The Orb is a VST effect (32-64 bit VST/AU/AAX) that can transform any sound into a vowel-like formant filtered sound. It has 3 band pass filters and 3 LFOs which can be used to modulate the vowel, emphasis/resonance of the formants and the drift which can shift up or shift down the frequencies of each formant. It’s also possible to create your own set of vowels by changing the name and frequency for each vowel / formant.
At the heart of the effect and located in the centre is the orb. Each sector represents a vowel (which can be changed); the distance from the centre of the orb to the dot is the emphasis (resonance) for each formant filter and the angle inside each sector represents the drift (amount in Hz that is added or subtracted from each vowel formant).
On the left hand side are the formant and vowel controls.
Smooth – controls the smoothness of transition between two vowels (or drift settings)
Drift range – controls the amount (in Hz) to be added or subtracted from each vowel formant
Drift Polarity – A switch which selects whether drift is added (+), subtracted (-) or both (+-)
Formant 1, 2, 3 – The volume of each formant filter and on/off switch for each formant. A really handy feature is when you hover over the name it shows the volume level in dB.
Amount – the number of vowels inside the orb
Genre – Male, female, child or custom
Edit – Opens a dialog box where you can change the name of each vowel and frequency for the 3 formants.
On the right hand side of the screen are the LFOs and master section. Each LFO has rate, amount and phase controls. The LFO for vowel has clockwise, inverse clockwise, clockwise loop, inverse clockwise loop and random options; the emphasis and drift LFOs have square, triangle, sine, ramp up, ramp down and random options. Each can be individually switched on or off.
The master section has gain, mix controls and a soft clip limiter.
There’s also a randomise option on the top menu bar which can provide interesting effects or alternatively can be used as a starting point.
The Orb has 15 presets which highlight some of the creative possibilities of this effect.
If you click on the grille below the orb this shows the vowel, emphasis and drift settings where you click on the orb to place the dot.
In use I’ve found it can produce wide ranging sounds from subtle phasing to harsh metallic sounds. The smooth control is very useful and enables you to control the resulting sound from a swell type of effect to more of a choppy sound. I find it very useful on specific instruments or sounds. It can produce some very interesting filtered type effects on drums for instance. The demo track embedded at the top of the post uses 4 instances of The Orb with drum loops and midi loops from Mode Audio’s Escape downtempo loops sample pack.
The demo track below gives examples of what The Orb can do on a simple synth and drum loop using the presets:
The demo track below gives examples of what The Orb can do on a guitar loop:
The Orb is available for 49 Euros from Audiothing