Synthesizers will always play an essential role in modern music production. Since RCA (Radio Corporation of America) developed the first-ever synthesizer in 1952, synthesizers have played an essential part in the evolution of music and music tech.
Regardless of style or genre, synths (both hardware and software) can always have a resultant positive impact on the music you make at the end of the day. One important advantage of synths over other hardware or software instruments is that it offers a wide range of sounds.
Also, the ability to tweak and customize your sound to meet your unique sonic taste is an important feature and advantage. Again, the availability of several factory and user presets makes synthesizers a lot more fun and crucial in making music.
That being said, when talking about some of the best and most popular synthesizers in the market today, Omnisphere by Spectrasonics will always make it to the top of the list. This, however, is not just a mere undeserved privilege.
Omnisphere by Spectrasonics was the first software synthesizer to offer Hardware Synthesizer Integration. As a result, this integration transforms some very popular synthesizers into hands-on controllers that help you unleash Omnisphere’s full and expanded synthesis capabilities.
This feature makes using Omnisphere feel like using an actual hardware synthesizer. This is why several people will always go for this amazing software synth.
When it comes to music production (of any genre), sound design, music composition, film scoring, etc, Omnisphere always delivers. With Omnisphere, the tweaking and sonic possibilities are almost endless—you might never exhaust it.
However, many people have been contemplating the worth of Omnipshere. The truth remains that considering the price (about $499) and the full capabilities of Omnisphere, it will be in the right place to say that it is truly worth it.
In this article, we will further analyze the actual worth of Omnisphere by Spectrasonic. Just read on!
Omnisphere Hardware Integration vs Other Synths; How Better Is it?
Omnisphere’s Hardware Synth Integration is a groundbreaking feature revolutionizing how hardware synthesizers interact with software.
By transforming popular hardware synths into hands-on controllers for Omnisphere’s extensive synthesis capabilities, this technology seamlessly bridges the gap between software and hardware, thereby providing an intuitive and sophisticated control mechanism.
Loading a Hardware Profile in Omnisphere instantly establishes an effortless connection with the specific hardware synth you are using. Currently, Omnisphere supports compatibility with a wide range of hardware devices.
The list of supported devices has expanded to include more than 65 devices as of Omnisphere version 2.6. With this powerful function, you can leverage the exceptional sound quality of your analogue synth.
You can do this while simultaneously combining them with Omnisphere’s vast array of effects and synthesis possibilities. Integrating Omnisphere with your hardware synth allows you to explore new sonic territories, delve into FM and granular synthesis, and create more elaborate soundscapes.
While other software synthesizers (like Arturia Software Centre) may offer MIDI mapping capabilities to various hardware controllers, the concept of Hardware Synth Integration implemented by Spectrasonics in Omnisphere is rare and sets it apart.
Omnisphere, on the other hand, allows you to command the software with a physical device, granting you unprecedented control and flexibility over your sound.
Additionally, Omnisphere’s functionalities, versatility, and comprehensiveness surpass those of individual hardware or software synths.
Omnisphere Limitations in the Area of Hardware Integration
Omnisphere stands out as the sole software synthesizer that includes the unique feature of Hardware Synth Integration. However, this can imply some limitations.
Firstly, the software’s integration feature is confined to the hardware synths specifically supported by Omnisphere. If your hardware synth is not on this list, the integration feature might not work as effectively.
Secondly, while hardware profiles permit Omnisphere to capture the sonic character of the hardware, there may be a better replication of the hardware’s capabilities.
Therefore, you might experience a slight difference in the sound quality or character compared to using the hardware synth independently.
Next, you must study the setup instructions to fully utilize the hands-on experience, which may cost you time and effort. Further, there may be features in the hardware synth that may not be available in Omnisphere.
Lastly, while the integration feature does allow you to control Omnisphere through your hardware synth, it might provide a different degree of control or customization than it would be possible when using the hardware synth independently or with a more specific software interface designed for that hardware.
Omnisphere User Interface vs Other Synths
Omnisphere’s user interface (UI) stands out due to its comprehensive control set, deeply mapped-out tabs/windows, high-resolution screen, support for HiDPI displays, and visually appealing design, making it a unique player among virtual synthesizers.
Its interface is designed with a logical layout, focusing on ease of use while providing robust functionality. The main window consists of four tabs, each containing the editing sections for their Oscillators, Modulations, Filters, LFOs, and Envelopes.
Next, it also has a comprehensive Arpeggiator window, an FX window, and an ORB window (orbit window for stereo imaging) with great precision, detail, and control over every parameter.
In addition, the preset browser has a search engine that allows you to search the preset by category, type, genre, and mood. That allows you to use the software easily, even if you aren’t familiar with Omnisphere’s synth engines.
Further, it also has a LIVE mode and many features which are beyond what this article can cover.
Compared to Serum, Omnsipehere lacks the user-friendly drag-and-drop approach for modulations and wavetable synthesis, but it covers up with its expanded sound design and manipulation options.
Considering Massive, which is also a wavetable synthesizer, has a simpler and well-laid-out interface as compared to Omnisphere. But that’s mainly due to the multi-dimensionality of Omnsiphere, which doesn’t allow it to get any simpler than it already is.
On the other hand, Pigments presents a unique UI that balances a wide range of synthesis methods, much like Omnisphere. Pigments have a visually appealing and modern design that is easy to navigate and understand.
It provides a modular-inspired design with a balance of flexibility and ease of use. In comparison, Omnisphere’s design gives you more command over your sound design process because of its more comprehensive controls (knobs, sliders, faders, etc.).
To conclude, Omnisphere is known for its unparalleled, powerful, and versatile interface. Furthermore, Omnisphere’s hardware integration feature is a distinctive attribute, allowing you to control the software synth’s parameters using their hardware synth.
This feature presents a more tactile, hands-on user experience, which no other software synthesizer, including Serum, Massive, Diva, Pigments, etc., provides.
In conclusion, Omnsisphere has no limits when exploring creativity and sound designing, as it offers a comprehensive and in-depth workflow and mix-and-match of many different synth engines with high-quality processing that no other synth can match.
Omnisphere Limitations in the Area of UI
Despite its extensive features, Omisphere’s user interface (UI) has certain limitations. The UI can be overwhelming for newcomers due to its extensive synthesis capabilities and options.
It has a steep learning curve and might require substantial time to understand and utilize it fully.
The broad array of parameters, while offering great depth and customization, can be intimidating, especially to those new to synthesis. Secondly, although its hardware integration is impressive, it could be more flawless.
Compatibility is limited to specific hardware models; if your hardware synth is not supported, this functionality cannot be utilized. This restricts the hands-on control experience to those with compatible hardware only.
Third, Omnisphere does not have a feature that allows you to change the skin or user interface appearance. Regarding visual design, Omnisphere’s UI can seem outdated compared to more modern-looking software synthesizers.
The graphics and visuals might appeal to someone other than those who prefer sleeker, minimalist designs. Furthermore, the UI doesn’t always scale well with different screen resolutions.
This might lead to readability issues on smaller or high-resolution screens, negatively affecting the user experience. Lastly, the browser, while extensive, could be improved in terms of efficiency and speed.
With such a massive sound library, searching for the right sound or patch could be time-consuming, even with the available filters and search options.
Omnisphere Sound Library vs Other Synths
Omnisphere, developed by Spectrasonics, is a highly versatile software synthesizer with an extensive sound library, boasting over 14,000 meticulously crafted patches and sounds.
These sounds consist of meticulously crafted patches, rich textures, evolving pads, punchy basses, soaring leads, atmospheric soundscapes, and more. The library contains diverse timbres, from organic acoustic instruments to cutting-edge electronic sounds.
In addition, its latest synthesis engine has undergone significant expansion, now offering four layers per patch. It includes new state variable filters, over 500 DSP wavetables, and robust, granular synthesis capabilities.
Additionally, there are 8 LFOs, 12 ENVs, and 34 filter types per part, along with a doubled modulation matrix and comprehensive FX modulation options.
If we compare its sounds with Serum and Massive for various electronic genres, Omnisphere, along with wavetable workflow, also offers additional granular textures, FM textures, a Harmonia engine (for wider and thicker polyphony), and a high-functioning sampler, which makes it superior both in quality and sound design capabilities.
Next, in comparison with Diva, which is great for analogue sounds, Omnisphere combines analogue modelling, traditional analogue synthesis, samples, and its Harmonia Engine to produce deep and fat analogue sounds with unmatchable warmth, tonalities, effects, and customizability.
Omnisphere’s sound sources also include sampled real-world instruments, granular synthesis, wavetable, and psychoacoustic processing, which makes it more versatile and flexible.
Then there are synths like Pigment that offer multiple synth engines and have great modulation capabilities, which could be arguably better than Omnisphere in certain scenarios.
However, Omnisphere offers a greater variety of sounds catering to various music genres and production styles. In addition, its collection is continuously updated, providing fresh content, innovative synthesis capabilities, and inspiring creative possibilities.
Lastly, in addition to the 14,000+ existing sounds, Omnisphere has added about 1600 new patches to its new hardware library.
These patches are developed by Eric Persing and the esteemed team of sound designers at Spectrasonics and are specially crafted utilizing the hardware synthesizer as a controller for Omnisphere.
This update ventures beyond Eric’s iconic sound design contributions from the original 1987 Roland D-50 and explores uncharted sonic landscapes through the expansive synthesis capabilities of Omnisphere.
Omnisphere Limitations in the Area of Sound Library
Omnisphere is known for its massive and diverse sound library, but it has some limitations when it comes to organizing and browsing through the library.
One issue arises when too many libraries are listed in Omnisphere’s DIRECTORY, making browsing categories difficult. Some producers do not consider the subfolder method for consolidating libraries a valid solution because it makes browsing categories difficult.
Additionally, in Omnisphere 2, major changes to the folder structure resulted in errors in tagging, making it difficult for you to search for sounds based on categories.
Next, despite its extensive sound manipulation capabilities, Omnisphere may not have the same level of fine-grained control and nuanced sound shaping as dedicated hardware synthesizers, especially if you are just using the software version (without hardware integration).
It is primarily a software-based instrument, and certain sonic characteristics and nuances may be best achieved through dedicated hardware. Further, it may only cover some niche or specific sound requirements.
Lastly, while Omnisphere offers an expansive selection of samples, wavetables, and synthesis techniques, it may only partially emulate the characteristics and nuances of every vintage or hardware synthesizer.
While it strives to provide sounds inspired by various instruments, some purists may prefer the original hardware’s authenticity and unique sonic qualities.
Omnisphere Functionalities vs Other Synths
Standalone with Recording
Omnisphere can be a standalone application with built-in recording capabilities, allowing you to create music directly within the software without needing external recording software.
By manipulating a virtual sphere using the ORB window in the plugin, you can interactively morph between different sounds, modulate parameters, and add dynamic motion to their music, adding a new dimension to their sound design and performance.
Combining subtractive, wavetable, granular, and sample-based synthesis techniques, the software instrument offers users a vast sonic palette and opens a world of creative possibilities.
Apart from using it as a software plugin, Omnisphere’s integration with hardware synthesizers allows users to control and manipulate its extensive features using physical controls and interfaces.
With the plugin, you can use audio import functionality to import and manipulate your audio files. This feature allows seamless personal samples and recordings integration into the sound design and synthesis.
Omnisphere features four integrated multi-effects racks, each offering various effects modules that can be combined and customized to shape and sculpt sounds.
Omnisphere features four integrated multi-effects racks, each offering various effects modules that can be combined and customized to shape and sculpt sounds.
Live Performance Features
Equipped with live performance features like live mode, stack mode and the capability to split and layer sounds across the keyboard, the synth is an ideal choice for stage performances and spontaneous improvisation.
Omnisphere Limitations in the Area of Functionalities
- Physical Modeling
There are dedicated synths like AAS (Applied Acoustics Systems) Tassman, renowned for its robust physical modelling capabilities, allowing users to create highly detailed and realistic emulations of acoustic instruments and sound phenomena.
In terms of synthesis capabilities, Omnisphere offers a wide range of options. However, it does not provide as comprehensive support as synths like Tassman.
- Complex Triggering and Sequencing
Although Omnisphere incorporates fundamental sequencing and arpeggiation features, it may lack the same intricacy and depth of specialized sequencers and rhythm engines.
- Modular Patching
While Omnisphere has a powerful modulation matrix, it does not offer a full-fledged modular environment for complex patching and modular synthesis workflows.
- Physical Gesture Mapping
The synth does not offer specific functionality for mapping physical gestures or movements to synthesis parameters, limiting its interaction possibilities with external controllers.
- Microtonal Tuning
The plugin offers support for alternative tunings, but its flexibility and customization for microtonal tuning may vary compared to dedicated microtonal synthesizers.
Omnisphere Community/Customer Support
The user community of Omnisphere is diverse and inclusive, encompassing a wide range of music producers and creators. It is a heterogeneous community with users from various musical styles and genres.
It is most commonly used in electronic music genres such as EDM, trance, and ambient, but it is also embraced by producers in pop, rock, hip-hop, film scoring, and many other genres.
This diversity allows for a rich exchange of ideas, techniques, and inspirations among users with diverse musical interests and styles.
Regarding Customer Support, Spectrasonics provides a dedicated support system, including a knowledge base, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and troubleshooting guides on their website.
It has various resellers in different countries whose contact information (including mail IDs and phone numbers) you can find on their website. The company is responsive to customer inquiries and aims to provide timely and helpful responses.
Furthermore, Spectrasonics regularly updates its software, addressing any reported bugs or technical issues to ensure a smooth user experience. Lastly, Spectrasonics provides robust authorization support for its software, including Omnisphere.
Their challenge-response system ensures secure activation and dedicated customer support is available to assist you with any authorization-related issues you may encounter.
How versatile is Omnisphere in Terms of Genres?
Omnisphere is a highly versatile software synthesizer that covers various genres, including electronic, pop, rock, hip-hop, film scoring, and ambient.
Its vast sound library offers diverse textures, vintage keyboards, synth effects, and more, enabling you to create music in various styles.
Adding the ‘audio import’ feature enhances flexibility by allowing you to incorporate your own audio material. While Omnisphere may have limitations in extremely niche genres or specialized sound characteristics, such as avant-garde or microtonal music, it excels in mainstream genres.
For realistic instrumentations like orchestras, Kontakt libraries, or other sample-based instruments are recommended. Certain percussion and specialized instruments may be better suited to sample libraries or physical modelling plugins.
Omnisphere may not be the most versatile synth for bass sounds, but pairing it with dedicated bass plugins like Scarbee Bass (Bass Guitar), SubLab (8o8s), Substance (EDM bass sounds), or Trilian (analogue bass) can yield excellent results.
Omnisphere’s expansive sound library, synthesis capabilities, and customization options make it well-suited for most popular genres, providing ample creative possibilities for musicians and producers.
In conclusion, Omnisphere by Spectrasonics is a highly regarded software synthesizer with numerous features and capabilities. Its hardware integration feature sets it apart, allowing you to control and unlock its extensive synthesis capabilities using compatible hardware synthesizers.
While the user interface may have a learning curve and the sound library organization could be improved, Omnisphere’s feature set, synthesis capabilities, and sound library make it a valuable tool for music production, sound design, and film scoring.
It’s hard not to be complex for a synthesizer of this calibre. In my opinion, the plugin cannot be simplified anymore, given its ambition and functionality. Now, to answer the question, Omnisphere is worth its price.
Despite its cost and limitations, it provides excellent value for the money, as it offers a wide range of tools, versatility, customization options, and unique functionalities and sounds that can greatly enhance music production, sound design, and film scoring projects.