Review of Waves Mastering Plugins
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Waves Platinum Review 

tweak's pickThe Waves Platinum contains all of the Gold 3.2 Bundle plus it adds more.  You get the Renaissance Channel (along with other plugins that were formerly in the Renaissance 2 collection) and the Masters bundles.  They key question: is it worth it to upgrade to Platinum or is Gold enough? 

Of course the answer to that depends on your current system.  If you absolutely need an ILok authorization so you can painlessly use Waves on both a Mac and your PC or on your studio and home computer then I think you should go Platinum.  This put the authorization of a USB key that you can plug into whatever computer you want.  Those upgrading from a PC to a Mac g5 in particular have ample motivation to upgrade to Platinum.  You can use your plugins on either system.

You get the new Renaissance channel with Platinum.  Is it cool?  At first, i was skeptical.  Then I finally tried it.  It's like a channel strip in some ways, with stereo eq, compression, gating.  Ok. its a track insert, I thought. But I tried a whole mix through it and found more--phase reversal, stereo imaging, sidechains and even overload protection.  Very impressive, with some well-crafted presets designed to add "punch". 

Waves Native Gold Bundle Version 3.2 (Windows and Macintosh)   Now Including the C4 and new Renaissance Reverberator! Waves Gold Native is simply everything you need. The ultimate package, with several daily tools, sweetening and mastering processors, and sound design mindbenders. From the original Q10 and L1, to the Renaissance series, to Enigma and MondoMod. Don't skimp. Go for the Waves Gold, on the way to your Gold record...  Tweak: While older, this set is upgradeable to 3.6 at the Waves site

Waves Native Restoration Bundle (Macintosh and Windows)

Waves Native Platinum Bundle (Macintosh and Windows)  




Waves Native Gold 3.2 Mini Review

There are probably more studios relying on the Waves L1 Ultra Maximizer and C4 Multiband than they care to admit. The difference these can make on ones music is outstanding. Want to hear the difference it can make? Download the demo from Waves. It's fully functional for 14 days so you can actually use it to master some songs courtesy of Waves. If you are like me, the question might not be if you can afford it, it might be can you afford not to have it.

pic of waves trueverb

It took me a long time to warm up to the Waves products for a couple of reasons. They are expensive, and every time I'd look at the back of the box I'd see plugins I already had. Lessee, I have my multiband compressor, my reverb, my gate, my multi-tap icon_smile.gif After all, it all sounds the same, Right? Wrong! It took me less than 10 seconds of running my audio through a TrueVerb, a Renaissance EQ or a Ultra Maximizer to become a total evangelical convert. Your talking to a guy who has all the sonic foundry plugins, all the Logic plugins, and many of the Cakewalk and Steinberg plugs. What sets the waves plugins apart from the rest is not only it's stunning graphics and and outstanding ease of use, but their unbelievable audio quality. The audio comes out of the oven warm, supple and professionally smooth. You really have to hear it.

My mixes are louder, clearer, with better bass, better transients. I've spent nearly a week just getting acquainted, bouncing old songs from DAT into the computer and then processing them. In about two minutes I can get dramatic improvements, just by chaining the 10 band parametric, if needed the Renaissance Bass, the C4 multiband, sometimes the stereo imager, and finally the L1 Ultra Maximizer. If you had a good mix to begin with, you'll find it easy to make it outstanding. Even if you had a just an old recording from cassette, you'll be surprised to find dynamics and nuances that were deeply buried in the original. The 10 band is so precise you can cut away damaged frequencies surgically, something that my hardware 31 band is supposed to do, but can't, not like this! The L1 Ultramaximer works so well with Logic that the peak meters match exactly. That is, if the L1 says it will limit at -.01 db that's exactly where Logic's meter pegs, ditto for bouncing to DAT. The result is increased resolution you can hear. Better tracking, better bouncing and a better mixdown.


Each plugin comes with a .pdf and paper manual so you can learn how the experts use these. I'm also getting awesome results editing samples in SoundForge with them, discovering new ways to polish sounds that eclipses differences between my studio and the big studios downtown. One cool thing is the 10 band parametric. Not only can you eq your sample exactly the way you like, you can create a different eq for the left and right side, and level each side so they peak exactly at 0db. And you can give your samples as much high end as you want, and surprisingly, the results are not harsh or strident. This allows one to make the perfect sample. It's good magic.

There is also the "Waveshell" that allows you to run the Waves plugs in your VstPlugins folder, so Cubase users can now use Waves. This too is great because VST plugins pass on automation parameters to host sequencers that support this. This is an important feature for those considering using a Logic Control or Houston Controller. Imagine, fully automated Waves processors just like the guys with massive Pro Tools setups. While that technology isn't here yet, it will be soon. Buy running the Waveshell, I have the plugins in both my VST and Direct X directories.


Are Waves Plugins really worth it?  Depends on so many factors, most subjective, and the state of your financial well being.  I think the Ultramazimixer L1+ is worth a lot. While there are many loudness maximizers out there now, none seem to do it as transparently or as simply.  The multiband and reverbs totally sweeten the deal.  If you work with samples, the eq is a must have.  The Native Gold set is one of those things that makes you shake your head and pace around the room before you buy, but once you work with them. hear them, regrets may vanish.

Want to discuss?  Go to Studio Central's Topic


Review of Waves Plugins
Platinum and Gold Bundles Compared
by Tweak

You can improve a mix using the Rchannel alone rather substantially.  On the other hand, you can get almost the same result by effectively chaining eq-->compressor-->Maxx Bass-->S1 imager-->L1 in the 3.2 collection.  That's a combination i used a lot.  The Rchannel just does it all in one plugin.  Hence it is really convenient.  Now that I have it, I will use it more than chaining up a lot of stuff. 

Other plugins Platinum adds over Gold are the Masters linear phase eq, multiband, and L2 Ultramaximizer (the gold has earlier versions of eq, the C4 multiband and L1 Ultramaximizer).  Big difference here? Depends on who you are and what you are doing.  A Mastering engineer will find and appreciate the difference.  These plugins are called the "Masters" not because the programmer likes golf, but because they are designed for people who are purists about audio and who master people's material for a living. The Masters are plugins that give you a GUI that allows you to make an exacting small difference.  What's this "linear phase" thing? The Waves Linear Multiband manual goes into great detail on "masking", "smearing" and phase shifts that happen with typical eq and multiband processors.  And how their software saves the day for you here.


Tweak's Test

So I put it to the test with one of my un-mastered wave files from who knows how many years ago. I used the following chain:

Linear Multiband-->S1 Imager--->L2

I had just remastered this song a few weeks ago and had it sounding as good as I could make it.  The result? I was able to make some slight improvements with the Masters.  The eq did seem more precise.  The Multiband helped me balance the piece a little better. And the piece as a whole seemed "smoother".  When I bypassed all the plugins I was astounded at the difference between the master and the original file.  But when I bypassed plugins one by one it was clear that the major difference was not in the Masters plugins at all, but in the S1 imager, which was giving the piece its incredible depth. The S1 comes in the Gold bundle.  It made the big difference while the new platinum masters plugins made a minor difference.  Moral of the story is this:  You can get really far with just the Gold bundle, the Masters add a little more.  But when mastering, a little more is a lot.

I find the L1 to be more useable and the L2 to be too much (the L1 already could squash your audio against the wall if you wanted to and the L2 seems to be able to squish it even more, should you need a total balls to the wall sound like the most utterly hyped radio broadcast you can imagine. Yet, the L2 lacks the stereo Left/Right levelers that the L1 has which can fix a poorly balanced mix quite well at the end of the chain. For me, the L1 was plenty.  However, I can see why a broadcast pro would want the L2.  Lets call it "competitive loudness", if you will. That's "today's" sound.  Everything is focused on the edge.  The L2 gets you there in about 3 seconds of work. 

More Plugin Goodness   

Finally, Platinum adds the plugins from the Renaissance Collection 2 (not to be confused with the original  Renaissance collection, which is already in the 3.2 set).  This gives you the Renaissance Vox, R-bass, R-De-esser.  You already have the Renaissance reverb, R-eq, and R-compressor in 3.2).  How important are these?  The R-Bass is very very good at bring out the low bass subwoofer tonalities, better than the Max Bass in 3.2 which is best at getting a big bass sound out of a small speaker.  

Waves discontinued the Renaissance Native and Renaissance 2 collection and merged them into the Renaissance Maxx collection.  So if you already have the Waves Gold and want to get the Renaissance channel should you get the Renaissance Maxx?  Well, Maybe Not.  You already have 3 of Renaissance plugins in the Gold 3.2.  You should go all the way to Platinum, because in Platinum you get the whole Renaissance Maxx, the whole Masters plus the 3.2 Gold.  Whew, it requires a genealogist to keep all these inbred lines straight.  But I think we have it straight here.  

So is it worth it to go Platinum?

In terms of sound, the 3.2 bundle takes you far and above other plugins and the Platinum puts a little more frosting on the cake.    In the balance it was definitely worth it for me to go Platinum.

Yet if money is an issue (and it always is), you can get 3.2 and be very happy.