This year's Super Bowl halftime show featured a range of famous names and recognisable faces, from Eminem and Dr. Dre to Snoop Dogg and Mary J. Blige. There was one more appearance from a name very familiar to tech-heads that may have gone unnoticed, though.
During Kendrick Lamar's performance of Alright, a Grammy-winning track from his 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly, we can clearly hear some vocal stabs produced using Spectrasonics' ever-popular plugin, Omnisphere. Hit play on the video below, and fast forward to 0:24 to hear what we're talking about.
The vocal sounds you're hearing here were created with Omnisphere's Jazz Stacks preset, which uses samples from their expansive sample library, Vocal Planet, released almost two decades ago. If you don't believe us, head over to Spectrasonics' Instagram page for confirmation.
The Jazz Stacks preset was used in the original track from To Pimp A Butterfly, which was produced by none other than Pharrell Williams, the rapper and producer known for his work on countless chart-topping singles, including Happy and Daft Punk's Get Lucky, and as a member of The Neptunes and N.E.R.D.
It sounds like Pharrell has layered the Jazz Stacks samples into two chords, which contain the same intervals but are themselves a semitone apart, suggesting that after layering up the chords, he's played them on an Akai MPC (or a similar sampler), which would spread them out across the machine's 16 pads at semitone intervals. Pharrell is clearly a fan of the Jazz Stacks preset - prior to working on Kendrick's music, he used it previously in a beat for Rick Ross, on the 2012 track Presidential, from God Forgives, I Don't.
Omnisphere is a powerful virtual instrument from Spectrasonics that features virtual analogue, wavetable and granular synthesis, along with a colossal sample library and 58 FX units. In our 2015 review, we described Omnisphere as an "absolute triumph of virtual instrument design."