Massive X is a great synth

NI’s new flagship VST, the Massive X, was surrounded by controversy and buzz months before launch. Some claim it was a dissapointment, but I gave it a chance and it surpassed my expectations. As a matter of fact, Massive X might be my new favourite šŸ™‚

NativeInstrumentsMassiveX_01-9kyL90Cf9j6d9HzeOTId2Pga.kDmMrkL

Massive X is the holy grail combining ease of use, quick operation and vast possibilities. Beyond standard envelopes and LFOs there are also numerous handy features and options, such as “switcher LFO” or modulation bar next to every control, even synced delay times. An unbelievably flexible “performer” sequencer is accompanied by note-dependent, velocity and random modulators – all of them immediately available for quick use. No modulation matrix and no menu diving whatsoever.
In terms of synthesis options, everything is here – phase modulation / FM, sync and even wavefolders – till now rarely found in virtual synths, especially not all at once. Massive X also offers great sound quality for moderate CPU usage thanks to (brave) implementation of AVX instructions. These are commonplace in every CPU released since 2011, though many people already complained their machine is even older and thus completely incompatible with new synth. But hey, I’m up for latest tech advances!

Continue reading

4K in a DAW – appendix

My previous post about 4K in a DAW is still getting many hits, so I decided to continue this topic. Especially since a lot has changed since then in DAW & VST world. I also discovered some new tricks and issues that make it even more important topic to discuss.

  • Ableton 10 got very nice automatic high-DPI scaling, which takes system settings and resizes each plugin’s windows accordingly – possible to enable or disable per plugin. However, it does have its caveats. Namely, jBridge plugins don’t work with resizable windows, neither plugins which already offer free drag-to-resize feature.
  • To enable internal Ableton scaling under Windows, the automatic Windows 10 scaling system needs to be turned off and use application internal scaling instead. Without it, some plugins receive incorrect DPI or try to upscale twice at a time, leading to heavy distortion and unusable GUI.

Additionally, over last two years many plugins have received or are going to receive high-DPI scaling. Massive X, Dune 3 and theĀ newest Cableguys bundle in particular offer drop-down menu with predefined sizes, while Ozone 9 offers free scaling via mouse drag. It is expected that also the rest of iZotope family gets it, as well as AAS – Ultra Analog just enabled this feature, though I’m only waiting for theirĀ Chromaphone 2 update. It is knows that Native Instruments also considers it – they recently even ran a poll, which suggested possible GUI resizability for Reaktor.

There are of course many others plugins with scalable GUI, which I don’t own or use however.

All in all, high DPI is getting more accessible and useful. It’s also just easier for eyes to get high-DPI monitor, such as mine 4K at 27″. So, if you consider gear upgrade anytime soon, just go for it with no hesitation.

Ditching failed plugins

As much as I’m very picky when choosing plugins, everyone makes mistakes. Some of them simply didn’t pass real studio test and failed expectations. Here they are:

The Mangle – despite cool and colorful interface, as well as potential for unheard harmonic clouds, this granular synth is a chore to use. Not only is the interface split among many pages and dialing in desired amount of modulation is notoriously difficult (“drag and drop”, they said). It also tends to lose / forget loaded samples after some time, under different circumstances. The Mangle doesn’t come with suitable sample pack for granular synthesis in first place, so every time I need to search for something nice before I even get started. All in all, lots of wasted time with this one. Bye, bye.

The Mangle

Continue reading

Favourite Free Effects

Some months ago I listed my purchased plugins, now it’s the time for the list of free ones you can download and use with no charge. I used all of them and plan to continue so, they are just awesome and get the job done.

Continue reading

4K in a DAW

I’ve been looking forward to get 4K monitor to use it with DAW and recently made it. I would like now to discuss the benefits and observations in a form of short guide, as seemingly many people are still confused about these.

Continue reading

Studio synth setup

Finally got all the synths I need. I’d like to share with my studio setup and explain each choice

First of all, I tried to keep synth pool as small as possible and have all sounds covered. Well, good plugins are pricey. But that’s not the only reason – to many synths can distract you from getting the actual job done.

Sylenth1

Sylenth1

Industry standard substractive. Very simple and easy to program, but with great sound quality. The main advantage of Sylenth1 is the filter section, which can withstand wildest modulation without overdrive or artifacts. Always smooth. Also, CPU usage is minimal. Used for rather simple and clean sounds – kick, psybass, supersaws, acid, random blips.

Dune 2

Dune 2

Bigger cousin of Sylenth1. Can do substractive, FM and Wavetable synthesis all at once and has great modulation possibilities. The key feature is unison section which allows you to dial up to 32 voices for any patch. Program whatever you need and just instantly make it big and awesome with multiple voices. Great at leads and pads, but also has cool acid presets. However, tends to glitch at small, fast-modulated sounds.

Serum

Serum

Wavetable monster. It would be just another substractive synth if not the impressive wavetable engine. Serum allows you to manipulate sounds in variety of ways, including wavetable scan and weird warp modes as well as more standard PWM, FM or phase distortion. Unmatched at basses and evolving arps as well as gritty FX. Great GUI makes it my new favourite.

Operator

Operator

Comes in Ableton Suite. This tiny toy can do substractive, FM and even additive synthesis. Very fast to program wih incredible sonic possibilities. Can produceĀ some bass, but mostly practical in FX / electro / dubstep madness. Unfortunatelly it’s monophonic (or stereophonic at best), but can be easily layered thanks to negilible CPU usage.

The Mangle

The Mangle

Granular synth suited for harmonic sounds. Still in beta, but can already deliver beautiful pads as well as monstrous FX and risers. Great drag-and-drop GUI make it easy to program.

Granulator II

Granulator II

Another granular toy coming in Ableton Suite. Many custom options result in evolving pads, risers and rolls. ‘Scan’ feature will change any sample into warping monstrosity. For when you need to get dirty.

Sylenth1 and Dune 2 have custom skins.

This post will become more importantĀ once you hear tracks made with all of these 8)

Comb Filter VST updated to 2.0

It doesn’t seem like such simple plugin would need any upgrade, but it had some issues, for which I apologize.

Image

Now all the bugs with mono/stereo channels are gone.

Additionally, Comb Filter will not change it’s frequency with sampling rate. Sampling rates up to 192 KHz are supported in full range, at frequency 1 Hz. However, if you set higher frequency, sampling rate can be rised proportionally – there is no limit that could be reached in practical situation that I know of.

Download link is updated. Get it here.