Synth and Software’s Top 10 Soft Synths
Spectrasonics Omnisphere ($499)
Omnisphere is a class act all the way. Yes, it’s the most expensive software in this lineup, but most users will tell you it’s well worth every penny. For working studio musicians, it’s certainly the most popular soft synth. Omnisphere is among the most versatile because of its huge library of almost 15,000 first-rate sounds and the ease of modifying them and creating your own. Spectrasonics has enlisted the help of some of the most talented sound designers in the industry to create tons of timbres for every musical situation. Loads of third-party sounds are available, too.
Omnisphere’s proprietary sound engine (called STEAM) lets you choose from either factory or user samples or DSP-generated waveforms relying on techniques such as analog modeling, sample playback (even user samples), FM, waveshaping, and a variation on additive synthesis called Harmonia. Omnisphere’s Stack mode is a comprehensive approach to splits and layers that encourages multitimbral use onstage, too.
One particularly unique feature is hardware synth integration. This gives you hands-on control of Omnisphere by mapping its parameters to the controls on your Korg, Moog, Roland, or any of more than 60 other hardware synths. Additional features include breakpoint envelopes, racks of effects, seamless integration with other Spectrasonics software (especially the excellent Keyscape), and an exceptionally versatile polyphonic arpeggiator.
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