Although Spectrasonics has fewer products in its lineup than some other developers, the ones that it does have are truly impressive. More than that, the company continually improves and updates them, meaning that over time you get more tools and content without having to pay extra. One of the most recent additions to Omnisphere is a free dedicated iPad app that lets you control certain aspects of the synth remotely over Wi-Fi. You’ll have noticed that for this to work you need both an iPad and a copy of Omnisphere. If you already have one of the two however, seeing what you can do with both might spur you on to get the other. Although primarily a live performance tool, it is just as much use in the studio, for creative sound sculpting without having to sit in front of your Mac and use the mouse.
With Omnisphere installed and running on your Mac, go to the App Store and download the Omni TR on your iPad. Fire it up and from the first screen, press the Connect button. You should see the name of your Mac in the next screen, as Omnisphere will be broadcasting its address. If not, check your Wi-Fi and firewall settings.
Tap to connect to Omnisphere on your Mac and you are taken to the main screen. If nothing appears you may have to make sure Omnisphere is visible on your Mac, and not hidden in an instrument slot. Make sure it is actually onscreen on your Mac. Then, click on the Browse Multis menu.
Here’s something to remember: the Omni TR app is a controller but not a player. It doesn’t have a built-in keyboard, though you can use other apps to play MIDI wirelessly into your DAW from your iPad. So you will need to have a MIDI part recorded in your DAW before you can hear sound, or be playing live from a hardware MIDI keyboard. A MIDI control function, so that you can play Omnisphere remotely from inside the app, is something I’d love to see Spectrasonics include, if they’re reading…
With your MIDI part playing back on your computer, you can use the Multi selection menu to audition new patches from the iPad. Each of Omnisphere’s eight parts is visible and if you click on the folder icon to the left of any one of them, you can reassign the patch that’s loaded into that slot.
With a part playing, or indeed a complex arrangement with separate MIDI tracks routed to each of Omnisphere’s eight slots, you can use the level sliders to the right to change the relative levels of the parts, as well as muting or soloing them and changing their trigger mode by clicking on the icon just to the left of the slider.
The sliders can be altered to control any of the parameters of a sound, and you do this by clicking on the Level menu and choosing a new parameter like pan, aux sends, filters and so on. All the time you are doing this, your changes are being reflected in Omnisphere running on your Mac.
Here’s an interesting trick: switch the controls to Layer Level A or B and you can turn the different layers within any patch up or down. Since Omnisphere is based on layering sounds you can have up to eight slots each with two layers for a total of sixteen sounds!
So that’s a quick look at how to connect and perform patch selection with the Omnisphere TR app. In Part 2 we’ll look at the remarkable “Orb” feature that lets you change the sounds in realtime. After that we'll explore the advanced synthesis controls that can be accessed directly from the remote app.
Continue following this tutorial in Part 2: The Orb.
Go deeper into Omnisphere for Mac in Omnisphere 101: Core Omnisphere.
Download Omni TR for iPad here.