The picture above shows Harmor’s interface. We can group the Interface into three sections: The red part, the gray part and the window to the right. Firstly, the easiest section to understand is the window to the right. Harmor is an additive synthesizer, which means the sounds it generates are made up of sine waves added on top of each other. The window on the right displays the frequencies of the individual sine waves, played over the last few seconds. Secondly, the red window is where most of the sound is generated. There are different sections and color-coded knobs to be able to identify what works together. Left of the center you can see an A/B switch. The red section exists twice: once for state A and once for state B. These states can be mixed together via the fader below. Lastly the gray area is for global controls. The only exception is the IMG tab, which we will cover a little later. As you can see there are many knob, tabs and dropdowns. But in addition to that most most of the processing can be altered with envelopes. These allow the user to draw a graph with infinitely many points to either use it as an ADSR curve, an LFO, or map it to keyboard, velocity, X, Y & Z quick modulation and more. At this point it already might become clear that Harmor is a hugely versatile synth. It’s marketed as an additive / subtractive synthesizer and features an immense amount of features which we will take a closer look at now.
Additive or Subtractive?
As mentioned above Harmor is marketed as an additive / subtractive synthesizer. But what does that mean? While Harmor is built using additive synthesis as its foundation, the available features closely resemble a typical subtractive synth. But because Harmor is additive, there are no audio streams being processed. Instead a table of frequency and amplitude data is manipulated resulting in an efficient, accurate and partly very unfamiliar and creative way to generate audio streams. Harmor features four of these additive / subtractive oscillators. Two can be seen on the image above in the top left corner. These can be mixed in different modes and then again mixed with the other two via the A/B switch. In addition to the four oscillators, Harmor is also able to synthesize sound from the IMG section. The user can drag-and-drop audio or image files in and Harmor can act like a sampler, re-synthesizing audio or even generating audio from images drawn in Photoshop.
The Generator Section
As you can see in addition to the different subsections being walled in by dotted lines, this section is color coded as well. The Timbre section allows you to select any waveform by again drawing and then morphing between two of them with different mixing modes. Harmor allows you to import a single cycle waveform to generate the envelope. But you can import any sample and generate a waveform from it. Here is an example where I dragged a full song into it and processed it with the internal compressor module only:
The blur module allows you to generate reverb-like effects and also preverb. Tremolo generates the effect of a stereo vibrato, think about jazz organs. Harmonizer clones existing harmonics by the offset/octaves defined. And prism shifts partials away from their original relationship with the fundamental frequency. A little prism usually generates a detune-like effect, more usually metallic sounds. And here is the interesting part: As with many other parameters as well, you can edit the harmonic prism mapping via the envelopes section. This allows you to create an offset to the amount knob on a per frequency basis. Here is an example of a usage of prism:
As you can see in the analyzer on the right: There is movement over time. In the Harmonic prism envelope I painted a graph so that the knob does not modify lower frequencies but only starts at +3 octaves.
The other options from this section, unison, pitch, vibrato and legato should be clear from other synthesizers.
The Filter Section
As seen above, Harmor features two filters per state. Each filter can have a curve selected from the presets menu. The presets include low pass, band pass, high pass and comb filtering. Additionally you can draw your own curve as explained in the Basics section above. The filters can additionally be control the mix for the envelope, keyboard tracking, width, actual frequency and resonance. But the cool thing is how these filters are combined: The knob in the middle lets you fade between only filter 2, parallel processing, only filter 1, filter 1 + serial processing and serial processing only. In the bottom half there is a one-knob pluck knob as well as a phaser module with, again, custom shaped filters.
The Bottom Section
As you can see above the bottom section features some general global functions. On the left side most should be clear. The XYZ coordinate grid offers a fast way to automate many parameters by mapping them to either X Y or Z and then just editing events in the DAW. On the top right however there are four tabs that open new views. Above we have seen the ENV section where you can modulate about anything. The green tab is the image tab. We already know that Harmor can generate sound from images and sound (not that this is a different way of using existing sound, before I loaded it into an oscillator, now we are talking about the IMG tab). On the right you can see a whole lot of knobs, some of them can be modified by clicking in the image. C and F are course and fine playback speed adjustments, time is the time offset. The other controls are used to change how the image is interpreted and partially could be outsourced to image editors. I’m going to skip this part, as this post would get a whole lot more complicated if not. It would probably be best to just try it out yourself.
The third tab contains some standard effects. These are quite good but especially the compressor stands out as it rivals the easy-but-usefullness of OTT.
And finally, the last section: Advanced (did you really think this was advanced until now? :P) Literally the whole plugin can be restructured here. I usually only go in here to enable perfect precision mode, threaded mode (enables multi core processing) and high precision image resynthesis. Most of these features are usually not needed and seem more like debugging features so I will not go into detail about them, but like before I encourage you to try it out. Harmor can be very overwhelming and as many people mention in reviews: “Harmor’s biggest strength is also it’s greatest weakness, and probably why there are so few reviews for such an amazing synth. You can use Harmor for years, and still feel like a noob only scratching the surface. That makes writing a review difficult. How can you give an in-depth review, when you feel so green behind the ears? You only need to watch a few YT videos (e.g. Seamless) or chat with another user to discover yet another side to this truly versatile beast.”