Review: Loomer Aspect

Loomer

Early 2009, audio software developer Loomer released Aspect, a semi-modular software instrument for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Aspect is a 32-note polyphonic software instrument that combines a great-sounding, powerful synthesis engine, with a flexible semi-modular architecture and unparalleled ease of use. The core of Aspect’s superb sound are two analog modeled oscillators, each capable of producing a powerful selection of raw waveforms, and dual filters that can be routed in series, in parallel, or even blended into unique combinations.

Aspect features

  • Two analog modeled oscillators — sawtooth, pulse, triangle and sine waveforms.
  • Two multi-mode filters — Lowpass, Bandpass, or Highpass.
  • Selectable filter audio sources (e.g. Osc 1, Noise, Filter 1, Multiplier 1, etc.), filter mix and routing options.
  • Three ADSR envelopes (envelope 1 is hard-wired to the amplifier but can still be used to modulate other sources).
  • Three LFO’s with tempo sync and sine, triangle, pulse and sawtooth waveforms.
  • Patch section for complex modulation — includes Adder, Multiplier, Inverter and Sample and Hold components, and a Lag Generator.
  • Up to three modulation sources per parameter slot (or more by using the Adder component in the Patch section) — Note Pitch, Velocity, Osc 1 & 2, Noise, Envelope 1, 2 & 3, LFO 1, 2 & 3, S&H, Adder 1 & 2, Multiplier 1 & 2, Inverter 1 & 2, Lag Generator, Aftertouch, Channel Pressure, PitchBend, ModWheel, VoiceNumber, Random, and UnisonDepth.
  • Global section with Master Volume, Glissando, Polyphony and Unison controls.
  • Program A/B for comparing program edits.
  • MIDI Learn — change any parameter values using a MIDI keyboard or a control surface.

Aspect has a fairly basic GUI, no fancy stuff really.

Loomer Aspect
Aspect: a simple “no fuss” graphical user interface, which I find quite beautiful.

Although it isn’t the world’s most complicated synth, you can program some pretty complex sounds with Aspect so it is good to have this clear and intuitive interface.

The comprehensive modulation system features many modulation sources, including common ones like envelopes and LFO’s and less common ones like the Oscillators (modulate the pitch of Osc2 with Osc1 for some FM sounds), Sample & Hold, a Lag Generator and UnisonDepth. A Patch section allows you to further shape your sound by routing inputs through more modulation sources.

Modulation is where it’s at!

If your head is spinning from all these weird terms don’t worry. Aspect is as complex as it is easy to figure out and it comes with a well written manual (.pdf).

A free demo version is available for download from the Loomer website. It will let you experiment with it as long as you want — that is, for up to 30 minutes per session.

Loomer Aspect is available for Windows, Mac and Linux (VST/AU/Standalone) as a digital download for £65 GBP excl. VAT.

More information: Loomer

So what do I think?

Aspect is a high quality synth with great sounding oscillators and filters. Its semi-modular structure allows for complex programming and versatility in sound, which really shows when browsing through the 160 factory patches.

From harsh digital leads to warm analog sounding pads, rhythmic percussion to supersaw, Aspect has it all. Some of the patches even made me wonder if there was an effect section I had overlooked (no, it really isn’t there).

When I first checked this synth I was immediately taken by some of the Boards of Canada type sounds found in the presets list. Not strange considering that Aspect apparently is an attempt to combine the sound of a Roland SH-101 with the flexibility of a Korg MS-20. The Loomer blog even has a step-by-step on how to create a Roygbiv Bassline.

In short, Aspect is a tweakers paradise. It is the type of synth I want to get to know better and better and I am finding myself firing it up in just about every new project I start. Each time I use it I find new and unique sounds. Two thumbs up!

  • http://rekkerd.org ronnie

    I’ve added a track featuring a lot of Aspect sounds to my music page.

  • http://arpha.us Arp

    This one’s a gem. Although you pretty much had me at ‘SH-101′ and ‘Boards of Canada,’ giving it a spin was very impressive. I haven’t been this taken by a synth since the first time I heard Imposcar, and it also reminds me of the Korg Legacy analog stuff. And the 160 presets are a really nice selection, much better than 1000 that are mostly useless. This one goes to the top of my wishlist.

  • rakka

    OK, you piqued my curiosity, so I gave it a go.

    Aspect is nice but sorry, not as nice as imposcar, it’s about on par with albino. I went thru all the presets and aspect does produce an amazing variety of sounds, although it does atmospheric pads the best. The presets are not grouped by type (bass / lead/ etc) but rather just throw in haphazardly, which is very annoying. When I’m looking for a preset it’s almost always a specific type and having them grouped together by type is a lot easier to audition than looking thru all 160 presets.

    Another synth that I tried out recently, adjoo (sp?) helix, is much better than aspect. It has much smoother cresendos and decays that they sound as though they were actually alive, aspect does not. This is not to say that aspect is bad, it’s not, it’s very good, but just one step or two below the best: imposcar and sylenth1.

    BTW, Ronnie, your paradigm for paging on your website is confusing (earlier posts/later posts) because it’s relative…(earlier? posted earlier or the earliest posts?). I never know which button to click. The best terminology I’ve seen on other websites is: Older posts/Newer posts). No room for misinterpretation there.

  • http://rekkerd.org ronnie

    @Rakka, thanks for the input on the earlier/later posts. I’ve been struggling with with a good solution and your suggestion indeed seems much better so I will change the links accordingly.

    I’ve never had to opportunity to check Sylenth1 but I know Helix from back when it was freeware. I was also very impressed with that one but the GUI wasn’t so great at that time.

    Which one is better sound wise will always remain a matter of taste. Aspect is well capable of organic, alive sounds and its modulation options really sets it apart from something like impOSCar. And don’t forget that Aspect doesn’t even use any effects like reverb, chorus or delay to dress up the sounds like other synths do…

  • http://arpha.us Arp

    If all synths were the same, or capable of being ranked in some uniform fashion, things would be much cheaper for all us music geeks. I’m just happy virtual synths don’t take up physical space so the only limitation I have is budget ;-)

  • http://www.loomer.co.uk Loomer

    Thanks for all your positive comments about Aspect.

    @Rakka – can’t disagree with you about the presets being unorganized. We’ve always planned to add a tag based preset system (similar to Kore) in which presets can be tagged and filtered with descriptive labels (eg, ‘bass’, ‘resonant’, ‘polyphonic’), but have not as of yet got around to it. This feature will likely be added to coincide with the additional sound-banks.

  • Geneuine

    Loomer please launch a group buy on aspect !!!! please please !

    Im sure it will do really well and turn a lot of people onto your products, maybe make one condition that all licenses are NFR that way you don’t have problems with impulse buyers..

  • http://arpha.us Arp

    I would jump on a group buy! I also checked out Helix which really does have interesting, live sounds. I still prefer the overall sound of Aspect (warmth maybe? Helix sounds a bit cold to me.)

    btw Loomer – what’s the reference to wavetables mentioned in the KVR forum? Do you have a list of planned features available?

  • http://www.loomer.co.uk Loomer

    @arp There is no official list of forthcoming features available (it’s probably a good idea to publish one somewhere though – I’ll look into this, thanks!); basically, when someone suggests something great, or enough people ask for it, it gets implemented! For example, the next release (1.5) will have proper monophonic legato support simply because so many people have petitioned for it.

    Wavetable support is something else a lot of people have expressed interest in, so it may be included in some future release. I have a few ideas for wavetable synthesis that perhaps don’t really fit into Aspect, so a wavetable engine may be the heart of another Loomer instrument…

    At the moment, we have no plans for a group buy, but we’re thinking about it. The problem with these type of offers is that people who’ve already purchased tend to feel a little cheated, and it discourages new purchasers from buying when there isn’t a group buy on. If we can think of some fair way of doing an offer that doesn’t kill our revenue stream, it’ll happen!

    Thanks!

  • GENEUINE

    @Loomer ..

    Aspect is fantastic and I think a group buy would do you a fair amount of good in that it will raise customer awareness.. if you make all licenses sold NFR that already appeases current Aspect owners if you also gave a soundbank to existing Aspect owners pre GBuy this will also please them..

    It could also bring you further business as people may comment on the soundbank being good and so new Aspect owners may then wish to buy.. you could also offer cut price deals on your existing products to owners pre GBuy.

    Not so much cashing in as raising awareness to your company (it deserves) and with new license holders being NFR a solid customer base..

    My 2Cents worth and I’m no developer just a buyer so I cant always see it on your side of the fence.

  • http://arpha.us Arp

    @Loomer: It is a tricky decision. When Fabfilter had their shockingly good 3 for $99 deal a few weeks ago, there were a lot of people not too happy with them. But any company with good customer relations in mind would listen to a particularly aggrieved customer and try to accommodate them.

    I haven’t bought anything of yours yet, but do you have a discount for buying more than 1 product? Fabfilter does, and it does add up pretty well. Otoh, U-he offers a deep discount to early adopters and that’s it as far as deals go.

  • http://www.loomer.co.uk Loomer

    It’s a bit late to offer early adopter discounts, but it’s something I’ll kind in mind for future products. I do like the idea of getting a lot of awareness early on for a product – something Loomer products really need, but I am concerned (and perhaps I am wrong to be?) about the theoretical customer who is miffed by missing such an offer by a few days.

    I’ll also take a look at Fabfilter’s stuff and see how their pricing structure works; discounts for multiple purchases sounds like it may be an workable idea, but it really depends on how easily I can fit it into the current Loomer customer base and online shop system.

    It’s actual very difficult to directly compare one companies pricing structure with another. For example, some may offer lifetime free upgrades (which Loomer does, by the way – really need to mention this on the website somewhere) and free sound-banks, whilst others may appear cheaper but charge for upgrades, or only allow installs on one or two machines.

    Thanks all for your continuing positive feedback and suggestions, we really appreciate it.

  • StYLisT

    I need more time with the demo but so far it seems (and looks somewhat) like the Nord Lead3 (minus the FM). Thats how I approach it – good for pads and atmosphere stuff. Loomer, dont put wave tables. but consider modulatable bit crusher to nasty it up a bit (pun intended). I think too that the UI is too big. you should scale it down 15-20% and reduce the shadow around the knobs as they are dulling the contrast of those good looking knobs! Good luck with it. I will check out the other stuff you have and will definitely buy something!

Rob Papen Blade

Recommended sounds