Pro Tips on Making Shifting Drone Synths in NI Massive
This in-depth tutorial shares some great advice on how to design better shifting drone synths in NI Massive!
Although this lesson has drone in the title, you can also apply these same techniques to soundscapes, deep pads and atmospheres with great results! I feel that it is very important to program in various things that will create change over time, as it adds more interest, character, depth and actually becomes more immersive. All of this makes the listener engage more with your sounds and shifts them from being a passive listener to an active listener, which is exactly what we want as artists, musicians and producers. So it makes sense to master the art of designing shifting drone synths in NI Massive. Let’s jump right into it!
I have selected three wavetables that have a decent range of sounds to start with, and chose to set OSC2 to run in Formant+ mode because it works better with the sound and what we’re trying to accomplish.
Our sound is then routed through both a Double Notch filter and a Daft filter, which will help us greatly in shaping the sound and ensuring that the range of frequencies does not get to wide.
When creating shifting drone synths in NI Massive, I find it best to work with more than one modulation controller. This allows you to extend the sense of random changes over time, which keeps the listener from being able to predict what is coming next. This is all part of building a more immersive sound. Below are the settings for three different LFOs. We will assign these to various parameters throughout the synth later in the lesson.
I have also added just a touch of Vibrato at this point. Subtle movements work well in big sounds that are made even larger with reverb, delay, etc.
This is a good time to set up the Voicing tab. It will give us a more accurate take on our sound as we build it up, as I already know I want three voices to achieve more depth and width without getting to overdriven. This is a classic maneuver and works well when designing drone synths in NI Massive.
A touch of Brown Noise and some Feedback are added.
A little more shaping with HP LP Filter and Parabolic Shaper insert effects.
Below is the Routing schematic for this sound.
When making drone synths in NI Massive you are able to easily extend your sounds into a larger environment with the Dimension Expander and Reverb units. A little EQ tweaking is also necessary to accentuate and attenuate the right frequencies.
Now that we have the main structure of this sound put together, we can begin to program the modulation assignments. This is where the real magic of making drone synths in NI Massive comes to life. The reason is use more than one LFO (or other modulation controllers, for that matter) is so that I can build up ore complexity within them before they are assigned to other parameters. Tweaking parameters like Rate and Amp are just as important as utilizing the Internal Envelope feature to gain more control over how the LFOs impact your sounds over time.
Time to set up the oscillator modulation assignments!
And now the filter panel.
For more added interest and character, the Modulation OSC panel is also put into play.
And finally we use the last LFO to control some panning modulation for extra width.
Here is a small audio sample of this shifting drone in action. One note is played and sustained. No processing of any kind has been applied.