Image-Line Releases Harmless Virtual Synth For Windows
Image-Line has released Harmless, an additive synthesizer doing subtractive synthesis. Or, a subtractive synthesizer powered by an additive synthesis engine.
What’s Image-Line’s angle? Apparently the company feels that “there are too many subtractive synthesizers already, often bragging about being virtual analog. This one is digital, and proud to be. Everything is fake, the tone generator, the filter & its resonance, the phaser, all performed on the harmonics, before partials are computed.”
With the release of Harmless, Image Line Software also announces an unique pricing system for the synthesizer. Until the end of 2009 customers are asked to pay only what they think is a fair price for Harmless. The minimum, to cover the transaction fees and handling has been set at $9, but after that, it’s entirely up to customers what they are ready to pay based on the demo and their willingness to support future development.
» Single page color-coded GUI for immediate gratification.
» Efficient CPU usage & multithreading.
» Harmonic mask function.
» Specialized pluck filter.
» Unique phaser & harmonizer
Now, how it’s synthesized shouldn’t matter after all, if the result sounds subtractive. But Harmless is more than a proof of concept, it allows fine control that wouldn’t be possible through classic subtractive synthesis. Filtering and phasing can be assigned unusual shapes & slopes, something normally only possible through offline digital filters. Filter slopes can even be defined in Hz instead of octaves. Finally, you get control on each partial’s frequency, creating timbres definitely impossible using common synthesis methods.
Harmless is more than a proof of concept, it allows fine control that wouldn’t be possible through classic subtractive synthesis. Filtering and phasing can be assigned unusual shapes & slopes, something normally only possible through offline digital filters. Filter slopes can even be defined in Hz instead of octaves. Finally, you get control on each partial’s frequency, creating timbres definitely impossible using common synthesis methods.
Harmless is additive doing subtractive. Harmonics are not produced to be filtered, the timbre is filtered before being generated. This may sound like a detail, but generating sounds this way offers a lot more advantages than drawbacks.
» Timbre – The oscillator or sound generation controls.
» Unison – Voice thickening & stereoizing effect.
» Phaser – Creates totally unique phasing and partial based effects, only possible with Harmless.
» LFO – Modulation source for adding motion and evolution to sounds.
» Effects – Chorus, Delay, Reverb & Compression.
Powered by a highly optimized, multi-threaded additive engine, CPU usage is comparable to the one of traditional subtractive synthesizers, especially for low-passed timbres. Voices may be generating hundreds of harmonics in parallel and still not overload the CPU.
Harmless was limited by design. No tabs, no hidden controls, no multi-point envelopes. All features are visible at once, and color-grouped. Over 100 parameters, most of which being automatable, are laid over a clear GUI.
Simpler to program, yet packed with evil features. Under the hood, you will find unique options, like linking the phaser’s output to partials frequencies. The LFO section can act as a special modulation source, linking the phaser’s width to the velocity, or the pitch to the filter’s envelope.
Of course, Harmless also offers features typically unique to additive synthesis, like its automatable harmonic mask.
Harmless is also packed with effects, the usual chorus, delay & reverb, but also a multi-band compressor/limiter powered by Maximus itself. It also inherited the powerful unison from Sytrus.
More information on Image Line Harmless.