REVIEW: Spectrasonics Keyscape Creative library

REVIEW: Spectrasonics Keyscape Creative library

Long-time friend of Time+Space and Spectrasonics user, Tony Cliff, has been checking out Keyscape Creative in recent weeks and judging by his review, it delivers the WOW factor that is synonymous with Spectrasonics instruments. Over to Tony…

Keyscape Creative library is a new collection of over 1200 Omnisphere patches for owners of both Omnisphere 2 and Keyscape plus, amazingly, it is completely free of charge. Omnisphere 2 has won just about every possible plaudit and is widely acknowledged to be the finest virtual synthesizer available. The brilliant sounds and supreme flexibility have made it ideal for almost every genre of music whether it be film music or commercial rock and pop and many creative musicians consider it an indispensable tool.

Recently Spectrasonics released Keyscape – Collector Keyboards comprising an immense collection of 36 keyboards instruments, from the traditional to the more esoteric, all carefully set up or restored and then meticulously sampled. Spectrasonics received rave reviews for this product too and especially the way the instruments have an organic realism through the quality of the sampling. It is possible, however, that a few people may have felt a twinge of disappointment at Keyscape. They may have had the view that, although the instruments exude quality, it might seem slightly conventional compared to other Spectrasonics products. However, there is no need for any disappointment when the purity and beauty of Keyscape is combined with the power and creativity of Omnisphere in the new Keyscape Creative Library.

Obtaining this new library is very simple since all you need to do is to update your Omnisphere 2 and Keyscape programs and the new collection of 1268 patches is immediately made available and can be located in the Omnisphere patch browser under the heading Keyscape Creative.

Spectrasonics KeyscapeTotal Integration

Keyscape itself completely integrates with Omnisphere and all the instruments appear listed and categorised in the Omnisphere 2 browser but now, of course, there is an additional vast collection entitled Keyscape Creative. This new collection was created by the Spectrasonics maestro Eric Persing and the company’s sound development team and is specifically designed to harness the purity of the Keyscape instruments with the sonic power of Omnisphere which results in a stunning new library. 

Browsing the Patches

If anyone was slightly disappointed with the more conventional, although superb quality, of the Keyscape instruments they certainly will not be disappointed by the Keyscape Creative collection. Many of the sounds are so dramatically transformed when combining with Omnisphere that you are often hard-pressed to work out which instrument they actually derived from. I should also mention here that the sounds are big and powerful and produce a very hot signal and it is always wise to turn down the Omnisphere output a little or place a limiter on your track so you don’t blow your speakers!

Spectrasonics Omnisphere Interface

With so many individual patches to choose from a high-quality browser with separate categories is essential to narrow down your choices and fortunately, the browser system in Omnisphere 2 is excellent. The ‘Patch Browser’ lists the sounds under ‘Category’, ‘Type’, ‘Mood’ and ‘Genre’ although you can utilise different search filters for these if you choose. The first category is ‘ARP and BPM’ and then under types there is an alphabetic list from ‘Analog’, ‘Arps’ and ‘Bass’ down to ‘Sweep’, ‘Textures’ and ‘Wobble’. Then you can focus in further by choosing a ‘Mood’ and ‘Genre’. If you click the up/down arrows you can quickly scroll through and the play button will play each patch.

Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 Box A useful feature is that the sounds are ready to preview even before they are fully loaded which saves a great deal of time when auditioning. There is also a helpful description of each patch and if you switch back to the main edit page you can see the layers and make any modifications to your taste. The great thing about Spectrasonics instruments is that the patches are superb even without any editing but of course there is also ample scope for personal editing and modifying any patch then saving them for instant recall. These ‘User’ sounds will be listed in the Patch Browser and can be fully categorised within the search criteria. I am sure plenty of people will be more than happy with the standard patches since the overall quality is so high.

One of the problems with a set of sounds as good as these is that it is easy to get aurally intoxicated then maybe forgetting what you were actually looking for but I suppose you cannot criticise a product for having sounds that are too good! Many of the patches are set up to be significantly altered through the modulation wheel and naturally the BPM category sounds automatically lock in with the tempo of your hosting DAW. These sounds make significant use of the superb Omnisphere Arpeggiator which is very simple to adjust to the style of your track.

The ARP + BPM selection covers everything from delicate atmospheric sounds to bone-shaking drama. There are strumming sounds, funky sounds, distorted sounds and powerful basses not to mention the orchestral and rich textural sounds. With so many sounds to choose from another useful feature is the ‘Sound Match’. This means if you select a patch you like but feel is not absolutely what you are seeking then ‘Sound Match’ will select all the closest sounds to the one you have chosen. With such a vast selection it is well worth becoming really familiar with the ‘Patch Browser’ operation which holds the key to narrowing down your choices and finding the sounds you require.

Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 Interface

Huge and Glorious Sound Selection

With over 1200 patches in Keyscape Creative if you spent just one-minute loading and listening to each then it would take you twenty hours without a break! I’ve talked about the ARP & BPM Category so I will take a quick look at some of the other categories. The second one is ‘Bells and Vibes’ with a great selection of all the bell sounds you might ever need. There are some very atmospheric sounds which would be ideal for movie scores whilst others are slightly more conventional. Once again the modulation wheel alters the patches in numerous ways whether adding reverb, effects or maybe adding a higher octave.

Spectrasonics Keyscape interface

The next category is ‘Distortion’ and then you have further narrowing down subcategories such as Bass, Drone, FX, Guitaresque, Hits, Kalimba, Organ, Power Chords and so on. There are some great thick distorted basses here with the modulation wheel adding amp effects or changing attack characteristics and these would be excellent for rock or EDM music. The Guitaresque choices have great sounds for heavy metal, gigantic power chords or powerful lead.

Next is ‘Electro Percussion’ with all the sounds you might need for old-school disco or current dance music as well as experimental or film-orientated sounds. ‘Electronic Mayhem’ is quite self-descriptive with an amazing array of sounds and sound effects many of which using the arpeggiator. Some of these sounds could feature in sci-fi or futuristic settings, others might suit synth pop or dance music.

Keyscape Box Next is ‘Ethnic World’ with genres listed as ‘Experimental’, ‘Film’, ‘Quirky’, ‘Sound FX’, ‘Traditional’ and ‘World Music’ with great sounds available within these categories. Next is the ‘Guitars’ category with layered, overdriven/lead guitars, power chords, vintage, guitar washes. There are some superb atmospheric guitars here as well as lead guitars where adjusting the modulation wheel adds a wah wah pedal effect.

The collection has a large category of ‘Hits and Bits’ ranging from large cinematic hits to delicate arpeggio synth blips. As you would expect there is a large ‘Keyboards’ category but in Keyscape Creative the keyboard sounds are drastically modified through combining Omnisphere and Keyscape. There is not enough time to discuss every category but they include ‘Noisecapes’ ideal for film atmosphere or dramatic effects, ‘Organs’, ‘Pads and Strings’, ‘Percussive Organic’, ‘Retro Land’, ‘String Machines’, ‘Synth Bass’, ‘Synth Mono’, ‘Synth Pluck’, ‘Synth Sweep’, ‘Textures Playable’, ‘Textures Soundscape’, ‘Transition Effects’ and finally ‘Trons and Optical’. What is plain to see is that the amazing collection of patches in Keyscape Creative must have been painstakingly developed with great attention to detail.

A Whole New Spectrasonics Instrument

Anyone who held off or were sitting on the fence about Keyscape because they felt they already owned enough keyboards, should now climb off that fence. Firstly the original Keyscape Collector Keyboards itself is amazing and fully deserving of all the praise it has received. However, when combined with Omnisphere 2, the Keyscape Creative library becomes in effect a whole new Spectrasonics product. The patches are just so imaginative and inventive that they will inspire your music to new heights no matter what the genre.

The fact that this library is completely free of charge to people who own both Omnisphere 2 and Keyscape seems very generous by the company. I am aware that developing Keyscape took many years and I am sure that during that whole development period the Spectrasonics sound design team must have been working on Keyscape Creative. There is just no way that a collection as good as this could have been assembled quickly. The addition of Keyscape Creative makes purchasing Keyscape a bargain for owners of Omnisphere 2 and I completely recommend it. – Tony Cliff

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