Review: Loomer Aspect
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.
- 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.
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!