Review of Massive by Native Instruments
A Powerful new Software Synthesizer
is a software synth for those who want
to program their own sounds. Sure you can just use presets, and hundreds
are supplied, but I think that would be missing the point. Even though
you can find sounds amazingly fast, thanks to the "Kore style" browser, why
hunt when you can make and bake? Massive is, for those who want to program,
massive fun. Notice I said "those who want to" rather than "those who
already know how to". Those who do know how to program synths are
going to have a blast with Massive. There are few softsynths that
you can tweak harder than Massive; it's implementation, in terms of synthesis
is wonderfully complete. Yet its amazingly easy to learn, for those
who have never programmed a synth, as easy as a simple analog synth to get started
on, with its straightforward Oscillator-->Filter-->Envelope--Amplifier signal
flow that the vast majority of synthesizers on the planet use.
This is the main Synth
screen in Massive. You can see how the oscillators, Filers, Effects
and Modulators all have their own section of the screen.
In a few short days I have programmed a lot
of sounds. The process is faster than any synth I have used.
The controls are nice and big, the text is a decent size and the ease of use
is fantastic. Left and right mouse click do different things, there are
context menus that work on every fader an knob, and the numbers scroll on parameters
with simple click and drag motions or can be entered numerically for exacting
What Massive is NOT
Native Instruments Massive Software Synth (Macintosh and Windows)|
Massive is a sonic monster. The analog concept belies
the cutting edge, contemporary sound it generates. The high-end
engine delivers pure quality, lending an undeniable virtue and character
to even the most saturated of sounds. The interface is clearly laid
out and easy to use, ensuring you will have Massive generating earth-shuddering
sounds from the very first note.
First lets get down to what it is not, so you
can cross it off your list if you are looking for some other kind of synth.
Its not a sampler; nor can it use audio files of any type. Want
string quartets and drum kits? None here, at least not in the conventional sense.
Is it multi-timbral? Nope. One sound per instance. Is it light
enough for use on a laptop? It better be a strong laptop.
Even the simplest patch takes about 15% of my Apple Dual G5's CPU, and I can
easily tweak to the point where one key uses 60% of my computer's resources.
What Massive is
Its a powerful, yet easy-to-use, easy to learn
software synthesizer based on wavetable oscillators, filters, modifiers that
allow you to create new sounds from scratch.
Oscillators: While it looks and can
sound like an emulation of an analog synth, it is at heart a wavetable synth.
Each oscillator, rather than being a static waveform can be "swept" through
a series of waveforms which gives each oscillator the ability to transform itself
over time. These wavetables are nothing new to those familiar with synthesis;
it's the core concept underlying vintage synths like the Korg Wavestation, Wave
PPG, and more recently the MOTU MX4. You can use the oscillators as simple
analog like waveforms if you want and the sound is analog sounding. Or
you can alter the pitch of the waveforms and use Massive as a simple FM-like
synth, which makes it sound like a Yamaha DX9/TX81Z. This is all to say
that you can make the oscillators sound like Analog, Wavetable or FM synthesis
all under one hood. You get 3 complete oscillators, an additional modulation
oscillator (which most notably can do sweepable ring modulation), a dedicated
noise oscillator and a Feedback amplifier. This goes beyond the number
of sound sources of the majority of synths.
Modulators: True synth programmers
don't just stick an effect on a waveform and save a patch, they know that real
time modulation of the waveform provides sonic animation that brings sounds
to life. Massive is absolutely joyful in this domain. You have 4
envelopes and 4 LFOs (Low frequency oscillators). The LFO also have a
"performance" mode where they can be can be looped, drawn, or selected from
a list, can be synced to tempo over 16 divisions (with a different LFO for each
division) or can be replaced by step sequencers, which can be applied to anything--pitch,
filters, FX parameters. You can also modify sources with all the usual
controllers--velocity, aftertouch, key tracking, wheels. As a result,
you can make your sounds evolve over time, from slow transformations for pads
to rapid fire blips for effects.
Note the 4 envelopes and 4 LFOs (which
can be setup as a performance or as a step sequencer). The tabbed
interface makes it easy to get to the advance functions of the synth.
Shown here is the step sequencer.
Filters: All the usual suspects
are here. Lowpass, HiPass, Bandpass, band reject, comb, and some ones
you have never heard of--scream, daft, double notch. Naturally, you can
modulate these filters over time with the extensive modulators above. That can
give you classic filter sweeps to outlandish chemical effects. You get
two filters with Massive and you can crossfade/modulate/sweep them too.
The resonance of the filters is outstanding here and can have a gritty whistling
texture like the old analog beasts had, especially when you mix it with the
|Alternatives to Massive|
of the Unicorn (MOTU) MX4 MultiSynth Software Instrument (Macintosh)
Meet the new instrument plug-in powerhouse for your
studio. Inspired by legendary subtractive synthesizers, MX4 combines
several core synthesis techniques in a unified, hybrid synthesis
engine that delivers fresh and vintage sounds alike.
Korg KLC1 Legacy Collection with MS20 Controller
This virtual instrument/effects pack includes soft
synth versions of Korg's popular MS-20 and Polysix analog synthesizers,
the Wavestation advanced vector synthesizer, a slew of high-quality
effects, and a fully-functional, special-edition MS-20iC USB-MIDI
Korg KLCDE Legacy Collection Digital Edition
Introducing the Korg Legacy Collection -- Digital
Edition; stunning software versions of 2 Korg digital synthesis
masterpieces -- the M1 and Wavestation -- plus the MDE-X multi-effect
plug-in. Now you can get the classic sounds of these 2 ground-breaking
synth legends updated for the 21st century and ready to rock your
computer, in VST, Audio Units and RTAS-compatible formats!
All the standard synths FX--reverb, flangers,
chorus, phase, delay, expander, and tubes. No rocket science here.
Personally I think the preset sounds suffer from overuse of FX. But that
seems to be the trend these days.
The Randomizer. Massive can selectively
randomize groups or parameters or all parameters. The process is fast
and effective and is outstanding for coming up with your own presets.
Just click the randomize buttons till you get something cool sounding, then
tweak to taste.
Who Needs Massive?
I have to say it one more time. Massive
will give your CPU a run for its money. Make sure you have a robust computer
to get the most out of it. Even those with strong machines will be bouncing
and freezing tracks with Massive, so get used to the idea.
Sound programmers will love this synth, and
so will those who want to learn synthesis. Its all about crafting your
unique sounds here. Those who will be most disappointed with Massive are
those looking for clean usable sounds for compositions, like basses, EPs, strings,
horns, etc. You can make some great synth basses and strings, etc, but
they are really not supplied. I think the programmers got into making
super hyped sounds, which Massive can do quite well. (Great for writing
those over hyped commercials for Hummer SUVs.) For me, Massive can do
space sounds and textures to a degree unmatched by other synths, do to the strengths
of the FM like capabilities and infinitely malleable wavetables. Those
who want more analog sounds won't be disappointed. Those making sound
FX, like explosions, pitch ramp ups and down, dives, bubbles and gurgles, metallic
noise, distorted guitar like tones, complex melodic sequences are going to like
Massive. Its a synthesizer in a truest sense of the term.
of Massive at Studio-central Give feedback on this article if you desire
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