There’s a reason that Omnisphere is one of the most sought after pieces of software for music producers and composers (and made our list of ‘must-have’ synths.)
It’s that good.
Yet with its incredible features, synthesis engine and samples comes a hefty price tag. One that, quite frankly, is a bit too expensive for most people starting out.
Because Omnisphere 2 has become such a critical tool for musical composition and sound design, you may find yourself worrying that you’ll be at a huge disadvantage without it.
However, there are a number of Omnisphere alternatives available on the market that can get you really far. While nothing exists that is a true replacement for Omnisphere, there are options that will suit most people just fine, well into their music journey.
So without any further ado, let’s look at the top alternatives for Omnisphere.
1. Xpand 2
Part of what makes Omnisphere such a powerful and unique piece of software, is that it’s more than just a soft synth. It also includes a bundle of very high quality samples to work with, in addition to the synthesis engine.
Xpand 2 is another piece of software that does the same thing, at a much cheaper price point – regularly going on sale for $20 or less, vs Omnisphere’s $499 that is almost never discounted.
In fact, it is the cheapest option on this list, so if you are looking for a budget soft synth / rompler to get you started, Xpand 2 is an excellent choice.
The interface is fairy straightforward and with up to 4 layers per patch (plus over 50 built in effects), there are a lot of options available for those looking to dabble in sound design too.
That being said, the low price point of Xpand 2 does show. It’s an excellent value for the price and will give you a huge palette of sounds to work with, but the quality of the actual samples themselves aren’t at the same level as Omnisphere.
However, it is worth picking up on sale if you don’t own Omnisphere regardless, even if you already own other higher quality synths on this list.
2. Zebra 2
If there were a single alternative piece of software to buy to cover all of your synthesis needs, Zebra 2 would probably it.
This is many people’s ‘desert island’ synth – there is almost nothing you can’t do with it.
Like Omnisphere, it is insanely complex and insanely powerful. Sound designers and synthesizer fanatics could spend hours upon hours discovering new sounds, which is why (along with Omnisphere) it is used by so many professionals, even on mainstream movie productions.
It should be known though that these two pieces of software are quite different from each other.
Zebra 2 is capable of all main types of synthesis except for wavetables. Omnisphere, while being a powerful wavetable synth, is based heavily around its library of samples.
They are different tools, which is why both are on our list of must-have soft synths.
If however, the sample aspect of Omnisphere isn’t very important to you, Zebra 2 is probably your best option for an all-in-one synthesizer VST.
3. Arturia V Collection
I debated whether or not to include this one on the list, as it really depends on what you would like to use Omnisphere for.
Typically, I would recommend U-he’s Zebra 2 for a general synth, and U-he’s Diva for analog emulation.
These are both about as good as it gets in terms of sound quality – better than the V Collection in my opinion. And all things equal, it’s more productive to learn one synth really well than an entire collection of synths all at once.
That being said, if that analog sound is important to you, I would argue that Arturia’s V Collection is a tad bit more versatile than Diva when you factor in just how many synthesizers you’re getting, and may cover more ground if you’re unable to purchase Omnisphere right now.
That being said, the V Collection also comes in at a higher price than Diva, and even more expensive than Omnisphere itself when not on sale.
Thankfully, the V Collection goes 50% off at least once a year, and you be able to purchase licenses for less than retail price.
Some of the emulations available within the V Collection are the following:
- Moog Modular
- Moog Minimoog
- Yamaha CS-80
- Yamaha DX7
- Roland Jupiter 8
- Roland Juno
- Casio CZ-101
- Casio CZ-1000
- Oberhem OB-Xa
- Fender Rhodes Stage 73
- Buchla Music Easel
- Sequential Circuits Prophet 5
- Wurlitzer 200A Electric Piano
- Hammond B3 organ
As you can see, there is an absolute enormous amount of fun and creative inspiration that can happen here, for much cheaper than it would cost to purchase even one of these synths in hardware form.
4. Arturia Pigments 3
Also from Arturia (and coming in much cheaper than the V Collection), we have Pigments 3.
10 minutes with this software, and I knew it had to be on this list. Arturia really hit a home run with Pigments, and if you’re looking for a much more budget friendly, yet extremely powerful wavetable synth, Pigments may just be the way to go.
What makes Pigments a wonderful alternative to Omnisphere is the number of engines available within the software.
Pigments includes an analog synthesis engine with traditional analog oscillators, a full wavetable engine, a granular engine, a harmonics engine, and a sample engine (similar to Omnisphere.) You can use up to three of these at once.
Being able to combine a synth engine with samples is one of the core things that makes Omnisphere so wonderful, and so powerful for sound design.
While Pigments doesn’t come with the 60gb of samples that Omnisphere comes with, it does include a decent number with the ability to import your own. Unlike Omnisphere, you can also import your own wavetables.
In fact, while Omnisphere offers a much stronger sampling engine, there is a lot on the synthesis side that Pigments can do that Omnisphere doesn’t. Many producers also consider Pigments to be much more straightforward and intuitive when it comes to sound design, which may make it more approachable for beginners.
5. UVI Falcon 2
Coming in at $349, UVI’s Falcon 2 isn’t all that much cheaper than Omnisphere, but some people would argue that Falcon 2 is an even greater, more powerful piece of software.
And there is some truth to that statement.
Falcon 2 has less limitations, more synthesis capabilities and more control over working with imported samples than Omnisphere has. It also supports multisampling, scripting, and more complex modulation options.
It is also much more complicated and doesn’t ship with quite as large (or quite as nice) of a built-in library, and finding the sound you’re looking for takes longer. I also prefer Omnisphere’s built-in effects over Falcon’s.
Like Zebra, Falcon 2 is a sound designer’s dream and the options for synthesis are near limitless.
Omnisphere is a lot easier to use, has more presets and generally sounds nicer out of the box, but Falcon 2 is arguably even more powerful.
6. Nexus 4
Last on the list, we have Nexus 4 by reFX, which starts at $249.
Now there are no two ways about it – Nexus simply isn’t anywhere close to being as powerful as Omnisphere.
While popular in the EDM and rap scene, Nexus doesn’t offer much in terms of sound design, or the ability to really tweak and refine presets to the same extent that Omnisphere does.
Though, to some people, that might not be so bad. There are a lot of producers that enjoy simply browsing through presets, and that’s fine – Nexus starts out with a whopping 3,811 of them, and more are available through their large collection of expansions.
One could even say that straightforwardness of Nexus works to its advantage – particularly in many types of modern music where you’re not trying to get too abstract.
While Omnisphere is excellent for film scoring and making truly unique, atmospheric sounds, Nexus leans into what it does, and does it well.
Take Some Time To Learn Sound Design
There’s a good chance that whatever sounds you’re looking to get out of Omnisphere, may already be available to you with the tools that you already haven.
Even the synths that come bundled with many DAWs are extremely powerful in the hands of a capable of sound designer.
Many soft synths are really not all that different to each other, and it’s not until you reach a more advantaged stage with sound design that you’re really able to take advantage of these differences in the first place.
Get good at sound design, and you may find that your existing tools already take you 98% of the way there. And by being able to identify what’s missing with that last 2%, you’ll be able to make informed buying decisions, and purchase software that you know you’ll actually use.
There is no true replacement for Omnisphere, but there are a lot of alternatives that come close.
I hope you have enjoyed reading over this list of Omnisphere alternatives. There is some incredibly powerful software listed here, and you really can’t go wrong with anything on this list.
If budget is a concern, start out by purchasing Xpand 2 and see what you need from there. You may just find that it’s worth saving for Omnisphere, despite how tempting these alternatives may be.
Of course, if you have anything that you’d like to add to this list or you have any questions, please feel free to ask them using the comment form below!