Waves Tony Maserati Plug-Ins Collection Review

Jun 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Barry Rudolph

SIX PLUG-INS PROVIDE INTUITIVE CONTROL, MUSICAL RESULTS

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The Guitar Toner is one of six plug-ins designed for easily altering the tone via fixed processor chains.

The Guitar Toner is one of six plug-ins designed for easily altering the tone via fixed processor chains.

The Tony Maserati Collection is the first in the Waves Signature Series of plug-ins. Each of these six plug-ins is a unique, preconfigured signal processor chain designed by New York-based mix-mëister Tony Maserati to achieve his hit-making sonic treatments of individual vocal and instrument tracks. The plug-ins have a huge range of processing power and macro-parameter controls to conform them to your own style and sonic aesthetics.

The six plug-ins are the VX1 Vocal Enhancer, B72 Bass Phattener, DRM Drum Slammer, GTi Guitar Toner, ACG Acoustic Guitar Designer and HMX Harmonics Generator. The GUIs look like Bakelite radios from the 1930s and '40s — old Grundig Majestic shortwave receivers with huge knobs and buttons, ventilation slots revealing glowing “tubes” and round glass-faced radio dials for I/O VU meters. I tested them in Pro Tools HD3 Accel running Pro Tools 7.4 on an OS 10.4.11 Mac PPC. Each plug-in includes both mono in/stereo out and stereo in/out versions.

VX1 Vocal Enhancer

The intuitive control sets on the six plug-ins vary, depending on the specific task, except for a Sensitivity control that drives the chain harder and harder, right into a cool, distorted sound much like a hardware's “blooming” tube stage. VX1 also has both Bass and Treble — fairly broad EQs like FM radio tone controls — and Compress applies more or less compression.

VX1 has three “contours” or modes configured for the most suitable vocal treatment predicated on song tempo. Conceptually and musically, this is a good way to initially set up a vocal processing and treatment chain. Contour 1 puts a vocal in a small studio or room; a slow ballad vocal might sound better on Contour 2 with its larger chamber and many pre-delay choices; and Contour 3 uses a small room with shorter delay options for uptempo songs.

Running under Contour 3, Compress becomes an Air control for adding pleasant high frequencies to the sound. There are six additional controls for adjusting delay and reverb parameters.

When first inserting VX1 on my female lead vocal track, I noticed a low-frequency roll-off even though the Bass and Treble knobs indicated “0.” The change in sound is instantly gratifying: None of these plugs come up flat or “swimming” in effects — delays and reverbs are dialed off but ready to add.

On a densely produced modern rock song, I liked switching through the three contours while listening to the whole mix. I saved presets of each contour after tweaking the FX, EQ and Compress controls — tweaks not saved when changing contours. I liked Contour 2 for this vocal in the verses and went with Contour 1 for the choruses as its slimmer, denser sound was a better fit for the track. Used sparingly, the delay and reverb sounds were good; the delays were on the short side with regeneration and the reverb sounds were plate-like. All of these effects are married together within the plug, so vocals take on a more cohesive, focused and “produced” sound as opposed to the result of using send/return to effect processors.

B72 Bass Phattener

The B72 worked well on a “flat-footed” bass track that had no wrong notes, just sub-zero personality. B72 has two modes or bass types: DI and Synth. It's easy to get a slightly overdriven bass amp tone with plenty of squash and treble spank with DI. The Synth mode adds a buzzy stereo filter effect and a cheesy-sounding delay/reverb that was perfect for adding a mysterious backdrop to simple arpeggio guitar part. It also makes a cool vocal-trasher effect. It's important to remember that any of the plugs can be used for any track. The B72 fixed up a DI bass quickly, and I liked it.






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