Review: Northern Impakt Vol. 1 for Omnisphere 2 from PlugInGuru

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 Northern Impakt Vol. 1 is a library that is huge in scope and style. From hybrid instrumentation to affected sound sculpture to tribal rhythms to dystopian and serene atmospheres, Northern Impakt is a collection that provides all the tools and sounds necessary for any modern-day composer of film, electronic and ambient music. If one can’t draw inspiration from this, one does not have a pulse.

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Review: Northern Impakt Vol. 1 for Omnisphere 2 from PlugInGuru

 

Northern Impakt, Vol. 1 sell for $49.00 from PlugInGuru

Thoughts

The master behind PlugInGuru is John “Skippy” Lehmkul who has a resume way too long to be posted in this review. If one understands my reference, he is the Jacques Tati of the sound library world. Not only does John develop exceptional libraries for several virtual synths, he is an exceptional educator who uses videos and weekly live streams to teach his audience the nuances and “tricks” of the trade, so to speak. Anyone who is a user of Omnisphere, hobbyist or professional, has probably learned more about the product, from John, than anywhere else. I can personally attest to that.

Northern Impakt is an immense library, not only in quantity, but in quality. John did not produce this by himself…it was co-produced by Jason Ray Schoepfer (who released Northern Lights through PlugInGuru and who also has several other Omnisphere Libraries to his credit). In addition, several other developers and musicians contributed patches to this library, thus accounting for the diversity in styles. Overall, this, I believe, is John’s 31st Omnisphere release but don’t hold me accountable for that number as I’ve sort of lost count. For those who may be new to the world of VSTs or new to Omnisphere, this is a product that utilizes the best of both worlds…sampling and synthesis…by its very nature it is a powerful synthesizer with endless modulation capabilities. The only other product on the market, in my opinion, that compares, is UVI’s Falcon. I do, however, find Omnisphere, even with all its complexities, to be easier to grasp and maneuver through. It’s multi-mode functionality of Live and Stack Mode is unique to on-line synthesizers and, in a way, provides one with a “band in a box” potential for musicians and DJs who love to play live and/or jam in the studio.

I firmly believe that investigating Omnisphere’s “Stack Mode” potential is how John brought a lot of uniqueness to the synthesizer. By collaborating with individuals like Laurent Veronnez (Airwave), he was able to unleash the rhythmic possibilities of the engine…if one could do it in Izotope’s Break Tweaker, why not Omnisphere. Stack Mode allows one to overlay 8 dual sample patches and align them, any which way, to a specific key range. In addition, utilizing Omnisphere’s sophisticated arpeggiator, one is able to define distinct patterns to each patch and even latch one or more of those samples with relative ease…thus, you have an entire rhythmic ensemble in a box.

So, how does this apply to Northern Impakt?…very easily, I may say. You are given a vast array of BPM patches, hits, kicks, basses and effects to put your own multis together. You are given the tools so all you have to supply is your own level of style and creativity. If you watch John’s instructional videos, he’ll even teach you how to do it…he’ll even give you sample multis in the library from which to draw inspiration.

So, what’s actually in the package?…the following screenshot will give you the categories: Arps/BPM, Distortion, Electronic Percussion, Hits & Bits, Keys, Noisescapes, Organs, Pads, Synth Bass, Plucks & Polys, Textures and Transitions. There are a slew of bonus patches, many of which were developed by Jason. Everyday noises like drawers slamming, toasters tapped, ice breaking, etc. Many of these sounds, before being entered into Omnisphere’s library, were run through a product called Wormhole by Zynaptiq. This is a multi-effects processor with Warping capabilities. It can take an everyday sound and transform it into something otherworldly, in some ways similar to an IR Convolver but with a bit more sophistication.

 

Like most of the PlugInGuru libraries, the place I recommend starting is the ARP / BPM category. There is enough material here to begin building your own compositions from the ground level up. If you like a lot of hard driving, pulsing bass sounds, this definitely has what you need. If you don’t think the sound hits home hard enough, try a few amplifiers on for size in the FX session. The Twin Amp is my personal favorite for driving home the bass sounds. Some of the BPM patches get their rhythmic qualities from the arpeggiator, some from the way they are modulated, using both LFO and Mod Envelopes. BPM BASS “Loss of Gravity”, for one, is a good example of this:

Once settling in a rhythm, you can then take advantage of Omnisphere’s multi-layering capabilities. There are more than an ample amount of PADS / Strings to bring your composition to life and many different moods within the samples whether it be dystopian or spiritually lifting. One incredibly interesting patch in the PAD section, “Celestial Conduction”, has this beautiful, yet edgy tone it, achieved by some sophisticated modulation…one of the layers utilizes Omnsiphere’s “Harmonizer”. This utility adds up to 4 additional oscillators to a sample layer. In this patch, 2 oscillators are added, one raised an octave and one lowered an octave. The other layer makes use of the “Waveshaper” which is a utility that takes the oscillator generated waveform and runs it through up to 3 different distortion options. Lastly, the Modwheel also plays a huge part in the sound of this patch, affecting a total of 18 different parameters!!

One area where, quite frankly, I don’t usually spend a lot of time in is the “Hits” category. After a while, one gets the feeling that they’ve heard all there is to hear from bashes and booms…this one was quite a bit different. I found myself actually building several different multis utilizing them…maybe it’s because of the hybrid nature of many of them, but some had this distinct quality that made it incredibly fun to play and add some uniqueness to the music.

Overall, all I have to say is that at 49 USD, this library is a bargain. A bargain in price that contains a wealth of inspiration within. If you are an Omnisphere user, you will definitely want to check out this library which is, perhaps, John and Jason’s most well-rounded release to date.

Review Demos

 

Facts

Northern Impakt, Vol. 1 contains 550+ patches, 40 Multis, and 349 unique sound sources, Patches were created by 14 different developers located around the globe. The product downloads at about 1 GB and requires Omnisphere version 2.3.0h or higher.
Official audio and video samples of Northern Impakt, Vol. 1

Northern Impakt, Vol. 1 sell for $49.00 from PlugInGuru

Demos of Northern Impakt Vol. 1 for Omnisphere 2

 

Videos of Northern Impakt Vol. 1 for Omnisphere 2