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The Power Of Random With NI Massive

Posted on 14th June, by SteveF in Members, Tutorials for Massive. 16 Comments
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Have you ever used the randomize feature of Massive?

I’m guessing there will be two camps here -

No – I didn’t even know it existed

Yes – But the results are unpredictable and generally useless.

What if I told you that you can actually use it to enhance your own sounds or presets you buy or that ship with Massive?

Most people assume when you hit the random button on your synth you’re going to end up with, at worst a giant mess or at best something sonically interesting but unusable in your productions.

I guess it’s like the monkeys with the typewriter – at some point if I keep hitting the buttons something valuable will be spat out the other end!

However, I’m going to show you that actually applying the randomize feature to just about any sound can result in some amazing variations for your music – whilst also removing any sterility and introducing texture and substance you probably couldn’t have programmed yourself.

It’s almost like controlled chaos!

This one won’t take long – but I bet if you already aren’t using this it’s going to become one of your favorite tools in Massive!

Random NI Massive

First I want you to open up any sound – doesn’t matter if it’s a stock preset or one of your own (this won’t really work on an ‘init’ patch)

Hit the ‘Global’ tab as per above image.

Section Overview

Now you may or may not be familiar with the above parameters – beginners keep reading… more advanced users can skip down.

You will notice 4 squares with numbers in them – OSC, Filter, Insert FX and Master FX.

OSC, Filter, Insert, Master Massive

There are 3 things to note in the whole panel:

  • - The boxes simply represent the various modules in Massive (OSC represents the 5 OSC modules – 3 OSC’s, MOD OSC and the Noise OSC etc)
  • - The numbers in the box represent the % of randomization that will be introduced to the corresponding modules

  • - Under the title ‘Randomize’ there is a list of 5 items – these allow you to select what is affected in each module (you can select all of them or just one)

This is a very powerful set of tools!

Practical use of the Randomize feature

For example, lets assume that I have really nice and clean pad but I want to quickly try changing up the wavetable positions with some wavetable POS or AMP variations without adding various MODs.

You can try this with your own sound right now.

Select ‘Parameter’ from under the ‘Randomize’ header and in the OSC block change the % amount to a small number like 10% (doesn’t matter what you choose but keep it small for this tutorial purpose).

This means you are going to change the chosen module parameters by only 10% either way (positive or negative).

Under the block is the word ‘Random’ with a little square next to it – this square is the button to action the randomization.

randomization with Massive

So go ahead and try clicking this little button (keep your eye on the knobs in the OSCs) and listen what it does to your sound! Try playing the sound again – you should be hearing some slight differences.

Very nice… click again… and again!

When you hear something you like save out the sound and keep going.

This is why it’s such a powerful tool – it can allow you to make minute changes to your sound without deviating to far from the original sound.

It can help you stumble in directions you may not have thought about or wouldn’t have tried.

I love to apply this trick to every sound I make or use to instantly explore the capabilities of my patches that I normally wouldn’t try.

In fact this is a great way of quickly making up a bank of sounds with your own sonic signature!

You can go as soft or as extreme as you like with the % difference. The higher the % number the more extreme the change.

What else can i do with this ?

MOD Depths

What’s also cool is playing with the mod depths (modulation depth – essentially how far round the colored ring goes on a knob) – so deselect ‘Parameter’ and try selecting ‘Mod Depths’.

Hit the Randomize button and you’ll see your modulation amounts change. Again – start small and tweak from there.

I usually start with a sound and start going crazy with the random button on my OSC’s & MOD Depths to quickly make a collection of complimentary sounds.

30 mins of doing this can result in tens of unique sounds!

Wavetables

Yeah that’s right – you can also choose random wavetables!

I like to mix this one up with MOD depth randomization (by placing an LFO on the WT-POS) for some real out the box stuff. To do this just select ‘Type Select’ in the list.

What this is also great for is if I have a nice sound with lots of nice rhythmic pattern in place with Performer or some complex pitch control with Stepper – but I don’t like the sonic sound itself.

I can very quickly change up the wavetables across all the OSC’s without having to change up each one manually.

Couple this with some randomization on the depth of a modulating WT-POS and I’m very quickly going to find some real gems – all whilst retaining the original features of the sound I liked!

Filters, Insert FX and Master FX

I’ve been talking about the OSC’s so far but you will notice the other 3 blocks allow you the same flexibility with the Filters, Inserts and Master FX.

There really is no limit to what you can do with this!

Experiment, Experiment!

Personally I think very small % changes on 1 or 2 parameters in one module at a time is the most powerful use of this feature.

However if you want to get more extreme try adding in more and see what happens.

I’ve said it many times on this website – experimentation is the key. Don’t be afraid to try out new things or explore the features of the synth.

Being able to add these minute changes to a broader sound can help you discover sounds that you might never have discovered otherwise.

And it’s a lot quicker than randomly dragging / clicking your way around Massive with no real direction – particularly when you have something already that’s quite close to what you want.

This is by far the easiest and quickest way to begin the sound design process i have found.

But I just want to hit random and make a whole new sound…

Of course if you want to just go crazy and make something completley wild just load up a blank patch, set the %’s to 100 and see what monsters you can unleash from the Pandora’s box that is Massive :)

Save your work!

Every time I’m at a point I’m happy with a sound – I’ll save a variation of it and try minute changes to various settings to see where i end up.

I even have banks of sounds where each sound has it’s own sub bank of variations!

Hope this one helped – Leave a comment with your thoughts on how you use this feature! I’d love to hear how you make this feature you’re own and what you do with it!


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  • jamie robinson

    very useful tip steve. i have messed around a little with randomization in the past and have gotten some very interesting results.

  • Phil

    Thank you Steve, this is very useful information. I will spend the weekend experimenting :)

  • http://www.youtube.com/alxbeginner Alexander

    Holy…………. I though i knew massive, but everytime i opened it i saw the global section and thought: Fuck dat shiet xD
    And knwo i tried typing in randomize values and a pad (“Ascending” factory patch FYI) and got a wobble with slow attack!
    AMAZING thanks for showing this feature!
    By the way the OSC controls 6 (not 5) modules:
    3 OSC’s, MOD OSC and the Noise OSC AND Feedback :)

  • http://soundcloud.com/death-works Toni Ix

    Brilliant tip Steve. I had previously looked at this feature, scratched my head over it and never went back to it until today after reading this and you have yet again changed how I work with my massive.

    Thanx a lot dude!

  • Slow Burn Friday

    Very cool Steve,
    I put it up to 100% scramble and am finding sounds I never would have imagined coming out of Massive, sick, weird, wonderful sounds.

    :)

  • http://twitter.com/jasonswe jasonswe

    Nice post. This was a pleasant surprise in my inbox :) Appreciate your sharing and time. Cheers!

  • Blume Choon

    Big ups Steve!! I”m definitely gonna try this out tonight after work! I’ve been needing a new edge on my sound design. A lot of my sounds have been sounding similar. This will put a nice new twist on them. Thanks again..!! I always look forward to your emails!! :)

  • Chris

    Thanks for sharing. This is great!

  • 8

    Useful!

  • http://www.PapaHeavyPsy.com Papa Heavy Psy

    Every VST should have a controlled randomize feature. It allows for quick easy effective sound design. It also enhances the understanding of the VST architecture. I completely agree with ” randomize in small increments”, then tweak a little more on your ow., Excellent feature.

    • http://www.PapaHeavyPsy.com Papa Heavy Psy

      Every VST should have a controlled randomize feature. It allows for quick easy effective sound design. It also enhances the understanding of the VST architecture. I completely agree with ” randomize in small increments”, then tweak a little more on your own. Excellent feature.

  • http://www.magnetto.cz Josef

    very very helpfulThanks for that…

  • http://www.dubsteptoday.com/ Blog

    This is a very useful share. I’m sure many of my twitter followers would love to see this..

    • http://www.massivesynth.com SteveF

      Great! Thanks – glad you like it!

  • chris

    Thank you very much!! opens all sorts of new doorways to possibilities

  • http://soundcloud.com/cortneywarren56 C-FELLA

    THAT’S FOR THE VALUABLE INFO BRO!


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