These Waves plugin presets come with helpful explanations and instructions. They can be used as starting points for your own mix, or as a way of learning more about each plugin. As always, feel free to experiment, the instructions are based on my own workflow and “ear”. I hope you enjoy and they help you make even better music!
Important tip: Penny presets are calibrated for an input signal level of -18dbfs RMS. Keep it reasonably close to that for the presets to give you the optimum (and expected) performance.
Important tip: There are separate files for mono and stereo plugins. Using the correct preset makes sure the gain staging is correct, as well as some other things which I will mention on the individual plugins below.
Really Important tip: Some of the presets in this set deal with reverb or delay. They are saved as insert settings with the dry/wet mix levels adjusted down. If you use them as sends, push the mix levels to 100% wet, or 100% effect (but you knew that!) My emphasis is almost always on the subtle or natural-sounding. None of these are going to sound experimental or too crazy. If you are more interested in that, then just wait a bit—I am working on a set of presets just for you!
Presets: PC Channel I, PC Channel II, PC Channel I & II (Stereo plugin only)
In case you are wondering, unless you actually are the Beatles, this is not going to make you sound like the Beatles. But it does allow a pretty cool vintage vibe, and the presets are meant to give you a good starting point. To do this up right, you have the plugin as the first insert on every channel. You can use the stereo version on any busses and the mixbuss, and of course on any stereo channels. However, to be “authentic” you should only be using mono channels for this setup. (But really, these are just my suggestions and workflow—feel free to experiment and make it your own!)
The analog knob only controls the amout of noise, it doesn’t really make anything more “analog”. I have it set lower because that noise will build up channel by channel, and you may want to lower it even further. Having noise added in like this makes it important to watch your input levels. If something is very quiet, when you turn it up the noise is going to go up as well (you knew that).
The drive knob adjusts the level of the harmonics. Again, I have it set below the “base” in order to give some room when used on a number of channels. If you push this up past ‘0’ you can get distortion creeping in, and it can sound quite good on the right source. It is tied into the input level. For instance, push the drive up on a vocal track carefully and only the loudest parts will start to have a touch of distortion, just like those 60s recordings. Try a clean guitar and push the drive even farther, you might like that vintage sound!
The gain and the output slider are set for proper input/output gain staging. I tend to move the output slider if I need to adjust that, rather than the gain. The two tone controls are tweaked just a bit to provide the most linear possible mid-range frequency response. The low and high end both roll-off as this is modeled after the real console. Of course you probably will be using these to EQ your source, but you have as neutral a staring point as possible.
I think the “Bass Lift” is an interesting historical artifact, it was on the board to make up for technical deficiencies in the way things could be recorded. I don’t use it, but feel free!
According to Waves, channels I and II were modeled from separate channels on the original board. I have the drive pushed up on channel II because the harmonics are less prominent. This and the tone adjustments brings I and II closer to each other as I found them to be too audibly different. II is still slightly warmer than I, so keep that in mind. When using the stereo version you have your choice of using either channel in “stereo”, or using each one as a left or right in the DUO setting. This is what the Channel I & II preset is for. It slightly adjusts each channel, particularly to match their output levels. You have stereo using two separate mono channels that sound slightly different, just like the old days!
Tip: If you want to build your own ITB console with this, put the plugin and preset as the first insert on each channel. If you want to get really fancy (and who doesn’t) use the PC Channel I preset on some of your channels and the PC Channel II preset on the others. Then slightly vary the amount of drive on each plugin, up or down. Each channel will now be slightly different.
Presets: PC Channel I, PC Channel II, PC Channel I & II (Stereo plugin only)
This won’t make you sound like the Beatles either, along with most everything else that I wrote above about the REDD.17. The controls are similar, and my starting point settings are what they are for the same reasons as on the REDD.17. You can read through that above, and then I will get to the things that are different.
This plugin gives you the option of changing between the different amps used on the .37 and .51. (You can read about their history in the Waves manual.) I like the sound of the .37, so that is the one I have developed the presets for. It is similar to the .17, but a better bass response (it doesn’t roll of at all the way I have the settings) and a smoother high end. I think they can actually compliment each other, if you want to try to get crazy and mix them from channel to channel.
The other difference is this addition of a “Classic/Pop” selection for the tone controls. My mono presets use the ‘pop’ setting and my stereo ones use the ‘classic’ setting, because for some reason there are differences in the versions of the plugins and this allowed me to get the most linear (and matching) frequency response. Again, as I said above, you are probably going to change this when you EQ, I am just giving a base point. Most likely, you will want to roll off the “tone low” as the bass is almost flat the way I have it in the presets.
Tip: Look above at the REDD.17 instructions for some suggestions building your own ITB Abbey Road console.
Using the HLS, PIE and Kramer Tape (and J37) as a ‘console’
Take a look at this diagram as one possible way to “mimic” a recording and mixing session:
Please keep in mind this is one way of setting up the workflow and is very basic. Notice there is no additional processing such as compression on the recording stage or any mixbus effects. This can be added by you!
The tracking channel is for recording. The signal comes through the HLS (and it’s virtual preamp), into the board, and then is sent to the Kramer Tape. This has been simplified to one source and one channel. You could set this up for multiple sources through multiple instances of the HLS, mix them live, and send them to one instance of the Kramer Tape. (The way it used to be done!) Also, keep in mind when I use the word “record” it also references virtual instruments, loops, etc. within your DAW.
The mixing channel preset is the setup for, believe it or not, mixing. The signal plays back from the Kramer Tape into the “board”, which is the HLS followed by the PIE compressor. The signal can be EQ-ed with the HLS, leveled with the PIE, and then all the channels can be mixed. In this case I have them going into the J37 as one possible mix-down scenario.
I have presets for all of the plugins involved in this, which I will explain a little more below. But first a few ways you can experiment and play with this.
The Kramer Tape adds a lot of noise and harmonics. Even though my presets reduce this from the standard setting, it can build up if you are using more than 8 or so channels. Feel free to just get rid of it off the channel. I think it is a cool effect to record into it, and then play back from it, and my presets vary the setting for each which introduces a lot of analog vibe. But it may start coloring the sound too much, so use your ears.
You can use other compressors (or none at all) besides the PIE. Maybe you want an LA2A on a channel. Feel free! But the one constant that makes the “console” is using the HLS. Even if you have need for more precise EQ, I would leave the HLS and add an EQ after.
You don’t have to mix into the J37. You can use the Kramer Tape or any other tape plugin if you want that “mixed into tape” sound. But make sure you have the tape plugin as the last insert on your mixbus. If you have compression or EQ, it should go before.
Do you have auxiliary sends, like reverb? Use your own discretion, you may or may not want the HLS on that channel. The same for any submix channels. I can’t cover every possibility, and you will just have to experiment with what sounds good. (And really, that is the fun of it, right?!)
The presets are all gain staged to work as shown in the diagram, one after the other. If you use your own setup, be aware the input setting should be fine, but you may have to tweak (usually louder) the output settings.
Kramer HLS Channel
Presets: PC HLS Tracking, PC HLS Mixing
Let me say once again it is important to use the mono and stereo presets on the matching plugin. The settings are slightly different, especially regarding gain staging.
The major difference between the two presets is the Mixing setting has a lower preamp and the noise has been turned off. The levels have also been tweaked slightly. If you use my tracking workflow, you would have already introduced noise into the recording (with the Kramer Tape as well). Use your own ears and what you like. You may want to turn all the noise off on everything, it is easy enough to click it on or off on the HLS.
I do find using the lowest preamp level works nicely mixing, with a higher one for tracking. You can also switch from line to mic, and really start pushing some distortion into the signal. It can sound good on drums or bass, not so much on a vocal or acoustic instrument, but try it and see!
Tip: Keep your input level near, but not too much in the red. This is the way the original hardware was meant to work, and Waves has built the plugin that way.
Tip: The HLS has unusual controls for an EQ. Read the HLS manual if you are not sure of how to use them. They do a great job cutting out the low end. A boost at the the high end often sounds good, since “tape” tends to roll that off. They sound smooth, but they definitely are not surgical or precise. (And just a thought: try to record so that you don’t need any EQ to fix the way something sounds, then you can EQ just to balance your mix!)
Kramer Master Tape
Presets: PC Tracking, PC Mixing
Be careful of this beast! It has a great vibe, but it can get to be too much. I use it on eight channels simultaneously all the time (I’m a real fan of recreating 8 channel recording), but more than that and it might start adding too much noise and distortion. You don’t want to “vibe” someone off their chair.
As with the HLS, the Mixing preset has reduced noise and the input and output are tweaked differently. Again, use your own ear about how much noise you want. The amount of ‘Wow and Flutter’ is also lower. That particular setting can jump out at you depending on the source, and I find it best to keep it way below what Waves says is the standard amount. (Just turn it way up on a piano for instance, it’s pretty easy to hear. Of course, maybe you can use it as an effect sometime!)
In case you are interested in the Flux setting, you can read a little about it in the Waves manual. It was basically a way to reduce the noise floor and recording level, but it also changes harmonics and (probably because of that) effects the frequency curve. I have it set higher in the Mixing setting because it handles a hotter source better.
Tip: Try to keep your input level near, but not too much in the red. This is the way the original hardware was meant to work, and Waves has built the plugin that way. This is pretty much the same advice for all Waves plugins.
Tip: The tape delay/slap is set up on here with a nice roll-off to clean up the bass, if you want to give it a try.
Presets: PC PIE Mixing
I love the PIE because it is so simple to use. There’s no input level to worry about (so make sure you are feeding it a proper signal.) You set the ratio and decay time, and then turn the threshold until you get what you want! Honestly, I almost never use a decay time other than 400ms. (I’m not that concerned with matching the beat or whatever. Pretty sure you aren’t going to be using this for that that kind of music if you are looking for a vintage sound!)
You will want to play with the ratio. 2:1 is nice if you are sending the signal through another compressor, and the lim(iter) setting is cool on vocals and acoustic guitar.
Now you have your channel all set up!
Presets: PC Mixbus
You can use the J37 in other places, like individual channels, but my preset is for it to be your final insert on the mixbus. The settings are toned down for that purpose. (Less wow and flutter, less noise, etc.)
The rest of the settings (tape speed, modeled track…) have all been set to try to give the plugin the most linear frequency response possible. It still has its own sound, and the high and low end curve down. I suggest you have this as an insert when you start mixing, and “mix into it” instead of adding it when you get done. This is an advantage we have over actually using a real tape machine. However, the engineers who do that know the sound of the machines, and make adjustments in the mix before printing to tape.
Tip: Turn down (or off) the wow, flutter, noise level and saturation if it’s too much. Listen carefully!
Presets: PC 1-8 (mono), PC 1-4 (stereo), PC Buss (BUSS)
First of all, I love the Mike! Second, I developed these to make a virtual 8-channel mixer/recorder in my DAW. I like the idea of limiting my choices sometimes, and so having only 8 channels is a great way to do that. I still can bounce channels (but I limit myself to one bounce per source) and all of a sudden I feel like I am working on my old Fostex!
Having said that, you can use these however you want. Waves provides 32 modeled channels. The difference with my presets is that I have taken the eight channels from the Mike setting that I thought showed the most variety from each other, and then adjusted the drive settings so the harmonics have an equal amount of “volume,” for lack of a better word. But basically, I have balanced the level of the harmonics in relation to each other, while they each are still different and model separate channels. Then I tweaked the output so they all come in and go out at the same level.
So you can build your console with these, and have a nice balanced output that won’t change your levels if you choose to add them at the end to do summing. I like to keep them as the last inserts on my “pretend 8-channel,” and then add the Buss as the first insert on my mixbus\s and record and mix through them the whole time. It is a really fun way for me to simplify things into less channels, and also get a real good sound!
Tip: I forgot to say, use a different preset (1-8) on each channel!
Abbey Road Chambers
Presets: PC Chamber 1 – 5
First things first. For some reason the Waves load preset doesn’t maintain the Input level from these presets. It will stay at whatever it is set at when you open the preset. All of these are meant to work with an input of +4.1. Unfortunately you will have to change this input when you load the preset. It should save normally in your DAW though.
These go from 1 to 5, “more” to “less.” PC Chamber 1 is a traditional take on the chamber reverb sound, although I like the sound warm so the high end has been pushed down. PC Chamber 2 is Chamber 1 with the STEED effect turned off, as well as an adjustment to the frequency balance.
PC Chamber 3 is setup for a natural room sound, unless you push it. This thickens up a vocal really nicely, but then takes it down the hall if you push up the mix.
PC Chamber 4 is subtle, but has a slap hiding in there, and PC Chamber 5 feels very in your face, but with a slight tail. I use the Chamber 5 preset all the time on vocals. It seems like there is nothing there, until you bypass it, and then you miss it.
As you can see from these, I’m not a big fan of the mirror and stone, or the more modern speaker and microphone emulations, but feel free to experiment!
Tip: Try these out on vocals and acoustic instruments. I think Chamber 3 sounds particularly good on upright bass, and I use it on that pretty consistently.
Abbey Road Plates
Presets: PC Plate 1-4
First things first. Again. For some reason the Waves load preset doesn’t maintain the Wet/Dry level from these presets. It will stay at whatever it is set at when you open the preset. I suggest you set it to 20-25%. You have to change this when you load the preset. It should save normally in your DAW though.
I like plate C, and not so much the other ones. All of these are variations on C. Plate 1 is a good staring place for an in your face vocal, and then progress to Plate 4 being more of an open space. I have the Analog knob off on all of these but feel free to add some noise if you wish, or tweak the Drive knob for some distortion. You can actually add some loveliness with the distortion instead of it being harsh. I also have the bass rolled off as far as it can go, I think a plate adds a lot of rumble. But depending on your source you might want to adjust this, or if you want something just a bit more “boomy.”
Tip: The Predelay can also add a sweet slap or echo. On Plate 2 I have the damper all the way down and a 90ms predelay, and you get this nice echo. Push the Predelay up to 140 and you get a tape echo, higher and you get a distinct echo riding inside the short reverb time.
Presets: PC Delay 1-4
This such a simple looking but fun plugin. It does so much very easily and quickly, and I hope these presets get you started if you haven’t really experimented with this before.
PC Delay 1 and 2 are nice to double or thicken a voice or guitar. Delay 2 has a lot more going on in the high end, including some modulation that sounds pretty cool on acoustic instruments. It can sound a little “phasey” because of that so you have to listen.
PC Delay 3 is set up like a traditional tape delay. I know there are several presets that come with Waves that do this, but I think mine does it better and sounds less showy. PC Delay 4 is a 1/16 triplet— because everybody has to have this, right? I have the Analog knob off or on 4 on all of these. Setting it to 4 really throws in a lot of analog “stuff.” If you want to be adventuresome, set it to 3. It distorts pretty quickly!
Tip: Try the lofi button. I don’t think it actually resamples to a lower bit depth, but it can sound like it does. It’s not going to turn into a SD-3000, but along with the Analog knob you can add some grit to the sound.
Presets: PC ADT 1-4
(Using a mono to stereo plugin is how this is usually used, and the stereo presets have appropriate panning and levels to split the signal.)
The PC ADT 1 and 2 presets are my take on traditional tape doubling technique. PC ADT 3 and 4 would be impossible on a real reel (ha), but they are the settings I most use for a subtle vocal effect. These also work nicely on a variety of instruments.
You can play with the panning (only on the stereo plugin, see note above) and the Drive knob always makes for some interesting effects. I have the Drive set to 0 on the source on all of these, but it can do some cool things to push it up, on instruments in particular. These are starting points for you to try, but be aware you can go into flange and phase -mood pretty quickly.
Tip: This plugin still feels tricky to me, like even a small change in the time can suddenly sound bad, so imagine what it was like working with actual tape decks!
Presets: PC VitaTube
This is just a little something extra, and simple. I’m not sure exactly what Vitamin does, it doesn’t just add structured harmonics, that’s for sure. But this is a nice little preset that rolls off the low and high end, and then adds a bunch of non-linear noise to the source, and some low volume harmonics. Just throw on this preset for a tube kind of sound!
Bonus: SuperTap 6 Taps
Presets: PC Fibonacci Choir
This old boy plugin is still pretty cool, and can do some things for your synth sounds that are hard to beat. (Maybe a few of those in the future.) The Fibonacci Choir is named after the Fibonacci number. If you don’t know what that is, you can look it up—it’s a math thing and golden rectangles and stuff like that.
Just take a listen. It fills up the space in a way that isn’t too cluttered or overwhelming, and doesn’t add a lot of extra tones.
Make some cool music!!
Developed by chief engineer Bobby Conlon.