Serum vs Massive X: What’s the Difference?

Native Instrument introduced Massive back in 2007 that changed the face of music as we know. It was a dream synthesizer for the majority of the successful EDM producers.

For many years with no other competitors, Massive was considered as the most powerful VST instrument with fascinating electronic sound. To turn the tables, in 2014 Steve Duda came up with Xfer Serum, which shook the world instantly.

Within a few months, Serum became the most powerful synth software, ready to revolutionize the music industry. Xfer Serum was introduced as a highly versatile and artistic wavetable synthesizer ensuring an uncompromised sound and flow.

Now, fast forward to 2020, Native Instrument came back with a bang by announcing Massive X, an extension to previous synth software. With new and inventive changes, Massive X came in with the idea to clash with Serum. Did it succeed? Well, we are here to evaluate this and come up with an answer!

Initial Considerations

Before we start a head-on-head comparative analysis and figure out the major differences. Let’s just consider some general factors regarding both VST.

·        Synthesis Type

Either it's Xfer Serum or Native Instrument Massive X, they both are wavetable synthesizers. They both work on the same technique, i.e., morphing oscillators, instead of static shapes such as a sawtooth and square wave. They both provide emulating musical tones, allowing the mixer to mix thousands of possible timbres.

·        Recency

Serum hit the market when Massive was already an established wavetable synthesis. However, within few months, Serum took over its competitors’ popularity due to major upgrades and tons of cool features. More than a decade later, Native Instrument reentered the market with Massive X release.

It's expected that since Massive X is new plugin, therefore, it will offer updates and the latest features. However, Serum is already a stable synthesizer and is expected to give the same competition to Massive X.

Factors to Consider when Comparing Massive X and Serum

Below are the main factors you need to consider to differentiate both rivals. Don’t forget, Serum and Massive X are both leading soft synthesizer powerhouses for their users.

·        Pricing

Pricing plays a significant role in comparing the two leading soft synthesizers. Both the plugins with such powerful creativity and feature-rich experience comes no cheap. Be ready to pay for it!

What’s crucial to understand is that either it's Massive X or Serum, they both are heavyweight plugins. They are an integral part of the seamless production of your music. Hence, don’t think as your money going down in drain! Instead, it's more like an investment for the betterment and excellence of your musical perfection.

Currently, Massive X is priced at USD 199.00 only. Whereas, Serum comes for USD 189.00 only. We can see there is not much price difference here. Therefore, either one goes with a good amount of money. However, Serum and Massive X provide a free trial download as well. You may want to test one before purchasing!

·        Layout

The interface and layout of both the synthesizers are completely different. You need to understand both of them before starting the fast-paced workflow.

The layout of Massive X is sleek, futuristic, and aesthetically pleasing, as compared to its older version, Massive. However, all the features in Massive X are adjusted in a single view. This makes it overwhelming, much crowded, and a lot more confusing. The texts are smaller and harder to read. Knobs and different controls are spread across the interface, making navigation difficult.

Serum on the other hand has an intuitive, easy to comprehend, and versatile layout. The learning curve is easier and much relaxed. It has an aesthetically pleasing sci-fi appearance backed with a fascinating 3D oscillator waveform visualizer. The texts are readable and the knobs and modulating features are big enough to be understood. Its layout has no distraction that might prove as a problem to the user.

·        Sound Production

Sound is a vital comparison tool for both of these synthesizers. It's not the looks, but the sound that makes one superior or better than the other. Neither Massive X nor the Serum offers compromised sound quality. However, they do sound different from each other.

The biggest differentiation is the tonal difference of both the synthesizers. Back when Serum was released, it became popular due to its clean, unique, and untouched sound output. Serum is still famous for pristine sounding synths it produces. Digital producers love and appreciate it.

Massive X on the other hand is popular for crafting rich fatter tones. It can produce analog tones using an oscillator. Its heavy tonal texture is loved by electronic producers due to its crisp tone. Without excessive customization and advanced sound settings, incredible sound can be achieved.

Serum however is not your go-to synthesizer for analog emulation. You can make analog sounds with Serum but extra help and effort are required. However, with Massive X you don’t need it. It produces a slightly warmer sound and is rougher round the edges. But if you want pristine and clean tonal texture, Serum is your better partner.

This does not mean Massive X is better or Serum is greater. It depends on your personal preferences and musical taste.

·        Presets

Not just Serum comes with a hefty library of presets, Massive X also offers a variety of different genres.

In the default synthesizer library of Serum there are presets from third-party available. These are designed by sound designers, artists, and producers. Hence, the sounds are of high-quality and produce practical music.

In Massive X, the preset library is also impressive. It contains practical sounds as well as presets with impressive capabilities of synthesis. You can access the keys, bass, FX, chords, pads, percussion, etc., from a stunning folder.

In Serum you have third-party presets, but you can upload your own created ones as well. However, in Massive X there are already a huge array of synthesizers that are loved by the audience.

·        Features

Following are the features that make Massive X and Serum different and unique from each other.

Ø  Oscillators

Either it is Massive X or Serum, they both have two independent wavetable oscillators.

The best and the leading thing about Serum is that it allows importing of customized wavetables. You can use either the imported audio option, or third-party wavetables, or simply draw and customize it all by yourself. You can unlock an unbelievable amount of artistic possibilities with it and fuse your music as per your desire.

However, Massive X lacks this feature. You can neither add wavetables nor import audio. You cannot add customized sound as well. There are pre-added wavetables that you can select in Massive X.

With Serum, you can simply import all the Massive X wavetables as well. You can gain access to 3D models as well for your wavetable. With Serum, you can also position the wavetable as per your requirement. A simple tweak produces incredible waves and depth to your music. Massive X lacks such customization.

Ø  Modulation

Both of these soft synthesizers are powerhouses when it comes to modulation. To access an extensive range of sound, the envelope and LFO in both of the plugins are astonishing.

The serum has 3 fixed envelopes for the users. Whereas, there are 4 LFOs that are expandable to 8 in it. It offers only 1 type of envelope and LFO.

But with Massive X, there are 9 independent LFO/Envelope options that are customizable. These can be either set to an exciter envelope, or a modulation envelope, or a switcher LFO or a completely random LFO. With Massive X, there are endless possibilities to add versatility and passion to your music.

Ø  Effects

We already know that, the effects are a vital part of a synthesizer engine. Massive X and Serum are powerhouses and provide incredible effects to elevate your music.

You can add up to 10 mesmerizing effects to your musical piece with Serum.

There are nearly 20 effects with Massive X that can make your music a lively and impressive one.

The names of the impressive variety of effects in both Serum and Massive X are as follows:

Serum Effects

Massive X Effects

Hyper/Dimension

Anima

Distortion

Bit Crusher

Flanger

Utility

Phaser

Folder

Chorus

Freq Shifter

Delay

Distortion

Compressor

OSC

Reverb

PM OSC

EQ

Ring Mod

Filter

Sample + Hold

 

Track Delay

 

Dimension Expander

 

Equalizer

 

Flanger

 

Nonlinear Lab

 

Phaser

 

Quad Chorus

 

Reverb

 

Stereo Delay

 

Stereo Expander

 

But does this make Massive X better as compared to Serum in the effects section? The answer is absolute no!

Indeed, Massive X has more effects, but it lacks individual control. Massive X has a substantial amount of effects in it as compared to Serum. But Serum allows more slots to insert the effects. With Serum, you can also control individual control and mix and fuse them as per your desire.

With Serum, you can achieve precision and heavy customization for effects, even with limited effect options.

The Bottom Line

It's quite evident that both of the plugins have their differences. But Serum is still brilliant with higher chances of updates that can revolutionize it further. It has a custom wavetable import feature. It is easy to comprehend, the layout is simple and intuitive, and of course, the sound it produces is crystal clear.

Massive X is a stunner in terms of its functionality; however, the layout of Massive X is a bit overwhelming and it doesn’t allow the wavetable import facility. The sound it produces is undoubtedly brilliant with analog facility loved by electronic producers.

The final decision is always yours!