The original version of Massive was a watershed moment in virtual synthesis, spawning entire genres with its wavetable oscillators, easy-to-use FM synthesis, and powerful filters. Since then, heir to the throne, Massive X, has been the subject of speculation, teasers and delays.
Back in September, we got our first glimpse of Massive X's interface; in March the picture got filled in with an entire screenshot; and now we've been given two sonic demonstrations in a Native Instruments blog post (opens in new tab).
Both videos demonstrate the synth's oscillators, leaving other modules out of the spotlight.
Massive X's two wavetable oscillators have ten modes of operation, ie, ten ways in which the wavetables can be scanned through and played back.
Standard mode operates as a traditional wavetable, with a low-pass filter in tow. This is the mode shown in the video at the top.
Bend mode adjusts the wavetable read speed to a curve that you adjust; Mirror mode plays the wavetable forwards and backwards, and has a Ratio control that can introduce wavefolding effects; Hardsync mode should act to slave one oscillator to another, restarting their cycles together, no matter the pitch difference. There are controls to alleviate any harshness.
Wrap mode is similar to Hardsync mode, but with fewer pitch artefacts when modulated; Formant mode lets you play the waveform across the keyboard while keeping its timbre more consistent; Jitter mode adds deviation to the expected oscillator playback, and Random mode introduces chaos to parameters you choose.
ART mode (ART standing for Artificial Resonance Technology) pushes hardsync into voodoo territory to create what NI describe as "something very similar to a high resonating bandpass filter", with a Body control to dial back in the bass.
Finally, Gorilla mode, which has already come to be known as 'Harambe mode', is " vulgar and aggressive, specializing in over-the-top sounds."
Is X really a plugin?
Perhaps worryingly for some, NI's branding on the header of the blog post itself shows the routing of a Reaktor ensemble.
With the company's tendency to release Reaktor-based and Kontakt-based instruments more than actual plugins as of late (see Form, Kontour, TRK-01...) many will be hoping that Massive X doesn't add an extra layer of friction between the DAW and its sounds.
However, no images have been released with any Reaktor headings, and this could well just be a graphical statement from NI, demonstrating the idea 'we are building something' alongside the 'lab' title.
UPDATE: NI has confirmed that Massive X will be a VST/AU/AAX plugin and not a Reaktor instrument. This is confirmed in a Massive X FAQ (opens in new tab).
Native Instruments says it's planning more labs towards the release of Massive X. while the synth had originally been slated for release in February, this was later changed to June. No firm update has since been given on the exact release date.
Anyone with a Komplete 12 licence should be entitled to Massive X when it's released.