, StudioCare, Time+Space