Massive X vs Serum vs Phase Plant

VST, AU, AAX, etc. plug-in Virtual Instruments discussion
Topic Starter
1 posts since 5 Mar, 2020

Post Wed Mar 04, 2020 5:26 pm

I have been trying to find a good synth for COMPLEX dubstep / brostep sound design, and I have narrowed it down to these three synths. I already have Massive. I can only afford one though, and I am not sure which to get.
Thanks in Advance

646 posts since 7 Dec, 2018 from Saint-Petersburg

Post Wed Mar 04, 2020 6:00 pm

The endless story of comparison... )) All these 3 synths sound good but they have different workflows. I doubt that someone can give you useful advice. It will end with people listing their subjective and mental feels about them. Keep in mind that many people who give your advice about which one is the best, used this synthesizer no more than an hour.

My advice to you from the heart:
1. Close KVR tab
2. Go and get 3 demos
3. Make 3 little pieces of music from scratch using just 1 synth (no samples, Kontakt, external processing etc.)
4. Now you know which synth doesn't fit you (even if you made a couple of cool sounds with it) and which let you feel real joy
5. Buy it
6. Don't open KVR, don't tell us why you choose this synth
7. Keep making music, adapt to their workflow, dig into features, create non-obvious usage paths

In my experience, it's the best algorithm. All that really matters - it's your opinion and your ears. If you don't believe them, the new synth can do nothing, because after all you will come back to KVR and keep asking what synth is the best. Good luck!)

1785 posts since 26 Aug, 2012

Post Wed Mar 04, 2020 9:04 pm

There are other options like sugarbytes Cyclop.
For complextro here's some suggestions:

Ive got massive x and haven't had a chance to use it much but as far as I know the main difference from massive is the performer being more flexible. You can time stretch a curve sequence for example so it doesn't conform to a set grid so you can modulate how it speeds up or slows. It's more visual too. Also you can sequence chords, there's more modulation options and it seems to have a bigger sound overall.

Serum on the other hand has limitations with creating syncopated sounds imo.

2418 posts since 23 Jun, 2006 from Hungary

Post Wed Mar 04, 2020 9:08 pm

yeah, get the demos! maybe you can't even run massive x because it needs an avx compatible cpu.

129 posts since 5 Jul, 2019

Post Wed Mar 04, 2020 9:39 pm

Massive X has a very generous demo - 60 minutes before you have to restart IIRC.

I thought it sounded best of the wavetables I tried, but in workflow it felt pretty different from the others.

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12524 posts since 26 Jun, 2006 from San Francisco Bay Area

Post Wed Mar 04, 2020 10:31 pm

miloszz wrote: Wed Mar 04, 2020 9:39 pm Massive X has a very generous demo - 60 minutes before you have to restart IIRC.

I thought it sounded best of the wavetables I tried, but in workflow it felt pretty different from the others.
I’m in agreement with you, but I think you are a bit generous with your description of the work flow. I’d go as far as to say that it’s pretty bad. I won’t go into specifics, but it needs a lot of work.

Serum, OTOH, might not sound as good (subjective) but it’s still very good and it has a great interface. I don’t really know Phase Plant. I checked it out once and I did not find it particularly inspirational. YMMV.
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69 posts since 5 Jul, 2011

Post Thu Mar 05, 2020 4:21 am

Phaseplant can do almost anything you can imagine as long as you have the skills to put all the ingredients together in the correct order.(I am missing some granular option and some modifiers but still it’s the most straightforward complex synth I have)
Serum is like the old massive with lots of bonuses and improvements. It has a very decent modulation workflow but at heart it remains a 2 osc+noise+sub osc running thru one filter

8 posts since 4 Mar, 2020

Post Thu Mar 05, 2020 5:02 am

I haven’t had a chance to use Phase Plant as of yet. But all in all I feel like Massive X has the better sound and higher quality sounding base components, but the workflow isn’t as quick or intuitive as Serum is. That being said I’m slowly getting more and more used to how Massive X is setup and starting to appreciate it.

If you have the time to really invest in it Massive X might be better, but I feel like I was able to get great sounds from Serum right out of the box when it came out.

358 posts since 6 Feb, 2017

Post Thu Mar 05, 2020 5:22 am

Massive X has nice oscillators mode and the performers, but i don't really like the UI and i find annoying not being able to map the controls to push without first assign it to a macro.

Serum has only classics oscillator mod but add a custom one (remap). The resample to osc wavetable, different mod between osc and different filters are the source of many today's dubstep sound... you can also draw your custom distortion\sat shape (or 2 dist shapes and morph between them), there is a multiband comp included.. it lacks routing functionalities and a zoom to draw lfo shapes but is very strong on all other aspects.

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179 posts since 14 Jul, 2019

Post Thu Mar 05, 2020 5:31 am

Demos>>>>advice of “better”synths. Advice is still worthwhile.

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351 posts since 24 Dec, 2015

Post Thu Mar 05, 2020 6:17 am

Kill The Noise did a comparison video of the 3 synths that you should watch perhaps. He made some good points.

Serum : safe bet, strong design. It's the EDM synth king, every producer is using it especially in Bass music.

Phase Plant : it feels like a modular version of Serum where you can add so many modules (i.e. : if you want 10 WT osc, you can) and it has phase modulation capabilities, it's a big deal because it's a full FM synth on top of WT. So it's really powerful but you have to build everything from scratch.

Massive X : feature-wise, it's kinda like a good compromise between Serum's workflow and Phase Plant's modularity and phase modulation options. Then it offers unique things like the oscillators modes, filters and effects, performers. The sound quality is gorgeous. I see many people complaining about the workflow, I don't have this experience so ymmv.

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1316 posts since 16 Jan, 2004

Post Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:03 am

For me, I've come back to simplicity in sound design. Now that I know what goes into Dubstep/Brostep sounds, I tend to reach for Serum, or even Operator (in Ableton). Sometimes FM8. For one, while having good wavetables makes things easier, it's surprising how easy it is to get good brostep sounds out of even just a single simple wave (not wavetable) being FM modulated by another simple wave.

For growls, if you're rolling your own (meaning, not using a pre-existing wavetable), usually only 3 oscillators in total, with FM, will do the trick. If you're not going to go to that level, but want to use factory included wavetables for growls, then definitely demo the synths and see what you like. I actually bought Phase Plant because I liked their wavetables, on top of being a great synth.

But, again, for me, having a little bit of sound design knowledge, I think PP or Serum are both going to get you there. I have Massive X as well, and while it's a capable synth and sounds nice, I don't really jive with it, personally.

EDIT: I have found some of the Moonboy videos on youtube pretty useful in getting some good brostep sounds. His videos aren't the best from a tutorial perspective - sometimes some of the sound design editing of a patch gets edited out of the video, but take a couple of screenshots and copy the patch from what's on screen, and you'll be fine.

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14342 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Post Thu Mar 05, 2020 5:14 pm

LumosOfficial wrote: Wed Mar 04, 2020 5:26 pm I have been trying to find a good synth for COMPLEX dubstep / brostep sound design, and I have narrowed it down to these three synths. I already have Massive. I can only afford one though, and I am not sure which to get.
Thanks in Advance
Have you looked at Sugar Bytes' CYCLOP? It seems custom made for this kind of thing and includes some unique modulators to help you achieve that kind of sound. I bought it a while ago but haven't really had a chance to dive too deep into it, as I've had an album to finish, but it is definitely worth a look.
NOVAkILL : Zenbook Duo, Core i7, 16GB RAM, Win11(64), UR44C | Studio One | GR-8, JP6K, Union, Hexeract, bx_oberhausen, Olga, TRK-01, Vacuum Pro, OB-Xtreme, Thorn, Odyssey, Proclethya, SEM, VG Iron | Uno Pro, Rocket.

3769 posts since 10 Sep, 2010 from A shit hole (Ireland).

Post Thu Mar 05, 2020 6:22 pm

I have the three of them... But I've not spent too much time with Massive X. Mainly because it seems like it would take me a while to get my head around it, unlike the original Massive which was a doddle to use... So, I can't really speak for X.

For complex sounds you can't go wrong with Serum or Phase Plant. I'm relatively new to PP but it's a killer synth, and you can pretty much do anything you want with it (and if you already have lots of the 'snap ins' your sorted). However, I love working with Serum it's very 'immediate' and the work flow is great. It's very easy to get good sounds form it!

I think you'd be happy with either of them tbh.
It's just a silvery dongle... :lol:

234 posts since 7 Mar, 2020

Post Mon Mar 16, 2020 7:08 am

I would have said Serum .. but now that I've spent several weeks with Phase Plant, it has replaced Serum (and several other synths) for me. If you spend a bit of time getting used to the workflow, Phase Plant can do just about everything really well and fast. If you are creative - it can be incredible. I tend to struggle with thinking 'outside the box' enough to really exploit the flexibility of Phase Plant. I also HIGHLY rate Falcon 2 and unlike some others, I find the workflow really great. Have fun.

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