Let me count the ways I love Symptohm: (1) It takes a static picture of a sound and breathes life into it. You can twist and pull and wrench and turn that sound over and under, backwards and forwards. The results are full and rich *and* clear and penetrating, and, most of all, musical. It does bread and btter with the same ease as deep fried peyote muffins. (2) It introduces both a new form of synthesis and the Melohman technology. So it's innovative, too, something that immediately differentiates it from 99% of the plug-ins out there. And these innovations aren't just of the madly experimental sort, but are highly useable. Melohman, particularly, is aimed at players, not just tweakers, although it's a tweaker's delight, too. There's no other synth out there that can do these things: reason enough to buy it. (3) It has, in the funky skin, the nicest GUI I have ever seen. I love the fact that ohmforce covered it in strange drawings and weird victorian decoration. And more mad apes than you can shake a stick at. (4)Artistic merits aside, it's a clear and logical design: the signal flow is mapped onto the GUI itself. Which is handy given all the routing configurations. And as already mentioned, those knobs just ooze quality. (5) There's more modulations per square centimetre than any other synth I have ever used. Virtually every parameter can have it's own envelope and its own lfo. Adding modulations doesn't thin the sound out the way it does in so many plugins. (6) The filters sound really, really good. The quadfromage concept fits perfectly here. (7) Metapatches are also an excellent solution to a perennial problem: you create an excellent patch but you have to tweak it slightly for different tracks. So you end up saving the same named preset all over the place. Metapatches centralise this and allwo you to switch easily between variations. (8) Ohmforce support is among the best in the business.
What don't I like, then? To be honest, not too much. The are elements on the GUI that could be easier to read (a few too many shades of grey in places) but once you know what they do it doesn't matter. The multiple levels of modulation and routing could be confusing for a newcomer, but then you don't have to use these features to their fullest: Symptohm functions very well as a rwo oscillator single filter synth. Mising features? I'd like to be able to modulate the modulators, and modulate the filters using the oscillators as well. The documentation is clear if a bit on the brief side. A tutorial would be helpful for the less experienced user, particularly regarding routing.
Reading over this review, it sounds more like a marketing release, but I am genuinely blown away. I don't work for ohmforce, nor do I have any affiliation with them. I just love their work. Symptohm has become my favourite synthesizer, hardware included, and the first thing I load when I start new projects.
GUI ... a bit awkward at first to be honest with the 3 page design (and its not the most compact interface youve ever seen either) - but each page is pretty logically laid out (if youre familliar with quad frohmage then the filter page is straightforward anyway) ... as ever the ohmforce virtual knobs are the best on any VSTi (with the way they lock the mouse cursor and their nice 'weighted' effect - as well as the intuitive fine control method too)
SOUND ... its quite possible that were you so inclined you could get pretty much any sound you wanted out of just this one synth - the sample based oscilators mean that you can use anything from single cycle simple waveforms (and use melohman like a 'normal' VA synth) to big complex sounds (that you can manipulate and mangle to do the 'one note track' type tricks) ... the quality of the sound is great too as you might expect from ohmforce - particularly when youve got the mighty quad frohmage filterbank as your synths filter stage ... as with all things ohmforce though you need to tread carefully with this beast - if youre not careful you might think its only capable of nasty noisy sounds which is DEFINITELY not the case
FEATURES ... on the surface it looks like a simple featureset (2 oscilators / noise generator / admittedly big filter section) but once you get into the modulation possibilities (per-parameter envelopes and LFOs and deep deep MIDI control) its obvious that melohman can play on the level of the more obviously complex monster synths (z3ta+ / rhino / albino / etc) ... the metapatch system is a unique feature and should be a BIG selling point for live players (and still quite fun for us tweakers actually)
DOCS ... comprehensive and fairly easy to understand (if youre into that RTFM stuff)
PRESETS ... again - on the surface you might think that the list of presets was a bit on the small side (although a lot more have been added to the latest version release) but once you remember that each preset contains 12 patches (thanks to the metapatch system) things start to look more healthy ... these range from eminently usable bread-and-butter sounds like basses and pianos (all with an ohmforce twist) through to more esoteric monstrous noises that possibly only the abstract among us will ever get serious use out of ... all this ignores the fact that melohman is (with the already mentioned modulation system) one of the best tweaking synths available - load up your own samples and start playing with stuff (not always conducive to making finished music but HUGE fun nonetheless)
SUPPORT ... never needed it for melohman but have heard nothing but good things about the ohmforce people in this respect - they have an active presence on the K-v-R forums and are always good-natured (if quirky) in their communications - they also issue the best newsletter of any VSTi developers i know
VFM ... for what it can do when you start to delve under the hood this thing gives VERY good bangs for the buck
STABILITY ... melohman has NEVER crashed or stuttered on any of the setups ive used it on (other than a wierd disappearing knob GUI issue when i installed it on my new laptop - but that stopped with closing and reloading the plugin) ... it can however (as mentioned above) be a little unpredictable (read as - potentially painful for ears) in terms of the sound it produces if you dont take the time to learn how it reacts to the tweaks you make
After about four hours of fiddling around with this beast I've come to the conclusion that Melohman: Symptohm is one of the finest synthesizers ever created in software. In fact, if it was a hardware unit I think it might sell big. What makes it so special? The pure musicality, tweakability and playability makes it stand out from it's competition. The meta patch concept that allows you to morph patches smoothly, or instantly, from one another via the normal MIDI keys is just ingenious! One of those rare "how come nobody else thought about this?" things. Another favourite feature of Symptohm is the super flexible per parameter midi scaling (yes PER PARAMTER!!), envelope and LFO. This makes the synth very intuitive to use and extremely flexible. The only shortcoming is that all those Enevlopes and LFO's for the parameters can't be modulated themselves in any way except automation maybe. This is not a big issue though as usually only fully modular designs or synths with complex modulation matrixes let you do this. The two oscialltors are some kind of granular synthesis things that can take any sample and turn it into something completely different. It usually takes very little time to get some satisfying results from even simple short samples. You can even import your own samples while still keeping the preset settings on all the knobs and buttons so you don't need to start programming from scratch. I guess it's done to encourage the user to try out a lot of different samples for crazy sounds. Symptohm is not just a "crazy swirling distorted multilayered pad" kind of synth, no, it's a highly playable subtle instrument with immense character. The way you can make nearly every knob respond to velocity, pitch (hi and lo key too), any midi CC, mod wheel etc. guarantees that it's always going to be a dream to play live. It can also make those same old boring wannabe 303 and phat trance sounds if you need to but hey, if that's all you need then, well, let's say that you're just a waste of the Melohman's time. Deep, challenging but still intuitive programming possibilities. Rich sound and highly playable. Beautifully rendered GUI with the highest quality virtual knobs and buttons that you can find anywhere and for the money the Ohmies are asking, it's a bargain!
Note: I don't know about the Customer Support but my guess is that it's excellent considering the feedback from the Ohmies on this very forum.
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Comments & Discussion for Ohm Force Symptohm:Melohman
everytime I try to go to the website I get a 'this site is untrusted' warning... have tried every type of search I could think of to try and track down what is going on... has it been hacked? anyone know anything? please respond if you do... thanks!
The Ohm force site was down for a while recently - I still managed to communicate with them in relation to a support issue, I have recently also purchased a licence transfer from here which appeared quickly in my account.
I would say they are a good company who do respond to enquiries/support, but who can tell what difficulties they may be facing with their server/site/staff or whatever?
BTW this area is supposed to be for reviews of the product - you should perhaps post in a more appropriate forum?