Massive X released: Native Instruments aims for another decade of soft synth dominance

(Image credit: Native Instruments)

It’s been well over a decade since Native Instruments launched Massive, the plugin synth that helped to define the sound of an electronic music generation, and now, finally, it has a successor. After a significant delay, Massive X is here, with NI hitting its June release window by the skin of its teeth.

The obvious question is whether it’s been worth the wait - particularly if you’re someone who shelled out for the Komplete 12 bundle last year on the understanding that you’d be getting Massive X in February 2019. We’ll reserve judgement until we’ve tried it, obviously, but what’s already apparent is that this synth is Massive in both name and scope.

Massive X and its features have been heavily trailed, but it’s worth pointing out again that this is a completely new synth rather than an update to the original Massive, and will exist alongside it. However, it has been built by the same team, and is designed to offer a huge number of creative options to artists and sound designers alike.

The sonic story starts with dual wavetable oscillators and 170 wavetables. There are 10 oscillator modes, each of which has its own submodes, plus two modulation oscillators and an auxiliary modulation input.

That gives you plenty to work with right at the outset, but Massive X is also flush with filters, noise generators, insert effects and master effects. Presets are in plentiful supply, too.

One thing that will be familiar to users of the original Massive is the ‘saturn ring’ drag ‘n’ drop modulation workflow, but the routing system is completely new. As well as being able to connect any output to an input, you can also route audio to or from multiple components simultaneously, with the routing matrix making it quick and easy to create complex patches.

Modulation sources include nine slots for creative LFOs or envelopes, four Tracker modulators, Voice Randomization, and three Performer modulators. These enable you to draw in up to eight bars of modulation patterns to assign to a parameter. These patterns can, in turn, be assigned to a control octave, giving you even greater opportunity for movement and expression.

NI is calling Massive X the synth to define the next ten years of electronic music.

With more presets and features on the horizon - these will be added in free updates - Massive X certainly looks like an instrument that will be here for the long haul. In fact, NI is calling it the synth to define the next ten years of electronic music.

Whether Massive X will have that kind of longevity, or the same kind of impact as its predecessor, remains to be seen. The soft synth market in 2019 is far competitive than the one that Massive launched into, and there is a slight risk that Massive X’s almost bewildering scope and power could actually deter some users who’d prefer to keep things a bit simpler.

NI clearly sees this as another landmark release, though: we’ll bring you a full Massive X review very soon. It’s available now for PC and Mac priced at $199/€199, with an upgrade (or should that be crossgrade?) from Massive costing $149/€149. It’s also included in Komplete 12, Komplete 12 Ultimate and the Komplete 12 Ultimate Collector’s Edition.

Find out more on the Native Instruments website.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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