Test Drive: Waves Broadcast & Production Bundle

RenComp

RENAISSANCE MAXX

The Renaissance Maxx Collection includes plugs that are essential for radio production. All of them are modeled on “vintage” processors, and they impart a warmth to the sound that I happen to like a great deal. As mentioned, there are seven plugs in this collection, but the two standouts are the Renaissance Vox and the new Renaissance Channel.

Renaissance Vox is a combination compressor and gate that is optimized for voiceover work and for processing VO from the field. It’s also the simplest of the processors, with one slider to set the gate threshold, one for the compression threshold, and one for make-up gain. That’s it — no attack and release, no ratios, nothing else. The gate is a gentle downward-expander that works well to reduce background noises in VO sessions and news actualities from the field. And RenVox automatically adjusts the ratio and attack/release times to maximize loudness and intelligibility without artifacts. It imparts a bit of warmth to the sound, while giving you a VO track that slams nicely. Quick and powerful.

The Renaissance Channel comes in at the other extreme as RenVox, as it is essentially a complete channel strip with controls for everything. RenChannel has a four-band EQ, a compressor and a gate, sidechain inputs for both the compressor and gate, and an overall gain control. Additional controls let you connect the dynamics section before the EQ section or vice versa, invert the signal on the output, or rotate the stereo image while maintaining its integrity.

Each of the sections of the RenChannel have that same creamy “vintage” warmth as the other Renaissance processors. The EQ is smooth and accurate, and it’s fully parametric for performing surgical boost and cut. The compressor can operate either in the more automatic RenVox mode, or in the standard RenCompressor mode with manual control over the ratio.

Sound quality aside, a real benefit of the RenChannel is that while it offers much of the functionality of the RenVox, RenCompressor, and RenEQ, it uses somewhat less of your CPU power than would the three together. This means you can run the RenChannel on more tracks before you computer runs out of processing gas.

The Renaissance Compressor is optimized for vintage compression effects. The essential compression parameters (threshold, attack, release, ratio) are included, with the added bonuses of “electro/opto mode switching” and a warm/smooth control that emulates overdriven tube warmth at higher compression settings. Also included is Waves’ ARC mode, which dynamically adjusts release time based on program content. The Renaissance Compressor will also function as an expander when the ratio control is set to negative values.

As analog hardware emulations go, the RenComp comes pretty darn close. Waves likes to compare the performance of this plug-in to a classic LA-2A, which I feel isn’t far off the mark. There’s a “tube-ish” quality to the sound, which may or may not be to your liking. I used this compressor on a wide range of program material and found it useful on almost everything, including complete mixes, as it added a warm, retro feel.

Don’t be fooled by the apparent lack of parameters to twiddle on the Renaissance EQ. It’s an EQ, after all, so frequency, gain, Q (bandwidth), and EQ mode are the only tweakable settings. What sets the Renaissance EQ apart from other digital EQs is its warmth and sweetness. If I had to compare the overall sound to a specific analog EQ, I’d whisper “Neve.” What also amazed me was how forgiving these processors were at extreme settings. These are great-sounding emulations.

There are two-, four-, and six-band versions of the RenEQ plug-in, each requiring progressively more processing power. Each band can be switched to fully parametric mode or shelving. Truly unusual curves can be created by using shelving EQs in the middle frequency ranges and parametrics at the outside ranges. The top and bottom bands can also function high- or lowpass filters. It’s powerful stuff.

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