Expressive E Osmose Patch Preview

Expressive E has shared another video preview, embedded above, for their upcoming Osmose synthesizer.

The video offers a sneak preview of the current state of new sounds that their in-house sound designers are programming, using the EaganMatrix by Haken Audio, the synth engine that will be internal to Osmose.

These sounds range from different categories such as classic synth sounds, FM keys, cinematic pads, lo-fi experiments and effects, all taking advantage of the new keybed interactions offered by Expressive E’s Augmented Keyboard Action.

For an example that showcases the capabilities of the Augmented Keyboard, check out the pad FM 5 Ops example, which shows how individual notes within a chord can be independently modulated in expressive ways.

Note: Expressive E says that the unit shown in the video is a prototype, created with 3D printing techniques. As a result, it has some irregularities in the keyboard that will not be in the final manufactured product.

Pricing and Availability

The Osmose is expected to be available in Winter 2021, priced at 1799$/€.

37 thoughts on “Expressive E Osmose Patch Preview

  1. I was so psyched when Osmose was announced that I couldn’t wait to plunk down some cash for one, but the more I hear it, the less I want one. The expression features are starting to sound more like expression gimmicks to me, and frankly, I don’t like how the EaganMatrix engine sounds. It’s not very impressive compared to other physical modeling and FM synths I’ve used.

    1. The synth is and always was built on the EaganMatrix engine, so why would you want one if you don’t like how the synth sounds? The EaganMatrix engine hasn’t changed, it’s just a different way of playing it rather than the continuum

    2. As a Continuum owner I’ll just say that ‘no, you’re wrong.’ It’s one of the best physical modelling synth engines out there, especially given the interaction it allows with the playing experience (be it Continuum or Osmose [I’ve obviously not played an Osmose]). FM is not it’s strongest point true.
      The expression ‘features’ are entirely up to how you programme them. Look at some videos of how a Continuum interacts with the engine to allow an experience almost entirely similar to an acoustic instrument and then tell me it’s a ‘gimmick’?

    3. Then you’ve clearly not heard a Continuum performance. Yes, the EM doesn’t excel at FM but at physical modelling it’s one of the best (alongside Kyma). The expression is not a gimmick, it allows you to tune the surface to respond to the slightest touch or movement in dynamic ways that rival the feeling of an acoustic instrument.

    4. @Limey Mofo: Totally feel the same.These demos are terrible in my opinion and they’re making me NOT want the Osmose, even though I was crazy excited about it previously. As a controller, it almost seem ‘over-sensitive’, but maybe it’s the way it’s being played. Someone mentioned ‘people are playing it like they’re walking on hot coals’ and I totally agree. It might take a while before someone actually learns how to make this thing sound good. Couldn’t care less about the EagenMatrix, as everything I hear out of it sounds boring as hell, but I maybe that’s only because I haven’t used it personally.

  2. I’ve ordered one and eagerly waiting for them. Having said that everyone seems to be playing on this as if walking on burning coals. I don’t know why that is.

  3. sounds ok but it looks like he’s afraid to accidentally touch any key cause it would react even without pressing it, no? feels pretty unusable to me but i’d like to play one to test this…

  4. I find the sounds to be quite compelling (in all the demos we’ve heard thus far). The EaganMatrix synth is insanely versatile. At that price, it’s hard to imagine a better pairing of a controller to a built-in synth-engine. The demos all show very thoughtful integration of hardware expression to synth parameters. Though only few of the demos show very skillful keyboardists.

    @kmx — IIRC, the keyboard has a few modes, and one of them might initiate sound with the very first touch of the keys. You’re right, that some of the modes might not be easy for players who are “settled in our ways.” For that reason, for most players this would need to be a 2nd keyboard, not a main board.

    It would be awesome if Expressive E took the plunge and implemented full MIDI 2.0 (sending & receiving)– or at least had a plan for it in hardware and future firmware. It would be complicated. I’d also like to see it provide a backward compatible (MIDI 1.0) mode that transmits traditional polyAT as well as MPE.

    I’d likely add some kind of cloth cover to keep dust, bugs and guitar picks out of that upper key area. Actually, it’s such a nice flat area, it would make sense to provide a little platform above that area for reading/writing, or effects units.

    I’ve waited for a poly-AT keyboard for a long time, and this keyboard is an absolute beast that takes it to another level but at a very reasonable price.

    1. I placed the earliest bird pre order and got a continuumini to aquaint myself with the engine. There is a definite unique sound and really broad spectrum, but some presets have a recorded or sampled component and those can become repetitive. But the engine is still undergoing active development. It will be great to have a good set of presets especially for the Osmose, in addition to the already awesome Haken presets.
      I bought an analog heat to warm up and compress the sound a bit. I expect to use better quality reverbs down the chain.
      I think it will be awesome to play other synths with. The flat area above the keys will allow for different pkaying styles and glissandos.

      1. Ah, I forgot that the area above was functional. That’s a good point. I won’t put my guitar pick or sweaty glass of iced tea there.

    1. I can’t imagine they would offer that. The hardware is the most expensive part, and since the software already exists, they won’t save much on their end to leave it out. It would actually cost them more to develop a second version of the keyboard without a synth engine, but with all the MIDI send capability. And why? The synth engine is actually a pretty significant enticement for most.

      You might like to see this kind of a product with a lower price, but that is pretty unrealistic. It’s a very complex design, that doesn’t borrow much from existing keyboards. It’s not a major manufacturer (like a yamaha), and it’s going to have a fairly small user-base. So given all that, I’m very impressed they can bring it to market for under $2K.

      We can legitimately grumble that major manufacturers haven’t pushed the envelope very hard. It is risky, and they are all trying to sell many thousands of keyboards. This is a boutique item– and if successful, it will have a rabidly cult-like following for many years.

      As an aside, I’ve checked the site for TouchKeys, and it seems their product was pretty successful. The might be a lower cost option without a synth engine.

  5. The engines in things are more than ample now, even including the semi-beta-test sounds in the demo. You have to find your own sweet spot between which MPE-type parameters fit your goals and how many hours you can afford to take from everything else in order to learn how to make The Good Noise.

    I like the Osmose better than even the various Seaboards, which are pretty stout as is. You’ll probably never see one mature MPE instrument the way you see a piano, but IMO, this one has the best feel factor I’ve seen/heard yet. Nice.

    1. The problem of course is that the feel factor can only be experienced through touch. I doubt it would be like the continuum, which for me stands alone as the best experience but also instead of being more approachable becomes more expensive and the continuumini was far from comparable. This seems very sensitive but I don’t know how it will work against the seaboard which, although difficult to master has at least a number of performers who actually managed to do so..

    1. Me too! I am excited to re-learn the piano in a more expressive way. The range of dynamics alone is worth the possibilities to me.

    2. Apparently it’s not permissible to point out that they have poorly made products. Nice to have people hiding the truth so you can sell garbage.

      1. Are you saying that you are not permitted to point out that they (Expressive E?) have poorly made products? Looks like you were permitted to say that. (So that’s one incorrect statement.)

        Who is “hiding the truth”? If I don’t own any Expressive E products, how am I to know “the truth”. If you do, why don’t you add to the conversation, instead of coming in and accusing everyone of a conspiracy. I’m interested in what you have to say. But you didn’t really say much.

        If it bothers you that I am excited about a new product, I hope you understand that I’m not trying to hype or hide anything. I’m just a person who is unaffiliated with Expressive E and has been interested in polyphonic aftertouch for almost three decades!!

        You may not have noticed that they have mentioned many times that the unit they are demoing is a 3D printed prototype, so it doesn’t have the same degree of precision that their final product will have. I don’t know how true that is or will be.

  6. Something new! Hooray! Instead of yet another reissue. I have reveled in the analog renaissance, but its nice to see some fresh things.

    1. I 100% agree. This is truly fresh!

      I’ve seen dozens of controller keyboards come out with nearly identical feature sets. We’ve even seen some polyphonic expression keyboards appear ever few years.

      We have the successful Continuum, Roli, and TouchKeys. And then we have the failed NDVR Note and Vax MIDI.

      All of the above were different from bog-standard controllers, AND different from each other.

      More recently we have the impressive Hydra Synth with poly-AT and a ribbon. As a controller, it seems to have solved the problem of bringing an affordable & well-calibrated polyAT keybed to market with a unique and powerful synth. It’s a unique combination of existing technologies.

      Of all these (and others), none have piqued my interest more than the Osmose. But I remain skeptical. If they are able to pull it off, this will be a significant accomplishment and I will start setting aside my money dollars.

  7. It’s interesting who finds this an impressive sound set and who doesn’t. As a guitar and keyboard player, I absolutely love these sounds. Instead of hearing “oh wow, that sounds great”, I’m hearing “oh wow, I can’t wait to try things myself with those sounds”. It’s a distinct difference. If you are looking for the most pizzazzy new wow sounds, no instrument like this will every do it for you, because it’s very specifically aimed at allowing a tremendous range of expression for the player. This in turn lets the feeling/soul/life experience of said player flow through, transforming even a mediocre sound into something absolutely moving. Be real… this sound engine offers far more sonic potential than a violin, piano, guitar, etc, yet nobody complains that those instruments sound unimpressive. A player can make any of those instruments come alive in new ways, even with “the same old sounds”.

    I am both impressed by the sound engine, and super excited about the playability of this instrument, and haven’t regretted my pre-order for a moment.

      1. Compete with Roli…… Its a question of taste here, because i listen your link and it was cheesy and less richer sound. Day and Night. Roli sound like a Karaoke… and again, Roli is just a controller, these is no point to compare here.

        1. I see it like this
          buy Expressive E and their touche thing
          to get half of the expression I get out of the cheap roli blocks thing or the small seaboard.
          for the rest amount of cash I can buy any sound source that pleases me. like a new iPad with lots of software.

          1. when I was a child I had a little cheap organ driven by air
            when grandma played the keys it made the sound of Biene Maja because her hands were shaky.
            this reminds me of that. ^^

          2. The resolution of the data from ROLI is far poorer than either the touché or the osmose. Far far poorer. If you’ve not noticed this as a problem then fine but to others this makes a big difference.

            1. That’s a very important point. Having lots of streams of control is great, but you need the resolution to back it up. Not just vertical (bits) but horizontal (scan rate).

  8. Expressive E team: “What if a piano keyboard had even more control parameters!” “You mean so it take 10 times as long to master?” “EXACTLY! Design it!”

  9. Looks like it’s about to fall apart to me. This is the same demo unit they’ve been waving around fore the past year or so.

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