Having recorded and reproduced the keys sounds for over 300 worship songs for Worship Online, I spend a lot of time using software to make keyboard sounds. I’ve tried almost every type of software you can imagine, and I’m here today to tell you about the one piece of software I couldn’t live without.
Before I get started, I have to tell you that this article has no affiliation with Omnisphere, nor am I getting payed to say any of this. I am just here to share with you my genuine experience to potentially help you (the keyboardists or band leader) as you are navigating the world of keyboard software.
It is also worth mentioning that keyboardists from almost any notable worship band like Hillsong and Bethel are using Omnishpere to create their keys sounds. So Omnisphere is definitely something to pay attention to.
We’ve been fine for years, why software now?
My transition from the built in keyboard sounds to using software is one that I imagine many keyboardists can relate to. I grew up playing piano and keyboards in church on a basic old school keyboard. For all you keyboardist who care, it was a Korg SG-1D Sampling Grand Piano.
For the style of worship music we were playing in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the four preset keyboard sounds (Piano I & II, E Piano I & II) and a single volume fader were more than enough to fulfill the keyboard roll on any worship team.
Most songs were piano based so much more often than not, so I would find myself on the basic piano sound for every song, and it worked perfectly.
However, as worship music began to evolve, songs began to shift more focus onto synthesizers. As a classically trained pianist, this transition was a bit difficult for me. Many of my favorite songs now used aggressive dance synths or warm ambient synth pads, and my current keyboard was not cutting it.
The options for upgrading were overwhelming. Hardware synths usually specialize in one area and are expensive. I already owned a Macbook Pro, so I officially made the jump to software, and I’ve never looked back. My favorite piece of software quickly became Omnisphere.
If you’re looking to upgrade your keys rig, or if you’re just looking to find that perfect tool for your setup, here are some reasons why I chose to drop $500 on a piece of software called Omnisphere.
I Needed a Powerful Tool For Live Worship
Live worship teams can be very different from one day to the next. Worship teams regularly switch out members and the instrumentations vary from Sunday to Sunday.
I needed a software plugin that could give me beautiful, ambient, warm synth pads to cover empty spaces between songs. However, I also needed a powerful, edgy, dance synth to give that energetic drive at the beginning of a worship set.
And to top it all off, I needed to be able to adjust my sounds at any given moment to facilitate the needs of our worship team and leader.
Within Omnisphere, I have all the tools I need for a live worship set; high quality samples, endless FX, layer stacking, a versatile arpeggiator, and much more. I could design my patches and sets from scratch in a way that made sense to me and would help me play the best I can without extra complications.
What about 5 years from now?
I knew that I would be creating patches and playing for many years in many different contexts. There are many styles of music I love creating and playing, so I wanted to have a synth generator that wouldn’t become obsolete in a few years.
Yes, some software synths can become outdated and require replacing, but over the years Omnisphere has delivered TONS of updates to keep up with the constantly evolving music scene.
The saying, “you get what you pay for” really is true. I’ve been blown away by the power and functionality of this plugin. I felt much better about my purchase after realizing that I wouldn’t need to replace this synth anytime soon. Using this synth plugin became a part of my workflow and will continue to be as far as I can tell.
Omnisphere Provides A Massive Catalog of Sounds
Within Omnisphere there is a massive library of over 12,000 sounds and endless effects to choose from. The quality of these sounds also rival the original synths that they were modeled after. And all of this is packed within a $500 software synth that can run on any Apple based computer.
With so many samples and sounds to choose from, it’s easy to replicate synths from your favorite worship albums or create new and unique synths from your own imagination.
The possibilities are limitless. There is also a large selection of preset patches that are able to be used right out of the box. Seeing how other patches were created will make it easier to then create your own.
The Surprising Truth About Omnisphere You Didn’t Expect
Traditionally, creating patches can be a tedious and time consuming process that takes the fun and energy out of your practice time. I hadn’t had much synth building experience before Omnisphere so I was surprised at just how easy it was to start building.
The user interface within Omnisphere is very intuitive and allows you to start simple and then add complexity over time. From the first minute I started using Omnisphere, I’ve been amazed at just how much fun synth building can be.
Because the creation process is so easy to understand, it makes adjusting and fine tuning patches in a live setting equally as easy. If I’m in the middle of a song and need to adjust the tone or reverb for example, it’s just a couple clicks and I’ll have it fixed and ready to go.
By the way, if you’re interested, we’ve created a free 5 part video series on how to create patches for worship music using Omnisphere. So if you’re looking to get started with Omnisphere or if you’ve been using it for a while and just want to learn some new trick, this video series if for you! Go check it out!
Omnisphere Is Great For New And Advanced Users
As I said earlier, I was not very experienced when I first started building synth patches in Omnisphere. I learned as I went along, and overtime, I became comfortable enough with the interface to start using some of the more complicated features.
The more I learn, the more I realize there are still more features I’m not fully utilizing within Omnisphere. This is fantastic because things never become dull and there is always something new being offered to even the most advanced users.
So whether you’re a brand new keyboard/synth player, or if you’re a veteran with experience in synth building, you will find something new to learn all the same!
Why Not Just MainStage?
MainStage is also a powerful tool for live worship. So why would I need Omnisphere instead of just using MainStage for synths? Is Omnisphere better than MainStage?
These two pieces of software actually fulfill different roles, so one is not necessarily better than the other. MainStage is a great host program and works extremely well with the Omnisphere 2 plugin. However, there are a couple reasons why I prefer Omnisphere to actually create my synth sounds.
The things people selling “mainstage only” patches don’t tell you:
Omnisphere has a much larger catalog of synth samples and synth waveforms to choose from. They model many of the leading synths still used today and the quality of these samples surpass the samples within MainStage.
When listening to a patch made from Omnisphere compared to a patch created within mainstage alone, you can usually tell the difference in quality and overall how “professional” it sounds.
Omnisphere’s “arpeggiator” is much better suited for live worship than the arpeggiators found in MainStage. With Omnisphere’s arpeggiator you can use both “key” and “sync” settings for the trigger input when playing pulsing, stepping, or arpeggiated synths. This allows you to also stay on time with the rest of the band even if you aren’t using a click track.
Creating professional sounding patches in Omnisphere is a much quicker and enjoyable process than creating them within MainStage alone.
The layer stacking within Omnisphere allows you to create massively complex synths within a single plugin. Some of the patches we make for our Worship Online Patch Store would require many different plugins within MainStage to achieve the same sound that we can make with the Omnisphere plugin alone. This saves system resources and allows slower computers to still process everything quickly and efficiently.
While MainStage does have some fantastic patches and sounds built-in, using Omnisphere together with MainStage will give you all the power and functionality you need to achieve any synth sounds used in today’s worship music.
$500 For All Of This Is A Steal
As a musician and keyboard/synth player within the church, the ability to upgrade my keys rig with all of these features has been an invaluable tool. It would take rooms full of hardware synths to match the power and quality packed within this one synth plugin.
If you already own a Mac based computer, Omnisphere is worth looking into and will transform the way your create, play, and view keyboards and synths. I’m not saying that Omnisphere is the “end all know all” software, there are other great softwares. I’m just sharing with you my favorite, and why it’s the favorite of most professional worship keyboardists.
If you already own Omnisphere 2, and are looking for some high quality patches, check out the Worship Online Patch Store. All of the synths that we use in our Keyboard Tutorials are available in the store.
We’ve meticulously designed each patch to match the original album sounds exactly. All our patches are plug-and-play so no additional tweaking is necessary!
The value you’ll get from this software far outweighs the price and has transformed myself as a keys player and synth designer.
You may also be interested in these posts as well: