Waves Audio OneKnob Plug-Ins Review

Sep 1, 2011 9:00 AM, Mix, By Steve La Cerra



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There is no way to describe Phatter other than to say it makes tracks Phat (note the capital P). It adds weight to electric bass, whump to kick drum or floor tom, and slam to synth bass, but somehow it does not turn these sounds to mush, even when cranked way up. It works well on male or female vocal, as long as you don’t overdo it. In one case, Phatter put the warmth back into an acoustic guitar track that sounded overly bright and lacked body. When I processed drum overheads with Phatter, Brighter and Pressure, it produced outstanding results.

At its lowest “On” setting of 0.1, Wetter adds a sweet ambient/early reflection effect, placing sounds in a space without calling attention to itself. Moving the knob to 0.2 adds a subtle echo with a repeat-and-a-half and increases the size of the environment. The echo is apparent only on percussive sounds; on most sounds, it blends with the reverb. As the setting is increased, the echo does not change but the room gets larger, progressing to a hall. At 3.5, the high end can become grainy—again, most apparently on percussion.

I would describe Wetter as a serviceable reverb. It’s certainly no competition for Waves’ IR1, but there is a hidden benefit here for inexperienced engineers: Even when Wetter is maxed, it does not become uncontrollably sloppy. My students often ask me how to improve their mixes, and many of them don’t pay attention to reverb decay time, so they aren’t aware of the mud that long reverb adds to their mixes. They’d be far better off using Wetter because it won’t add that rolling decay, which can destroy clarity in a mix.

OneKnob’s Pressure provides three modes of compression: Unity, Pad and Boost. Each mode creates distinctly different compression with varying attack and release times. Boost appears to have the quickest release, Unity a medium release and Pad the longest, which proved very smooth for vocals. Settings past 5 can accentuate mouth noise, with Boost being the biggest offender. Applying Pressure to room tracks on a drum kit was awesome. Settings of Unity and 10 produced classic pumping, while 5 produced a smooth, sweet compression. With Boost set to 10, grace notes in between kick and snare hits popped out of the mix. Using the Pad mode set between 8 and 10 produces dirt (i.e., distortion), but back it down to 5 and you’ll barely know it’s there. Inserted on vocal or guitar in Pad mode, Pressure lets a track sit nicely on top of a mix.

Pressure operates in stereo, but there’s no way to link two instances on separate tracks. For example, in one mix I had separate tracks for left and right drum overheads; it would be nice if Pressure would allow one channel to key compression in the other to maintain stable imaging. As workarounds, you can either merge the two tracks into stereo, or copy the first instance of Pressure to the other track.

The OneKnob plug-in that is by far the most fun is Filter, a single-band sweep filter with four resonance settings: None, Moderate, High and Extreme. Filter makes it so easy to create telephone voice, wah and swishy-sweepy effects that it’s tough to resist. The ability to automate Filter’s sweep is very cool. You won’t need multiple automation passes with several EQs to create dynamic equalization effects, like “low fi-ing” a mix. At settings up to 3, Filter is in the family of a lowpass filter. Moving through the middle settings, it begins to sound more like a bandpass filter, and at the highest settings you get a sweeping high boost. Setting Filter to 2 and Extreme Resonance on a mix creates the sort of low-frequency resonance you hear when someone with an obnoxious car stereo passes you on the street.

All of the plug-ins in the OneKnob bundle are useful, some more than others. The highlights are Filter, Phatter and Pressure, all of which leave me thinking, “Is there anything that these don’t sound good on?” The pricing is very attractive, and though the lack of extensive parameter control may put off tweakheads, the speed and ease of use make the OneKnob Bundle a very attractive proposition.

Steve La Cerra is Mix’s sound reinforcement editor and front-of-house engineer for Blue Öyster Cult.

Click on the Product Summary box above to view the Waves OneKnob product page.

Click on the Product Summary box above to view the Waves OneKnob product page.

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