I took a look at Omnisphere 1.5, the synth so big it’ll make your head hurt, for Keyboard in a story out now (and readable now). As I begin the story:

Seeing its six DVDs of sound content, you might be tempted to duct-tape a key down and let Omnisphere finish your film scoring gig. While the director would probably love the results, you’d be missing out on the real fun.

In other words, what I discovered in that review was that Omnisphere, particularly with additions in the new 1.5 update, is a powerful creative sound design tool, not just a preset machine. The highlights:

  • Granular section, pictured, made nicer with the ability to combine with glide and intelligent parameter control design
  • Harmonia, which allows you to control each harmonic component of a sound independently using individual oscillator and synth controls
  • Waveshaper, which can not only add bit-crush-style effects, but work its magic on each element, polyphonically
  • Individual independent arpeggiator, plus MIDI file drag-and-drop
  • An Orb for exploring sonic capabilities – we’ve seen these sort of X/Y controllers before, but here you can even dynamically assign parameters in realtime, and add features like inertia and gesture recording
  • iPad control via a really wonderful controller app

Being able to navigate multiple sonic parameters in real-time with touch, and combining sound-bending, far-reaching sonic tools like Harmonia and the granular features means you can really take sounds far from their original source – and sync them to tempo, if you like, with those MIDI and arp features. I need to pick up the whole tool again after the review and see what new sounds I can make; if there are any other users who wish to share, I’d love to hear what you’re making, as the possibility is really deep.

And yes, they now have done a dubstep bass tutorial, so everybody playing at home should take a shot.

Read the full, detailed review at Keyboard Magazine:

Spectrasonics Omnisphere 1.5 [Review by me for Keyboard]

How does it all work? Here are some relevant videos:

  • synthetic

    Perhaps allowing people to load their own WAV files would allow them to think of Omnisphere more as a synth and less as a sample player.  

  • ha, its true, the obligatory dubstep tutorial 😉

  • lulz

    you're like … 19 months late. jeez

  • I like Omnisphere a lot. (I only have 1.3.2 — need to get the update.) I don't expect them ever to let you load your own samples, however. There are plenty of programs that will do that. A big part of Omnisphere is the sound library. If you let people load their own samples, then (a) you have to design a whole new user interface section, after which (b) the instrument will probably sound worse, because your samples aren't as good as Eric Persing's.

  • shame you cant load your own samples… they would have had me there. I think thats why Diego Stocco has so much fun with it, at least he can load his own samples (building the physoacoustic presets) 🙂

  • Peter Kirn

    @lulz: Uh… okay. 

    Keyboard is a print magazine, so there's a lag in order to do in-depth reviews of finished, shipping software.

    I wrote about the launch of Omnisphere when it was first announced at NAMM, and have talked about it in the context of artists since.

    1.5 shipped in February, which is not "19 months" ago.

  • Emery

    I've never personally used this synth, or heard it in person. What I can't understand is, why people are not referring to this as a "real synth"?  There are plenty of "real synths" that you can't upload your own sample content to.  

  • Peter Kirn

    @Emery et al: Well, for the record, I noted the absence of custom samples in my review. That isn't even necessarily a criticism: it's just the obvious next place for them to go, and our job as reviewers is sort of to identify what something is and what it isn't and what it could be, whether its developers choose to go there or not.

    But Emery, I agree. Custom wavetables is not a prerequisite to being a real synth, especially as usually synthesis is not even taken to mean "sampling." So it's not a real sampler. 😉

  • West

    We looked at using Spectrasonics plugins for sound design, but as it turns out, their licensing is quite draconian when it comes to something other than music. To use Omnisphere (legally) in a sound-design context, literally EVERY SOUND YOU MAKE using it must be submitted and approved individually by Spectrasonics. This means they really don't want sound designers using their tools – just composers, who aren't beholden to the same restrictions.

  • Goonp

    Yeah the licensing issue is the elephant in the room and the article should have mentioned this. due to those issues it is very much not a creative sound design tool in any commercial sense…

  • I recently bought Omnisphere and overall, I'm very happy with it.  A very flexible and powerful synth yet quite easy to program with great sounding results.