Spectrasonics Omnisphere and Roland Synth Integration
A Brief History of Spectrasonics
Let’s begin with a brief background on what Omnisphere is and how it can expand your musical horizons. Spectrasonics sum up Omnisphere as ‘an incredibly deep synthesizer with a massive Core Library that will take a lifetime to explore’. Well, I agree… we are still exploring. Founded in 1994 by Los Angeles composer Eric Persing and his wife Lorey, Spectrasonics quickly became a leading developer of world-class sampled sound libraries. As Chief Sound Designer for Roland Corporation since 1984, Eric was already well-known in the music industry for creating many of the most popular sounds in their classic synthesizers, including the ground breaking Roland D-50. By infusing his years of product design expertise, Spectrasonics earned a reputation for setting the standard of excellence in the industry.
Omnisphere began life as another piece of software you may be familiar with, Atmosphere. Atmosphere was released in 2002 and broke new ground as the world’s first virtual instrument dedicated towards unique sound design, pads and Atmospheric textures. Atmosphere quickly became the go-to sound source for film and TV composers, and songwriters and producers, winning numerous awards along the way. Building from the huge success of Atmosphere, Omnisphere was released in 2008. Built using Spectrasonics proprietary STEAM engine, Omnisphere “broke completely new sonic ground by combining a wide variety of hybrid realtime synthesis techniques, an epic library of remarkable “psychoacoustic” sounds, and many innovative features that have never been seen before in any hardware or software synthesizer”. In 2015, a major upgrade to Omnisphere was released…Omnisphere 2. Version 2.0 featured vastly expanded synthesis capabilities and iPad compatibility released shortly after. This brings us to the current version today…Omnisphere 2.6.
Omnisphere 2.6 Hardware Synth Integration
The great thing about the Omnisphere 2.6 update is you may already own a compatible synthesiser. Spectrasonics have revisited some classic synthesisers to provide seamless integration. Additionally, they have not only focussed on ‘high-end’, expensive synths they offer compatibility with entry-level models such as the Roland Boutique series or the Roland System-1. More information about these synthesisers can be found below and we have a few on sale here at Sound Affects should you be looking to make a purchase or try out these new features. In the below video, Spectrasonics founder Eric Persing discusses the key features of this hardware integration functionality:
Below are a list of just some of the Roland synthesizers that offer deep integration with Omnisphere. Many more offer compatibility from leading manufacturers such as Korg®, Dave Smith®, Nord® and Moog®.
Available here at Sound Affects: without packaging for £439.00 here.
Available for sale at Sound Affects: without packaging for £300.00 here.
Roland Super Jupiter
Released between 1984–1987, the Super Jupiter is a rack version of the Jupiter 8 and Jupiter 6 synthesisers. Now discontinued and commanding high prices amongst collectors. Do you own one? Leave us a comment or share your experience.
The Roland JD-XI is a powerful yet compact synthesiser with an onboard pattern sequencer and vocal fx.
Part of the Roland Boutique series, the JP-08 gives you the power of a Jupiter-8 in a module no bigger than a book.
Released between 1996 – 2001, the JP-8000 used a first of it’s kind Roland Analog Modelling sound source.
Part of the Roland Boutique series of synthesisers. Modelled on the Juno-106, this synth is sometimes described as one of the last great synths of the analog era.
The Juno-106, was the third release in the Juno series of analog synthesisers which were manufactured and released during the early 1980s.
The Roland JX-03 is part of Roland’s boutique series of synthesisers. It features dual ribbon controllers and is based on the iconic JX-3P.
Released in 2017, the SE-02 is a collaborative effort from Roland and Studio Electronics. The SE-02 is the debut product from the Roland Boutique Designer Series.
The SH-01A is a meticulous reproduction of the iconic Roland SH-101, one of the most popular classic synthesisers of all time. Used by artists such as The Prodigy, Devo and The Chemical Brothers, the SH-101 was a popular synthesiser of it’s time.
Marketed as a ‘friendly and fun’ synthesiser, the SH-201 was released in 2006 and discontinued in 2010. Significant features include DAW integration and a USB audio interface.
Making its debut in 1987, the D-50 was the first fully digital synthesizer from Roland. Well ahead of its time, the D-50 combined samples and synthesis, resulting in sounds that ranged from warm analog to dynamic acoustic and cutting-edge digital; all given a wonderful spacious sparkle by the integrated digital effects.
The Roland System 8 PLUG-OUT Synthesizer delivers a vast palette of sounds inspired by over four decades of legendary Roland synths.
The VP-03 is a miniature version of the VP-330 Vocoder Plus, one of the most popular vocoders ever made. Part of the Roland Boutique series, the VP-03 brings together the worlds of synthesized sound and the human voice, using the latest ACB technology to accurately emulate the sound that made the original so influential.
The below video demonstrates Omnisphere’s deep integration with the Roland System 8 synthesizer, taken from the version 2.5 release:
How Does it Work
The innovative new feature bridges the physical experience gap between software and hardware, allowing users intuitive control and the ability to easily create/modify Omnisphere sounds by using the familiar layout of their supported hardware synth with minimal setup. The initial release will officially support over 20 popular hardware synthesizers from Moog®, Dave Smith Instruments®, Roland®, Korg®, Behringer®, Novation®, Sequential® and more to come. The supported hardware synths cover a wide range of types and price ranges for different types of users.
On the technical side, the new Hardware Synth Integration feature in v2.5 goes far beyond the typical “MIDI Learn” approaches that most software synthesizers employ. Under the hood, our development team has carefully designed unique “Hardware Profiles” for each supported hardware synthesizer, to make the special features of that hardware work seamlessly with Omnisphere by translating MIDI messages from the hardware into satisfying sonic results in Omnisphere. This new system allows us to enable sophisticated interactions from a single touch of a knob, including the ability for Omnisphere to automatically recall entire FX racks, assign multiple scaled parameters and even instantly create complex modulation matrix routings on-the-fly. The new development system also allows us to add new profiles for new hardware synths in the future. Most importantly, it’s easy for musicians to use – simply by selecting the hardware synth from the drop-down HW menu!
I hope you have enjoyed this blog post revealing some of the features of Spectrasonics Omnisphere and the recent 2.6 update. If you found this post useful, or if you have any ideas or suggestions please drop us a message. This is not an exhaustive list and barely covers the tip of the iceberg of this powerful plug-in synth and with version 2.7 we may see even more compatible synths added to the roster.
We have highlighted only a small selection of the available hardware synthesisers that integrate with Omnisphere and many, many more are available. We have covered both past and present hardware synthesisers, which you may already own or are currently seeking out in the used market. We also have a few compatible synths available for purchase here at Sound Affects such as the GAIA and System-1. Should you have any queries, we are on hand to help.
Should you have any specific queries relating to Omnisphere and your set-up, please refer to the comprehensive reference manual available here.
Omnisphere 2.6 is available now as a free update for Omnisphere 2 users. Special upgrade pricing is also available for Omnisphere 1 users.