Review: ModeAudio Open Spaces R&B Patches for Massive

ModeAudio's latest collection of patches for Native Instruments' Massive synth focuses on R&B, both Nu electronic styles and old skool. Does this pack come up trumps? Read on to find out.  

In recent years, R&B has begun to morph into a sound that is both reminiscent of a more electronic era, and something even more romantic… If that’s even possible. Being most observant, ModeAudio has capitalized on R&B’s current evolution with Open Spaces—A Massive (No, literally) expedition into both yesteryear and today. Do these patches add up to the soul that went into the demo? Let’s find out?

Sucka for Basses

Recent trends homage towards lush electronica more than any era I can remember. With that being said, it’s okay for the patches to sound a little more 8-bit and a little more electronic. And, Open Spaces delivers, here. But, in no area more than the Bass section of the Massive (yep, NI) bank of sounds. Synth basses are low, deep and really do sit well within all of my Nu R&B-ish tracks. Simple, basic modifier mappings were thoughtfully put together and can be quickly molded for a variety of different track types. And, being very honest, here: hardly any effects, aside from some compression are needed. The bass patches are dialed in.

Bass Marshmallow patch

Lead with Precision

The leads of Open Spaces also soar with some lovely sci-fi elements, as well as some of the thinner, Moog-ier, patches, like you’d expect. Big Bad Wolf is already going into my regular set of patches. Lost Highway will do nice in some moody, laid back groove. Shapshifter, while labeled as a lead, can technically, through it’s modifiers, be a go to patch for those little, ‘filler’ sounds, that always wedge somewhere between the bass and lead. And, really, that’s where the set, as a whole shines. It’s not a bank that will blow you away when you first sit down with it because you’ll try to focus on the individual patches. This is a bank that really excels when you see how the patches work together.

Pads, Perc, FX

Originally, I had harsher words for ModeAudio when I first heard the pads in this set. However, once I started using them within a lush R&B track, I ended up being very impressed. The pads are designed to sit in the back. They aren’t intended to be the big, bold, epic patches. They are intended for a form of music that is very vocal oriented. And, understanding this intention, through experience, they really, really do this well. 

Percussive and SFX synth patches also go a long way in helping you quickly achieve the vibe of current R&B tracks. They aren’t pretty. They are just quick, chirpy and add to the ‘newness’ of what you’ll use them on… Well, for as long as the chirpy stuff sounds new, right?

Gate Hotairballoon patch

Conclusion

This set taught me a few things about sound design. In fact, as an engineer, it re-taught me something—don’t solo a track and judge the song. You have to hear the whole thing, together. And, let me tell you, this pack, for what they are charging for it, is a steal. Very well thought out, and it definitely delivers.

Price: $19

Pros: A well thought out preset bank for new R&B that really embodies the sound.

Cons: Very specific to R&B, Hip-Hop.

Web: http://modeaudio.com/product/open-spaces

Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like Lu... Read More

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