Wave Arts Power Suite

The Wave Arts Power Suite of plug-ins ($499 retail) is aimed at digital recordists on a budget, and you can even download a fully functional version and use it for 30 days to see if it delivers the goods. For me—well, let’s just say I’ve added it to my plug-in A list.

MasterVerb. I first reviewed MasterVerb in January 2002, and said “This reverb offers a lush, enveloping sound, and, unlike some reverbs, it’s particularly well suited to delicate instruments such as acoustic guitar because of its sweet decay and warm sound quality. Despite being a single-algorithm reverb, it’s flexible enough to provide a variety of very useful effects. The fact it requires very little CPU power is icing on the cake.” These opinions remain valid, although this version adds a diffusion control that makes early reflections sound even smoother.

TrackPlug. This is a 10-band EQ with a compressor and a noise gate. Controls are standard, although a useful Band control disables a band without deleting it—good for judging how different bands affect the overall sound. The compressor is straightforward. TrackPlug’s most striking characteristic is that you don’t hear it working—you have to really push the parameters to get it to sound artificial.

MultiDynamics. A good multiband dynamics processor is a joy, although adjusting multiple bands of compression can be a pain in the butt—especially as you’re adjusting both EQ and dynamics to get the desired sound. Wave Arts hasn’t solved the problem, but they’ve made huge strides in letting you see the results of your adjustments. The left pane shows the current frequency response (the green line) and threshold (the orange line), and the right side shows what’s happening with the dynamics. The way EQ is handled is a little hard to explain, but the basic idea is that you can set not only a particular frequency range for each band, but also determine how much gain will be applied when the signal is above the threshold, and how much when it’s below. This makes it easy to compress some bands while expanding others, but it also makes it easier to see how compression will affect the frequency response. Run through the presets, and you’ll hear everything from hard sounds without harshness to gentle tone-shaping with a dynamics lift. This is one hot plug.

FinalPlug. Here’s your basic “output-limiter-designed-to-kill-all-traces-of-dynamics-to-conform-to-current-pop-music-standards” type of device. FinalPlug sounds thick, fat, and it “smears” signals nicely.

WaveSurround. Think of this plug-in as panning on steroids. Instead of just blasting sounds between right or left front speakers, sounds can seem to come from the sides, or even behind you. However, I was about to write this off after checking out the gimmicky presets. It was only when I scaled back the effects for some subtle results that I was impressed. Before long, imaging sounded wider and there was a certain precision to the sound—as if someone had added a “lively and sparkly” control, and then turned it up 15 percent. Use this sparingly as a secret weapon.