Review: Air Music Tech Loom II

The multi-talented Loom II from Air Music Tech features unique sounds, an array of modules and a friendly take on additive synthesis. Noah Pred was suitably impressed...  

With a sterling reputation for top-notch virtual instruments, AIR Technology’s Loom arguably became their flagship synthesizer, paving a path for the potent yet relatively unheralded method of additive synthesis to find its way into studios around the world – and numerous successful productions in the process.

Translating the esoteric addition of partial harmonic frequencies into a user-friendly interface is no small task, but Loom did just that with a sumptuous sound engine supplying seductive and dynamic results without requiring an advanced technical degree. Loom II builds on this solid foundation by retaining beloved core elements while adding welcome new features, resulting in a sonic sum far greater than its multitude of partials. 

A Loom II patch with all five new modules engaged.

A Loom II patch with all five new modules engaged. 

Loom patches are primarily comprised of up to ten constituent modules, selectable from Basic, Filtering, Effect, Rhythmic, Time, Tools, and Wave-based categories. With the update, four new modules have been added. 

While additive synthesis is based on combinations of sine waves, the 5-Sines module limits those sines to a lower order of the spectrum for more conventionally dubby sine-wave and organ tones. The Discrete Adder module brings distinct spectrum control, geared for percussive synthesis with firm transients. The Hype filter doesn’t disappoint, with Low and High pass excitement providing welcome saturation exactly where it counts. 

Finally, the Double Wave module allows for combination of two included or user-selected waveforms, which can be used to modulate the partials for a wide range of results, from sleek vocoder stylings to twisted synthetic contortions.

Loom II’s new Wave editing zone.

Loom II’s new Wave editing zone.

Building on Loom’s Spectral Distortion and Spectral Modulation domains, the clever new Spectral Noise section enhances the additive partial spectrum with a series of noise oscillators. 

Mirroring the same spectrum created by the sine partials in the conventional Loom modules, Sine/Noise and Level control the depth of noise added, Damping and Low Cut help tame the noise frequencies on the high and low end respectively, while Threshold and Amp Modulation help shape the contour of the noise spectrum layer. The result adds a new dimension to an already mind-bogglingly powerful instrument.

Two separate Sub Harmonic oscillators, one an octave and the other two octaves below the played material, thicken the low end and warm up everything from pads to chords, delivering rich harmonic heft with a separate volume slider for each. Taking full advantage of the new Spectral Noise and Sub Harmonic possibilities, Loom II’s maximum voice count has been increased from six to eight voices.

Loom II’s new and improved Morph mode.

Loom II’s new and improved Morph mode.

500 brand new presets from Richard Devine and Mark Ovenden cover a wealth of styles and timbres to get you started. Meanwhile, Loom’s Random function makes weaving a patch of your own easier than ever, while flexible modulation based on three assignable envelopes, three assignable LFOs, and welcome Morph mode tweaks make dynamic sound design a part of Loom II’s very fabric. Add dedicated Distortion, Modulation, Delay, and Reverb effects, and it’s hard to find anything missing from this full-featured synth. 

There’s a certain variety of lush tones that its difficult to imagine generating outside of additive synthesis, while on the fringes of the additive spectrum lie a wide range of bizarre sounds untethered by the restrictions of conventional synthesis. Exploring these new sonic realms may seem daunting at first, but it’s easy to argue Loom II – combining powerful features with an intuitive GUI and exquisite sound quality – is the best vehicle currently available to experience them.

Price: $99.99 USD

Pros: Amazing unique sounds, making a difficult synthesis technique easy to use and apply.

Cons: Some patches can get a bit processor-heavy with all modules and effects engaged.

Webhttp://www.airmusictech.com/product/loom-ii

 Learn more about synthesis in the Ask.Audio Academy here.

Noah Pred is a Canadian techno and house producer, DJ and Certified Ableton Trainer living in Berlin, Germany - where he runs his label, Thoughtless Music. His Juno-nominated full-length album Third Culture, is out now: http://www.thoughtlessmusic.com/releases/tlm086-noah-pred-third-culture/ - and you can check out his new project with... Read More

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