In this video, we cover key concepts that will allow you to get up and running quickly with SuperRack – the next generation of live plugin processing by Waves Audio. FOH, monitor, broadcast, and AV engineers can use SuperRack to process audio using plugins in real time, customize their workspace with floating windows, set extended-scope snapshots, and run any live show with speed and confidence.
In this quick start tutorial, we cover the following topics:
SuperRack is a software that lets live sound and broadcast engineers process up to 64, audio channels through up to 512 instances of Waves plugins with near-zero latency.
SuperRack is unique, because it gives you a lot of freedom in how you and manage and use your plugins, but before we go any further, it’s important to understand the concept of SoundGrid and look into the hardware that enables us to use plugins live with ultra-low latency.
The hardware devices that make up a SoundGrid network allow the system to handle plugin processing on dedicated computer (also known as a SoundGrid server), while keeping graphics and application processing on the host computer.
This audio-over-ethernet network setup significantly increases plugin count, eliminates latency, and enables the host and I/O devices to be located far apart from each other to accommodate any environment - project studios, live venues, houses of worship, complex A/V networks, and commercial broadcast facilities.
Make sure your system meets the minimum system requirements by going to www.waves.com/superrack and clicking on the Support tab to view the full system requirements.
Start off by installing all SuperRack software and plugins on the host computer. This can be a Waves optimized audio computer like the Axis One or any PC or Mac computer that meets the system requirements above.
To begin the installation, open Waves Central. This utility is used to install Waves software and activate your licenses. If you don’t have Waves Central installed, you can download it from https://www.waves.com/central.
To learn how to install, activate, recover, and update Waves plugins and applications, watch the video tutorial on that page. We update this video every time Waves Central is updated.
Note that you can install plugins and activate licenses on a computer that is not connected to the internet. To do so, you would need to create an offline installer on a USB flash drive using Waves Central.
An offline installer can only be made on an internet-connected computer. The instructions for creating an offline installer can be found in the video that is on https://www.waves.com/central.
A network consists of at least 4 hardware components:
Every SuperRack SoundGrid setup, no matter how large or complex, is based on this configuration. Complex SoundGrid deployments may include more I/Os, servers, switches, a second computer for a dedicated DAW, or more controllers.
Let’s look at one more common SuperRack SoundGrid setup:
SuperRack SG with a Console Expansion Card and Second Server
In this setup a MADI I/O provides up to 128 SoundGrid channels. Here, the MADI I/O is serving the stage preamps, monitor, and FOH. A second server has been added to provide complete processing redundancy. The host computer can also run a DAW for recording and virtual sound check.
Note that SuperRack lets you prepare your sessions offline, when no SoundGrid hardware is connected. This is particularly beneficial for touring engineers, as it gives them the option to prepare sessions at the airport, in their hotel room, on the airplane, you name it.
When you are ready to connect your SoundGrid hardware, go to the Setup tab and view your devices under the inventory window.
The easiest way to configure your I/O devices and servers is with the Auto-Configure wizard.
This scans the SoundGrid network and locates the correct LAN port and then assigns I/O devices and servers to slots in the inventory. It also routes devices to racks sequentially. If you later change your inventory, you can reconfigure the devices by clicking the Auto-Configuration button.
To assign another device as the master, open the Device menu and select “Set Master.” Confirm that all devices show the correct sample rate and sync status. If a device will not sync to the clock master device, try these actions:
When the configuration has finished, there will be a brief audio dropout. Its length will depend on the size of the session. If you can’t tolerate a drop, don’t reconfigure in the middle of a show. Simply wait for a short pause in the program.
A rack must have an input and an output, whether the audio comes from an ASIO/Core Audio driver, the console’s expansion card, or a hardware I/O device. Rack input and output routing is done in the Rack or Overview windows.
Choose the format of the input signal, select a device, select I/O channels, and choose a stem format. Some multitrack formats offer different streaming sequences to meet varied delivery requirements.
Rack outputs are routed in the same manner. A rack’s input and output do not necessarily need to have the same number of tracks. A stereo rack input can, for example, coexist with a 5.1 output. The rack’s L/R signal will output only from the L and R channels of the 5.1 I/O stream. The position of the L and R channels in the 5.1 output will vary depending on the 5.1 format. If rack output is unassigned when the input is routed, SuperRack will attempt to patch the same input and output I/O channels. An I/O can be patched to several rack inputs. Only one rack can patch to an output I/O.
If the channel formats for the racks’ input and output are the same (e.g., mono-to-mono, stereo-to-stereo, 5.1-to-5.1, etc.), the I/O channel numbers for a rack’s in and out will increment together. If, on the other hand, the rack input has fewer channels than output channels (or vice versa), certain channels will go unused so that each rack begins with the same input and output channel number.
SuperRack can automatically route input and output I/O channels to each rack in a session. Routing is applied to a pre-configured session with no existing I/O patches. Patching continues until all racks are routed or all I/O channels have been assigned.
In SuperRack, each rack can hold eight plugins, and the rack signal flow goes from top to bottom.
Certain panels can be detached and floated anywhere on your workspace. This provides flexibility and quick access to critical plugins and the controls that you want to access regularly. The following panels can be detached and floated:
There are five SuperRack windows: Setup, Patch, Show, Rack, and two Overviews. You can “tear off” one or more windows to spread SuperRack control over several displays. Simply click and drag it away from the Top Bar. This floating window can be positioned on any of your displays.
The name of the floating panel will appear in the Floating Panels drop-down menu on the top right. Click on the window name and it will move to the front. Close the window to return it to the default location in the Top Bar.
The Hot Plugins panel provides instant access to selected plugin control panels. Up to twelve plugins can be assigned to the Hot Plugins panel.
Snapshots help you speed up your workflow. They are used to store, manage, and quickly recall the settings of the current state of your workspace.
Snapshot scope includes:
The easiest way to store and recall snapshots is from the drop-down menu at the top of the screen.
Under the ‘SHOW’ tab, you have more options. There, you can create, recall, set the scope of your snapshots, and manage all the snapshots in your session.
Use the recall safe window to prevents changes to specified racks and functions during a snapshot change, regardless of Scope settings. Recall Safe is set for an entire session. Once Recall Safe is set for functions and racks of a session, snapshot recalls will not affect their settings.
If you want to prevent a specific instance of a plugin from changing during a snapshot recall, use the Recall Safe Plugin menu item. This drop-down menu item is located at the bottom of the Plugin menu of the specified plugin. You will notice there is a small indicator on the plugin icon that says “Safe.” if the plugin is in recall safe mode.
You can also prevent a specific rack from changing during a snapshot recall by going to the rack menu and selecting the ‘Rack Recall Safe’ option. You will notice a small green indicator to the left of rack’s name, which tells us the entire rack is set to recall safe.