The Omnisphere Killer?
When it comes to atmosphere creation tools, we’re spoiled for choice these days. Spectrasonics Omnisphere, Spitfire eDNA, Fluffy Audio AURORA, Impact Soundworks Celestia and now Sample Logic XOSPHERE. With Omnisphere being one of the industry standards for atmosphere and “layered sound” creation for many years, we now have some new players in the field that are aiming to knock the king from his throne. But can XOSPHERE compete with such a giant industry leader?
Dubbed by Sample Logic as “The Most Powerful Atmosphere Creation Tool Ever“, XOSPHERE has big shoes to fill. Well known for producing incredible sample libraries over the years, Sample Logic certainly have a great name for creating stunning products – from Cinematic Guitars to Morphestra, they’ve proven they know how to create great libraries. So how does it do?
The XOSPHERE download is handled through Continuata so it was a very simple process to get it downloaded and setup. I entered the code into the Continuata Connect program, it downloaded and extracted everything for me, and I loaded it up in Kontakt. Its a good point to note here, that XOSPHERE is actually a Kontakt Library, so it can be added in the libraries list, rather than having to find it through the Kontakt file browser like most. Handy!
XOSPHERE actually comes with just one main instrument in the normal “patches list” you see in Kontakt libraries. Once that’s loaded up, you click on the patch name area beside the magnifying glass, and the instrument browser pops down, offering you the list of categories and patches to choose from.
As you can see from the above screenshot, the patches are split into 7 sections:
▪ Dark N Scary
▪ Electronic – Effectual
▪ Euphoric – Spiritual
▪ Mixed Emotions
▪ World Organic
In total, there are more than 350 atmosphere presets to choose from, with the option of creating almost endless amounts of combinations by pressing the “Random” button.
The XOSPHERE interface is simple, beautiful and complex all in one. Each instrument is built with 4 oscillators, each of which use 2 atmospheres to create the sound. You can choose the mix of the atmospheres in each oscillator by moving the “Morph” button selecting half and half, all of one, or a varying mix of the two. You can use all 4 oscillators, or turn on/off each one to select only the ones you want.
But there’s more! The interface allows you to edit how the sounds morph into each other through the “Animation” area. This is another popup section in the interface, where you can draw the morphing curves for each atmosphere – when using all 4 atmospheres, you can get some very creative and unusual sounds going on!
As well as being able to edit the morphing transitions, the volume FX area (above) allows you to animate the volume in each atmosphere. This can really help to create a sense of movement in each sound and create some beautiful textures and unusual soundscapes.
Also built into the interface is a nice selection of tools including stereo widener, compressor, EQ, distortion, phaser, delay, reverse and low/hi-cut – quite a lot more than you normally find in most Kontakt libraries!
Onto the most important part of the library – the sound!
The atmospheres in XOSPHERE sound incredible thanks to the large amount of of layering that is going on in the instrument. It can sound big or small, depending on what you want from it – solo an oscillator for a smaller sound, or use all 4 to create larger, more lush sounds.
If you don’t like using the presets, using the “Animation” and “Volume FX” options gives you a lot more flexibility in creating more complex sounds, and the randomisation button helps you find some really unique and unusual combinations.
The sound of XOSPHERE caters to a wide range of genres, and people who write underscore, film, TV and game music will definitely find a use for it. Sound designers will definitely enjoy it too. I personally think that excels more so on the darker side of the scale, being perfect for creepy, foreboding, menacing sounds. It can certainly be used for the more angelic/lighter sounds too, but its real power is in the dark side of sound design.
I’ve used it a lot in the last few underscore cues I’ve created and its definitely added a nice amount of depth and texture to the tracks.
XOSPHERE retails for $299 on the Sample Logic website. While I think it could benefit from more sales with a price tag a bit closer to $249, I think it still represents incredible value. For 300 bucks, you’re getting an instrument that will bring you years of inspiration and you’ll find yourself using it time and time again.
Its direct competitors are all priced in the same range with Omnisphere still costing $499 even though its years old. With this in mind, I think Sample Logic have priced XOSPHERE well and you’d be hard pressed to find better value in any one competing product.
Conclusion – How does it compare with Omnisphere?
What everyone undoubtedly wants to know is, “How does it compare to Omnisphere?”. Well in my opinion, its a very strong competitor, and with its price being $200 cheaper than Omnisphere, I’d actually sway more towards XOSPHERE if I had to choose between the two.
Many composers complain about being sick of hearing the hundreds of Omnisphere presets in TV and film scores. While that doesn’t bother me as much, I think XOSPHERE will definitely fix the problem. Sure, it comes with some great presets that people will use, but the real power is in the flexibility of the library, meaning you’ll never need to use the same sound twice.