The Expressive E Osmose Is ‘A Glimpse Of The Future’

In his latest video, synthesist Starsky Carr shares his thoughts on the new Expressive E Osmose – a synthesizer he describes as ‘a glimpse of the future’.

He discusses his process of learning the Osmose as the 7 stages of enlightenment:

0:00 1 Shock – overview of the hardware
2:11 2 Realisation – whats MPE and how does it work
12:22 3 Conceptualisation – how to use it & controlling the sensitivity
15:21 4 Understanding – getting to grips with the Haken Editor
24:58 5 Rejection – some minor issues and some bigger ones
32:29 6 Acceptance – integrating into your studio
33:12 7 Enlightenment – Sunny Uplands of Synthershire

The software can be a b*tch at first,” notes Carr, “and its so frustrating that a few tweaks to the manual would’ve saved me a day or so of headscratching.”

But his main takeaway is that, once you’ve experienced the expressive capabilities of the Osmose, “a lot of synths will feel lacking”.

Check out the video and share your thoughts on it and the Osmose in the comments!

19 thoughts on “The Expressive E Osmose Is ‘A Glimpse Of The Future’

  1. Hard to even care about the osmose with that background synth. Might as well be standing in front of a spaceship.

    1. As a synthesist the first thing i would have done approaching this setup is to put aside the midi keyboard and tinker with the COLOSSUS QUARTZ!

  2. By far, this is the most informative single video on the Osmose I have yet found on YouTube. While most videos tend to wax on about the MPE implementation and how it is the greatest invention since sliced bread, Starsky’s video features an honest overview of the sound engine, as well. From his description of the interface, it doesn’t appear to be any more complicated than V.A.S.T., and given its matrix organization, I’m guessing that it will be much simpler to program. It took me until late last month to pull the plug and order one, so who knows when I will actually see it? I can say, though, that I am really looking forward to getting it. I really could give a shit about its MPE capabilities, its the sound engine I’m most interested in.

  3. I am not (yet) in the market for one, but one thing I’ve noticed is that the usual complaints of “it’s only 49 keys!” don’t seem to apply here. Any reason for that, you think?

    1. The unique strengths of the Osmose keyboard shine with sustained notes, because you can do things that are impossible with other keyboards. In that context, 49 keys isn’t a big limitation.

  4. I waited almost 4 years from the time of my initial deposit in 2019 until the delivery of my Osmose in April of 2023. Bottom line: this instrument is THE MOST inspiring keyboard instrument I have played in over 50 years. And I’ve played pretty much everything from monster modulars to a tiny portativ organ looking down on Bach’s grave. NOTHING inspires like the Osmose. Worth every penny, and every minute of the long wait. Osmose is simply brilliant. If you try to play Osmose by blasting through each sound with nothing but “127 on the MIDI velocity scale” you will be disappointed. The greatest musical rewards from Osmose arrive when you use every degree of touch control in each finger. Those with highly developed finger control and sensitivity will achieve the best, most musical results. If you’re a player who just pounds out triads on the quarter note, you’ll not get the most out of Osmose. It’s an instrument that welcomes and encourages skilled and developed finger technique. And the results, the rewards, are wonderful. Bravo Expressive E !!

  5. nice video. however i am still looking for musical examples that wouldn’t be possible on other keyboards. i waited almost 5 years to finally play the osmose as i was super excited when it was announced. i was glad that i didn’t pull the trigger back then on the crowdfunding. bought a hydrasynth explorer in the meantime, which i find much more interesting. the polyphonic aftertouch keybed gives you a similar control over each key. at least for me that is more than enough and much more playable than the wonky osmose keys which i find very rough, unprecise and very hard to control – at least compared to the hydra, which i also find much more interesting soundwise. with the osmose i kinda had the feeling of every sound sounding the same. but what disappointed me most about the osmose was the extremely slow and fragile interface. everything was laggy, the dials were not precise enough to use them without a high failure rate (why aren’t they stepped?) and also the built quality felt very sensitive. more an object to look at than to carry around and actually play. that was my first impression after an hour or so with it. not saying it could be changed after spending more time with it though..

  6. I was lucky to get in on the kickstarter. I think it’s really special and unique. I think we’ve turned a corner in expressive keyboard instruments. I think it’s as big a deal and as important today as the DX7 was back in the mid 80s.

  7. Can this live up to the Hype?

    Very expressive keyboard – yeah!
    Very convoluted sound engine – uargh!

    Great for hyper expressively playing the keys.
    Let down for on the fly synthesis / live patching.

    If you like to play the keys it’s perfect.
    If you like to turn knobs and slide sliders it’s just wrong.

    Heaven and Hell.

    1. “If you like to play the keys it’s perfect.
      If you like to turn knobs and slide sliders it’s just wrong.”

      I couldn’t agree more, and the lack of simple and usable live patch adjustment has been a real bummer.

      I’m personally really hoping that somebody either releases a new desktop analog poly synth updates an existing desktop analog poly synth(OB6, fingers crossed!) to fully take advantage of the Osmose. As it is right now I don’t think there is an analog poly synth that can take advantage of the Osmose pitch bend per key, sadly.

  8. The lack of commercial presets might indicate the difficulty of developing on the Haken, or else maybe lack of supply has limited the sound designers access. In any case, the defaults are inspiring already and I look forward to the ecosphere developing/supporting this guy (how about a simplified editor/librarian to avoid the learning curve of Haken? As a non sound designer I’d welcome that)

    1. “The lack of commercial presets might indicate the difficulty of developing on the Haken”

      Or maybe you’re not understanding the obvious – sound designers target synths that have sold in the tens of thousands already, because that’s the only way that they’ll make any money. .

      1. Considering all the hype over the MPE implementation and the price (that still blows me away when compared to $5000 Minimoog clones soon to be made in China), I’m pretty sure that Expressive E will sell a ton of these. Getting ready for the eventual arrival of the one I have on order, I’ve been studying the Haken Matrix. On paper, it doesn’t appear all that difficult, but like V.A.S.T., except for obvious things the results of small changes in variables can lead to horrid outcomes. Like anything, learning by trial and error will lead to the ability to predict what the outcomes of variable manipulations will render. It took me quite a while to be able to predict what changing the variables ina Kurzweil FUN might lead to, but once I played around with them for a while, I knew how to use them to achieve what I want to achieve. In the case of the Hakem Matrix, until the Osmose, there was no relatively inexpensive way to acquire the synth engine. Sure, at $1900 these probably won’t sell as well as the Hydrasynth, but it sure as shit will sell a hell of a lot more units than a $5000 Chinese Minimoog clone, that doesn’t sound anywhere near like a 70s Mini than does that other $325 Chinese clone!

        1. John

          There are cheaper options for getting access to the Eagan Matrix synth engine – the ContinuuMini and the EaganMatrix module.

          I’m a big fan of V.A.S.T., like you, but I found it to have a massive learning curve, which really limits the audience. I’ve got a K2500, and I’d say that the learning curve was very comparable to Eagan Matrix or something like the Elektron Analog Four. With all of these, I’ve had to force myself to do some work to get to know the engine, which wasn’t fun, but doing so unlocks endless possibilities.

          I’m not sure what you mean by the ‘hype over the MPE implementation’. The Osmose is fantastically expressive, because it basically instantly gives keyboard players continuous independent control over each note’s pitch, timbre and volume.

          Try it out and a light goes off, because it lets you use your keyboard skills – unlike things like the the Roli Seaboard or the LinnStrument – but it lets you do things that no mainstream commercial keyboard has ever let you do.

          Given the strength of the keyboard technology, it’s fundamental that it can be paired with other synth engines, and MPE is table stakes for modern synth engines.

  9. “The Expressive E Osmose Is ‘A Glimpse Of The Future’”
    No – that would be a hollowed out gourd and a couple of sticks.

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