Massive X vs Serum vs Vital

Richard S
Richard S Member Posts: 29 Member

From what I have read, it would seem the Serum has better plug in support, an easier to use GUI, more online tutorials and more presets. So it might seem that when considering which to use, that Serum would be the best choice. However from what I understand Serum has one developer, and another competitor Vital has also just one developer.

From past experiences, when applications have just one developer, then there's a good chance that after some years of time, the products may not be as well supported as those that come from a larger company. Well except Microsoft, who really don't care.

So I feel that given a choice between learning Serum, Massive X or Vital, it might be better to choose Massive X, and learn as much as possible about that synth, which I think is the most likely of the three to have regular updates.

For all those people here, who might have experience of using more than one, can you tell me are there capabilities that are not present in Massive X, that you feel are missing? Also if there are, do you think these capabilities will be added in the future. How about software updates, what's the track record of Native Instruments?



  • Kymeia
    Kymeia NKS User Library Mod Posts: 3,993 mod

    Personally I think Massive X sounds much better, it has vastly better filters and even better effects. I also prefer the more modular approach which makes it more flexible as a sound generator.

    Serum and Vital on the other hand are better than Massive X at allowing users to add and edit their own wave tables, Massive only allows user noise tables and has no editor.

  • abnegative
    abnegative Member Posts: 60 Helper

    I second what Kymeia said: Massive X filters and effects are definitely superior, so you get better sound.

    Here's a list of lacking capabilities that I can think of, but for the most part they aren't deal breakers:

    • No undo/redo
    • The plugin does not reset internal buffers when it receives a reset message from the DAW (so you have to wait until the audio tail finishes before rendering, otherwise some of the tail ends up in the beginning of your rendered output)
    • Some timing parameters (phaser rate) don't offer a sync option
    • You have to double-click to load presets (not a huge deal but it's annoying when you're used to single-clicking and it catches you off guard when the preset doesn't change at first)
    • No straightforward way to create user preset banks
    • No custom/3rd party wavetables (not a huge deal since it includes a lot of great wavetables)
    • No envelop or voice randomization animation for visual feedback
    • Startup time is on the slower side
    • No per-voice unison
    • You can't automate unison
    • No arpeggiator (definitely not a big deal since you have the performers, and you can use an external arpeggiator)

    Even with these shortcomings I'd easily pick Massive X over Serum and Vital, mostly because it effortlessly sounds so good. It's right up there with Diva as far as sound. It also has some features where I think the developers went above and beyond:

    • auxiliary phase modulation which gives it "FM" capabilities
    • harmonization
    • node-based routing
    • excellent set of effects

    For me, Massive X comes in second place (after REAPER) as far as music software I'm passionate about.

    As far as "what's the track record of Native Instruments?"...

    Unfortunately it's not that great. I think many people feel they don't listen to their customers as much as they probably should, and I think many would agree they're often extremely slow to roll out highly requested features/fixes.

    Any of the synths you mentioned will get the job done, but I have the most fun using Massive X.

  • oobe79
    oobe79 Member Posts: 105 Advisor

    Can we expand on this and include Arturia's Pigments and Phase Plant comparisons? I have Vital (but only the free version and have not really messed around with it) and Massive X. I have no intention of getting Serum. I have way too many soft synths as it is.

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,844 Expert

    I do not want to speak about capabilities and so on, I leave it to experts. But I have few remarks concerning one developer x company dilema.

    IMHO, if the size of project is not overhelming and is maintainable by one person (or few) one man company gives in most cases better support and faster development and most probably longer support than big company....

    There are many reasons for that. But I will mention just one. For single developer his programs are his babies, for company just products...

    The only risk of one developer is that he might accidentally die or get seriously ill. But the same may happen to developer in company. Yes company may find replacement for the developer, but it might or might not be reasonable one. But yes, company may be able to continue. Better or worse way.

    Also, it is highly probable that original developer sooner or later leaves the company.... Again, better or worse replacement may come to his position. But probably not that good as the original one, in most cases.

    I have been developping SW that is already 30+ years old. And plan to go on 10-15 years more if health allows and customer will have interest in having it mantained and further improved....

  • DodMod
    DodMod Member Posts: 61 Helper

    One thing that I would like to add to the other comments is that on the NI YouTube channel Matt does a very extensive walkthrough of Massive X and that would help with the learning side of things. Not sure what is available for Vital or Serum.

  • Cinamyn
    Cinamyn Member Posts: 2 Newcomer

    Today I tried to recreate some Vital patches in Massive X, but I noticed there was no Compressor? The bass enhancer seems like it does that but only for the low end.

    Massive X seems to be tuned a bit differently. Like unison spread on Vital at 20% is same as unison spread on Massive X at 40% AND 1.25% chord morph.

    I suppose thats less intuitive and going above 6 voices on Vital, Massive X still has options with using the 2nd main OSC and 3 additional simple OSC but you need to play with the pitch rather than the split just being done for you

  • oobe79
    oobe79 Member Posts: 105 Advisor

    I forgot all about this thread and my earlier post when I was brand new to NI ecosystem. I have since spent a lot of time in Vital and a bunch of other synths. I will have to go back and listen to the filters in Massive X. I haven't spent much time with it for the last 6 months. I found the workflow a bit weird at the time, but I'm way more savvy with synthesis now than I was back then. So, I'll give it another go.

    I will say that Vital is insanely good. Between all the different modulation sources, Mod Remaps, and the luxury of all visual feedback (real-time modulation visuals, 3 different oscillator visuals, and spectrum analyzer), there really isn't much else like it. And definitely nothing comes close as a free synth. On the other hand, its developer, Matt Tyrell, has basically ghosted Vital for the past 24 months. I think he has made two posts on their community forum during that time, and the latest version of Vital is a beta that was made available over 16 months ago. However… Massive X will not be getting a new version or any other updates, probably ever again. It is considered a legacy product at this point, with several NI staff transparently stating that there is currently no development or plans for development of Massive X.

    And the rumors have been swirling for at least 6 months that Serum 2.0 is coming soon. Who knows, but I almost certainly won't buy it. But, I will probably pick up Phase Plant the next time it goes on its 50% sale ($99) and Pigments this next Black Friday if Arturia offers it for $79 again.

  • Mark Oxley
    Mark Oxley Member Posts: 215 Advisor

    Arturia's Pigments is the best wave table soft synth and the only one you'll ever need IMO. An absolute steal when it's 50% off.

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