What are the best Omnisphere 2 alternatives? We’ve got five suggestions for you! Omnisphere is considered one of the best, but also one of the most expensive virtual instruments on the market. And Spectrasonics’, makers of the plug-in, NEVER have a sale. So what alternatives are there? Which VST comes closest to this monster synth?
Originally published on Gearnews.de by Julian Schmauch. Translation by Julian Schmauch.
Omnisphere 2 alternatives – What to look for
To get started, let’s take a look at what’s inside the virtual instrument. This way you’ll get a more accurate idea of what needs to be replaced. In terms of sheer numbers, Omnisphere is hard to top. Over 14,000 presets, 58 effects, up to four layers per preset, over 500 wavetables, and over 60 gigabytes of samples are included. In addition, the synthesizer masters VA (virtual analog), FM, RM, Granular, Harmonic, and Wavetable as synthesis types, plus sample playback.
In addition, a very musical arpeggiator is on board. With the stack mode, up to eight presets can be layered into a multi-patch. There are also hundreds of additional preset packs from third-party patchers, both commercial and free. From cinematic packs to almost every techno subgenre to disturbing soundscapes – you name it. But it all comes at a price.
The download version of Omnisphere 2 costs 499 euros. And Spectrasonics has never done a sale, nor do they seem to plan on doing one. So what are the best Omnisphere 2 alternatives?
Arturia Pigments / V Collection – Cheapest Omnisphere 2 alternatives
If you’re mainly looking to gettting results as similar as possible to the majority of the presets in Omnisphere 2 but at a lower price, take a closer look at Arturia. Because their software instrument Pigments 4 and their bundle of emulations of legendary synthesizers V Collection come pretty close to the diversity in Omnisphere.
In addition, both products are on sale several times a year and usually up to 50 percent off. As for Arturia Pigments 4, while there are nowhere near as many additional preset packs from other vendors, the VST has a similar amount of features and sound design possibilities.
With just under 2000 presets, “only” 18 effects, and five synthesis types, Pigments offers a bit less in terms of numbers. The VST is also missing features like Sound Match for finding similar sounds in the browser or multi-output of its engines.
But as far as the quality and direction of the included sounds and the workflow are concerned, Arturia Pigments 4 is right in front of the crowded field of competitors. If the current price at Thomann* is too high for you, just wait for the next sale!
If you’re more on the vintage side of synths, and you’re looking for Synthwave sounds and a retro feeling, Arturia V Collection is the better choice when looking for Omnisphere 2 alternatives. In this category, vintage and Synthwave sounds, V Collection is actually much more diverse than what Omnisphere 2 has to offer. And in terms of numbers, the bundle can definitely keep up.
About 14,000 presets, 33 instruments, some already MPE-capable (Omnisphere 2 not yet), and Arturia is constantly adding new emulations of other synth classics – V Collection is widely regarded as one of the best music software bundles.
It’s also worth mentioning that Arturia regularly updates its bundle: on average every two years. Here, existing synths are updated, and new emulations are added. Arturia V Collection is available at Thomann*.
reFX Nexus 4 – Most Similar Alternative
Omnisphere 2 is what you would call a rompler. Instruments in this category are a hybrid, both synthesizer and sampler, but the focus lay on sampling and presets. And in this category, EDM flagship Nexus 4 from reFX sees almost eye-to-eye with Omnisphere. If you were to buy all 176 (!) expansions of Nexus 4, you’d even surpass Omni.
The “Complete” version of the VST costs a staggering 4,069 euros. But for that, you get 28,387 presets and 232 gigabytes of samples, which is many times more than what you get in Omnisphere.
Even more than Spectrasonics’ instrument, Nexus 4 is designed as a “preset machine“. What may sound negative to more die-hard sound designers, is indispensable for many producers to be able to produce lightning-fast. Unlike “Omni”, there are also smaller versions of Nexus 4, some of which are actually decently affordable. For all those who don’t quite know how to work with almost 30,000 presets.
U-He Diva / Hive 2 / Zebra 2 – Best sounding Omnisphere 2 alternatives
Diva, Hive 2 and Zebra 2 from U-he are one of the best-sounding software synthesizers on the market. What Urs Heckmann and his team touch, is emulated, programmed, and tweaked so long, so meticulously, that they won’t release it until maximum sound quality and user experience are achieved (see Zebra 3). And each of the three plug-ins can replace a subsection of the sounds in Omnisphere 2 particularly well.
For example, U-he Diva is the ultimate choice when it comes to analog pad sounds, buttery smooth leads, and crisp warm basses. It’s worth taking a look at Thomann*.
If you want more modern sound, more EDM, Deep House, or Dark Techno, there’s no way around U-he Hive 2. The wavetable synth brings exactly the tools and sounds for these genres and is available at Thomann*.
And with U-He Zebra 2, you get the best VST on the market for eternally changing, cinematic soundscapes, drones, and brooding dark pads. Zebra 2 has been made available as the Zebra Legacy Edition which includes a variety of additional preset packs, and it’s available over at U-he’s online shop. As far as Omnisphere 2 alternatives are concerned, there is hardly a better one for any extraterrestrial synth sounds.
Native Instruments Kontakt 7 – Greatest variety of sounds
But isn’t Kontakt just a sampler?! If we already let Nexus 4.5 pass as one of the best Omnisphere 2 alternatives, Kontakt 7 gets a pass as well. Its sheer amount of additional libraries for synth sounds, whether bass, lead, pad, soundscape, or arpeggios, far exceeds the number of sounds in Omnisphere.
And if you’re looking for as many ready-made presets as possible, you can just use the free Kontakt 7 Player and play said libraries without much training.
In addition, the full version of Kontakt offers options for manipulating audio material that Omnisphere users can only dream of. On the other hand, Kontakt only brings rather rudimentary features for in-depth sound design and a very dated workflow. Updates from Native Instruments are also rather rare.
Kilohearts Phase Plant – biggest sound design potential
If you like to tinker, create sounds from scratch, modulate, combine, and spend your nights in the sound lab, take a look at Phase Plant by Kilohearts. In the recently released version 2, Kilohearts added many new modulators and workflow improvements.
In addition, a free update with a granular oscillator was released just weeks ago. There is almost no sound you can’t create with Phase Plant.
Compared to Omnisphere, modulating and layering sounds in Phase Plant is also a lot more accessible. In addition, Phase Plant’s 40 effects, called snap-ins, can also be modulated and combined in ways that far exceed the capabilities in this regard in Omnisphere.
On the other hand, Phase Plant is closely tied to Techno, PsyTrance, and some EDM and Dubstep styles when it comes to the included sounds. Omnisphere is definitely more diverse here. Phase Plant is available at Thomann*.
Conclusion about the best Omnisphere 2 alternatives
“What happened to …?!” – “How could you forget …?” – “Well, I wouldn’t put XY on the list!” – Of course, this here list does not claim to feature ALL the Omnisphere 2 alternatives. Just five that I thought were the ones closest to what Omnisphere does. What are your thoughts? Which VSTs did we miss? Which ones should not be on the list? Let us know in the comments!
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