Last post I took some time to write up a review for Ohm Force‘s Symptohm synthesizer. This time around I’ll be looking at their Ohmicide multiband distortion plugin. I’m a sucker for distortions and was pretty excited to give it a spin.
Ohmicide is one of the most flexible distortions I’ve found with four bands of noise gate, dynamics, distortion, and feedback generation. That means that each band can be used and set independently. This is particularly useful in situations where one does not necessarily want certain frequency bands to be distorted as much or at all – such as in drums where the high end of the cymbals should be preserved or as in bass where the subs need to ring true.
I loaded up the plugin in Cubase 4 on OSX and started pumping various sounds through it, starting with some of the sounds I generated in the last review using Symptohm.
WARNING. It should go without saying that you should start out at very conservative levels when listening to these distorted clips as they could theoretically damage speakers and your ears if care is not taken.
Now, you may recall I was not blown away by Symptohm, but obviously these products work deliciously together. I particularly loved the very musical feedback generator, which provided fantastic ringing tones – particularly in drums. The gate is very helpful in determining how the distortion kicks in with each transient. You can let bass and drum transients poke through or distort them immediately. It provides excellent rhythmic texturing potential. I took my time going through the substantial list of distortion types available. While many of them are more specialized and won’t be useful except in specific applications, there is a lot of variety and the tone of each can be more thoroughly tweaked using the ‘shape’ and ‘body’ controls. Each band is adjustable as well, so you can dial in exactly the ranges you want to be affected.
I actually used Ohmicide on a very recent project with singer/songwriter Stephanie Scarlet‘s new EP Everything Unspoken. Her music is not the sort you would expect to find grinding, feedbacking distortion but this was a perfect occasion to do something a little out of the ordinary. Her tune The Other Side of the World is a reflection of both emotional distance and intimacy and I sought a way, in mixing the material, to simultaneously make the recording feel otherworldly but intimate.
Enter Ohmicide. Using the gate I was able to dial in a distortion applied to her voice to only kick in at very low volumes – the volumes where you’d find ambience and breaths – but to release at higher thresholds. This provided a compelling amount of texture. Suddenly her breaths lept out of the track and all of the little sounds that were in the background of the vocal track came out, producing some unexpected but fun results. I then applied a similar distortion to a very long hall reverb to provide some ringing in the depths of the track.
Take a listen: Stephanie Scarlet – Other Side of the World sample
The distortion is panned slightly left and you can hear how it brings out all the little details in the spaces of her vocal performance. Later in the clip you can hear the change the distortion makes to the reverb as it rings in the distance, which I automated in and out. The hiss of the mic and preamp came out a lot as well, but I don’t care too much – it’s character.
Finally, I ran some good old fashioned drum loops through Ohmicide and soundly concluded that this plug rules for drums. The feedback and gate provide for some absolutely brutal distortions. I’m big fan of industrial rock and I know this effect will be used in some upcoming releases of mine.
In the clip above I dialed up some settings I liked and then proceeded to automate some of the parameters.
I was not too keen on Ohmicide’s distortions for guitar, however.
The above guitar sample is a guitar track from my Love & Affection album. I was able to get the guitar to produce an interesting ring modulation type sound, but generally Ohmicide’s strengths – extreme compression and feedback – end up sounding kind of annoying on gutiar. Unless you’re Steve Albini, you probably will prefer the sounds of a real or emulated valve distortion over most of Ohmicides tones for guitar.
In summary, Ohmicide is a wildly flexible distortion plugin that is sick on drums and has enough modularity to add significant character to almost any sound in need of some grunge.