Hive from u-He was designed to be a fast and simple to operate virtual synthesizer, without sacrificing sound quality or creative control. The streamlined single-screen user interface facilitates immediate sound creation, while a fluid workflow invites tweaking until a sound is just right. The instrument was engineered to be light on the host's CPU, and won't bog down the creative process, whatever the style, from dance to ambient, and progressive rock to R n' B.
u-he Hive Synthesizer Plug-in Features at a Glance:
- Single-page user interface
- 2,700 presets
- 2 main oscillators, 2 sub-oscillators
- 3 synth engine characters (Normal, Dirty, Clean)
- Up to 16x unison per oscillator
- 2 multimode filters (LP, HP, BP, BR, or Peak)
- Flexible oscillator and filter routing
- Solo buttons for individual oscillators and filters
- Arpeggiator and step sequencer
- 12-slot modulation matrix, 2 targets per slot
- Drag & drop modulation assignment
- Create, save, and load individual panel presets
- 7 quality effects, rearrange in any order
- Global configuration overlays, including MIDI learn
Underneath its sleek exterior, Hive 2 lets you go as deep as you like. Add movement and life using the shape sequencer, or instantly record, rotate and arpeggiate note sequences. The 12-slot matrix even lets you modulate effect parameters, encouraging you to explore a whole new world of creative options. With its swappable audio engine, flexible signal routing, wavetable support, and quality effects, Hive 2 make sure you can get the sound you want with a minimum of fuss.
How it works
Hive 2 includes Wavetables! These appear as multiple waveforms and are controlled in the central hexagon. You can manually select wavetables, modulate the wave position via the matrix, or even scan through them automatically using the envelope and loop options (which let you animate wavetables without needing an extra modulation source).
This panel also offers a Reverse option to flip the wavetable back to front, Cyclic mode for seamless wavetable cycling, and various real-time interpolation methods.
Wavetables can be split into multiple parts (up to 16), effectively creating a 2-dimensional oscillator. For instance, a wavetable with 30 frames can be split into 3 x 10 frames by setting Tables to 3. The lower Position knob will crossfade between those 3. This feature opens up a second dimension of wavetable scanning, such as velocity crossfade or multisample support.
Want to go even deeper? Many of Hive's factory wavetables are not samples but ".uhm" files containing scripts written in a proprietary wavetable generation and manipulation language. If you're interested in writing your scripts, grab this document (also included in the Hive installer)
Hive provides 4 different algorithms for interpolating between wavetable frames: switch, crossfade, spectral, or zero phase. The appearance (and CPU usage) of waveforms can differ significantly, depending on the chosen interpolation. The spectral and zero phase modes shift the relative phases of partials differently, while the switch option only shows non-interpolated waveforms.
A quick run-through Hive's wavetable interpolation modes. Taking the example of the 4th harmonic of any given wavetable, it shows what happens in the transition between wavetable frames. It also shows the tradeoff between quality and CPU. Note that the "zero phase" mode does not show any transition in this case, which is the expected behavior. In the second part, a complex wavetable is used to demonstrate the different interpolation techniques.
The Shape Sequencer is where you can create complex modulations and/or rhythmic patterns, and it offers a comfortable way to 'gamify' rhythm creation. The shape sequencer has four Shape Modulator lanes (A, B, C, and D), each with an independent set of options determining how the active cells in that lane are sequenced: This means that the shape modulators can be triggered differently and run at different speeds! While it may look like a baby version of what other synths have to offer, Hive's shape sequencer can do a lot more than first meets the eye…
Hive's Function Generators combine simple envelope functionality with LFO, slew limiter (a.k.a. envelope follower), and gate control. Each of the three outputs has its own 'crosshair' you can drag & drop onto any modulation target, the Scope, or even the modulation matrix source fields. Triggered and/or modulated by the LFOs, the Shape Sequencer, and each other, Hive's Function Generators can create some truly mind-bending motion effects!
Arpeggiator and Sequencer
The ARP/SEQ panel in the central hexagon is where you make rhythmic and melodic loops.
You can select up to 3 octaves range, 6 different direction options, and 4 for the order. Additional features are Restart, which sets the number of notes the arpeggiator will play before jumping back to the beginning, and ClockDiv, which slows the arpeggiator down relative to the sequencer.
The sequencer has 2 different modes, one of which lets you send control signals (CC) without triggering any notes. Like the arpeggiator, the sequence will run whenever one or more notes are played and will stop when all notes are released. In record (REC) mode you can enter individual notes on your keyboard or even capture the output of the arpeggiator.
Hive's hexagon includes 7 different effects: Distortion, Reverb, Equalizer, Chorus, Delay, Compressor, and Phaser.
Enable and rearrange
The on/off status and position of each effect in the chain is controlled using the central column: Click once to enable or disable an effect, and drag up and down to rearrange. This ease of use invites experimental combinations e.g. short reverb into highly resonant phaser into heavy distortion.
Edit and modulate
Effects in Hive are fully featured with many editable controls, a selection of presets, and the well-known u-he quality.
Want more? Every control you see can be modulated in the modulation matrix – even a few you can't see.
Hive features a 12-unit modulation matrix (6 units per page) which lets you connect modulation sources (LFOs, envelopes, shape sequencer, MIDI controls etc.) to countless targets, optionally via a second modulation source. 2 targets can be assigned per unit, each with its own modulatable depth control. The row of 5 modifiers per target can alter the curvature, rectify, quantize, sample/hold, or slew-limit the modulation signal: This is intense stuff, but it doesn't get in the way!
On this page, you'll find a pad with 4 controls – simply connect them to your MIDI controllers for maximum fun on stage. Other views are also available.
Automatic parameter scanning
Hive is able to assign XY controls to parameters automatically. It looks into the structure of presets that have unused XY controls, and assigns them to the most appropriate XY macros (pre-defined sets of parameters). Of course, you can create your own XY control definitions, with up to 4 targets per dimension.
Animated graphics in software synthesizers not only look cool but can also help you program your sounds by showing you what's happening in real time. Hive's Scope is especially useful for displaying how the parts of complex modulation interact (e.g. the Function Generators with an LFO).