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Review: Native Instruments Massive

1
Submitted On May 28, 2013 by Contributor:
MASSIVE_welcome_en

Rating

Sound
100%


Build Quality
100%


Ease of Use
40%


Versatility
84%


Overall Value
60%


Total Score
77%

77/ 100

Review Details

Price: $399* (part of bigger package)
 
Manufacturer:
 

Positives:

Feature rich, great sounds out of the box
 

Negatives:

can take a lifetime to learn fully, only sold in the Komplete bundle.
 
by 
My Review

I had a few sessions booked for some dubstep and EDM type stuff, so I started looking at what folks were using in those genres and one name kept coming up.  Massive.  At first I thought they were just describing the sound, like “oh, yeah that thing sounds massive” but no, that was the name of the VI.  So, I started trying to find out where I could get it.  Turns out, it’s only available by purchasing a larger bundle of plugins (most of which I did not need at the time) from Native Instruments, which having dealt with NI in the past (and hating every min. of it), was almost to be expected, after all, why sell people what they want when you can sell them a bunch of other crap along with it knowing they’ll buy the whole bundle to get the one diamond in the pile of coal.

Got the bundle, installed it…. 3 hours later (12 DVDs or something crazy like that).  Dug it out of the NI plugin folder and my mouth fell open at all the options.  Oscillator city, naaa, option city.  So many options, its sometimes hard to tell what you’re really looking at or what anything really does.  In fact, I did find out later you can do the same thing about 15 different ways and get very similar results each way.  So, I knew what sounds I was looking for and after plowing through the MASSIVE (pun intended) library of sample sounds and not finding it, I did what any nerd would do, and headed on out to the ol’ internet.  YouTube was a fruitful bounty of information and tutorials on this insane instrument and it wasn’t long after following along with some of the tutorials, i began to absorb what was going on under the hood of this MASSIVE plugin (again, pun).  After about 2 or 3(ok 30) hours of playing around, I was able to figure out how to get some of the “standard” sounds a lot of the dubstep guys were using and a ton of some great EDM style synths and sounds.  Behind the enormity of the options for this synth lies an incredibly powerful synthesis engine, capable of producing any sound imaginable.  And in that, know that no matter how much you use this thing, you can always go in and create a new sound from scratch that NO-ONE has ever heard before.  Infinitely expandable, infinitely complex, infinitely MASSIVE (last pun).

Recommend to a friend

About The Contributor

meistudio


Full service boutique studio in Nassau County, Long Island, New York. In addition to recording media services, the studio also builds a great deal of custom studio equipment.

One Review


  1.  

    "Overall NI’s Massive is a darn good synth and capable of producing some very cool sounds. Massive is a wavetable synth that apparently has some pretty unique things it can do. Note that it cannot load samples like Omnsiphere or Alchemy, but is just a straight synth with built in filters, effects (both insert and send) custom routing abilities, modulation, etc. Really powerful stuff. But not being much of a programmer myself, I dont really dig under the hood too much, but rather go straight to all the great presets that come with this synth. If you can’t find exactly what you want in these presets (which I didn’t in the stock set – too much EDM) you can purchase 3rd party presets from AMAZING sound designers like Matt at http://www.theunfinished.co.uk or Biolabs presets, all of which are truly FANTASTIC and HIGHLY recommend. These have taken my Massive into different realms and genre bending sounds which I use a lot in my prog rock and film score work.

    One great thing about Massive is that its main browser page gives you access to each patches main controls. So you can easily browse and tweak important settings without being overwhelmed with all possible options. Whats also cool is that the patch designer has setup these 8 “macro controls” to the most important functions of each specific patch, like detune, cutoff, resonance, reverb, chorus, delay, drive, distortion, etc. So right from this page I can take some of those awesome presets and tweak them to make them a little more personal (just because I dont program from scratch doesn’t mean I dont enjoy tweaking!) Plus you can easily midi learn these knobs to your controller for great real time control and automation programming. I must admit that I personally find the built in Massive effects (like reverb, chorus, phasing, etc) a little weak and tend to turn them off and use 3rd party inserts. But its great to have these available right in the synth for either live playing or just to get a quick idea of what the patch might sound like through these effects.

    Another great feature is the attributes browser, which can be used to categorize sounds by type (e.g. Synth lead, Pad, bass, soundscape, etc) but also goes deeper with specific tags based on the main category you’ve assigned. For example, if you tag a sound as “bass” you then have further options of “fingered bass, picked bass, digital bass, analog bass, distorted bass, etc” One down side is that unlike Omnisphere you cannot create your own tags, which is a bit of a shame, but you can add “comments” which are searchable. But this leads me into some negatives…

    Negatives
    RATING AND COLOR OPTIONS DO NOTHING!!! After much confusion due to the manual still referencing these options as possible, I discovered that the 5 star rating and color tagging systems that are still in the interface (as of v1.3.1) DO NOT WORK!! I find an actual 1-5 rating system (like what can be found in Omnisphere, Alchemy, and MANY other synths) VERY helpful and I’m so disappointed its no longer available! For example, say I’m going through lead sounds for my latest project, and find some good ones that I for sure want to use, some “ok” ones that might find useful in a specific project, and some that just sound awful. If I rate these accordingly, next time I go through my leads for a project I can sort by ratings and hear all the Great ones first, followed by good ones, followed by ok ones, and so on. This makes browsing for patches much quicker as I can completely ignore the ones I thought were “bad” until the end if I haven’t found an option by then. If I just labeled them “good” or “bad” or just had a “favorites” folder and then searching by “good” or in this favorites folder I would never hear these “bad” patches, which might actually work GREAT in the context of the song. Its AMAZING how “bad” a keyboard can sound in isolation but how GREAT it then sounds in the song/mix.

    However, it looks like this is simply no longer possible, which is COMPLETELY idiotic IMO. Especially after hearing that Omnisphere, who I feel have the best browsing/tagging system on the market, took a page out of the way NI instruments use to sort and rate their files with KORE, its even more absurd! Apparently this was a remnant of the old “KORE” system which NI have since discontinued for no apparent reason. This is a shame, but if these options no longer work, why they are STILL in the browser AND MANUAL is beyond me, and frankly unacceptable, especially from a top tier developer like NI. Bottom line, these insanely useful features are now gone, making organizing your massive library a MAJOR pain in the ass!!!

    If you can get by this frustration of completely idiotic GUI flubs like the ones I mentioned above with things that simply do not work or are not well laid out, and really take the time to learn what is available and what it can do, Massive is a very good sounding synth with plenty of great presets and customization abilities. However, I must admit I reach for Omnisphere first in my productions simply because I find its much easier to use.

    P.S. To correct mesistudio’s review, you CAN buy massive individually for $199. Here is a direct link to NI where you can buy it / learn more about the synth: http://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/synths-samplers/massive/

    Also note that NI often has 50% off sales pretty frequently, so if you’re willing to wait, you can get it for $99. Though I personally recommend buying Komplete, as overall its a WAY better deal, as it gives you TONS of great sounds, in particular in Kontakt libraries, as well as other great synths like Absynth, FM8, and Reaktor for as little as $399, which is what I did. But if you have no use for these extras (apparently like Mesistudio) you can just buy Massive directly from NI."

    "Sounds very good

    Great presets with many additional 3rd party presets available for purchase

    Very powerful, full featured synth once you understand it.

    Attributes browser great for finding specific sounds

    "

    "Attributes browser lacking custom tags

    Lack of organization features, which seem to have been taken away from past versions - but GUI still available in plugin and manual causing unnecessary frustration & confusion.

    Built in effects like reverb, chorus, etc are a bit weak (much better 3rd party effects out there)"

    "$399 (came with Komplete)"

    100%
    80%
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    84%
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    73%




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