Review of Waves Plugins
Platinum and Gold Bundles Compared
By Rich the Tweak
Waves Platinum Review
The Waves Platinum contains all of the Gold 3.2
Bundle plus it adds more. You get the
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". 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
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.
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
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
So is it worth it to
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.
Waves Native Gold 3.2
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.
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
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
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.
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