So I have spent the past few months going to a fair amount of other people's shows. I don't usually do this, because I equate it to me visiting my wife at her corporate job, standing around her cubicle (in the way of the file cabinet), drinking beers, and watching everything she does. Not MY idea of a good time, and I'm sure she wouldn't appreciate it either. Regardless, I understand why people want to visit and hang out at FOH for a rock show: it's the carnival-like atmosphere. (Thank you, Bill Sheppell and Scott Tatter, for a phrase that will forever remain in my repertoire.) I digress; whatever the reason is, I have been hanging out in the "carnival-like atmosphere" and watching a fair amount of great mixers do their stuff. There are really some great-sounding shows out there right now, and some very talented individuals engineering those shows.
When I put on my "propeller-head beanie" and start asking engineers what they are using on their vocals or instruments in the way of plugins, I am aghast to hear some engineers say, “Oh yeah, I have been meaning to get some Waves plugins but they look complicated,” or “I just haven't had time,” or whatever the excuse is. I immediately share with them my story of also being ignorant, and using some other manufacturer’s plugins for the first half of the tour, and then upon finding out about Waves, replacing 97% of the plugins with Waves during the first two weeks after I bought the Mercury bundle. And here's the best part: It SIGNIFICANTLY improved my mix. I thought I had a pretty mix going on already, but simply replacing most of my plugs with Waves plugs really improved it noticeably. My systems engineer at the time started asking me what I had changed in the last few days. I think his comment was "Wow man—what did you change? You are KILLING IT now."
So if you made it here to the corner, you are probably already a Waves user. It's time to spread the wealth. Next time you are mixing a show, and everyone comes up to you afterwards and says, "MAN—that sounded amazing," share with them the wonderful power that is Waves plugins.
I feel blessed and lucky enough to own some gear. I own a Venue Profile and a Pro Tools rig that I use on tour. Right now, I am at home in between tours and the gear is set up in my garage. One of the gigs I have coming up, I am covering for an engineer who can't be there for two weeks. He recently sent me the Pro Tools recording of one of the shows, and his show file. Since I am covering for him (it's not really my gig; I'm just taking care of it while he is away), I wouldn't dream of changing anything because, why should I? It's been working for him, and starting from scratch would be insane. By having my own gear at home, I was able to load up a show with virtual playback, and some near field monitors, and practice mix moves before I even get out there. In fact, the engineer and I worked together using Skype so he could explain the intricacies of his mix set up while it was in front of me. Technology has really stepped up the game; REALLY cool. But my FAVORITE part about all of this is that I get to see how other people use Waves plugins. Everyone has their own twist on stuff, and boy, do I learn a lot from looking at someone else's file. I tend to get set in my ways, and continue to use plugs that I know and love, but man—some people are really using some of the new stuff in REALLY creative ways: Kramer Master Tape on some guitar tracks, some of the OneKnob Series across the Master Bus, using the Dorrough Stereo Meters on the mix bus for some truly accurate metering.
It's time for me to step my game up. Waves has been cooking with gas in the kitchen and releasing some amazing new additions to their arsenal of plugins. It’s time to put the learning cap on again and get up to date. You should too. Don't forget to share the wealth, and teach the ignorant about the way of the force.