I’m very excited to write about this plugin for many reasons. Even though Omnisphere 2 was released in april 2015, I didn’t take a closer look into it until earlier this year. Ever since then I’ve used it in almost every production, and for very good reasons.
Omnisphere 2 is an extremely versatile bundle of sounds with unlimited customization options that you can fit into almost any genre ever. Personally I produce mostly some kind of chill, a bit more experimental type of electronic music. When doing this I’m using lots of plucky type of sounds, guitars, pads and other more “chill” elements. For this type of music Omnisphere 2 is a literal gold mine.
The organic feel can be heard throughout the 12 000+ sounds that comes with it. There are lots of sampled instrument such as kalimbas, guitars, percussion, steel drums that all sounds equally amazing.
Many sounds has this “randomization” of accents and artifacts that indeed help them sound even more organic. This is probably my favorite feature of Omnisphere 2, even though it also features lots of more digital sounds that can be used in electronic music. Some sounds even try to emulate old analog synths such as the Moog, various Roland JP synths and Casio synthesizers.
Because of the vast amount of sounds that comes with it, I haven’t even gone through them all yet. Whenever I’m not sure what type of sounds I want to add into a production, I use the “Shuffle” feature, that gives you the full list of sounds in a random order. This is great whenever you need a boost in creativity or when you feel stuck in a song.
The “Sound match” feature is another favorite of mine. Let’s say you found a sound that you really like, but it’s not quite the perfect one you’re looking for. This is when the “sound match” feature lets you find other sounds that are variations of the sound that you really like. This solves so many problems and will definitely help you with your productions.
Another big feature in Omnisphere 2 is the effect panel. Most presets has some kind of effect already applied to the raw sound, but you can experiment for hours with all the amazing sounding effects. Just take a look at the effects that can be used when making or tweaking sounds. Personally I really like the reverbs, delays and distortion effects that comes with Omnisphere 2, and would die to have them as separate effects to use on sounds on other channels. Unfortunately this is not possible right now, but I hope that Spectrasonic make this a possibility in the future.
This is something that I really like about this plugin. I’m not the greatest sound designer around and most of my time is spent making music instead of making sounds. Because of that, I highly value plugins that have great out-of-the-box presets that are ready to use directly in my productions. Omnisphere 2 comes with 12 000 of them, so I feel like I’m set for years right now. Even though the preset sounds great, there are always parameters to tweak to your desires, which is something that other alternative plugins like reFx Nexus is lacking.
In case you are one of those who really want to make your own sounds, that’s no problem. You can drag your own samples or wavetables into Omnisphere and process them as much as you like.
Even though most of this review has been written about how perfect of a plugin Omnisphere 2 is, there are some problems that I’ve come across while working with it. Probably the biggest one is the computer power required to run multiple instances of it. Even though I’m sitting on a powerhouse of a laptop, there are times where I just have to bounce some instances of Omnisphere 2 into audio.
If you take a look at Spectrasocic’s requirements on their FAQ page, you can already see what kind of specs you need to run it. Then try to have 10 instances of it running at the same time in the same project and you’ll have yourself a tired computer.
Another problem that I’ve had is that there are just too many sounds = too much space required on my hard drive. This is probably not a problem for everyone, but I’m using a small 240 GB SSD, that is already filled with stuff that I just can’t delete. When installing Omnisphere 2 you need somewhere around 50 – 60 GB of free space on your drive. I solved this problem by installing the plugin on my secondary drive which is a standard 1 TB HDD. This results in a slightly slower browsing of sound, but at least it’s working.
The third and final downside is the price tag. The full product goes for $499 on their homepage, which is something that not everyone can afford. This makes the synth probably not something that a beginner want to, or even should, invest in. If you have that kind of money and feel like it may be something that you’ll use for years to come, you probably won’t be disappointed.
Are there really any alternatives to this unique plugin? Well I would say so, it just depends on what you really want. Refx Nexus is a very popular rompler with so many sounds and expansions that you probably never will run out of new sounds to use. For Nexus the price tag is even higher, and many of the “default” sounds are very recognizable and may stand out in your tracks as “nexus sounds”. This isn’t really a problem per se though.
If I were to compare Omnisphere 2 with Nexus, I’d say that Omnisphere features much more natural, organic, out-of-the-box good sounding presets, while Nexus maybe fit more to the aggressive EDM side of things. There are of course many expansions for Nexus that I haven’t even heard about, so chances are that you could find the same type of sounds for that plugin as well.
Another famous plugin that I would compare Omnisphere to is Kontakt and its many libraries. Many libraries for Kontakt has amazing versatility and user control (velocity, accents etc.) and for that reason I think you should really do some research and really think about what you need.
If you’re one of those who likes to have your software in a physical box, head over to Spectrasonics website and see where your nearest reseller is. They also offer a downloadable version that you can buy and download immediately.