Desktop computer based music production tools have come a long way since we reviewed the Multi-Rack Bundle Waves released in 1998, but with literally hundreds of plug-ins now available, capable of making your sounds do almost anything, it's easy to go over the top, applying cool effects to every track and ultimately ending up with a big mess at the end. If that's what you were looking for then great, but more often than not you're then faced with having to actually learn something about DSP's, what they do and how they can be used effectively without getting in the way of your music.
That's why the tools from Waves are commonly regarded as being the obvious choice for experts and novices alike, each one capable of producing professional results quickly and easily while running on industrial strength code that proved one hundred percent stable when accessed from within Cubase VST on our G4 Cube.
The installer offers a fully functional set of Waves processors, for either the Mac or Windows platforms, that can be run in demo mode for 14 days. By then you'll most likely have found the time to go through the authorization process, which is a lot less painful than it used to be. We signed up as new users, to get the full authorization experience, and were surprised to find that the whole process took less less than five minutes, even ending up with a user name and password for access into an account management area within the Waves website.
After installation you'll be able to launch the host application (in our case Steinberg's Cubase VST) and access the Waves plug-ins via the WaveShell, which is installed in the host's plug-ins folder. This is what runs the plug-ins themselves, which sit in a folder outside the host application folder.
After importing a relatively bland solo piano track from a CD, for use as a test subject, we launched WaveShell from the VST Master Effects panel and selected TrueVerb from the extensive list.
As with most of the Waves plug-ins it's up to you how deep you get into them. There are presets available for those of you who want a quick and easy effect, or want a starting point that is in the general vicinity of what you're looking for, or you can go for the one, making full use of the often staggering number of control surfaces and infinitely variable parameters that should prove endlessly fascinating for the seasoned sound engineer but often quite bewildering to the beginner.
Needless to say the kind of reverb we were able to apply to our raw audio track sounded amazing, with more than enough headroom to create even the most absurdly big effect. We also learned a lot about the way reverb effects work by making good use of the many and varied buttons and sliders at our disposal.
Gold Native actually consists of five effects packs, each available separately but bundled together as this Gold set to provide you with almost every tool you'll need to get your music to where you want it to be.
Here's a quick overview of what you get.
The Native Power Pack & TDM Bundle contains L1 (Ultra Maximiser), C1 (Parametric Compander), S1 (Stereo Imager), Q10 paragraphic Equalizer), TrueVerb (Room Emulator and Reverb), PAZ (Psychoacoustic Analyzer), DeEsser, Supertap (2-tap delay) and IDR (Increased Digital Resolution)
The Renaissance Collection contains the Renaissance Equalizer, Renaissance Compressor and Renaissance Reverb.
C4 Multiband Parametric Processor.
MaxxBass and PS22 Pseudostereo.
Pro-FX Plus, which consists of Ultra Pitch, MetaFlanger, SuperTap, MondoMod, Enigma and Doppler.
We spent a lot of time with each and every one of these DSP's and were blown away by all of them, not only because of the way the original characteristics of the source were enhanced, rather than compromised, but also the way in which the controls never seemed to get in the way of what we were trying to do, often one of the biggest headaches when working for extended periods of time applying multiple effects to multiple tracks.
Some of the highlights from each include Enigma and MondoMod, from the Pro-FX Plus pack, each by far the coolest effects we've heard in a long time and both very powerful tools in their own right. Possibly just the right effects for spicing up those tracks that won't come to life. Doppler, a virtual doppler effect generator, allowed us to apply an effect heard all around us in the real world all the time to an audio track for the first time. The Native Power Pack and the Renaissance Collection both contain the essentials necessary for audio production, providing the kind of features found only in high-end versions of their hardware based equivalents. We also found the separate components of the PAZ set very useful, consisting of various types of meters capable of showing exactly what's going on inside your latest and greatest creations.