Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

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jeffb01
KVRian
876 posts since 18 Apr, 2006

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:41 pm

Wavetable (WT) Blowout. Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments vs Rapid vs ???
This is designed to compare features of these wavetable synths. Not a best synth… This is a work in progress. I plan to update as necessary. Please let me know if I got something wrong. I own all these synths, but I don’t know all their features, especially when it comes to Massive X and Icarus. If your favorite wavetable synth isn’t included, feel free to message me or reply with how that synth fairs in each field. I just ask that to qualify as a WT synth, you have to be able to modulate the wavetable (bend, formant, etc). This isn't to compare every synth that has a wavetable, but rather to compare and contrast the wavetable synths inspired by the original Massive. I do rate some of the synths in different categories. I understand this may be subjective, but I’m okay with that. Please make a case if you object.

Version # used & List Price:
Massive X 1.0: $199
Avenger 1.48: $220
Serum 1.246: $189
Icarus 1.6: $179
Pigments 1.2: $199
Rapid 1.6: €179

GUI (very subjective):
Massive X: Pleasing to the eye, though not that intuitive. Suffers from a lack of visual feedback (wave mods, envelopes, numeric values), Menus within menus. A lot of this is likely to be fixed in a future update.
Avenger: Overall a great interface with nice visual feedback to everything except filter shapes.
Serum: Excellent interface. Intuitive and quick to get things done.
Icarus: Overall a great interface with nice visual feedback to everything.
Pigments: Excellent interface. Intuitive and quick to get things done.
Rapid: Overall a great interface with nice visual feedback to everything except filter shapes. I do love the oscilloscope at the end of the chain. More synths should do that.
Results: Pigments & Serum > Avenger, Rapid, Icarus > Massive X

Number of Factory Wavetables:
Massive X: ≈ 170
Avenger: ≈ 600
Serum: ≈ 140
Icarus: ≈ 75
Pigments: ≈ 120
Rapid: ≈ 260

3rd Party & DIY Wavetables:
Massive X: N/A (no 3rd party wavetables)
Avenger: Tedious as you have to import one at a time into proprietary format. Basic editing is available.
Serum: Full-fledged wt editor. Format is the industry standard.
Icarus: Full-fledged wt editor. WT are slightly different than serum so you have to process them in the wt editor.
Pigments: Easily import whole folders of Serum-formatted wt. No wt editing to speak of.
Rapid: Easily imports 3rd party wavetables.
Result: Serum > Icarus > Pigments & Rapid > Avenger >> Massive

Wavetable Organization:
MassiveX: N/A (no 3rd party wavetables)
Avenger: No folders within folders. A different top level folder for each group.
Serum: Allows folders within folder for easy organization.
Icarus: No folders within folders. A different top level folder for each group.
Pigments: No folders within folders. A different top level folder for each group.
Rapid: Best one yet. Apon importing, you can make a folder and tag sub-categories. An Eloquent solution that looks professional and really helps with WT organization. Though I'm not sure how easy it will be if you like to move your wt's around a lot.
Result: Rapid > Serum >> Everything Else > Massive

Number of Wavetable Oscs:
MassiveX: 2
Avenger: 8
Serum: 2
Icarus: 3
Pigments: 2
Rapid: 24 (3 per layer x 8 layers)

Wavetable Modulations:
Massive X: Standard, Bend, Mirror, Hardsync, Wrap, Formant, ART, Gorilla, Random, Jitter, PM (by up to 3 mod oscs). Each mode has sub-modes. PM and one other mod can be performed on a wt.
Avenger: Xcite Side/mid, Formant, Bit/Rate, Sync, AM, FM. Can all be performed simultaneously on a wavetable.
Serum: Sync, Bend, Asym, Flip, Mirror, PWM, Remap, Quantize, FM, AM, Ring Mod. Only one mod can be applied on a wt.
Icarus: PWM/Phase Distort, Harmonic mod, Formant, Filter, AM/Ringmod, Waveshape, Sync, Comb, Stack, Lofi. Only one mod can be applied on a wt.
Pigments: FM, PM, Phase Distort, Wavefolding - all with a mod osc. Can all be performed simultaneously on a wavetable.
Rapid: Amp Distortion, PM, RM, Sync, Formant shift, Phase Bend (side, mid, double), Mirror, Chaos phase, Noise Generator. Only one mod can be applied on a wt.

Number of additional audible Oscs:
MassiveX: 2 noise oscs and up to 3 insert oscs (sine, saw, or pulse) but uses precious inserts. can also use up to 2 lfos as oscs if you want to be creative.
Avenger: Each of the 8 Oscs have a sub and a noise osc
Serum: 1 Sub and 1 Noise Osc
Icarus: None but with 3 WT Oscs, easy to use 1 of those oscs as a noise or sub
Pigments: WT Osc has modulator Osc (10 different waveforms) which can be audible. At the cost of one wt osc, can use va engine and have 3 va oscs and a noise osc.
Rapid: None, but you have 24 oscs to work with, so...

Noise oscs:
MassiveX: ≈ 100 different sources
Avenger: colored noise (though using 1 of 8 wt osc for any other noise is an option). Also comes with hundreds of attack clicks and organic noises in osc section.
Serum: ≈ 150 sources (including attacks). Able to add any sound and noise osc - can even work as a rudimentary sampler.
Icarus: Colored Noise, also comes with a few noise wavetables
Pigments: colored noise
Rapid: Any osc can be colored noise. Also comes with several noise and attack samples.

Non-WT osc engines:
Massive X: None
Avenger: Sampler engine, Granular synthesis
Serum: Noise osc can work as rudimentary sampler
Icarus: Vocoder, rudimentary sampler
Pigments: VA engine with 3 va oscs and a noise osc.
Rapid: Sampler engine. Any one layer can be a full 3 operator FM synth.

Unison:
Massive X: Sounds good. Up to 6 voices. spread, width, and chord mode. I can’t figure out how to put the unison on just one osc.
Avenger: each osc can have up to 7 voices. also has a chorder where you can tune 4 versions of that osc (fine and coarse) so in theory, each osc could have 28 voices (30 with the sub-osc and noise)
Serum: Each osc can have up to 16 voices
Icarus: Has up to 10 voice supersaw, 4x unison (mono or stereo), stack mode and chord mode on each osc.
Pigments: Each WT osc can have 8 voice unison, chord mode, or super mode (supersaw?)
Rapid: Each osc can have up to 8 voices

Able to add distortion before or between filters:
MassiveX: Using an insert - can go anywhere in the chain. 5 types of distortion.
Avenger: Up to 4 (shapers with 18 types) can be inserted before, in between filters, and after the filter. This is in addition to the drive knob on the filters.
Serum: Many of the filters have a drive knob.
Icarus: Yes, distortion is part of each filter with 9 different types so before and/or between.
Pigments: No. Though the Mini filter has a drive knob.
Rapid: Yes. Distortion at osc level (two types of distortion - but uses only mod osc) or using one insert (5 types of distortion). Rapid has this unique feature where you can put the one filter in the FX chain so you could use filter on insert, distortion from FX chain (four types of distortion), then the filter - so before and/or between.
Results: Avenger > Rapid & Icarus > Massive X > Serum > Pigments

Filters:
Massive X: 1 filter and up to 6 utility filters (no res) (2 on each of the 3 precious inserts)
Avenger: 4 filters (serial or split) and up to 32 monophonic filters in FX section.
Serum: 1 filter and 1 monophonic filter in FX section
Icarus: 2 Filters (serial, parallel, or split)
Pigments: 2 Filters (serial, parallel, or split) and up to 9 monophonic filters in FX section.
Rapid: 8 filters and up to 8 2-pole res filters in the inserts (1 filter and 1 insert per layer - all polyphonic). (serial or split)

ARP/ Sequencer:
Massive X: No
Avenger: 8 excellent Arps and 8 excellent Sequencers. All can be used as modulators.
Serum: No
Icarus: 1 Excellent Arp
Pigments: 1 Excellent Sequencer / Okay Arp (no gate knob or way to set octaves)
Rapid: 8 excellent sequencers/good arp (or hybrid in-between). 1 per layer - can be either arp or sequencer. I don't see a gate knob or way to effect gate across arp. Can drop midi files in here, too.

Total LFO/Mseg/Envelope Modulators:
Massive X: 12 (3 performers, 1 Amp envelope, and 8 LFOs/Envelopes)
Avenger: 33 (1 amp envelope, 4 filter envelopes, 4 LFOs, 8 MSEG, 8 sequencers, 8 arps)
Serum: 11 (1 amp env, 2 free envelopes, 8 MSEGs)
Icarus: 8 (1 amp env, 1 filter env, 2 aux env, 3 lfos, 1 mseg)
Pigments: 12 (1 amp env, 2 free env, 3 lfos, 3 mseg, 3 random lfos)
Rapid: 96 (1 amp envelope, 3 mod envelopes, 4 lfos, and 4 sequences for each of the 8 layers). Please remember that each layer in Rapid is like a separate synth. Example: You can't use an envelope from layer 3 on the filter from layer 2.

LFOs:
Massive X: up to 8. Each LFO can be Switcher or Random. Excellent switcher LFO with 15 shapes and 5 speeds. Beats wow2 as best lfo wheel. Can go up to audible rate and be used as an osc.
Avenger: up to 4 LFOs. 17 shapes and 3 custom shapes. You can switch shapes. also has designate vibrato lfo (not counted towards total).
Serum: No LFOs, see MSEG section.
Icarus: 3 LFO, with over 40 shapes. The LFOs are like a wavetable and the shape knob turns the LFO into another version of itself. Only modulatable at daw level. Pretty cool. Not able to switch between LFOs thru modulation.
Pigments: 3 LFO. each has a modulatable waveform and symmetry knob so while there are no preset shapes, you can slowly modulate from a square to a sawtooth to a sine, etc. Though you can’t make the crazy shapes you can with a custom lfo.
Rapid: Up to 4 LFOs. 20 shapes. For each LFO, you can choose 2 different shapes and cross fade between them as well as bend the shapes of both for lots of modulation of lfo shape. Also has a strength knob, which I always like.
Results: They all offer unique features (except Serum). 4-way tie.

Envelopes:
Massive X: up to 9. one amp and up to 8 more that can either be Mod env or Exciter env (or LFO). AHDSR. Curves of attack and decay can be modulated. Envelopes have an amount knob for easy modulation of env strength.
Avenger: up to 5. 1 amp envelopes and 4 filter envelopes. So if you want an envelope, you have to put a filter in and leave it open or use a filter envelop (the env doesn’t have to effect the filter). Attack and decay curve modulatable.
Serum: up to 3. 1 amp env and 2 mod env. Curve of Attack and Decay are modulatable at the daw level but not within a patch.
Icarus: up to 4. 1 amp, 1 filter, 2 mod env. no curve on attack and curve on decay is modable at the daw level, but not from within a patch.
Pigments: up to 3. 1 amp and 2 mod env. Can be ADSR or ADR. all env can be loop able too. Attack and Decay curves are modable.
Rapid: Up to 32 (4 per layer). 8 Amp envelopes (1 per layer) and 24 mod envelopes (3 per layer). Envelopes have modable curves on attack and decay. Envelopes have an amount knob for easy modulation of env strength.

MSEG
Massive X: These are brilliant. I’m still wrapping my head around them but there are only 3, but each one is like 12 different ones with key switches to change them out. Very powerful, though they are monophonic.
Avenger: up to 8. Called mod envelopes and these can act as an envelope with a sustain and release.
Serum: Up to 8. They work great.
Icarus: Has just 1. called a step lfo. It’s kind of small to work with, but does the trick. weakest in the group.
Pigments: Up to 3. Called Functions. They work great.
Rapid: Up to 32 Sequences (4 per layer). It's not a sequencer, though - it's more of a mseg. These are really cool. They remind me of the performer on the original Massive, but more flexible.
Results: Massive X > Avenger & Rapid > Serum > Pigments > Icarus

Macros:
Massive X: 16 Macro knobs. I’m not sure I would need that many but those knobs are the only way to automate in your daw - so maybe that’s why.
Avenger: 3 knobs and 2 buttons. What makes them so great is that they are modable within a patch. An envelope can turn a knob, etc. Important for my workflow.
Serum: 4 knobs
Icarus: None
Pigments: 4 knobs
Rapid: 3 knobs. Also has these 15 hard routed knobs to stuff like filter cutoff (across all layers) which may or may not work for you.
Results: Avenger is the only one that has modable macros so it wins. Icarus has none.

CPU Usage:
Note: The first number is a CPU percentage of 12 keys held down with one osc with 6x unison (or hypersaw with icarus) and the filter and all FX off. The second percentage is the same thing except with 4-pole low pass filter with res at half and cut off modulated by 1/8 beat sine LFO. I'm on 2012 mac mini in Ableton Lite. I used the highest percentage that it would stay at consistently. So if a higher number flickered sporadically, I didn't use it. There is probably a margin of error of 1.5%.
Massive X: 14%/16%
Avenger: 8%/18%
Pigments: 41%/42%
Serum: 13%/21%
Icarus: 14%/18%
Rapid: 9%/12%
Results: Lots of surprises here. Massive X is really good for any 1.0 synth. All this pre-release talk of being a cpu nightmare may have just been talk. Another surprise is that Avenger is one of the lower CPU. People always complain about Avenger CPU but it shined here. Every init patch in Avenger starts with Reverb and delay so maybe that's part of the perception. Rapid was very low, too. Pigments, otoh, is a pig when it comes to CPU. I knew it was heavy, but I wasn't expecting that. Yikes. It's a young synth and I imagine it will improve with updates.

Midi Support:
Massive X: Aftertouch
Avenger: Aftertouch, breath controller, foot pedal, expression pedal, and sustain pedal
Serum: MPE, Aftertouch
Icarus: Aftertouch, breath controller, foot pedal, expression pedal, and sustain pedal
Pigments: Aftertouch, expression pedal
Rapid: Aftertouch, sustain pedal
Results: Serum wins this with MPE support.


Edits: added list price, cpu, midi, . Added Rapid - Base info supplied by Parawave, but I spent several hours double-checking and testing.
Last edited by jeffb01 on Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:35 am, edited 31 times in total.

User avatar
jeffb01
KVRian
876 posts since 18 Apr, 2006

Re: Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:42 pm

More to come.

User avatar
jeffb01
KVRian
876 posts since 18 Apr, 2006

Re: Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:42 pm

More to come 2

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david.beholder
KVRAF
1581 posts since 13 Sep, 2007

Re: Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:54 pm

Perfect one. Great work!
Image Murderous duck!

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telecode
KVRian
627 posts since 24 Mar, 2015 from Toronto, Canada

Re: Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:56 pm

i have Massive X, Serum and the PIG.

I agree that MX needs more visual feed back.
I like Serum GUI as its nice and simple. But now seems dated compared to MX and some of the other GUI's of NIs stuff.
I dont like PIG at all. Never really did.
Just a keep on a goin' a forward, without a single ounce of fear

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Halonmusic
KVRAF
2485 posts since 13 Nov, 2015 from Norway

Re: Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:58 pm

Wavetable synths is so 2015 :D
Don't be a Sheep. :borg: | Opinions matters :evil:

Stefken
KVRian
1351 posts since 9 Nov, 2016

Re: Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:58 pm

How about Hive 2? I guess it deserves a place here...

User avatar
jeffb01
KVRian
876 posts since 18 Apr, 2006

Re: Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 2:04 pm

Stefken wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:58 pm
How about Hive 2? I guess it deserves a place here...
If you give me the text for each category, I will put it in. I don't have Hive 2... You can pm me or put it here.

User avatar
jeffb01
KVRian
876 posts since 18 Apr, 2006

Re: Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 2:08 pm

telecode wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:56 pm
...
I dont like PIG at all. Never really did.
Wow. I really, really like it. ha.

SiliconDeath
KVRist
189 posts since 21 Feb, 2017

Re: Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 2:17 pm

I don't know if it's worth noting, but for me the Pigments sometimes freezes, and takes a moment to reinitialize the Arturia Software Center. I think it's one of the better synths out there for the sound design stuff, but this is pretty annoying. Also the CPU use is significantly higher than that of Serum.

User avatar
jeffb01
KVRian
876 posts since 18 Apr, 2006

Re: Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 2:23 pm

SiliconDeath wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 2:17 pm
I don't know if it's worth noting, but for me the Pigments sometimes freezes, and takes a moment to reinitialize the Arturia Software Center. I think it's one of the better synths out there for the sound design stuff, but this is pretty annoying. Also the CPU use is significantly higher than that of Serum.
I haven't had that problem with freezing.

I think it would be good to do a cpu test. What would it be? How many keys of a sawtooth with 6x unison can I hold down on my 2012 mac mini before it reaches 100%? Any ideas? I want it to be something tangible.

edit: It would have to be something better as I just held down 13 keys and cpu barely budged.
Last edited by jeffb01 on Fri Jun 28, 2019 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

5vga
KVRer
13 posts since 22 Apr, 2018

Re: Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 2:25 pm

Edit nm

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Yorrrrrr
KVRian
819 posts since 25 Sep, 2011 from Cartagena - Colombia

Re: Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 4:14 pm

No Hive 2 and DUNE 3?

User avatar
jeffb01
KVRian
876 posts since 18 Apr, 2006

Re: Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 4:27 pm

Yorrrrrr wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 4:14 pm
No Hive 2 and DUNE 3?
I don't have those, though if you want to give me the data for the above fields, I will add it. You can pm me or just put it here.

collider
KVRist
87 posts since 14 Jun, 2018

Re: Wavetable Blowout: Massive X vs Avenger vs Serum vs Icarus vs Pigments...

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:33 pm

telecode wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:56 pm
I like Serum GUI as its nice and simple. But now seems dated compared to MX and some of the other GUI's of NIs stuff.
Ehhh.. why?
A perfect GUI will never be dated IMO.

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