Massive 1.1

Massive 1.1

Massive's main editing screen is a study in intuitive interface design, offering stellar internal signal routing options.


With a name like Massive, you'd expect this software synthesizer to have an extremely expansive sonic presence. And that's exactly what this beauty delivers. Even though it's deep enough for the most devoted sound programmers, it's easy enough to use that you can start doing some serious damage right out of the gate.


Massive is an Audio Units plug-in and stand-alone synthesizer specifically suited to music of a more contemporary flavor: dance, electronica, rock, and soundtracks. Massive is all about digging in and making aggressive sounds that have real weight and an unmistakable degree of nastiness, so forget about using it as an electric piano, flute, or string section.


From a technical standpoint, Massive is a relatively straightforward analog-style synthesizer, with familiar components such as oscillators, filters, and a range of modulation sources. The three oscillators are all based on a core of 82 waveforms, much like the venerable Korg M1 and WaveStation, with extensive options for the playback of the waveform over time. The waveforms represent all flavors of basic sonic building blocks, offering the best of both the analog and digital worlds. Our only major complaint is that you can't import your own custom waveforms, which would dramatically extend the instrument's creative potential. The three oscillators are processed through a pair of cool filters, and some built-in sound effects can be inserted into the audio signal in more than a couple of places, something we've never seen in any other digital synthesizer.


Things get really wild when you realize that just about any aspect of any control can itself be modulated by the output of a range of mod controllers: four envelope curves and four low-frequency oscillators that can be set to modes such as sequencer (a 16-step pattern) and performer (a truly unique and potent multistate curve). All this makes for some seriously complex grooves and animated aural textures. You can create sounds that take minutes to evolve completely—great for any kind of movie scoring or soundtrack work. The Feedback control, another odd and compelling sonic decimation tool, can conjure up sounds approximating a velociraptor chomping on dynamite while pounding nails into concrete with a titanium sledgehammer.


Despite its seemingly overwhelming feature set, Massive is one of the most thoughtfully designed instruments we've ever seen, with a highly intuitive and logical interface. The 600 included presets are presented in the unified Native Instruments Browser interface, which organizes sounds based on contextual categories (basses, pads, dark sounds, acoustic, distorted, and so on), making quick work of finding the perfect patch. Eight macro knobs can be assigned to control any combination of overall parameters (sound design or performance) simultaneously. For instant gratification in sound design, a wonderful randomization control quickly comes up with entropic variations of any sound, constraining the randomization to oscillator, filter, or performance settings.


Massive is resource hungry, and will make your Intel processor cook with fire. Be prepared to activate track freezing if you want to use more than a couple of instances of the plug-in in multiple tracks.


The bottom line. Massive opens up vistas of musical and sonic potential that will leave you astounded and satisfied. If you're looking for the next great virtual synthesizer, you'll be happy to unleash Massive on your Mac.


COMPANY: Native Instruments
PRICE: $339
REQUIREMENTS: 1.4GHz G4 or later or 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo or later, Mac OS 10.4 or later, 768MB RAM
Big sounds. Extensive modulation possibilities. Deeply programmable. Universal binary.
No user waveforms. Processor intensive.





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