Let’s hit two big features that no one is talking about in other reviews. That will satisfy those coming in who have already purchased and played with Scheps Omni Channel, and also let those curious about this channel strip plug know that something special is definitely going on.
There is a zoom box in the upper right corner of each module strip. What looks like a tall oblong box of typically small channel strip controls zooms out into a lovely big square with larger knobs that are much easier to deal with than in any other channel strip I have used. The space is luxurious and additional functionality is revealed, most importantly mid/side control.
There is a Focus button at the top of the interface. If you open some presets, not all, and click this Focus button, all the most important parameters are highlighted with a yellow glow. All the controls are active and ready to be tweaked, but for the intent of a particular preset you are most likely to adjust some parameters more than others and because of this they are highlighted. Now that is something completely different and potentially very helpful.
And there you have two features that are hidden in plain sight, a zoom button to open a bigger and better display of each module, and a Focus button to highlight parameters of preset settings of greatest interest. You should now have a sense that Scheps Omni Channel is not just another channel strip and certainly not just another Waves plug-in. This is something special that has been very well thought through.
Of least interest to me personally is the Gate module. I deal almost exclusively with high-end virtual instruments that are very clean and have no noise floor. Good for me. For those who mainly record live audio, a gate is an absolute essential. I hear it is a very good gate. The manual suggests that interesting creative possibilities open up when working in mid/side mode because you can gate the mid and the side separately. I will leave that to your imagination, as I personally will typically be leaving this particular module off and saving a little CPU. If and when I need it, I’m sure glad it’s there!
In the Pre, we have some excellent saturation that makes a huge glorious difference in the sound. Your choices are between odd, even, and heavy harmonics. There is also a THUMP button that enables lower-end resonance for all you thumpers out there. This is one of the best saturators out there, particularly as part of a channel strip. I’ve only heard better in Goliath (Tone Empire) and Valvesque (BeatSkillz), both of which will be reviewed in the near future by myself or some other lucky reviewer. So Omni has excellent saturation, a reason to highly desire it. Zoom in and you have linked stereo, dual mono (left and right separately), or mid/side separate control of the saturation. This makes the Pre module a force to be reckoned with all by itself.
This module is called DS Squared, and I guess that two squared equals four so maybe it makes sense. On the front panel you have two fully sweepable bands of de-ess style compression which can serve to get rid of esses or tamp down other areas of annoyance. On the front panel you get two separate de-essers. Zoom in and you have four de-ess modules. Think mid side and having two separate zones of tamping down in the mid and two more for the sides. 2 x 2 = 4. This is a very exciting tone-control feature — cymbals beware!
How do I adequately describe the quality of this 4-band EQ? I want to jump up and down and squeal like a little girl who just got a pretty pony for her birthday. It is superb. The star of the show. The EQ you always dreamed about but never thought you’d own.
The high and low bands are shelves of two different types, one with resonant peaks, or you can select parametric mode instead as you can with all the bands.
The mid band can be wide, narrow, or parametric, and like all the others you can sweep it to wherever you want to focus. The knobs, like on everything throughout this channel strip, can be read by clicking on its knob to see the specific value of a frequency or Q or whatever parameter the knob represents. Just know that all the four bands have marvelous lovely tone.
The Tone band is a little different. Quoth the manual, “Tone is a bit narrower and can really help a source pop out of the track without too much EQ. Since it’s somewhat smeary, it’s good for coloring and gluing a track together.” I didn’t so much get a sense of “smear” as I did a wondrous sense of color.
To be clear, as if I hadn’t pounded the point home enough already, this is a fantastic sounding colorful EQ. Zooming in you can do some mid/side magic, like pushing up the lower end in the mid and accentuating the highs on the sides — this opens up the sound wide. For the saturation and EQ alone, this plug is worth double the asking price.
You get three flavors of compressor: VCA, FET, and OPTical. Once you set the threshold, ratio, attack, release, and mix, you can A/B/C the three types of compressors while all those settings hold the same values. That’s a really nice way to decide for sure which compressor you want. And of course you can zoom in and separately compress the mid and side. As a compressor in its own right, I say it is a good average compressor, functional and does the job, but nothing to get excited about except for the mid/side separate control. It is nice that it is there. You can mix the original signal with the compressed signal.
You can insert one Waves plug-in that you own into this strip. It has to be Waves, no choice in the matter. But any Waves plug you have. Whatever you are lacking that you don’t want before Omni or after, but somewhere in the middle, you can do that. And you can save the whole thing as your own user preset.
You have here five plus one modules in Scheps Omni Channel. They can be dragged into any order you choose. You can also turn any of them off not in use to save CPU.
The excellent presets which you get from the Load button in the upper right sometimes have these modules in different orders. There is also internal and/or external side chain functionality where appropriate.
Here’s what’s important: these modules are designed to work well together, to sound well together, to be a number of very good components that make up a magnificent whole. Scheps Omni Channel achieves this in spades.
Here’s another gem. There are two VU meters that are trim adjustable. They have an adjustable range, according to the manual, of 4dB to 26 dB. So you can set them to taste. These meters can reflect either the input signal, the output signal, or gain reduction.
Next we have buttons that enable you to listen in stereo, mono, only left, only right, only mid, or only side. These six listening modes ought to do ya.
There is a global brick-wall limiter. Again, like the compressor, this is merely a good serviceable unit. You can turn it on or off, and you can set a threshold. It does it’s job and there’s nothing special about it.
You can flip the phase of the left side, right side, or both. And we have stereo (but linkable) input and output faders, so you can gain stage coming in and going out.
Lastly, there is no kitchen sink.