Waves Renaissance Channel Review

Waves R Channel

Waves Renaissance Maxx is a bundle that contains a number of plugins under the “Renaissance” banner, hinting at some vintage ancestry.

There’s currently the R Bass, R Axx, R Compressor, R DeEsser, R Equalizer, R Reverb and R Vox in the Renaissance range. The bundle also includes the Tune LT and IR-L Convolution Reverb.

If you read interviews with many mix engineers and producers, you’ll find that the R Comp, R Vox and the R Axx and R Equalizer pop up a lot. The R Comp seems to be the most often used compressor plugin in modern music recording, closely followed by the others. Professionals use it for it’s levelling abilities and primarily the sound and ease of use.

I was lucky enough to recently get the R Channel as part of Waves Black Friday specials. This channel strip is a real prize, featuring a four band version of the R Equalizer with all it’s character and quirks, as well as the compressor section that can be selected between the R Compressor and the R Vox compressor, a really effective expander/gate, extensive side chain control for both the compressor and gate sections, a polarity reversal button and a limiter to top it off, as well as a “rotation” control in the stereo version.

This plugin comes as part of the bundle, so you get the full size versions of all the plugins (and the 6 band version of R Equalizer) when you buy the whole package, but, if you’re like me and prefer to pick your way through individual plugins, the R Channel is a bargain, because it truly does contain all the most important features and sound of the main bundle.

Across the top is the highly configurable EQ section, with a very useful graphical representation of the eq curve, 4 bands of fully parametric eq, each featuring gain, frequency and bandwidth control, as well as a choice of four filter shapes per band.

To quote from the included operation manual, “Bands 1 and 4 of the EQ can be set as Hi/Low Pass filters respectively. The filters implemented are 3’rd order, 18dB/Oct filters with variable slope. The Shelf filters as the Pass/Cut filters can boost or cut above or below a specified frequency, but rather then rolling off to infinity the shelf will roll off or up to the designated gain indicated in the shelf band. Renaissance Channel offers 2 shelf filters. The “Analog Shelf” is equivalent to the Renaissance EQ shelves and has a resonance overshoot before the shelf reaches its designated boost or cut. This overshoot is asymmetric, and to the opposite direction of the boost/cut. The “Resonant Shelf” is slightly different in that for lower Q (bellow 0.8) it has no overshoot and for higher Q (above 0.81) it has a symmetric overshoot resonance.”

Tricky reading, but this is the heart of the “Renaissance” aspect of the EQ. Apart from the normal bell filters available, this “resonant overshoot” variation mimics the behaviour of famous vintage passive hardware eq’s (Pultec springs to mind).

Below the EQ section is a set of very comprehensive controls for side chain signals (an external side chain input can also be selected, if your d.a.w. supports it). There are built in side chain filters which can be tweaked and monitored to your heart’s content. These can be used to control both compressor models, as well as the gate and expander.

Then there comes the dynamics section, with a choice switchable between the R Compressor and R Vox compressors and an “invisible” limiter. The signal flow can also be selected between EQ to Dynamics or Dynamics to EQ. The action of the limiter is shown in the light above the output gain meters, which is black with no limiting, yellow with limiting occurring conservatively and red when over the top (and probably audible anyway).

There is also gain reduction metering, as well as the usual threshold, ratio, attack and release controls, the choice of ARC auto or manual release, with the main fader serving as make up gain. In R Vox compressor mode, the ratio control is disabled, as in the original R Vox compressor, but the attack and release controls, which are absent on the R Vox compressor (as they are preset), are available here and can be fully adjusted, which is a great feature.

Below the compressor section is the expander/gate section, with both threshold and release controls. I found this section very easy and intuitive to set up for removing spill from snare and cymbals on kick drum tracks, for example.

The gain structure of the whole channel strip is carefully set up allowing 18dB of internal headroom, so fairly radical eq boosts and dynamics moves can be accommodated, with the limiter also providing some protection.

The only downside for me is that I find the GUI a bit too small, especially with so many controls and readouts.  Compared to the Nomad Factory BT Analog Trackbox, which is far more generous real estate wise, it is a bit fiddly to use and this can slow down the workflow a little. Having said that, I am finding that the more I use it, the easier it becomes.

A very useful plugin, full of character and very tweakable.