by Steve Cunningham
It’s been more than three years since we last sampled the software plug-ins from Waves Ltd., arguably the “Rolls Royce” of software audio processors. The company has been busy in that time indeed. Waves have developed several additional ranges of software processors, and most recently they’ve packaged the best of several categories together as the new Broadcast and Production Bundle.
The Broadcast and Production Bundle consists of three collections of Waves plug-ins: Renaissance Maxx Processors, Restoration Processors, and Masters Processors. Each of these collections is designed to address a specific set of tasks. The Renaissance Maxx collection includes EQ, a de-esser, reverb, bass enhancement, and several compressors, and these are most useful in tracking and editing. The Restoration processors excel at cleaning up background noise, pops, crackles, hiss, and hum. And the Masters group includes a multiband limiter and linear phase EQ for finishing.
Taken together, the Broadcast and Production Bundle presents a suite of fourteen plugs that cover the essential bases and should be handy in all stages of production. Mind you, all this capability does not come cheap — the native version of the Broadcast and Production Bundle weighs in at a cool $2400 list, and the TDM version for large Pro Tools rigs will cost you twice that amount. Are they worth it?
The Broadcast and Production Bundle comes in versions for Mac and PC.
There’s a TDM edition for those of you running Pro Tools TDM rigs on
either computer platform. For everyone else, the Native edition for the
Mac includes RTAS and AS formats for Pro Tools LE, and VST format for
use with other editors. For PC users, the Native edition includes plugs
in both VST and DirectX formats.
The bundle’s computer requirements are reasonable. It supports PCs with Pentium III, Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon processors running at 500MHz or better, with at least 512 MB of RAM, and Windows 98SE, Me, 2000, and XP. On the Mac side, you’ll need a G4 machine with at least 256 MB of RAM, running MacOS 9.1 or better or OSX 10.2.
The installation process is straightforward, and follows the same procedures whether you buy the CD from a dealer or buy direct from Waves and download the software. In either event, running the installer loads the plug-ins in a 14-day demo mode. You can permanently authorize the plugs by either using the challenge-and-response Authorization program that is keyed to your computer hardware, or by purchasing a USB dongle (called an iLok) for an additional $40. I opted for the challenge-and-response scheme, which takes place entirely on Waves’ website, and received my authorization response within a couple of hours. While copy protection is a drag in general, this is a reasonable form of copy protection, and Waves has a good reputation for taking care of any problems that arise quickly.
All the plug-ins in the Broadcast and Production Bundle share a similar user interface that’s easy to navigate. You can change any parameter by clicking on its numeric value and dragging the mouse to scroll the value. Or if you prefer, you can double-click the value and type in a new one. Finally, if there’s a graphic representation of the effect (for example, a slider or a “handle” on an EQ curve), you can grab that with the mouse and move it. Thankfully there are no on-screen knobs to twiddle — I find them frustrating because I can never figure out which direction to move the mouse to turn a knob.
It should also be noted that every plug-in processor comes with several useful presets, so you can begin tweaking your sounds immediately. The presets are available under the Load button that appears at the top of the window.
The documentation comes as a folder of .pdf files, with one file for each effect. It’s well written, informative, and downright educational if you take the time to go through it.