Welcome to the third part of this series of articles dedicated to explore the sound design suite of Waves. Today the turn is for five powerful modulation-featured plugins included in the bundle:
“These plug-ins make up what I like to call my “Audio Mangler Gang of Toys.” I use all of them because of their ability to modulate an element or sound. For me, they really are the heart of any Sound Design.” – Scott Martin Gershin
This plugin really lives up to his name, an “enigmatic” processor loaded with lots of cool features for creating all kind of unique effects.Enigma was created as a special and complex processor. I can’t specify what kind of effects you can get from this big guy, since it combines different types of audio effects such as filters, reverb, flanger/ phaser, plus modulation thru a LFO.
Enigma’s signal flow structure is internally complex but the plugin is not very complicated to use. However it has some delicate parameters to care about. There’s a section for controlling the filters and notches (the heart of Enigma) along with a really nice graphical representation of the process, which also offers control features. There’s also a section with reverb controls, but approached in a very unique way allowing it to making echos and all kind of crazy effects. Don’t think about a reverberation effect. Think about a reverb algorithm used for creating modulated echoes and crazy reflections, not smooth and real spaces.
I personally love Enigma for a lot of taks, specially experimentation. For me there’s always a surprise and magical factor obtained with it. It offers several parameters that you can twist easily and get subtle changes, as well as some crazy controls such as Depth or Decay Time, that can make drastic changes by just changing the value a little. It can be useful for creating crazy sounds but it can also be useful to modulate and mix just a bit inside the audio content, adding a very special flavor to it.
As the same as H-Comp, H-Delay was developed as an hybrid processor featuring several vintage modeled units, but this time several types of delay and time modulation effects. This plugin can do a lot of echo tricks, including some classic effects with an old school feeling on it. Its modulation and filter parameters allow you to do a lot of things more, and it can even reduce the sample rate of the resulting sound, by turning on the LoFi function included.
Apart of being a very solid delay unit, I think its modulation/filtering capabilities are my favorite features. This machine can be used as a conventional/classic delay, but also as a very special signal generator toy for creating some cool tones, sweeps, beeps, and even some cool old school sci-fi sounds. I remember me playing this to simulate those classic theremin modulations. That”s pretty fun to do. Here is the trick for getting cool signals to work with:
- Loop a sound and record the looping in real time in your audio application
- Add H-Delay and go to Load – Full Reset
- Turn off the filters. You shouldn’t hear anything (since all frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz are cut), but ñeep looping
- Then set the Feedback to extreme parameters. Above 130 or so should be fine but I like to go to the extreme when making this kind of material.
- Now is just about playing with the filters. For example, if you want to create some high sweeps, you could start activating and tweaking the high pass filter. Also then you could modulate the signal for adding some movement, etc. If you want to obtain some sub-harmonic and low end signals, then is just to start from step 4 and then move the low pass filter and the letting the feedback evolves. Then is up to you.
“My favorite use of H-Delay is to generate sub-harmonics. I use it inline with LoAir to create mega “sustained” sub bass.” – Charles Deenen
Let’s talk about MetaFlanger, a fantastic plugin created specially for producing the effects of classic flangers, phasers and chorus processors. It also has a lot of cool features that transform it into an incredible sound design tool. This plugin is very simple to use, offering controls for the delay (incl tape emulation) of the effect and also depth, sync and the speed of the flanger, controlled by the rate parameter. You can also change the waveform of the LFO, the stereo spread of the effect, general feedback, mix and gain, and tweak the main filter by changing its type/frequency features.
MetaFlanger is a very special plugin. Flangers and phasers have been in the sound design world for many years. For example you can easily identify flanging and phasing effects in many sci-fi films and video games. Many of the sounds of that genre have a flanger in somewhere. It can be a laser gun, a spaceship, a voice, a futuristic door, an robotic movement, etc. MetaFlanger can be really helpful for that kind of stuff, but also for spells, treating vehicles, creating whooshes and sweeteners, and many more. You can just aad a pinch of it to any sound and the result can be very cool.
“Set this to extreme speeds, and modulate the frequency of this speed in real-time to create some crazy sounds. At extreme settings, this flanger becomes a sound design beast all by itself!” – Charles Deenen
“The original “Transformers” cartoon featured a very iconic transformation sound, the 5-beat rhythm of rising or falling splatty pitch. To make this basic sound, I can start with anything; a 500 HZ tone, for example. Then I’d add a little “Metaflanger” in the ProTools, adjusting the rate to get a nice splatty sound. Then I’d automate a pitch rise from start to finish, so the tone ramps up. Then I’d add a tremolo pattern, and tweak that to get the 5-part rhythm. And that’s basically the original cartoon transforming sound.” – Erik Aadahl
MondoMod is a little but incredible fun toy designed specially for modulating amplitude (tremolo), frequency (vibrato) and panning (rotation), including a dedicated section for each of those three processes, plus a full featured LFO with dedicated controls and a master section with gain, mix controls and also output metering. The plugin offers independent controls for amplitude modulation (AM) frequency modulation (FM) and Rotation.
This fantastic tool can be used for a lot of cool things. Notice that it features individual depth controls for AM and FM and also has a general mix parameter, so you have total control over the amount of the effect you want to add. That means that you can just add a little bit of it to your signal chain, or you can radically change the characteristics of your sound effects. MondoMod is great for creating all that involves rhythm and movement, no matter the speed or depth you need.
“This plug can create some great movement. When you quickly have to create a volume modulated sound that cuts through a mix, MondoMod is a great plug to it quickly.” – Charles Deenen
“Using MetaFlanger and MondoMod were a lifesaver while developing Transformers: War for Cybertron. These plug-ins enabled me to quickly identify what sounds worked best for the iconic transformation sounds associated with the license. Without Waves’ plug-ins, I don’t think I would be alive today, my family would more than likely be starving, and I wouldn’t have found the love of my life.” – Mike Niederquell
This one is another crazy tool, capable of producing really cool multi-tap delay effects, chorus, looping and more, inspired by several classic processors based on analog tapes. The basic concept behind SuperTap actually easy to explain: the effect can take your signal and output it up to 6 different outputs (taps), with independent bypass, delay, EQ, gain and rotation controls for each one. Plus you have dedicated feedback and tempo/quantization control section and a LFO to modulate all the taps in the chain. There’s also a nice panning graphic which is very cool when you cant to place your delays in the stereo field. Now we’re talking, huh?
I personally love the flexibility of this plugin, not only for the cool features for controlling the patterns and taps but also for letting you go up to extreme ranges that can give you really cool sounds. Though this is a processor that you’d like to use slowly on some parameters if you just need to change a bit your actual configuration. Going too fast on some of those controls can give you crazy results. However, if you want unexpected sounds and cool experiments, there’s no limit with this monster.
“I love this plug, as it reminds me of an old favorite hardware unit. In extreme cases, you can create all sorts of stereo-imaged movement sounds. Use the filters on the channels to create crazy delays.” – Charles Deenen
Last but not least, let’s hear a great advice from Bruce Tanis about working with Waves plugins:
“I typically use Waves reverbs, delays, and some of their modulation plugins. I also constantly use MaxxBass as well and occasionally the Waves doppler plugin. I really don’t use compressors or limiters at all for my style of editing. I typically try to cut up to but below the maximum sound ceiling anyway so I don’t find I need to slam things to the very edge that way. I’m not discounting their usefulness as I think I’m the only person I know that doesn’t make great use of them, but I find if I’m having trouble getting a sound to read through the mix, I’m usually better off turning something else down rather than crushing the sound in question right up to the top to make it audible.
I think the single most important thing I could say about them, or any plugin, beyond their obvious strength as a design tool in general, would be to experiment with the different settings. I create all kinds of strange tones by manipulating the decay rates and feedback levels beyond whatever the presets are, well, preset at. If the plugin allows you to alter the settings, try putting them all the way to max and see what happens. Typically, when I’m working on a project there just isn’t much time for experimentation. It’s becomes a situation of “it worked once before so just do that again”. It’s really important, then, to try to set aside some small amount of time, even just a few minutes a day, to just play with these things and see what they can do. The other thing to be aware of is that, so often, we only think about treating momentary effects like adding low frequency help to a gunshot or door close. If you increase the decay time and feedback
(I’m speaking primarily of the modulation or decay plugins and things like that), and let the thing record for a minute or two, some pretty interesting things can happen across a longer recording. Not in any useful way for the gunshot or door, certainly, but useful somewhere else perhaps. Further, it’s sometimes interesting to boost a particular frequency way up and process the sound several times over just to see what the cumulative effect on the overall sound is. You can get some good throbbing or vibrating tones that way.”