Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Manufacturer: Ohm Force
Type: AU/VST multiband distortion effect
Platforms: VST & RTAS for Windows, VST, RTAS, & AU for OSX.
Demo: Available here.
This is a product that has been out for a while, but when the Ohm Boyz themselves asked if I might like to take a look at it, how could I refuse? If you haven't heard of it by now, Ohmicide:Meloman (I'm going just called it Ohmicide from here on out) is a multi-band distortion effect on steroids. Multi-band distortion allows you to split a single signal into multiple frequency bands allowing you to process and tweak each band completely independently of the others. Let's see how it stacks up.
The plug-in is downloaded as a standard installer. Click, install, and you're done. Nothing to see here, move along.
Ohm Force seem to want to encourage users to make use of their online manual, but it is available as a downloadable PDF too. Unfortunately, this is easy to miss. The downloadable version isn't listed among the PDFs for their other products (an omission, perhaps?), but a link is available at the bottom of the INTRO page. A more conspicuous location for this might be preferable, as online documentation alone isn't always very convenient for traveling musicians who might find themselves without an internet connection frequently.
That said, the online documentation is very well done and easy to follow. There's a few typos and bad English moments, but nothing that would prevent you from understanding the material.
It's a good thing the documentation is well done, as Ohmicide is a rather complex beast. It's actually very well laid out and easy to understand once you've had a look at the manual or video tutorials, but what the features each contribute to the final sound might not be immediately obvious if you haven't worked with an effect like this before.
In the upper left hand corner, you'll find the SET-UP menu, which covers additional info and features not used directly in altering the sound of the effect itself. Here you'll check your version number, link to the online manual, register, check for updates, access a registered user only preset section, map parameters to a MIDI controller, control the quality of the output (and thus the CPU load), etc. Below it, you'll also find a manual tempo setting and a bypass switch.
At the very far left, you'll find the INPUT TRIM level. This allows you to adjust the level of the signal being fed into Ohmicide which has some effect on the overall level of the effect, but can also influence the sound itself.
To the right of the INPUT TRIM, is a PRE-GAIN control that allows you the option of adding a little coloration or distortion to the signal before it hits the "real" distortion section. A STEREO LINK button is also provided to keep parameters that are affected by signal levels consistent in a stereo signal that might have different levels on the left and right.
In the very top center of the interface is the MAIN DISPLAY which shows a visual representation of what you're doing to the signal (and INPUT and OUTPUT can be viewed separately), as well as of the width of each of the frequency bands. It also displays the currently selected parameter and its current value, which is very handy.
Now for the fun stuff! As I mentioned before, Ohmicide takes the input signal and splits it up into four bands, each with its own settings. Three knobs at the top, allow you to define the points in the signal's frequency that split it up. This keeps each band from overlapping and getting messy, insuring you'll get more useful results.
The sound-mangling parameters for each of the four bands are identical (but obviously operating only on its own slice of the overall signal). Each band features its own:
• Fully adjustable noise gate (great for using this with drum tracks)
• A dynamics section consisting of settings for SHAPE (whether the signal is compressed, expanded, or not effected), and BODY (effects the amount the SHAPE parameter effects the signal and eventually adds limiting to it).
• A DISTORTION section with settings for GAIN (the amount of distortion), distortion TYPE (with a whopping 28 algorithms and 84 types), and BIAS (simulates the DC offset added by a malfunctioning amp). An ALTERATION knob also allows further variation of distortion dependent on the type you ahve selected.
• A FEEDBACK section allowing you to set the AMOUNT, FREQUENCY, and STEREO SPREAD of the feedback for each band.
• A "mixer" section that allows you to MUTE or SOLO each band individually or together (very handy!), set a MIX level for each band, set a PAN position for each band (for some truly huge sounds), and the option to have to signal processed in MID-SIDE mode.
After your signal has been shredded to bits, it travels through a lowpass filter with selectable SHAPE (filter steepness, essentially) and FREQUENCY (the filter's cutoff) parameters to do help filter out any shrill or (unintentionally) irritating high end.
The next bit you'll encounter here is the MELOHMAN section, which you may have encountered before on their other products. This gives you 12 slots to store "metapatches" that are variations on the main patch. You can then use the bottom octave of your keyboard to morph back and forth between these variations smoothly and in real time. This will be a real boon to live performers who like to tweak the hell out of things onstage. Whether you're looking for subtle or drastic variations, this section allows you to switch in between them easily on the fly.
Finally, there is an OUTPUT TRIM that allows you to adjust the final output level of your effect.
SO WHAT DO I THINK?
My first inclination is to say that if you're looking for a distortion effect, look no further, but that's not entirely true. Ohmicide is packed with so much programability, that it might be intimidating to beginners. That's not to say that it doesn't include some cool presets (it does), but it's not hard to see how a plug-in with so much depth might scare off someone new to messing around with distortion.
But if you aren't afraid of getting in there and twisting some knobs, this things is like a playground... a filthy, grimey, playground. There is so much flexibility in how you can shape your sound. Even the different types of distortion can change the sound quite a bit on their own. Subtle saturation, twisted waveshaping, bitcrushing, complete anihillation - all of it is within your reach. When you additionally consider that you have four different bands that can each have their own distortion types, gains, levels, pan position, etc., you can begin to see the amazing amount of control and complexity this plug-in offers you.
My only real beef here was in trying to map it to my MIDI controller within Logic 9. The system is set-up where you turn on autobind mode, move a parameter on the plug-in, move a control on your MIDI controller and that control will alter that parameter. I couldn't get this to work. Basically, just nothing happened when I tried this. Even within Novation's AutoMap software, if I tried to use the LEARN mode to assign a parameter to a new control, the interface would freeze up and lag severely thereafter. Again, I'm not positive whether the problem lies within Ohmicide, my controller, or my host, but my set-up isn't all that uncommon, so be aware you may run into some problems here.
Regardless of your experience level, Ohmicide sounds undeniably great. It can sound analog, it can sound totally digital, or you can mash the two together into your own monstrosity. This is the kind of plug-in you will find yourself getting lost in for hours with a big grin on your face the whole time. You neighbors might not be as amused. [9.5/10]