Unless you’ve been involuntarily incapacitated for the past few days, you will no doubt have heard that Native Instruments’ Massive X, the long anticipated follow up to their classic ‘Massive’ software synth has finally been released.
Dual engine Wavetable synths have seen a surge in popularity as of late with Arturia’s Pigments and Ableton’s Wavetable instrument both having enjoyed a lot of well deserved mainstream attention. While it’s easy to draw comparisons between Massive X and its Wavetable contemporaries, there’s a lot to set it apart. Here are three of our favourite things about Massive X that made it worth the wait.
No. 1: Wavetables, Playback Modes & Noisetables
Once you move past the presets and start building a sound from scratch, you’ll quickly discover the sheer number of options at your disposal every step along the way.
- 170 different Wavetables with varying degrees of complexity
- 10 different playback modes, with often several sub-modes. e.g. Hard-Sync and Formant, to the bizarre labeled Gorilla (along with its sub-modes King, Kand and Kong) and Jitter.
- 2 noise generators dubbed Noisetable 1 & 2 which go well beyond the usual white and pink variants with what looks like upwards of 200 noise types. Our favourites so far include valve, grizzly sloth and war motor.
No. 2: Presentation & Accessibility
Given the scope of what’s on offer in Massive X, you have to hand it to Native Instruments for packing everything into a very compact single window interface.
- Modulation sources are hidden/shown in groups similar to Arturia’s Pigments, however the oscillator/effects portion of the interface is remarkably streamlined.
- It has the friendly, welcoming vibe we’ve come to expect from NI, consistent with their recent releases such as Super 8 and even Reaktor Blocks, (but to be clear, Massive X is not a Reaktor instrument).
- Provided you have no deep-seated aversion to drop-down menus you’ll not doubt find Massive X to be fun and intuitive synth to operate, albeit without the extensive visual feedback that made Pigments so striking.
No. 3: Familiar Functionality Evolved
Massive’s most memorable interface component was the modulation routing whereby each modulation source could be dragged into a box next to its destination. Clicking and dragging up on the source box increased the modulation depth.
- Aesthetically, Massive X shares almost nothing in common with its predecessor, however it does retain this modulation routing method, along with some subtle yet welcome additions.
- Mod destination boxes remain hidden until a mod source is clicked. This serves not only to clean up interface, but also to remind you of all the possible destinations. Massive X makes a lot of sense from a sound construction workflow perspective.
- This new version has much in common with the original, only it’s done a lot better. The routing page brings a new level of modularity, the macro count has been upped to 16, and sub-menus within sub-menus aren’t nearly as cumbersome as they sound.
We were initially a little disappointed to find out that the ‘VR’ mod source refers to voice randomization and not virtual reality, but as it turns out voice modulation is a lot of fun, (something that can’t be said for the majority of VR experiences I’ve tried) so another win there.
Massive X is an enormous and flexible synth, a worthy successor to 2007’s Massive — a synth that inspired producers and spawned entire genres. We’re hunkered down working through all this behemoth’s functions, we’ll have some video demos for you very soon.
For a detailed feature rundown, head to the Native Instruments Massive X page here.