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Hive 2 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By snigelx [read all by] on 2nd August 2018
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows.
Last edited by snigelx on 2nd August 2018.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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One thing to bear in mind about Hive. It is designed by synthesizer specialists AND professional well-known sound-designers for use in productions, bearing Focus and Efficiency in mind. It is obvious after some dedicated use that careful planning went into all aspects. (with continued refinement/development in the form of a significant update -a new kind of OSC- coming in the very near future)

The immediate power lies in its straight-forward Focused interface and Efficient use of on-board computer CPU. It it invites simple non-obstructive creativie-flow type patching as well as more complex sound-design enjoyed by synthesizer enthusiasts. The interface does not overwhelm and each module is clearly identified so anyone with basic synth knowledge can jump right in and program.

I find the 2 Dual Stereo OSC design makes for a quick effective production-centric tool. Here is the first point of efficiency. It keeps me focused for production. Right in front of me I clearly see OSC1 and its hardwired (configurable) routing on the Left and then an exact copy of this for OSC2 on the Right. For example, without tabbing back 'n' forth to different screens, one can effectively patch a sound with two-layers in about a minute for quick 'n' dirty use then refine it later. Hive's (currently) 9 switchable waveforms are more than sufficient for patching many creative and popular sounds used in modern and yesteryear's music.

Note: Hive is an excellent synth to begin one's journey to learn substractive synthesis. The concise yet enjoyable user guide (authored by Howard Scarr, a well-known synthesist himself) is an easy read and is interspersed with Tips 'n' Tricks for the curious who wish to take patching one step further. Getting familiar with Hive's general routing architecture and controls is a super-quick process Even Without the manual, but when one feels the need to dig deeper you can quickly access it from a menu.

Other things I personally appreciate about Hive are found below in the form of brief points off the top of my head. Note all these are not necessarily Exclusive to Hive, BUT it is U-he's Implementation of the feature that I find special in some of these cases. Buckle-up, it's a beefy list.

– 3 switchable (on-the-fly) "Synth Engines", each providing a purposeful character/behaviour for certain modules, incl FILT and ENV. (explained in the u.guide) These are "Lockable" when changing presets and available to host for automation. In fact, most controls on the interface are able to be locked – an Excellent feature. Try this in the mod matrix for some Randomisation-like behavior on other presets besides the current patch.

– Nearly All controls available to host for automation. Incredibly useful these days.

– Ability to Save MODULE presets for each of the main synth modules, incl. Arp/Seq and the Effects module.

– Beautiful-sounding Effects units, with an amazing Reverb capable of smooth infinite times and a warm crisp Saturation/Wave-shaping unit to get body or add harmonics. The routing of the Fx chain can rearranged via dragging 'n' dropping fx in the desired order. Super-quick. Also the parameters of each module are accessible as Modulation Targets in the MM.

– 2 beautifully designed resonant multi-mode filters (incl. peaking filter and band-reject modes), drive-able pre- and post- (in fact, All on-board gain stages seem to affect the signal depending on the Engine setting). Makes it feel like the audio is being affected by live components. Also appreciate the way switchable 2-way bipolar modulation depths are setup here, super-quick and to-the-point. (the switch b/t 1and2 mod sources on ea. filter is host-automate-able)

– The OSC's have a "Flow" phase behavior control. In my experience I notice this sounds 'more natural' on Arps/Seq or any fast patterns/motifs. It's one of those things that the ave ear won't hear...but maybe 'feel'. I definitely do.

– Sub-OSC on ea. Master is tunable down Or up, based on the Master setting. (3 oct) And if slaved to the Master, the "sub" can be phase modulated as well.

– A separate "solo" switch can be found on each Master- and Sub- OSC module. AS WELL as each Filter. (and Yes, these are available to the host for automation)

– "LINK" switch which when activated enables all parameter adjustments on side 2 of the interface to be adjusted in relation to side 1's current position. Great for fast patching or performance.

– The LFO's and ENV's have multiple triggering options which greatly increase potential behavior of a patch, esp useful when used in conjunction with Arp/Seq or a host Seq. They also have a not-so common Unipolar switch for forcing the LFO to output only positive values. Very useful in certain instances.

– HIGHLY-CONFIGURABLE Arp/Seq module with a killer ability to link them, yet run them at Different tempos relative to one another. SERIOUS potential to be uncovered here for a variety of uses (and abuses). One can Record his seq data via MIDI input for Hive's Seq AND Hive's Seq can record back in its own Arp-triggered MIDI notes. This module enables some fancy grooves. In fact, Hive is unofficially a beastly groove machine in the hands of a patient programmer. Listen to some of those rhythmic presets to get a basic idea of how it can groove. Presets CAN be saved for this module

– A Super Versatile 12-bay 2-source 2-destination DRAG 'n' DROP style Modulation Matrix (Love This) which IS CAPABLE of several times Recursive modulation + Mod Targets can often be modulated OVER their original parameter value constraints.. Serious weirdness (and practicality) is available here. The Mod Matrix Source menu offers hidden control Sources "ControlA and ControlB. These are assignable to any MIDI CC, incl the usual MW, PW, Expression...blah blah. This opens up a world of practical use like patch mod control via MIDI from the host or Other Control surfaces. Mod Targets have Modifiers available to 'shape' any applied modulations. There are also Mod Target Modifiers used to affect the modulation of a target in increments or various other ways (Nice to have this for 'tuning' modulations to a specific purpose). Presets can be saved for EACH MM bay (BIG time-saver!)

– SEQ can operate in MOD mode... Extra configurable 16-point LFO?

– Graphical KEYS with latching and velocity; great assistance for building sounds

– Ability to set a Default Mod Matrix setup for MM page 1 And 2 separately.

– Very cool options for MIDI CC setup with a separate highly-configurable MIDI control table available in the Prefs. Endless MIDI control potential.

– Poly-Pressure MIDI control (each voice gets unique value). Very nice.

That's not all the goods by a long shot, but in closing, there's lot's of potential to be uncovered in this instrument, and a lot of what is not available in Hive's synthesis engine is either not available due to keeping CPU resource use at minimum (to jive with one of Hive's overall missions) Or because inclusion of such functionality would entail cluttering the well- laidout interface. I find this a super-efficient production tool. Hope you will as well. Happy patching.