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Spectrasonics has announced and demonstrated a major new version of their Power Synth Omnisphere at NAMM 2011.

OmnisphereThe company's flagship synthesizer includes a host of new features, in particular a new interactive interface called "The Orb" offering real-time synthesis manipulation capabilities, along with many deeply expanded additions to the synthesis engine and user interface. The update also includes many important user-requested features such as the new 5-Column Browser view and support for polyphonic aftertouch. The new version also includes a significant update to the factory patch library, taking advantage of all the new sound design capabilities and bringing the total number of included sounds to over 8,000.

Omnisphere 1.5 is set to be released on February 15th, 2011 as a free downloadable update for all registered users.

Expanded Synthesis
Omnisphere 1.5 includes new and expanded synthesis capabilities, with newly designed "zoom" interface views for the synthesizer's Harmonia, Waveshaper and Granular synthesis areas. Harmonia can create extremely rich sounds by adding up to 10 oscillators per patch with new independent modulation possibilities on each oscillator. The Waveshaper now includes more extreme sound mangling capabilities with the new polyphonic "Crusher" and "Reducer" modules, which include 'Animation' and 'Force' parameters that can all be modulated. Omnisphere's Granular synthesis area has been made significantly more powerful by including new 'Speed' and 'Position' modes, which create dramatic polyphonic shifts through the audio and time spectrums. At the center of the Granular Zoom interface is a new real-time 'Granular Visualizer' showing a colorful graphic model of the effect of parameter edits, all of which makes Omnisphere's complex Granular synthesis easier to understand and more fun to use.

"Our goal for Omnisphere has always been to make it the 'best of both worlds' – awesome sounds AND a dream instrument for sound design," says Eric Persing, Founder and Creative Director of Spectrasonics. "As longtime synth geeks ourselves, we are just as excited as our customers to see how Omnisphere is growing and evolving as a synthesis platform. We're really looking forward to hearing how our users explore the new sonic worlds this version opens up. I think it's some of our best work yet."

The Orb
The innovative "Orb" feature of Omnisphere 1.5 is both a "remarkable" sound manipulation tool and an intuitive performance interface - it can be thought of as a 'circular controller.' Now with a single click of the mouse, the user can instantly customize the sound. Best of all, the Orb automatically works with every patch a user has, there's no setup necessary.

The user simply moves the Orb cursor with a mouse, a MIDI controller or in the case of an iPad, with fingers directly on the Orb itself. As the Orb moves around the concentric circles, it morphs between automatically generated parameter scenes in Omnisphere's STEAM engine in a highly intelligent and musical manner - all patch dependent - manipulating the sound in subtle or radical ways appropriate to that particular patch. If the user doesn't like what the Orb has created, a complete new set of manipulations can be chosen by simply rolling the "Dice" button, which instantly creates a brand new group of intelligent sonic modifications and effects to try. There's no limit to how many serendipitous sonic variations the "Dice" can create – opening up the vast power of the STEAM engine to every user, regardless of synthesis knowledge.

For advanced synthesists seeking maximum flexibility, the Orb can also be setup manually and used as a new modulation source in Omnisphere's sophisticated Mod Matrix.

The Inertia slider of the Orb allows the user to create a 'movement trail' after letting go of the Orb, just like a ball might roll and bounce off the walls of a circular enclosure, adding a musical symmetry to the "performance" of an Orb interaction. Users can also Record their performance movements directly into the Orb and play the performance back in sync with their controller or host. The Orb's movements and sonic results are saved within the patch, multi or the host's session for later recall. The movement of the Orb can also be automated in the users host.

The ideal control surface for Omnisphere's new 'Orb' is the multi-touch interface of the simultaneously announced "Omni TR" iPad app, but the Orb can also be used with standard mice, trackpads and MIDI controllers.

Hands-On Expression
Omnisphere 1.5 includes support for Spectrasonics new "Omni TR" iPad app, which provides wireless multi-touch performance control over the synthesizer. Alternate controllers that send multiple simultaneous MIDI channels have improved handling with the new "Clone Part" feature, making it easier to edit with multichannel systems like Guitar synths and the Eigenharp controller. Omnisphere 1.5 also adds support for MIDI keyboards and devices that send polyphonic aftertouch. A special new MIDI Learn mode enables hardware controllers that send a single channel to have all of their learned knobs, sliders and switches affect any parts currently selected in Live Mode – making Omnisphere even more intuitive when controlled from a hardware synth such as a Moog Little Phatty.

Highlights of Omnisphere 1.5:

  • Innovative "Orb" 'circular sound manipulation' interface with Motion Recording and "Dice" button for infinite variations and one-touch sound customization.
  • Expanded Synthesis capabilities:
    • Harmonia: New zoom page shows all Harmonia parameters per layer adding up to 10 oscillators per patch with new independent modulation options for Levels and Fine Tuning on each Harmonia oscillator.
    • Waveshaper: New zoom page with extreme new processing modules including polyphonic 'Crusher' and 'Reducer' sections with 'Force' and 'Animation' controls that can all be modulated.
    • Granular Synthesis: New 'Speed' and 'Position' modes. New zoom page with new 'Granular Visualizer' showing a graphic model of the effect of parameter edits which makes Granular synthesis easier to use.
  • Patch Library Update: Over 700 brand new patches created by renowned Spectrasonics sound development team gives Omnisphere over 5,000 patches and 8,000 total sounds.
  • New 5-Column Browser view displays more sound categories and attributes simultaneously.
  • New Online Video Tutorials for Version 1.5 capabilities.
  • Support for new 'Omni TR' iPad app.
  • New "Recently Added" Browser sorting option.
  • Added support for MIDI devices which send polyphonic aftertouch.
  • New 'Clone Part' feature allows easier editing/setup with multichannel MIDI controllers.
  • New MIDI Learn hardware control mode follows Live Mode selection.
  • Modulation Envelope points can be key-command snapped to semitone when modulating pitch.
  • User-assignable Legato Interval rule added.
  • FREE update for registered users of Omnisphere.

Omnisphere is available now from all Spectrasonics dealers - MSRP $499 / €379.

Version 1.5 is set to be released February 15th, 2011.

The update will be free for all registered users and can be downloaded from the Spectrasonics website.

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