ModeAudio does incredible sound design work and I was pretty pleased to hear that they wanted their products reviewed by OhmLab. Today we take a look at Spectral Surface for NI Massive, a collection of 50 texture-rich patches, and tell you what we think!
We would like to start by saying that as sound design aficionados here at the Lab, it is very refreshing and inspiring to open up a pack of sounds for NI Massive like those we found inside Spectral Surface. These guys really get it. Each patch is set up with 8 well-programmed Macro controls for added manipulation control. And I must say, the thought that went into those Macros is truly appreciated.
None of these sounds are lacking anything. There's something I do not say very often about preset packs. But Spectral Surface gives you 50 usable patches in a pack of 50. The actual performance flexibility that is programmed into the sounds means that each patch can be used in multiple projects without there having to ever be a concern about repetitious results or predictability from track-to-track.
And these sounds are perfect for film scoring and video game development. OhmLab does a lot of work for clients in these industries and we can tell you from experience that the sounds in the Spectral Surface collection are perfect for this kind of work. Plenty of dynamic range can be found in the subtle atmospheric patches like Binary Ecology, Stratos or Distance, which means that you can easily bring out small details later on during processing. This is great for supporting and background elements. And the bigger or more aggressive patches like Broken Fan, DigiBlitz and Drum Machine deliver solid and confident elements that can be a larger focus.
We put Spectral Surface through the two minute challenge* here in the Lab and this is what we ended up with:
[Please visit Ohm Lab's site to hear this audio clip]
*The two minute challenge is simple, take a few sounds at random and try to create something useable and impressive in two minutes or less.
The two minute challenge is a simple way to see just how useable a pack of presets really is for the average user. Sure, we could create something much more impressive and professional in more time and if we cherry picked the sounds for the specific purpose of showing off. But that is not at all what we think reviews should be about. If you can grab a few sounds and make something good in very little time, chances are that the average user can do much better if they take their time and customize the patches to their specific needs.
Some of my favorite presets were straight-up texture generators. Tesla, Insection and Traffic, just to name a few, really stand out as benchmark presets and yet they are right in-line with the overall quality and well-thought-out sound design approach found throughout the Spectral Surface collection.
A few other things to point out before wrapping things up here. First, it takes a deep understanding of both NI Massive, and synthesis in general, to consistently design patches this well-made. This means that you not only get a lot of top shelf sounds, but that you can learn a lot while using them, too. Second, the Macros are not just programmed well, performance constraint was obviously a focal point because each one allows you to manipulate the corresponding parameters without worrying about encountering unwanted extremes.
This is one preset pack for NI Massive that you can have confidence in picking up. We're feeling pretty good about supporting ModeAudio and so should you. OhmLab tested and approved!