Edit: I've spent even more time with Massive X, working around the poor GUI performance on Mac, and I have to say, the sound is top notch. In particular, it growls and grunts and rasps in a way that maintains its character when pushed to extremes, where other synths would dissolve into white noise and buzzing. And in less extreme settings, the sound still has a certain je ne sais quoi, a dimensionality that is hard to put your finger on but is nonetheless there. Sorry if that sounds like audiophile voodoo. I doubt it's an illusion on my part, because my initial response to the synth was overwhelmingly negative. I'm going to let most of my old review below stand because IMO the criticisms are valid and not nitpicks. Raising my rating though, in light of the great sound engine and in expectation of some nice updates.
Here's what I don't like:
- It handles like a cow. It's awkward and sluggish.
- it uses huge amounts of CPU on Mac when the GUI is displayed. I think this is the first Mac product from NI that uses retina resolution, and it appears they have some work to do in the optimization department. In the meantime I run it at 50% size, which helps.
- it's obscure. Nothing is obvious. Very poor ergonomic design, compounded by the lack of a manual.
- the GUI looks tired. It's full of wasted space, and paradoxically manages to look empty and cluttered at the same time. And it also makes me think that this is fundamentally a polyphonic Reaktor blocks ensemble with the hood welded shut. That could explain the performance issues, compared to the first Massive which looks to have been coded from the ground up.
- You can't import wavetables.
- The "switcher" LFO clicks when it's switched. Whaaaaa...? What... is the point??
- Want to map a MIDI controller to a control? Forget about it, you have to map it to a macro and then map the macro to a control. Why??
What are the good points? Well, hopefully my criticisms can be addressed in updates. And the sound is very, very good. It'll do that skronky womp womp post-dubstep EDM thing that people will want to use it for, and more.
Looking forward to raising my rating when the updates drop.
This is more of a summary than a review, made after my initial few hours use of NI's latest synth creation. It's very incomplete as there's quite a lot of avenues to explore with this synth.
1. Sounds very good. In fact, it sounds considerably less harsh than Massive without having to resort to filtration. Have only made a few sounds so far but it's surprisingly easy to grasp the basics without the manual, although i'm quite sure that any in depth understanding will take some time longer. There are a lot of wavetables as well as plentiful ways to treat them.
2. The routing is exceptional. Its things like this that will keep it at the top of the pile for the forseeable future.
3. Resizable GUI.
4. NI are having one of their 50% off upgrades until the end of this month. I wasn't going to spend any money on music software this year but i've relented and am very pleased I did. I've gone from Komplete 7 to this, so have a lot of catching up to do.
1. No randomisation. Whilst not essential, Massive's ability to do this was very useful when you're not in the mood to sculpt sounds from scratch.
2. Envelopes don't have visual feedback. Also, not essential but being able to see shapes goes quite a way to carving out textures for better sounds. Todays oomputers are extremely powerful and can handle automated graphics, so Massive X's absence of visual animations makes me want to shout at the design team. Also, it would be great to have the option to save envelopes and LFO's to use in other sounds.
It would be good to have a patchable oscilloscope as well.
3.. I'm not so keen on its GUI. Whilst it is resizable, I would like to have single percentage increments rather than the much larger increments it offers so it can perfectly fit my laptop screen and whilst the layout is reasonably clear, there's something confusing about it. Perhaps this will go once I get fully used to it.
4. 1 complex filter for everything. Yes, there are other filters built into its routing (util) so you can dial in parallel and serial filter combinations but these filters are much more basic. This may or may not be a bad point once I get used to it.
5. CPU usage is high. A 4 voice patch takes up approx 17% of my processor power (I5 3320M), whereas it's only 2% with the original Massive. That's a lot, although i'm sure they've made it as efficient as possible. Looks like i'll be doing a lot of bounces.
6. Needs an AVX capable CPU. Thankfully, mine already is.
This will do for now. I may write another in a few weeks time.
It may be great, however I would give Native Instruments ZERO stars for the tiny notice of Massive X being AVX dependent. And what is AVX anyway? Try finding out if your CPU is AVX or not or to find any information on upgrade CPU with AVX suitable for your computer. The great workhorse MAC Pro 2009-2013, the only module built MAC up til comming fall, does not have AVX. I guess many people are pissed by Native almost hiding the limit information of Massive X. Just before Massive X was released Native started a marketing campain for upgrading Komplete. The new Massive was one of the most focused selling points in the campain. You really need to look hard to find any information on the AVX limit. I know techonolgy moves ahead and sooner or later there will come a product that your old computer cannot handle, I do however question Natives marketing moral and I also question how the Native standing is the MAC Pro community these days.
I have one of those old Mac Pro's, actually mine is even older, 2008 (just collecting dust). However I have a 2011 iMac core i5 and it supports AVX. The iMac was a hold over until they released another tower, but the new Mac Pro's are too expensive. I can see how people would be upset, then again those are pretty old.
Nope. Dune 3 (and previous Dunes) runs ok on non AVX CPUs. I may run better with AVX but it does not depend on AVX to run. Same as a couple more instruments. They run on both AVX and non AVX CPUs. Massive X is, as far as I know, the first to run ONLY on AVX. I do not mind Native developing products for the future, and I see that at a given time old computeres will not be able to run new products. I am totally fine with that. What I however think is not very good customer service is not to give proper information during a heavy upgrade marketing campain where MX was one of the selling points. It is right that there is a sentence there telling it requires AVX, but who knows really the impact of that sentence? And if you have stumbled accross the term before and bought or downloaded anything that had AVX in the specs, your experience would be that is does in fact run, giving the term AVX no further worry. Native is using their mail database for the campain and it would be of almost no effort to send out a kind of warning to the huge community of MAC Pro users that MX will not run on their computer, or at least add the word "Only" in the AVX sentence. As it was a lot of people feel fooled. Native is, with the sentence they added to the specs "lawfully protected", but as for customer service it is way under acceptance.