Review: Darkless for Omnisphere 2 from String Audio


 If String Audio’s Omnisphere library, Lightless, was the equivalent of Dante’s “Inferno” with its dark, evolving soundscapes and textures, then their newest collection entitled “Darkless” would have to be their “Purgatorio”, a library where the sinister, mysterious and gloomy starts to give way to hope, with a bright landscape full of sounds with an ethereal quality that provides the sound designer and composer an array of endless moods to interject into their musical realm.

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Review: Darkless for Omnisphere 2 from String Audio


Darkless sells for $99.00 from String Audio


Darkless is the 2nd Omnisphere 2 sound library release from String Audio. The company has also released some very impressive and innovative Kontakt libraries namely, Dark Matter 1 & 2, Cinematic Textures, and Cinematic Impacts. In addition to purchasing the libraries singularly, they can be purchased in cost saving bundles. I found their support staff to be quick to respond to questions / issues and to be very user friendly. They genuinely seem to love what they do and are open to suggestions that might improve their product. This, to me, gives them a high grade and keeps me coming back as a customer.

One of the main differences you are going to see between the 2 Omnisphere libraries is right in the browser. One of the criticisms when Lightless was released, was a lack of description around the presets. In Darkless, they have not only named the presets, they have also categorized them into 3 areas…White, Grey and Black:

White: usually a bright tone with a positive mood
Grey: usually a bright tone with a mysterious or sinister mood
Black: usually a dark tone with a creepy/aggressive/gloomy mood

In addition, if modulation was used (say the mod wheel or LFO effecting a filter parameter), a short explanation is given on the main page of the preset.

This, to me, makes this library easier to use than Lightless especially when looking for a particular mood in the library. Overall, most of the categories of sound are extremely impressive with regards to quality of sound. Just the mere fact that String Audio provided their own sound samples is a huge bonus. I found many of the examples in the “Keys” category especially well done. One particular patch, Aurora Borealis is incredibly beautiful. Just by increasing the filter cutoff, you create this glissando-like undertone to the overall sound which I could get lost in and play for hours.

As a longtime user of Omnisphere, a couple things I usually look for when I’m investigating a preset are the modulations and effects being used. Oddly, other than filter cutoff and resonance, I really don’t see a whole lot of LFO modulation. To some, like me, it’s sort of a good thing because I like to manipulate the LFOs on my own. It gives me a whole lot of room to enhance (or deconstruct) the sound. Though, frankly, with regards to the Pads, Atmospheres and Textures, you may just want to let them stand on their own, to let them evolve in a slow manner as they were constructed.

If there is one category where I thought improvements could be made, it would be in the Pulses.

Typically, they are single layer presets that either use a texture, noise or click as the sound source for the pulse. Short length arpeggios often coupled with The Orb provide the movement. I’m quite a stickler when it comes to pulses because I like them with added depth, whether using a sub or bass to provide that depth of sound. Fortunately, there is ample room to experiment in these presets as most have an open layer in which to plug in a secondary sound from within the vast amount of examples in the Omnispehere library.

Just to iterate, in the example below, the preset “A Cool Breeze” (which can also be found in the Pad category) has the Modwheel controlling the LFO rate of the Low Pass Cutoff in the Filter section of Layer B).

So, if we then move to Layer B of the patch, we can clearly see what the LFO and the Filter Cutoff are set to…in this example, the LFO is set to half and the Cutoff is set to approximately 25% so, overall the Cutoff rate effect is fairly minimal. The LFO, itself is set to a Freeform Sine wave with the LFO rate set to 3x (you have to actually hold down the cursor over the dial). As for a typical Pad setting, the Amp Envelope’s “Attack” is fairly slow while “Sustain” is set to a maximum value. In this particular patch, a strings sample is paired with a keys sample (which gives this “grey” patch its brightness).

Overall, the Pads are the real strength of this library, many, of which, can be the cornerstone of any composition or, at the very least, add an emotional motif to the overall composition.

Much like Lightless, one of the real surprises in this library is the Impacts. Many of the presets have this immediate, upfront and in your face punch but many also have this slow, lingering release that seems to dangle on a rope of sand, seemingly forever, after its delivered the initial hit. While this may cause some angst to those who want to “hit and run” with their impact, it will cause immense satisfaction to those who like to draw the moment out!! One suggestion I would like to make here, and one that I played around with quite a bit in this category…switch up or play around with different types of amplifiers…the one constant effect throughout the Impacts patches is the use of the Smoke Amp on one of the layers. I tried adding different amps to the other layer and, most of the time, found that the Classic Twin amp provided that extra “oomph”. Also, if you are finding that your CPU usage is rather low on some of these patches, try adding the Innerspace effect and experiment with some of the many percussive elements it offers. You won’t be dissatisfied, I promise.


Now we get to the Multis. One of the great strengths of Omnisphere yet, I find, one of the most underutilized components of this fabulous synth, is the amount of control one can exert over the multis. Many will just load it in to the “chamber” and play away. Sorry, do not go pass go, do not collect 200 dollars. There is wonderful tool in Omnisphere called a Stack Mode…it just may be my most favorite feature that Omnisphere has to offer. This is where you can spread the samples, quite easily, out over your keyboard, dedicating certain patches to specific key ranges. This particular library is no exception.

This feature will allow you to put your pulses and basses, together, anywhere on your keyboard, latch them and free you up to blend in the Pads, Keys and Textures.

This feature will allow you to put your pulses and basses, together, anywhere on your keyboard, latch them and free you up to blend in the Pads, Keys and Textures. After all, no one likes the chaos sometimes caused by multiple patches all playing at once. There are so many wonderful multis here, in Darkless, so take the time by finding the right blend that works for you. Don’t like a particular sound in a multi? Just select the folder option inside the preset you want to get rid of and find a more fitting sound to take its place. What I find works best, for me, is to find a nice rhythmic groove, set it loose, then layer a couple of soundscapes that work together. Lastly, find an effective impact and give it its own place on the keyboard so you can use it when that special time arrives!

In summary, I’m happy to say that there is a new player on the Omnisphere block. Darkless goes places, both organically and cinematically, that allow the designer or composer to work in several fields of sound whether it be film scoring, sound design, ambience or orchestral underscoring. It compliments every other library that String Audio has released and I can hardly wait for their next endeavor.


Darkless contains 346 patches, 128 multis, 305 soundsources and downloads as 2.7 GB of unique String Audio signature samples. Darkless requires Omnisphere version 2.2.0g or higher.

Darkless sells for $99.00 from String Audio


Demos of Darkless for Omnisphere 2 from String Audio


Videos of Darkless for Omnisphere 2 from String Audio