How to Use the Waves SSL Compressor
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It saves on insert slots, but do channel strips offer any other benefits, and which ones stand out from the crowd? There has been a mild explosion of channel strip plug-ins in the Pro Tools universe recently, so I thought it would be good to take a look at what makes them tick. Do they offer anything you couldn’t get by using separate EQ and compressor plug-ins, or are they just a clever marketing trick to get us to buy more plug-ins? And which ones shine from the bunch? The most obvious reason for using channel strip plug-ins is to free up insert points.
Mixing with Waves SSL G-Channel Strip Plugin
It saves on insert slots, but do channel strips offer any other benefits, and which ones stand out from the crowd? There has been a mild explosion of channel strip plug-ins in the Pro Tools universe recently, so I thought it would be good to take a look at what makes them tick. Do they offer anything you couldn’t get by using separate EQ and compressor plug-ins, or are they just a clever marketing trick to get us to buy more plug-ins?
And which ones shine from the bunch? The most obvious reason for using channel strip plug-ins is to free up insert points. There is a brick-wall limit of five insert points on each track in Pro Tools, and you can quite quickly fill them up with routine plug-ins. For example, on a vocal track you might have an EQ followed by a pitch-correction plug-in, compressor, de-esser and reverb or delay.
If you then wanted to add, say, a treble enhancer or an ADT effect, you’d find all your plug-in slots already used up. A channel strip plug-in that combined at least some of these functions would free up some insert points. Another potential advantage is that having one plug-in window covering all the channel strip functions would help to simplify and streamline our workflow, compared with having five plug-in windows open simultaneously to manage and make adjustments on all these separate plug-ins.
What Is A Channel Strip? Different manufacturers incorporate different features into their channel strip plug-ins, but for the purposes of this article, a plug-in must have at least an EQ and a dynamics section to be considered a channel strip.
We have 11 channel strip plug-ins under test here, and the table above click to enlarge lists the details of exactly what each plug-in includes, along with my comments on each one and measurements of the system resources they require.
With the System Usage window open and on Gas Gauge, I just added instances of a particular plug-in until they filled a chip. However, measuring the processor use of the RTAS versions was a little trickier. In the end I had the Mac OS Activity Monitor window open and noted the increase in percentage processor use when I added 32 instances of a particular plug-in, the idea being to simulate a situation where one channel strip plug-in was used on every track of a track session.
I was able to achieve figures in excess of percent because my system is based on a dual 1. The figure for internal bit depth shows what the internal headroom of each plug-in will be like, where that information is available: Remember that you still need to watch your level architecture even with double-precision plug-ins, as although the plug-in may be able to handle the extra level, you may experience headroom problems once it gets out.
To test each plug-in’s sound quality, functionality and ease of use I took an existing vocal track which already had all five insert points in use. I then used each channel strip plug-in in turn and tried to replace at least the EQ and compressor in such a way that I could reproduce the same sound, or even maybe improve on it. The vocal in question has a wide dynamic range that will test the compressor sections well, and the original sound needed warming and brightening, hence the requirement for EQ.
One of the obvious benefits of a channel strip plug-in is that you have control over your EQ, gate and compressor from within a single window. Providing there is good dynamics metering telling me what is going on in the dynamics section, I would prefer to lose the dynamics display, as a graphical display of the EQ curve is a lot more useful.
The plug-ins also vary as to whether they include side-chain EQ. While this is a helpful feature, it isn’t a deal-breaker for me, as the most frequent use of side-chain EQ is for de-essing, and to do that properly you need a proper de-esser with a frequency-selective side-chain and signal path.
The display is clean and simple, though the EQ graph is a little smaller than on a Q4 plug-in, which makes adjustments using the graph slightly more fiddly. The compressor and gate section are very clear, the metering shows what is going on very well, and Waves are to be commended for making Audiotrack one of the most DSP-efficient plug-ins in this test. The sound of this plug-in is impressively clean, especially as it is Waves’ budget channel strip; they don’t make enough of this efficient and clean-sounding plug-in.
In line with the rest of the Renaissance range, Renaissance Channel ‘s internal audio path is bit; this gives 18dB of internal headroom, allowing you to make significant EQ boosts without causing overloads within the plug-in. There are single-band EQ sections in both the compressor and gate side-chains, and the EQ graph can show these as well.
It is also possible to switch the compressor before or after the EQ section. Finally, there is a Clip Guard Limiter, which will limit the channel output to 0dBFS, to protect the subsequent audio chain from the higher levels achievable within the Renaissance plug-in.
The meters in the bottom left-hand corner are not input and output level meters. They are actually Energy Meters and display the energy in the two side-chain paths, which I find a very helpful indicator of what is actually hitting the side-chain. This plug-in combines the great sound of the Waves Renaissance plug-ins, and as the reference track used a six-band Renaissance EQ and a Renaissance Vox compressor I was able to quickly and easily replace the two plug-ins with the one channel strip.
The Waves Renaissance plug-ins are my usual first port of call for EQ, compression and de-essing, so it will come as no surprise that I liked this plug-in too. I have to say that my definition of an expander is a gate with a ratio control to adjust the rate of expansion: The EQ element has a four-band parametric section, as well as two filters. The routing options are comprehensive, enabling the user to have both the EQ and filters in the main path, or split the EQ section so the filters come before the dynamics and the parametric EQ after the dynamics.
Alternatively, you can have the main EQ section in the channel path with the filters in the side-chain, or the filters in the main path and the EQ in the side-chain, or both the filters and the EQ in the side-chain.
I found I needed to refer to the flow charts in the manual to establish the correct combinations of the Split, Ch-Out and Dyn S-C buttons to achieve these routings, as I didn’t find the buttons particularly intuitive. The manual describes this as emulating the noise and distortion found in the analogue hardware, and argues that this is part of the desired sound. The default setting for this switch is on. I have never been a great SSL fan, but once I got past the complete lack of a graphical display and set to work on this channel strip, I was very impressed with the sound.
It handled dynamics well, and the general sound was very open, not sounding squashed even though the compressor was working hard. I liked the way the display includes different-coloured frequency plot curves showing what each band is doing, as well as the usual strong line that shows the composite frequency plot. One minor drawback is that there isn’t a stereo version of this plug-in so you will need to use multi-mono versions on your stereo tracks.
I was surprised at how good these plug-ins are, as you don’t normally associate Eventide with channel strips. It took me a little longer to get a good sound than with some of the others, especially in dealing with the wide dynamics of the source, but once I had adjusted the compressor’s attack and release times, the sound I was looking for fell into place.
The wide range of EQ shapes proved very useful in getting the warm and bright sound I was looking for. All the modules in both Eventide channel strip plug-ins, except for the Harmonizer and stereo delays, can be re-ordered by dragging and dropping. I liked Ultra Channel on solo vocals, especially with a dash of Harmonizer thickening.
The de-esser didn’t do it for me: I couldn’t get the vocal clean of sibilance without messing up the sound, so I found myself reaching for my preferred de-esser again. I am disappointed that the Eventide plug-ins are TDM-only, with no Audiosuite versions, and I found the frequency limits on the EQ sections a nuisance.
I can understand why these restrictions exist in genuine analogue designs, but on digital EQs there surely should be no reason why every band can’t be adjusted across the full frequency range. Once I had given up on the de-esser section I was very quickly able to get a good sound, and the benefit of the Omnipressor showed itself in handling the dynamic range. A dash of the micro-pitch-shift added a unique additional touch to the sound.
This is why. It takes a single voice to take a mono stream off the hard drive and route it into the TDM mixer environment. Once it’s there, adding TDM plug-ins on that channel doesn’t cost any more voices, as you’d expect. Similarly, if you put your RTAS plug-ins before your TDM plug-ins on an audio track, Pro Tools routes the audio stream off the hard drive and through host-based processing before bringing it into the TDM environment, so still only costs you one voice.
Inserting only RTAS plug-ins on a mono master track uses two extra voices; on a stereo master, it costs you four voices, and once you move into 5. So beware: This is especially important when you’re using Quick Punch and Track Punch see last month’s Pro Tools workshop for more , which require an extra voice for every record-enabled track.
You have been warned! McDSP point out that these presets are inspired by these classic consoles, rather than being exact copies of them, but if you cannot afford the Waves SSL channel strip, Channel G includes SSL E-series emulations which might provide an alternative. Visually, its two-pane approach means you get a lot of detail in each pane, but having to switch between them is a bit of a nuisance; at least there is a common graphical section to help you keep track of what is happening on the other pane.
The option of having a graphical representation of the signal chain is helpful for understanding the signal and side-chain paths and which sections are active and bypassed. Having the various classic console emulations in this plug-in enabled me to get the warm sound I was looking for, and the wide dynamics were handled well.
However, I did struggle to get the sound I wanted easily due to the interface, and as someone who needs to get a good sound quickly, that would put me off. Talking of EQ, the graphical display has a very nice feature: On the down side, picking up a band dot with the mouse doesn’t automatically enable that band, as happens with most graphical EQ displays. This is a pain, and means that you have to go over to that band’s bypass button and click it to enable that band.
Also, whereas most EQ sections use Q as a measure of an EQ slope’s steepness, Metric Halo use bandwidth, which means that smaller numbers mean steeper slopes — the opposite way round from usual. A nice touch in the compressor section is the Auto Gain button, which, if enabled, makes a good stab at guessing the amount of gain make-up needed by maintaining the Threshold on the 1: Channel Strip ‘s output meter displays both peak and RMS readings simultaneously, which I wasn’t expecting.
Having studied the manual, I found that if you click on the Metric Halo icon, you get a block diagram showing the current configuration of the channel strip as well as the usual credits, which is a nice feature to save referring back to the manual to establish the current order of the sections.
You can also choose the background colour of the plug-in, auto-enable the EQ bands and have the plug-in display in landscape which they call wide or portrait formats.
In using this plug-in I was able to get a good sound quickly, and being able to adjust the Q or bandwidth graphically made this even easier. I liked the sound of this plug-in: Wave Arts Track Plug It might be easier to list what this channel strip hasn’t got rather than what it has, but here goes.
Track Plug overleaf features a band EQ, spectrum analyser, high and low filters, two compressors, a gate and look-ahead peak limiter. One of the ways Wave Arts save screen space in the plug-in window is only to show the controls for the active band of EQ. This is no great loss, as the graphical display still helps to keep track of all the EQ settings. Eleven different EQ shapes are available, including a very tight notch filter that goes down to a bandwidth of 0. There are some nice shortcuts on the graphical section: The spectrum analyser is helpful to show you what is going on, and is a useful guide to point out problem areas that need further treatment.
The extra compressor on a channel strip is an excellent addition. It means you can set one of them up as a de-esser, or have two types of compression running on a track, as well as a gate or expander. Again, the dynamics section the graphical display is further enhanced with a range of keyboard shortcuts that enable you to edit your dynamics settings very easily from there. Track Plug has a very comprehensive range of presets available for each section, and global presets too. With all these features, you would expect this plug-in to be DSP-hungry, but it isn’t the worst and it is also clever.
Most of the RTAS-capable channel strips in this test use the same amount of resources regardless of how many features are activated, but Wave Arts have designed their plug-in so that each section uses processor resources only if it is enabled. The difference is significant: This means you can happily put a Track Plug in on every track, knowing it will only cost you processor power for the sections you use. As a result of all these extra features, this plug-in sounds very good indeed, and it was one of only two plug-ins where I was able to use the de-essing function at all, thanks to its second dynamics section.
The real-time analyser display is also a very useful guide to show what areas of the spectrum are in use, as long as you don’t end up being ruled by it.
SOUND ON SOUND
Afficher l’avis original Waves makes easy to use plug-ins. They are easy to install – you just download them off their website. They are easy to authorize – you can use any USB stick as a dongle, or use their software application to authorize if your computer connects to the internet. They are stable – you don’t have to worry about it crashing your recording session. They can be used in almost any DAW. They don’t take up a lot of CPU – you can pretty much run this channel strip on every track in your session without maxing out your CPU.
VIDEO: 40 FREE Waves SSL Presets | Cakewalk Forums
When should we use the Waves Mono/Stereo FX plugin in and why? in such way that it affect the L/R channel separately (stereo) or mono. Tranche de console logicielle Waves SSL E-Channel: 4 avis, 2 photos, 1 discussion dans There’s also a compressor feature in this plugin. This is a demonstration on how to use the Waves SSL G-Channel Strip and G There is mono and stereo versions of the plugin that’s included.