Mixing By Numbers (Part 2)

31 03 2011

Yesterday I ranted about the dumbing down of mixing. Today I hope to provide a more balanced view on the new One Knob series from Waves.

Whilst writing my post yesterday I had the idea to do a One Knob mix to see how versatile these plug ins can be.  The One Knob mix took about 35 minutes to do.  Here’s a quick outline of what was used where and roughly how much the dial was turned to in brackets.

Overheads – Pressure (3)
Kick D112 – Phatter (7), Pressure (5)
Kick NS10 – Pressure (6)
Snare Top – Phatter (6), Pressure (6), Wetter (3)
Snare Under – Pressure (3)
2x Toms – Phatter (6), Pressure (6)
Drum Bus – Pressure (2), Wetter (2)
Bass – Phatter (3)
2x Acoustics – Brighter (7), Wetter (1)
2x Crunch Guitars – Wetter (1)
L Dist. Guitar – Brighter (8), Wetter (1)
R Dist. Guitar – Wetter (1)
Solo Guitar – Driver (4), Wetter (2.5)
Lead Vocal – Driver (1.5), Brighter (7), Pressure (4), Wetter (3)
Backing Vocal – Driver (1.5), Filter (8), Pressure (3) Wetter (3)
Master Bus – Louder (4)

Please don’t go judging my general working practices on this…

So as you can see I used all the plug ins and tried to do what I would normally do in a mix.  The first weakness I’d like to address is that Wetter is designed to work as an Insert, not as a send, meaning I had to drop loads in on the session.  By dialling up Wetter you’re not only increasing the mix of the reverb but the size and length of it too.  So in my mix, where I have several different reverb settings it has become a mess.

Pressure is much better used as a bus compressor, it really didn’t work on the close microphones on the drums. At lower settings the compression is quite subtle but it soon gets out of hand and when I dialed the master bus Pressure up to 10 something very strange happened… I actually felt physically sick! It was the same kind of weird sickness I get when I hear serious phase problems.  I had to dial it down pronto.

Phatter makes things bassier… not much to say there. I think it might do some low end compression too. Not sure so I won’t guarantee that.

Brighter is a really nice clean and transparent high boost. But I recommend getting a good parametric EQ and using that.

Filter is really for use on Dance tracks. Like Brighter and Phatter it does sound nice, but it does nothing that many other quality filters and EQs do already.  I’d also like to point out that Filter has a resonance selection button! I wanted One Knob, not One Knob And A Button.

Driver. This is the one I liked the most. The very low settings worked nicely as a lo-fi effect.  Higher gains were pretty good a boost to guitars but it’s not good enough to be the whole guitar tone.

Louder is the ultimate nemesis of Dynamic Range Day, Turn It Up.org and friends.  It’s a limiter that sounded like it was limiting very quickly and didn’t actually stop my master output from clipping anyway… so… why?

So in conclusion; I don’t get it. I don’t think you can deny the quality behind each one of these little things, individually they sound good. But with multiple instances of these plug ins they seem to clash with themselves, especially Wetter. So as a one off effect for one channel in your mix, a couple of these plug ins would work well. Namely Driver and Filter.  The EQ two Phatter and Brighter are really nice, but if you own any good parametric EQ plug ins already they’re pointless. I would seriously stay away from the compression ones and I can’t see the use in a one-trick reverb.

By Graeme Rawson
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