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Waves Audio MultiRack Native

Feb 4, 2011 12:04 PM, by Steve La Cerra

Plug-ins on the go from a virtual processing rack.


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Am I Latent?

One thing that concerned me about using MultiRack in a live situation was latency. No matter how you slice it, A/D/D/A conversion plus sending the signal to a computer for processing equals a slight delay. In a live setting, it was not noticeable, mostly because there’s already latency (aka delay due to the speed of sound) from the backline and/or stage to the mix position. However, I did notice when processing drums that at times, I could hear a slight flam, typically when I MultiRacked the kick, snare, and toms, but not the high-hat and/or overheads. The processed tracks would be subject to latency, but the unprocessed tracks would not. For example, any leakage of snare into the high-hat mic produced a flam.

There are a few ways around this. First, MultiRack’s Preferences let you set the buffer size. Reducing buffer size increases the processor load while reducing latency and vice versa. You’ll have to tune this to your needs by listening for clipping and watching MultiRack’s SYS indicator. Second, MultiRack can organize channels into Groups, providing time-alignment of group members (automatically or manually) by delaying all channels to match the one with the most latency.

Some plug-ins are more latent than others (e.g. Linear Phase EQ, Linear Phase Multichannel Compressor, etc.), so it is obvious that Waves has done its homework in this area because the alignment worked perfectly. Latency may be more apparent in the studio, so you may have to record the return from MultiRack and manually align the processed track to match the position of the original.

As for the processors, in my review, I used a couple of new Waves plug-ins—the H-Comp and H-Delay—and they sounded great. I also liked the API bundle and used the 550b EQs across my drum inputs, especially on certain live consoles where the EQ left something to be desired.

Ready For Prime Time

Having the freedom to easily string a chain of processors into a channel with minimal patching provides incredible flexibility. As I don’t have the luxury of traveling with production, being able to use my virtual rack at the next venue (and console) was fantastic. I do, however, have a minor wish list for MultiRack: It’d be nice if mutes could be linked in a group, and I’d like the ability to create and recall templates. Last (I suspect this is easier said than done), MultiRack outputs cannot be shared. If they could, users could then save console channels by returning more than one processor back to the same input.

All that aside, MultiRack was easy to use and trust. I found it extremely stable, which is a must in live situations. And once you have the buffer size dialed in, you won’t hear a click, pop, or glitch. MultiRack may be the coolest addition to touring since Internet on the bus.

Product Summary

  • Company: Waves Audio
    www.waveslive.com
  • Product: MultiRack Native
  • Pros: Excellent sound, stable, easy to use, outstanding flexibility.
  • Cons: Latency could be an issue in certain situations.
  • Applications: House mix positions with analog or non-Avid digital consoles for stage performance or house of worship installations.
  • Price: $372 (including H-Delay and IR-L Convolution Reverb)

Specifications

  • System Requirements: Windows XP or 7, Vista; Mac OS X 10.4.11
  • Compatibility: Supports Waves Native plug-ins, Version 7

Steve La Cerra is the front-of-house mixer and tour manager for Blue Öyster Cult.



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