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Industry Standard ROMpler
Synths or samples? In our day and age, this question presents itself to nearly any producer looking to push their sound out of the bedroom and into the bigroom. Sound-selection is, no matter the genre, by and large one of the most crucial aspects of any project. With hard drives full of sample folders and our DAWs packed full of every synth plug-in under the sun, producers spend hours of their lives searching, digging, frantically combing their files for that perfect kick or snare…that perfect bass hit or noise fill.
That’s where Nexus comes in. Described by reFX as a "next generation ROM synthesizer-plug in" (ie ROMpler), this beast of a plug in can be found in the project files of the vast majority of Beatport top 100s tracks... and for good reason. There is something undeniably alluring about a central hub to command those hundreds of samples, with familiar controls that any synth programmer can easily maneuver. It’s difficult to pinpoint what it is about Nexus that makes it so usable: the sleek interface with quick controls and organized library, the nearly endless samples that both come with the base synth or the dozens of expansions that can be added, or the CPU friendly user interface that blends right into your projects.
But what about the sounds? Purchasing Nexus is much more about the samples that come with it than simply just a shiny plug-in. The factory banks are designed for most modern dance and electronic genres, providing bread and butter sounds for all your drums, synths and fx needs. The samples are engineered to fit easily into a mix, with the UI providing quick ADSR, filter and arpeggio controls to tweak. The built in delay and reverb modules are of a surprisingly good quality, allowing you to polish your sounds without needing a massive fx chain on your channel, saving those precious CPU cycles for your other demanding synths. If you’re looking for infinite parameter controls and fine-tuning then you may find that Nexus does not exactly cater to your needs. Where Nexus really shines is giving you a pallet of quality sounds that can be layered or blended with your go-to synths to create bigger and fuller patches. Piano leads, supersaws and bass hits are in no short supply yet the expansions are there to offer add-ons that may fit better for particular styles.
For such a usable product, the downfalls are stark and hard to ignore. The plug-in and factory banks come with a hefty price tag of $249 and each expansion costing an additional $55, there is no two-ways about it, this is not a purchase most aspiring producers would make lightly. The need for a dongle may turn some off as well, yet the reality is that despite the difficult to swallow price, producers can rest assured that with little effort and some minor tweaks, they are certain to get their money’s worth.
Nexus is more of a comprehensive database of sounds than it is a synthesizer...
reFX’s Nexus2 synthesizer is one of the most notable and widely used pieces of software in the production world. The user interface is slick, the sounds are sublime, and the possibilities are so large in number, you would be hard pressed to ever actually use them all in a hundred projects. reFX has clearly done an amazing job with Nexus and has garnered a large amount of success and support from high profile users. I myself use Nexus on a fairly frequent basis. Unfortunately, Nexus has some glaring design flaws that, for me, knock it out of the upper echelon of software synthesizers.
When first looking at Nexus, it’s quite appealing. It has a sleek design and focuses your attention clearly on the main window straight in the middle. This window has several tab selections that allow you to flip through the possible parameters and what you’re able to modify within each sound. On either side you can find the ‘Filter Modifier’ and ‘Amp Modifier’ panels that are fairly straightforward and have well labeled knobs. Below all of this is the effects section of Nexus, where you will find the reverb, delay, and filter controls along with the master output knob. Nexus is well organized and easy to grasp, even if it’s your first time using it; all you do is load a preset and go to work. Its ease of use has led to its huge success in the music industry and, coupled with its high quality library, you’d be hard pressed to find a dance music producer that doesn’t have Nexus as part of their arsenal.??
Nexus is more of a comprehensive database of sounds than it is a synthesizer. Nexus comes with a comprehensive native library and a constantly expanding set of preset packs that can be easily loaded into the program. The best part is that all of the sounds are created using the legendary Virus TI2 hardware synthesizer. With that said, Nexus is not the most versatile product when it comes to uniqueness. While it has thousands of handpicked and meticulously created sounds, it gives close to no leeway for creative experimentation. Instead, it seems Nexus was intentionally curated to be a work flow tool for producers. Personally, I use it for the high quality orchestral sounds it provides and other various sounds that are of such high quality there’s no reason to remake them with a different synth. If you spend time exploring Nexus and all of its sample packs it can become a great asset, just don’t be surprised if you end up hearing many of the sounds in other songs.??
As an artist myself, I like to have more control over the sounds I use in my productions. Nexus’ strongest aspect is the real instrument presets that reFX provides and some of the vocal presets are amazing as well. However, Nexus seems to be more of a taste maker than a synth. You basically have to choose from sounds that somebody else has put together and leaves producers little room for adding their own personality. I still think Nexus is a valuable tool to have, especially if you have the money to get all of the preset packs, and I would encourage both experienced and new producers to include it in their studio.
It's a ROMpler, so if you're into programming it might not satisfy; however, if you just love playing a great sounding synth, you will get lost in the jungle of options and inspirational sounding patches that this synth has to offer... I absolutely love playing with it; still haven't found the end of the tunnel with this one (but I do MORE than just EDM, and I think that's where a lot of the magic resides in this synth because even though it's great for EDM, you can find an application for it in so many other genre's...)
Great beginner plugin!
Since I don't have Kontakt, I normally use Nexus for pianos, and some string instruments. But, this little baby is GREAT for layering synths for a big progressive track. Normally, Supersaw x4 is used in every track we make! After some editing, of course.