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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Sep 2019 > NATIVE INSTRUMENTS Massive X


Massive X is Native Instruments’ long-awaited follow up to one of the most successful soft synths of all time. But will this X mark a spot in synth history?

Looking at the history of music purelyfrom a gear point of view, I’d argue thatsome of the machines used have beenas important (if not more so) than thehumans that played them. History will, of course,place the humans above the technology, butwe’re MusicTech, so we heap as much praiseon the gear; therefore, it’s the Moogs and ARPsthat defined synth pop, the 303s and 909s thatdefined dance… and for more recent strandsof the genre? Well, let’s give some love to thehumble soft synth.

Surely, you might say, this relatively younginstrument category can’t be up there withthe likes of the Odyssey, the 303 or the Jupiter?Yes, it can. Soft synths have had a good coupleof decades to bed in and at least half a dozen –including Serum, Sylenth, Diva and NativeInstruments’ original Massive – have been asinfluential as the hardware that preceded them.

Key features

Dual-wavetable oscillator soft synthOver 170 wavetables and 10 Wavetable Modes (each with different sub modes)

Two additional phasemodulation oscillatorsOne filter, nine types

Nine slots for LFO and envelope modulation

Three Performers for up to eight bars of modulation

Three blocks of 10 send FX

Insert effects allow effects anywhere on signal chain or add 3 extra oscillators and moreRequires: macOS 10.12+, Windows 7+, Intel Core i5 CPU, 4GB RAM (6 GB rec.)


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About MusicTech

It’s probably not all that contentious to say that everybody, at some stage in their music-making journey, needs a synth. Whether you’re working on deep, intricate soundscapes, creating pounding dance music or concocting chart-climbing pop hits, taking advantage of the myriad textures, pads and leads that the synthesiser provides is a no-brainer. This month, we celebrate this beloved instrument with a series of linked features, highlighting the history, science and ongoing development of the synth. We speak to Georgia, an artist who wowed Glastonbury with her retro synth-pop stylings; take a trip to Bristol to visit UDO and look at the making of the Super 6, a synthesiser that merges the very best of old and new technology; while Andy Jones delves into the synth’s pivotal role in shaping dance music. We also continue Adam Crute’s Sound Synthesis Masterclass series, this time exploring the science and mechanics of sampling and synthesis. Aside from our synth focus, we also have a fantastic interview with The Prodigy engineer and co-producer Neil Mclellan, who tells the inside story of the making of their classic record Music For The Jilted Generation. We also speak to MPG Breakthrough Engineer Of The Year 2019 Dani Bennett Spragg about her incredible career to date and her best-practice advice. Later, we experience the mind- (and ear-) blowing wall of sound that is James Murphy and Soulwax’s Despacio sound system. Our review section this month continues the synthy vibe that runs through this issue, as we get hands-on with Native’s latest iteration of Massive X, have some fun with Modal’s CRAFTsynth 2 and explore the scope of Softube’s Volume 3. I hope you enjoy the issue.