I was first introduced to Waves when I met a product specialist at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. I mix FOH for a band called Crystal Fighters. Every song in the live show is different. They are not shy of fusing different styles together. In one song I'm mixing Basque-influenced folk, then electronic dance with heavy synthesizers and chugging '80s metal guitar, all while the Txalaparta is the center of attention. This keeps me on my toes as an FOH engineer. It's my job to make sure the excitement and energy on stage is translated to the crowd. The mix has to be very dynamic and interesting.
One challenge is the amount of sonic information in the mix. The input list is currently 32 channels at FOH. The louder tracks in the show have a lot going on, and it is easy for the mix to get busy, with the potential to become difficult to differentiate the various elements. This is where the Waves C6 Multiband Compressor comes in.
Creating space for everything within the mix is crucial. Before using the C6, I would tend to EQ and ride information heavy channels such as synthesizers and track to create space, which then may not necessarily work for the other softer dynamic songs. Using the C6, problematic 'hot spots' can be tamed and evened out without having to pull back on EQs and faders. Everything seems to naturally gel and slot into place.
I typically process instruments and vocals separately, especially in club venues. I normally have a Band buss and a Vocal buss, which are then routed to the FOH. Both groups have inserted a C6 and the Q10 Paragraphic Equalizer.
The C6 generally evens out the mix, helps things to gel. I start with the C6 Default, and then bring the thresholds in until each band starts to reduce by about 1-3 dB at peaks. I really like the two floating bands, very handy for problematic areas. I then use the Q10 to take out any room problems. I prefer to EQ the system/room separately for vocals and instruments. I feel that it is counterproductive to EQ the system to gain vocal stability while potentially sacrificing the rest of the mix.
Due to the band's varied style, effects are a big part of the sound. Effect parameters change a lot, so snapshots are really important. If I am unable to use my console of choice, I travel with my MacBook and Waves MultiRack Native to look after effects. It also means consistency, and that I'm not limited to the equipment available at the venue.
For my vocal verb, I use the Renaissance Reverb. I really like this reverb – it's super simple and sounds great. Some tracks are fairly wordy, so I tend to start with a tight plate to add some feel and thickness to the vocal. On the other tracks that have more space, I stretch out verbs to create a totally different feel, to the point where it is an obvious deliberate effect.
I then use H-Delay. This delay is incredible. I use a lot of delays, from reggae influenced dub, to thick slaps or epic straight delays. On vocals for the songs that are wordier, I use a really short delay, more as a doubler. H-Delay is really hands on; I like the way it changes pitch when you adjust the delay time. You can get really creative with it!