21st December 2009
Image Line has announced the release of Harmless, a new additive synthesizer doing subtractive synthesis. Or if you prefer, a subtractive synthesizer powered by an additive synthesis engine. Harmless is available for Windows as VST instrument and FL Studio plug-ins and can be yours for as little as $9 - until the 31st of December you can pay what you think Harmless is worth to you with a minimum to cover the transaction fees and handling.
You may ask: why? Image Line says "there are too many subtractive synthesizers already, often bragging about being virtual analog. This one is digital, and proud to be. Everything is fake, the tone generator, the filter & its resonance, the phaser, all performed on the harmonics, before partials are computed".
Harmless is more than a proof of concept, it allows fine control that wouldn't be possible through classic subtractive synthesis. Filtering and phasing can be assigned unusual shapes & slopes, something normally only possible through offline digital filters. Filter slopes can even be defined in Hz instead of octaves. Finally, you get control on each partial's frequency, creating timbres definitely impossible using common synthesis methods.
Harmless is additive doing subtractive. Harmonics are not produced to be filtered, the timbre is filtered before being generated. This may sound like a detail, but generating sounds this way offers a lot more advantages than drawbacks.
Powered by a highly optimized, multi-threaded additive engine, CPU usage is comparable to the one of traditional subtractive synthesizers, especially for low-passed timbres. Voices may be generating hundreds of harmonics in parallel and still not overload the CPU.
Harmless was limited by design. No tabs, no hidden controls, no multi-point envelopes. All features are visible at once, and color-grouped. Over 100 parameters, most of which being automatable, are laid over a clear GUI.
Simpler to program, yet packed with evil features. Under the hood, you will find unique options, like linking the phaser's output to partials frequencies. The LFO section can act as a special modulation source, linking the phaser's width to the velocity, or the pitch to the filter's envelope.
Of course, Harmless also offers features typically unique to additive synthesis, like its automatable harmonic mask.
Harmless is also packed with effects, the usual chorus, delay & reverb, but also a multi-band compressor/limiter powered by Maximus itself. It also inherited the powerful unison from Sytrus.