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Products by Spectrasonics

Latest reviews of Spectrasonics products

Stylus RMX
Reviewed By TS-12
December 18th, 2019

this is a MUST HAVE vsti. simply the best drum plugin ever created. using it since day one even today in december 2019.

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Omnisphere 2
Reviewed By groovizm
October 21st, 2019

This is not a complete description of all Omnisphere can do. If you want a complete review you better head over to the Sound on Sound website and make sure you read the manual! This is also just a very personal opinion on Omnisphere and the reasons why, for me, it's a great product.

Omnisphere is a rompler. There's an extremely large amount of sampled "soundsources" available plus a very decent amount of modeled analog waveforms. All go through a subtractive synthesis engine that allows you to sculpt the sound to your liking. A big bunch of effects really put the icing on the cake. I'd don't think I'd buy these effects to mix with, but as a complement to the sound engine I think they're fine.

Omnisphere is not a sampler, meaning you can't use your own samples and create complicated keymaps, switches or round robin setups. I'm fine with that as I never use my own samples to create realistic instruments anyway. You can however import your samples and use them for granular synthesis and that I really love. You can create whole soundscapes from a short field recording or a sample from a record.

Usually I'm not a fan of multi timbral VST's. I'd rather open new instances on new tracks, because that way every instrument has it's own track in my DAW and I can easily sculpt the sound further with other plugins. Spectrasonics warns us that using multiple instances will cause extra overhead, so I was glad to find that setting up a multi in Omnisphere is really very easy. I'm having no trouble at all.

Omnisphere does one thing very well that not many VST's offer nowadays. I've always loved the sound of the Roland D-50 and Korg Wavestations. They offered kinda realistic recreations of real instruments, but really excelled at creating hybrid sounds: subtractive synthesis based on samples. Apart from Absynth I don't know any plugin that does this well, and in fact, Omnisphere does this a lot better, I think, because it's synthesis engine is so much simpler to use.

Omnisphere's huge sound library and synthesis engine becomes even more powerful if you have one of the supported hardware synths. My Nordlead has really gotten a new lease of life with Omnisphere. With the Nordlead acting as a fully integrated controller I'm tweaking away on sounds the Nordlead could never do. Software has suddenly become more hands-on then it has ever been for me.

Omnisphere is definitely the most expensive VST I have. It cost me more than many of the DAW's I've used. But the alternative to buying Omnisphere for me was not another VST. It was buying a hardware synth, because I really need that hands-on control to stay inspired. Suddenly, with the hardware integration and a Nordlead sitting next to me the price made sense. Great sonic possibilities, hands-on control, total recall from within the DAW, it's hard to beat.

If you have something like a Bassstation2 or a Miniloque and are looking for different sounds to complement these instruments Omnisphere is a unique proposition.

I do wish some user interface elements were just a little bigger. The ability to switch on or off layers, effects and the arpeggiator right from the main page is awesome, but why are these LED-like switches so damned tiny? The magnifying glasses that open the detailpages are also a bit too small to my liking. The whole interface of Omnisphere can be scaled, but only 1x will fit my 15" laptop so that does not help me much.

There's one more thing: the arpeggiator is great. It's very flexible and, yes, it's also very easy to use. You can do old fashioned arpeggiated chords and basslines, but it's also possible to choose any of the percussive patches and use the arpeggiator as a stepsequencer to create beats. I've had lot's of fun with it.

ps: I contacted support because Omnisphere was not storing my preferences. I was impressed by their quick, knowledgeable and friendly replies. It turned out the standalone application and Ableton Live were not running with the proper administrative rights on my system and they helped me set it up correctly.

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Omnisphere 2
Reviewed By midihead
May 17th, 2016

Omnisphere 2 has replaced all my outboard gear. I've been producing electronic music, professionally for over 15 years and find that it's much quicker and easier to work "inside the box". The sound I get from this beast is just as good, if not better than any of the analog gear I used to own, and for much less the cost. Full disclosure, I create 3rd party patches for Omnisphere, so I've had years to dive deep into it. And since it keeps getting better with improvements (all of which are free to registered users), I don't have to worry about it becoming outdated or obsolete at some future point.

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Stylus RMX
Reviewed By muLperi
November 6th, 2009

EDIT 2011:

You can buy Logic Pro 9 cheaper and it comes with more loops and drum kits than RMX.

That alone is a deal breaker. One of the worst investment I've made.. At the moment it really is outdated.

And also now I now the quality of the support also: It's been a month when I contacted Spectrasonics support and asked if I can sell my license. They are "reviewing my case". They think I don't fully know how to use the plugin. Just telling that they have a great future ahead for all products.

My advice is to avoid Stylus RMX at the moment. If they drop the price to 99 dollars, then CONSIDER.

Original review in 2009:

What can I say... I too started using loops.
I bought Stylus RMX xpanded about a year ago and have found myself using it quite a lot. Perhaps lately I've used it mostly on some shakers, congas spicing up the backing track in various ways and those kind of little things but still. Very fast and effective way to do it.
Also for cinematic / action sequence music it's very good and has some great presets. And overall the presets sound very good.

User inteface is clear. I think the "graphics" could be more appealing for eye but it does the job.

I don't see anything special about Spectrasonics hyped "Groove control" or in the way RMX handles the tempo change. For example if slowed down to very slow tempo. You can clearly hear the slices starting and ending as you would imagine of course.

You can use Stylux RMX as a loop player where you can have 8 loops running simultaneously in MULTI mode.
Or you can use it as a drum sample player in KIT mode where you can construct your own 8-part kit from the Stylus RMX own library.
Importing own samples is not an option once again. Fortunately the onboard library is pretty big.

Never needed customer support really. Crashed 1 or 2 times.
Value for money... Well I think it could be a bit less expensive. Maybe 199 eur is more realistic for the whole pack imho.

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Stylus RMX
Reviewed By danbroad
August 23rd, 2007

RMX is still the most complete selection of loops, drum sounds and user configurability on the VSTi market. An industry standard, now powering the soundtracks to most contemporary film and TV scores; appearing on more and more mainstream albums, providing polished percussion and stomp to a hundred stage shows.

It has, with version 1.51 onwards, become fully Intel Mac compatible, and has run without flaw on both my Windows and OSX machines. Amazingly, it never seems to hog huge CPU cycles unless I ask it to [by, for example, max enabling the superb FX busses.]

Just like other Spectrasonics stuff, the GUI is clean and uncluttered. Updates come infrequently, but the synths work well first time out. I want to thank Eric and the team for the awesome 1.5 update, a leap which many other companies would have charged for [probably including Apple, and certainly the NativeBerg types].

The sounds, and this could be criticism or complement, are polished and professional - even the 'lo-fi' sounds have an instantly recognisable RMX sheen. If there's one area where another synth may outshine RMX, it's perhaps in raw, unprocessed analog drums [easily fixed by complementing this with ErsDrum or similar.]

From hi-tech electro to European house, through ambient swashes and kettle drum/tribal war beats, Stylus provides the ingredients, and the chaos/filter/LFO/FX sections enable you to make them your own. With hundreds of chopped loops, and infinite FX/redesign possibilities, there's no two musicians that should sound the same.

The Groove Control feature means that a 180bpm loop slowed to 30bpm should still sound natural, unlike other REX files, where marked tempo variation causes audible untrimmed silences and stuttering.

We all know RMX is the 'daddy', so I'd like to focus on two areas that are often missed in [non-kvr] reviews...

First; the REX expansion makes this VSTi a virtual Akai MPC groovebox. The ability to load up samples from anywhere and chaos/groove/FX them to bits means that you can create whole songs within RMX. This lends itself to live playing, dropping new sections in/out like a self-contained 'Ableton Live' application. Want a Jazz saxophone lick alongside some chopped vocals, with a selection of synth pads, basses and big beats dropping in and out? All done within RMX, swooping, changing on the fly, tempo synced. Using any REX source, the possibilities are great - just remember the REX files aren't as forgiving of extreme tempo changes as the Groove Control stuff. But they are everywhere, and available online - instant free expansion packs!

Second, the Tutorial videos. I've recently been getting back into Logic on the Apple Mac, and found the learning curve steeper than I recall. Eventually, I found some superb online movies which taught me more in a few hours than any manual or workthrough text could in weeks.

This proved two things to me; first, a good tutorial video is worth paying for, just like a good tutor. Secondly, Spectrasonics have given hours of Tutorials free to RMX users. These could easily have been payware; the videos are long, in-depth, logical, easy-going, and demonstrate more advanced features you'd not have discovered quickly. A generous and useful gift from one of the most professional companies in VST synthesis.

Support, value for money and sound quality are second to none, and Spectrasonics have built a loyal customer base with their honest company policy. You get what you pay for.
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Stylus RMX
Reviewed By Jeremy_NSL
November 16th, 2005

First I will skip to the conclusion: Stylus RMX is the definitive plugin for all types of percussion. There is nothing better. Ok, there I said it. Now I can get on with the review. Note that I'll assume you have some idea of what RMX is and what it does. If not, check Spectrasonics site first.

User Interface: Very polished. The GUI consists of tabbed pages for each of the 8 multi-timbral channels. Its very easy to understand and the look is quite nice.

Sound: At its heart, Stylus RMX is a playback module for sliced-loops, as well as a basic drum-hit module. In terms of sound quality when speeding up/slowing down loops, RMX has no equal. Its virtually perfect. Its to the point where you don't even think about what tempo the original loop is in, you just insert it into your project and smile.

The included effects are very diverse and quite good. Different compressors, limiters, filters (contains even the great filter from Imposcar!), reverbs, etc. All you need to effect your drummixes. The effects are so good that you'll wish they came in an FX version so you could use them on other synths/audio.

Features:
RMX is very flexible. You can use Slice mode, where you can load up 8 loops and use midi to sequence every slice; or Groove Mode where you can load 63 x 8 loops and use midi to switch between them! In addition to that there is kit mode, a semi-GM compatible mode where you can access the very diverse drumhit collection RMX comes with.

Chaos mode is the next major feature. It algorithmically modifies loops in real-time. You choose how much variance you want. And then if you like what it produces, you can save it to midi! This is an unbelievably useful feature - and one that just isn't available anywhere else.

The only negative I see as far as features is the inability to use Kit Mode at the same time as Slice Mode. For myself, I often want to lay down a few basic loops and then trigger midi drums over top. Unfortunately this isn't possible in RMX - unless you use multiple instances of the plugin. I'll say more on why you probably don't want to use multiple instances in the stability section.

Presets

Where to begin... First, the number of sounds. You get the ENTIRE Stylus Classic library of loops and hits(~3gb), + ~4.5gb of new content. The new content is quite a bit more experimental than the original stuff - pushing the boundaries well past Stylus Classic's relatively rigid set of breakbeat, urban and dance grooves. In contrast, you'll now find tons of new eclectic electronic material, as well as sounds suitable for filmscoring.

Not only do you get the loops, you get over 500 multi-patches. These patches are multi-channel setups containing multiple grooves, with appropriate FX and Chaos etc. already selected! Needless to say, these are hugely useful, if only as a starting point.

Ready for more sounds? RMX comes with nearly 300 drumkits. These kits are complete with FX and mixing already done. Don't misunderstand that all RMX can do is loops - the kits are second to none. They aren't the heavily multisampled stuff of FXPansion BFD etc., but they are extremely useful nonetheless - especially for electronic genres.

Finally the best part: Starting with the 1.5 update, EVERYTHING is organized by genre/type. So if you want a military-esque multipatch, an urban drumkit, or a 'tight' snare, its all just wonderfully easy to find. This type of organization is essential when you have so much content to work with - it just makes workflow in RMX so simple.

Customer Support:
I haven't used support yet, but I will give a 6 based on two things: I purchased a used license transfer and it took a very long time. I understand that its not a priority, but this was an unacceptably long wait (weeks). Not only that but there is a $50 license transfer fee that seems quite high. Even then the person receiving the transfer isn't entitled to update deals (such as the upgrade price from Stylus Classic to RMX). I don't like this transfer policy at all.

BUT Spectrasonics partially redeems themselves by offering great free updates. The 1.5 update was incredible - and cost $0! It was much more than just bugfixes. Thats great support.

Stability:
For the most part RMX has been very stable. So I will use this section to instead talk about resource usage. RMX is a RAM hog: just to load 1 instance (with no sounds!), uses about 200mb. Loading two instances uses over 350mb! Thats alot, and thus I don't recommend RMX if you have under 1gb of RAM.

CPU usage is improved alot in recent versions, but its still rather high. In particular, the Imposcar filter uses over 5% of my cpu. Why? Imposcar altogether uses less than that. And Kit Mode, just to play back a few samples (with no fx or timestretching etc.) takes quite a bit of CPU. Compare this to an efficient drum module like Battery or Redrum and its not competitive.

Value for Money:
Overall RMX is totally worth the money. Love it!
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Stylus RMX
Reviewed By Paul881
November 16th, 2004

$10 for a UPS delivery is great value for a free upgrade from Stylus that I bought in April. So is the upgrade worth it? Well, it’s not an upgrade…Stylus RMX is a completely new program that installs as a separate version to the original program.

The package comprises two DVD’s containing 7.4 Gig of sounds and the program itself. Installation is fairly straight forward but Stylus RMX would be better if it would allow you to “point” to where your Library folders are kept rather than the more awkward way they have of linking to your vst file.

Authorisation is via a challenge and response number from their web site.

Included in the pack is a great CD containing QuickTime video tutorials. This CD is a great innovation; it is immensely useful by way of an introduction to the various screens and controls which is needed because the manual is very poor.

So what’s new? Well, for a start, Stylus RMX is very different to the “old” Stylus. No more accessing the sound set via the Windows Start button and Explorer. The library is now accessed by means of drop down menus from within the program. Up to 8 simultaneous instruments (which Spectrasonics call “Elements”) or Grooves can be layered at once, and total control is available in real-time over all the sounds, even changing them as you play. Grooves can be selected to play back from the drop down menus as well as individual Elements, giving you huge control over your beats.

There is a virtual rack of effects including all the usual suspects like EQ, Tube slammers, limiters and delays which can all be loaded separately for each track or voice. The full range is listed on this web page at K-v-R above.

Further screens for editing LFO’s, Envelopes and Filters – even a chaos control screen - all make for an interesting and endless sound design capability. The control options over the sounds are virtually limitless. A mixer page is instantly recognisable but swivelled through 90 degrees so it is sideways. Controls for pan, levels, and fx are all accessible via this page for each of the 8 tracks.

Drag and Drop facilities to your host program make constructing layered sounds comprising both Grooves and individual sounds/instruments is easy and can be used to quickly construct unique songs very easily but beware, different hosts allow this facility in widely differing ways. REX files can also be converted to S.A.G.E. using the included converter making the sound files available through the library drop down menus.

So what does it sound like….and how easy is it to use? Awesome and as easy as you want…or as complex as you want…it’s your choice - most users will be able to get some simply stunning rhythm grooves going very quickly. Because the sounds can be manipulated in real-time; if you don’t like a particular instrument or groove…then change it on the fly. Adding in individual percussion instruments, as you play, all synced to your host is easy. The sheer range of instruments including many ethnic sounds is really impressive. I found that in my P4/2.4Gig PC, each Groove took about 15% of the CPU capacity…. But not once did I experience any crashes or glitches, even with 4 instances open within my host, so it appeared to be very stable.

The main thrust of Stylus RMX in its standard, out-of-the-box format is for Hip-hop and dance/trance genres of music but to say that there is no flexibility to cover other styles would be doing the program an injustice.

Any library that uses the same format, described as “S.A.G.E. Expander’s by Spectrasonics, can be used to broaden the appeal and use of the product. Make sure you check out the demos of all their libraries including their BackBeat Expander reviewed by SOS magazine that has stunning acoustic drum sounds. These add-ons give Stylus RMX a real edge for all sorts of music makers…from film and commercial producers through to the discerning amateur.

Bottom line? An amazing program, something for everyone, a greatly improved new interface, terrific for using live and with the added $99 S.A.G.E. Expander library’s, hugely appealing for all music buffs of whatever persuasion you are.

Although relatively expensive if you need to supplement the program out of the box with Expander libraries, the quality of the sounds and the degree of manipulation and ease of use makes this program well worth it. This program should be in every serious amateur musician/producers portfolio. Whatever criticisms the original program had from the music community, Spectrasonics have evolved the product to be a great beat program, right out of the box. I had many hours of fun jamming to made-up beat grooves before I recorded anything. And if it doesn’t quite suit your particular musical taste from the get-go, then with all the libraries available for it, all music genres are catered for. . Simply a “must try it” program!
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