Harmor Review (German) - Amazonia - Translation available

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Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:19 am


Harmor Review (German) - Amazonia - Translation available

Original Amazonia Article Here

The following is a Google Translation
GoogleTranslate wrote:When I tested Image-Line Harmless one and a half years ago for Amazona.de, I liked the clever additive-subtractive synthesis very well. At the same time however, there was a certain lack of in-depth programming features and a somewhat sterile sound as a result. Now the big brother Harmor is here - and anticipate that without much left to want, I'm thrilled.
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Image-Line Harmor

Harmor is an additive synthesizer, which is a bit like a subtractive synthesizer to use. To the user, the control of up to 520 partials individually generated to facilitate a voice, so he has some familiar controls like "filtering" and "Resonance." Additionally controlled Harmor resynthesis, ie, the reverse engineering (and bending!) Of samples from individual sine waves, with high quality. And because this is a very similar technique, he still converts any image into sounds that can be played just like on the keyboard.

Although additive synthesizer still rather exotic status, have existed in the past 30 years from the Synclavier on the Kawai K5000 to VirSyn Cube always successful hardware and software products with this technique. Just recently got Native Instruments' out Razor, who Harmor similar in many respects. Image-Line has in itself with Ogun, morphine and three additives already Harmless program. How much in comparison to Harmor Harmless has evolved and how the concept of other lifts, should show the following test.


Installation and authorization to run as smoothly as did its smaller brother. Exactly how this is Harmor but unfortunately only the FL and VST plug-in and standalone available for Windows, not a Mac version seems to be in prospect. The design is similar in principle to the Harmor of Harmless, but has been jazzed up properly with virtual screws, vents and shabby coat. The interface looks tidy little playful and not excessive, but overall very inviting.
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The actual synthesis of

Harmors surface is divided into three parts. Up in the actual synthesis of red, including a section in gray with global settings as well as a switchable view for "ENV" (envelopes, LFOs, etc.), "IMG" (Re-/Bildsynthese), "FX" (effects) and "ADV "(Advanced Settings). Optical highlight is undoubtedly the visualization on the right. Here is displayed in real-time three-dimensional spectrum of the last note played, which sometimes produces spectacular images. In order to save computing power, visualization can be folded away completely or partially.

The synthesis part is duplicated in the form of two independent parts. Both parts share the same controls, switching between Part A and Part B, the control move at their respective positions. That's more than just a visual gimmick, because thanks to this movement, the essential differences between the settings of the two parts at a glance. A and B are mixed with a crossfader, and their controllers can be linked together as required and therefore adjust.
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The effects section

The (non-additive) effects section looks at the sum of both parts and consists of distortion, chorus, delay, reverb and compression, which are up to nine controllers parameterized generous. Under "ADV" finally found both part-related and global settings. In particular, it is here synthesis modules and effects in the signal flow freely arrange and evaluate performance and quality against each other.

In the heart of the sound

Who the basics of additive synthesis are not entirely familiar, the recommended, at this point the Amazonian Workshop Sound Programming 5, including a trip to Wikipedia can not hurt. In short, is an additive synthesizer sound along each of a series of sine waves, which are controlled individually in their volume curve. The great thing now was a Rookie of the approach, a subtractive synthesizer with exactly this technique to simulate, and in the core is also still in Harmor Sun However, the specific additive options greatly expanded and been brought to the fore.

The sound is produced in the timbre section top left, which corresponds to the oscillator in a subtractive synthesizer. Two modes of vibration can be here to fade, defaults are sawtooth and square. The mode shapes can be changed by the corresponding "Harmonic Level" curve in the Env-window processed. The amplitude scaling of this curve is noisy image line relative to the frequency distribution of the Brownian noise , a straight line will therefore generate a sawtooth.
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That's right - this is VERY theoretically, and to provide certain specific spectra is that really as complicated as it sounds. It is also not necessary, because you can fall back on a preset curve or drag any audio files on the Harmonic-level display. For the timbre section also includes a full twelve nor regulators that influence, for example, the phase or richened the sound with more harmonics. Of particular interest is Auto-Gain, which adjusts the harmonics of different frequencies in the volume, and thus helps avoid clipping.
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Prism in the visualization, each in Hz and Oct-representation

The two filters are identical. Their routing is continuously adjustable from parallel to serial cross-fade, and with more than ten parameters for each filter are the intervention options enormously. This allows the bandwidth of the cutoff and resonance control variable, push away the resonance frequencies of up to two octaves of its cutoff frequency and dose the self-oscillation.

For the characteristics of the cutoff and resonance, you can choose from up to nineteen variants, a highlight is the glittering "noise" characteristic for the resonance. The trick is that you can paint their own characteristics, which is quite interesting and also supports the theoretical understanding. In all these endeavors the visual feedback helps immensely by the way, the spectrogram.
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The filter section

The filter section is assigned to the brilliant Pluck controller, a (naturally also realized additive) low-pass filter with a special fast decaying envelope. This parameter was modulated in the Harmless yet only by the velocity, he benefited Harmor like most other parameters of the full range of expressive possibilities such as LFO and keyboard mapping.

Also in the Harmless were already Unison, phaser, and harmonizer, purely on the level of additive and Harmor once a piece has been drilled. Even more interesting is the new prismatic module. This "bend" each harmonic by means of an addition or a multiplication. This corresponds approximately to the analog frequency shifter from the world famous sounds, often metallic, and almost always interesting. And it provides the best pictures in the spectral!

Also new and interesting is the section called Blur: As the name suggests, are the overtones "smeared", both in time and in frequency. According to the manual created by "Preverb" - and "reverb"-like sounds. For my ears it sounds like Hall, but still makes interesting rauschige interventions in the reproduced sound, which would hardly be possible otherwise.

Movement and control

Bottom right is the "ENV" view selected, provides a large display envelopes, LFOs, arpeggios, key and velocity mapping, filter Shapings, timbre, EQ curves and much longer represent this area was taken from the Image-Line Sytrus and is incredibly powerful. The envelopes are not limited to the usual ADSR scheme, but can consist of any number of points, each of which may have different properties, for example, to generate different loop points or curves, and even waveforms. The flexible Hüllkurvenkonzept seems to be inspired not least by Native Instruments' Absynth legend whose ways surpasses yet.
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Harmor allows the design of most complex envelope

Image-Line delivers a wide range of preset curves that are loaded in the form of so-called "state-Files". Especially great is that alternatively simply audio files can be dragged onto the screen, which converts the volume during Harmor immediately in an envelope. For further manipulate a set of tools is available, which are operated by separate pop-up window. The command "Create Sequence" makes an envelope even a full-blown sequencer.
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For the efficient processing of envelopes there are several tools

In total, the user has access to no less than 31 LFOs and 31 envelopes, each of which triggers behavior between monophonic (global) and can be switched polyphonic. There are also more than 40 keyboard, velocity and other mappings, including exotics such as "Unison Index" and "Hero index". Unison index can be assigned to each voice produced by Unison other settings for filter, pitch, FX Dry / Wet and many other parameters. Held index does the same for each one after holding down the note.

This is possible with this amount of modulation does not lose track of active modulation destinations and sources in the corresponding drop-down menus are marked with an arrow. The pity is that the display rotation and slider is not whether or not they are modulated. So one must listen closely and sometimes try to visualize, to determine whether a modulation assignment to work as intended.

Envelopes and LFOs have enabled some counter-intuitive with an inconspicuous switch, keyboard, and while other mappings are always active and can be neutralized only by reset. Really disturbing is that Harmor interrupts every time the audio reproduction when a point is touched on the display. Especially with a long evolving ambient sounds that interfere with the workflow tremendously. Have envelopes and LFOs for each of a set of four macro-controls that operate without interruption and can also be automated in the host.
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Resynthesis and image synthesis

Up to this point is already impressive Harmor powerful, but with the Image section opens up again very different worlds. Because it can take pictures and to sound samples used in any manner that is unparalleled.

The import is done easily by drag and drop the image window, where images and samples are shown as a spectrogram. For sound production, the content of the IMG window with the timbre section is mixed, with Image-Line remains silent about the technical details. In any case, does the choice of the waveform from the harmonic structure of the resynthesized sound.

The Bild-/Resynthese-Sektion

The "time" continuous control sets the starting position and allow it to scrub through the file. Coarse defines the playback speed between 0,016 - and 64-fold original tempo. The controller is fine musically richest, with the slowing in the sample (or image) to a stop and reverse playback can be. This is even automatable LFO, envelope and all other mappings, which leads to all kinds of voice recordings especially with crazy things.

Besides that, a whole series of non-time-based parameters available to optimize images and samples, and rotate through the grinder. One of the most interesting is frequency scale, which makes the center position for robotic effects and in the extremes of inharmonic results. Also on the formants can be influenced, however, what might seem a little quiet dramatic.

In Harmor partially loaded samples sound surprisingly natural and can be inherently over the entire keyboard range, transpose without changing the duration, or until the famous Mickey Mouse effect. With some effort, even theoretically, multi-sampling is possible. This replaces Although no great sampler, but for all sorts of creative things should Harmor often be the more interesting alternative.
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Abstract paintings usually produce more usable results than photos of water docies

The image synthesis delivers every image with no meaningful results. The result is often simply a kind of noise only, but this may be a good starting point for interesting textures. Therefore images can be edited with any graphics program or create - and that's a really exciting source of new sounds. In addition, samples Harmor export as images, which you can then also move Photoshop & Co. to his body. A simple plot function would be directly integrated into Harmor the icing on the cake was, but is not available.


Clearly, the wide field of experiment is the natural home of a synthesizer as Harmor. To layer with parameters such as Prism, Blur and Unison, the brilliant re-synthesis, the complex modulations and the ability to succeed in two parts, incredibly complex, vivid and rarely heard sounds that lend themselves particularly for ambient and film scoring. Much fun it is also to transform samples into rhythmical moving, grooving pads.

But amazingly, and analog and digital bread and butter sounds are warm, deep, vibrant and assertive. That was not quite the Harmless and is probably using the default Randomness function due to provides each new note with subtle changes. For more analog feel it is worth by the way, abzusampeln single wave of analog synthesizers and passages to use as timbre. As for the effects, distortion and delay sound consistently neat, reverb and chorus were in comparison somewhat. This is the compression of the four settings limiting, Warming, Heating and Burning a real highlight.


The more one studies Harmor, the more you learn, the ultra-flexible structure with amazing opportunities to appreciate. Only that some of the smaller regulators modulate not leave by envelope, LFO, or mapping, is sometimes a little sad. The CPU usage is surprisingly low for an additive synthesizer with the performance and can even customize settings yet.
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The ADV (advanced) section of the performance parameters

Although Image-Line has obviously been difficult, the operation is not always intuitive. The individual modules are deducted from each other but together related controls are the same color, and controls for key functions are larger than others. Still not really understand everything is arranged and labeled so that it looks sometimes unnecessarily long for specific functions. For example, can the stereo mix of the two parts set only by envelope.

Some also reveals nothing of himself, because only the view helps in the English-language help. But unfortunately remains somewhat superficial and is not always well written course. In addition, it is not even as a PDF, but only as a Windows help file - the manual on a different computer to read or copy shop to print it unnecessarily more difficult. On the positive side again, the many tutorial presets, which you can approach different aspects of sound synthesis Harmors well.

And the training is a must! Because you have the basic operation once it's possible to spend hours dealing with Harmor to draw samples of the image window or the envelopes, paint timbre and filter curves to experiment with the unique additive modules and always keep the visualization in mind. This helps in understanding the functions of that is uncommonly Harmor and is also still nice to look at and inspiring.
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In Live, Cubase and other hosts some unfortunately obscured the visualization part of the surface

Unfortunately, some hosts can be expected to visualize not display properly. In these cases it is not folded right, but on the right side of the interface set, which is then covered, of course. Whether the problem on the host or plug-in is not entirely clear, it is unattractive in any case. Affected include Cubase and Ableton Live.


Harmor joins the ranks without question the absolute top-synthesizer and sound design can compete with greats such as Native Instruments Absynth, U-He Zebra or Camel Audio Alchemy. The classic additive VirSyn Cube is already visible in comparison getting on in years, and follows with his morphing concept also has a slightly different approach. A particularly obvious competitor is Native Instruments' Razor, who also works additively and even has a similar Spektraldisplay. Razor shines unlike Harmor with a vocoder, but lacks the image and re-synthesis and does not have as many features, let alone envelopes.

What's in Harmor can do with samples, reminds strongly of the way, Roland VariPhrase technology, as implemented in the V-Synth. Harmors resynthesis is fundamentally different technique, despite one of the few real alternatives to the V-Synth: Here and there may be "microscopic" in any speed, forward and backwards through the sound and influence pitch, tempo and formants independently of each other. However, compared Harmor sounds warmer and cleaner, more versatile and easier to use.


From the little nerd Harmless is a veritable About synthesizer has been developed with a sound design potential is unparalleled. Harmor is able to cover the whole spectrum of electronic sounds in outstanding quality, the user can also take in the detail control. To correct Harmor but running on top form with the resynthesis function, which makes him a creative sampler. And because of the integrated visualization, I am inclined to recommend Harmor even as physics Lernpielzeug.

The highest maximum score is unfortunately not quite enough that the small inconsistencies in preventing the operation, the representation problem in certain hosts, and the lack of Mac version. Still, I was as highly enthusiastic about this synthesizer and can highly recommend it to anyone Harmor seeking a versatile, great sounding and inspiring tone generator.
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