Massive X – Its Dubstep Generator

                     Welcome, so one of the more anticipated synthshave been released. Of course I’m talking about the Massive X.I think it’s due time that we take a look under the hood of this synth. My name is Mattias and let’s take the MassiveX tour! Ok so here we have Massive X from Native Instrumentsand the original Massive is one of Native Instruments more renowned synths. So let’s see how this Massive X holds up. Let’s first take a listen to some of the presetsbecause I guess you want to hear how this synth actually sounds before we dive in andlook at the user   interface. [Lush pad from Massive X] [Bass arp] [Square lead patch] [Dubstep bass from Massive X] [Electric guitar patch] [Rhodes piano pad from Massive X] Ok, so let’s talk about the user interfaceof Massive X. It has a very nice clean white finish withnice reddish, blue and green colours. Of course it reminds me of Teenage Engineeringdesign. I’m thinking about the OP-1 and OP-z. It’s definitely not a bad thing. I really like that kind of nice and sleekdesign. So let’s talk about the modules here in MassiveX. First we have two oscillators and they arewavetables. So we can choose between different wavetableshere. You can see there’s a thin line below theseheadlines. That means that they have a submenu. So just click them and then you will bringup this menu.Then we have a noise module. Also with multiple noise-tables that you canselect from. Then we have the filter section which alsofeatures multiple filters like; comb, blue monark and state variable filters (svf). Then we have three different slots for wave-shapingand distortions. And also sample-and-hold module.

Then an amp section with feedback. And last but not least three modules for effects. So here you have your reverbs and stereo expander…andsome stereo delays. The good thing here about the delay is thatyou can set different delay times at these slots. Then you can have this parameter modulatebetween these different delay times. So that’s a quite nice new feature. And you have different delay types like natural,warm and hot. Ok and down below here we have the voicestab. Here we can control the unison, the unisonspread and the amount of voices for the unison. Then we have this brand new routing tab. And this is the node based modular editorfor Massive X. Here we can see our oscillators and the signalgenerators. You have the noises here, and they go to thePM and to the filter, currently set to the Monark filter. Then the signal continues in this cable toour effect section. We have some reverbs, stereo expander andstereo delays. Then the signal continues and goes to theoutput here. I really like the visual representation herebecause a node based editor gives you a very good overview of your sound design. So you can follow the signal path and reallysee how this sound is created. You can detach cables just by double clicking. And, yeah, drag a new cable here. Ok, then we have some performers. If you are familiar with the old version ofMassive you know what the performers are. Then we have the envelopes section of MassiveX. But please note that the parameter valuesdoes not update the envelope graphical display here. So we can’t really tell by looking at theimage if this is a pluck, or if this is a pad. That’s quite sad but I bet Native Instrumentsis working hard on an update to fix this issue because it’s rudimentary to really know this. And here we have the LFO section of MassiveX. They can be switched to Modulation Envelopesif you want.

But, yeah, here we can select the shape ofthat LFO and the rate of course. So these are three switchable LFOs. This one is a random LFO. Then we have another set of envelopes andLFOs. So there’s a lot of LFOs and envelopes ifyou want to have that. And here we have some additional envelopes. Another thing to note here about the knobsin Massive X, I’m using a Wacom here but if I’m using the Wacom to adjust the values it’skind of accelerating. So it’s very hard to pin point and set a correctvalue. If I’m using the mouse it’s a little bit betterbut they added some kind of inertia to the setting so the knobs feel sluggish when youare adjusting the parameters. Then finally we have the VR modular whichis a kind of voice randomisation modulator so you can add subtle randomisation to yourparameters. Another important thing to note about modulationin Massive X is really the visibility of the source and the target in a modulation relation. Modulation relation! Ok, so if we take this LFO4 and we want itto modulate the wave-scanning or the wavetable position of this first oscillator. You press this modulation source button andthese modulation target “rectangles” appear. But they are very hard to see at the moment. I really think that they, that Native Instrumentsshould make them more visible so we can see the target more visibly (clearly). And if I drag up this amount we get our modulationbut we can’t really see at the moment, the value, or the parameter value of the LFO. We can see the max amount that we are modulation. But we can’t really see where in this areathe current modulation is.

So we need a way to see the oscillation ofthe LFO like we can do in all other synthesisers. If we take Phase Plant here for an examplewhere I think they have solved modulation really good. Here we can see the LFO sweeping. We can see the oscillation. And we can see the source here very clearly. Press the source and all these targets lightup in the interface. So it’s very easy and visual to see wherewe can apply modulation. So say we want to modulate the mix here onthe Reverser. And look, yeah, we can see the oscillationof the LFO. How it effects that parameter. And if we hover above a parameter like this,we can also instantly see that this is connected to this LFO. Because it lights up! So Massive X really don’t have to reinventany wheels here. They just have to borrow some modulation solutionsfrom other companies. So we can see the LFO sweeping. Ok so while this is not a sound design videowith Massive X. You can let me know in the comments if youwould like to see a video of some sounds design with Massive X. But we can go in here and look at how to initialisea preset. Go up to the menu at the top and select “quick-start”. Here we can select either Init Massive X,or Init Massive X as blank. The difference here is if you set Init MassiveX it will pre-set your routings. So you have oscillator being routed into afilter and, yeah, to the output and effect section. But if you select the Init Massive X Blank,you will have a total blank slate. So you won’t have any sound being routed fromthe oscillator to your output section. So you have to do that by yourself here anddrag a cable in the routing to the filter and to the output module. And yeah select your filter-types etc. Ok so let’s quickly look at some of the wavetablesand oscillator effects of Massive X. Here we have Casmamonics. With the Gorilla shaper. Let’s take another one here, the Bend. Random! So as with Massive this will be an excellentsynth for Dubstep and EDM. Ok, so personally I really like the soundof Massive X.

It has a great sound to it. Very modern sound. And this Teenage Engineering inspired designis quite compelling, but Native Instruments really need to think about their customersbecause this feels like an early access of the synth. It’s not finished by all means because wereally need to see the LFO values and the envelopes. How they are graphically setup. Yeah, but I’m confident and sure that NativeInstruments will fix these graphical issues in a coming update. It shouldn’t be that hard for a company thatreleased the FM8, Form and the old Massive. It’s a very nice synth and I bet Massive Xwill be a very great product in the end, but as we of now, it’s “early access”.

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