A Better Default Patch for NI Massive
The default patch in Massive is not exactly the greatest – that is, if you just want to start with something more alike regular subtractive synthesizers. Furthermore, lots of older hardware synthesizers have certain things hardwired for more expressive playing.
A Better Default Patch
by Rob Janssen
Let’s improve it!
Move all the F1/F2 sliders per oscillator to F1. Additionally, turn the Wt-position entirely to the left so you hear a real square wave instead of square + saw. To make sounddesign easier, just consider halfway to be the maximum volume per oscillator; it’s easier to turn one oscillator up in volume than to turn the other two down. While I don’t know the details of Massive’s summing algorithm, it’s also a precaution to avoid clipping on the output. Yes – you can turn the master volume down, but that won’t help if the internal mixer produces a clipped signal. We’ve got headroom enough anyway!
Move the +F2 slider from Parallel to Serial, and move the Mix slider to Mix1. The absolute majority of subtractive synthesizers has a single filter. You’ll notice that I’ve also moved the filter volume slider up completely.
Let’s also make the envelope act like a proper gated one; sound should be continuous instead of fading away after initial attack.
On the Juno-60 they used a trick to make up for the lack of a second envelope; the VCA (voltage controlled amplifier) has a switch that chooses between “ENV” and “GATE”. This allows you to use the envelope for shaping the filter while the regular volume envelope looks like an ADSR-envelope with zero attack, maximum decay/sustain and zero release. Very useful for a variety of sounds; organs, synth brass and synth bass, where the release period was pretty much zero anyway, so you get full freedom with the ADSR for the filter.
What you’ve got right now is a video game bleep; but we’re not finished yet.
In the OSC tab, set pitch bend to +2 up and -2 down. Set the Vibrato depth and rate to what’s shown in the picture.
One thing that may be puzzling is that there doesn’t seem to be a routing for the modulation wheel; Massive’s flexibility is its enemy in discovering this option.
Right-click on Macro control nr. 1 (shown in the right bottom corner), choose MIDI Learn, and turn the modulation wheel up. If you’ve set up your MIDI controller and DAW correctly, moving it up and down moves the little Macro knob up and down. Now, route the macro control to the depth of the vibrato.
In case you’re reading this as your first article, routing anything in Massive is really easy.
- – Click the little D-pad next anything you want to use as a source of modulation. The number appears next to your mouse arrow.
- – Click on any of the little boxes below any slider or knob, which is the destination. The number’s put in there.
- – Click and drag the mouse cursor when it’s put on such a box to adjust the modulation amount
All modulation – from modular synthesizers to hardwired ones – are based on the concept of the holy trinity of source, destination and amount.
Now you’ve got a default patch that’s a lot better than the default Massive one in terms of a starting point for simple subtractive emulation. However, there is a small issue: the routing we made to let the modulation wheel control Macro 1 will not be saved in the patch itself. This is a feature; if you have a controller with 16 knobs, you’ve assigned the first 8 to the Macro Control, and you switch from one patch to another, those 8 knobs will still do what they were intended to do; you won’t have to reassign knobs or tweak completely different ones to change the macro control values.