Some plug-ins are designed for precision, some for “character”—but
the Waves Artist Signature series plug-ins are about style. They involve much
more than getting a “famous producer” sound, as they’re a toolkit for working
within that producer’s musical genre. For example, the Tony Maserati
bundle is great for hip-hop, whereas Eddie Kramer’s excels at rock.
But Jack Joseph Puig is all over the map, working with a variety of
artists and genres—and his collection reflects that. As with other Artist
plug-ins, the premise is to offer a set of functional processing blocks—
channel strips, if you will—for specific applications, comprised of multiple
functions that would normally be individual plug-ins. This lets newbies get right to work out of the box, while saving veterans time. The
JJP collection offers blocks for guitar, vocals, drums, bass, cymbals/percussion,
Strings & Keys
Since this is Keyboard, let’s start with the Strings & Keys plug-in, with
buttons for Synth, Hi Strings, Lo Strings, and Piano. The left side has the
basics—a Sensitivity control to optimize levels, Low and Hi EQ, and Compression.
This alone can give your sound more authority. The right side
has a Master output fader and metering. The five faders in the middle,
each with an enable/bypass button, control five parallel paths. The Main
path is simply the dry signal, but because you can disable it, you can use
the plug-in on a bus, not just as an insert.
The Space fader adds ambience that sounds like early reflections; Double
gives a double-tracking effect, with a hint of chorus. Presence sounds
like a compressed treble boost, while Girth provides a similar function
for the low end.
One aspect I can’t stress enough is that subtlety serves you well. For
example, having the Doubler signals peak at no more than –20dB compared
to the Main signal gave a gorgeous, but not “effected,” fullness. Presence
is also easy to overdo; when peaking at around –22dB, it gave a sweet
kind of bite but was annoying much above –18dB. Also, these faders are
like macros—for most of them, multiple parameter changes are going on
under the hood.
Don’t take the mode buttons too literally. Hi Strings sounds fabulous
on choirs—I much preferred it for this purpose to the Vocals processor,
which is for solo vocals.
Each plug-in merits a detailed analysis, but given space constraints, we’ll
hit the highlights.
Vocals has tone, compression, and a de-esser as the “basics.” Compared
to the Strings & Keys plug-in, the Space fader is more about tightly panned
delays, with longer, spacier background delays. The enigmatically-named
Magic fader provides an effect similar to Presence in the Strings & Keys
plug-in, while the Presence control in Vocals is more like an upper midrange
boost. Attitude sounds muffled by itself, but a little bit ups the fullness.
Bass includes transient shaping with Attack and Length controls. This
was one of the few plug-ins where you could use just the six effects faders,
with no Main, to get your sound. There are buttons for DI, Amp, and
Synth bass; however, Amp is about cabinet simulation, not overdrive.
Drums is designed for individual drums, with tabs for two types of
kick miking, snare top, snare bottom, and toms. This also has some transient shaping; the snare and tom options can dial in reverb. A separate
plug-in, Cymbals & Percussion, handles the rest of the kit. This
has tabs for hi-hat, overhead cymbals, room cymbals, tambourine,
shaker, and loops.
Guitars has seven processors and four tabs—Clean, Rock, R&B, and
Chug. This plug-in seems mostly about tone, although there is doubling
and reverb for ambience, and an Attack for transient shaping.
There’s no single element in these plug-ins I haven’t heard before, but
that’s not the point: Waves’ Jack Joseph Puig Artist Signature is a carefully-
crafted suite of processors, controlled as macros by faders, and it
takes the tedium out of using plug-insto get a sound.
When I first saw the price, I thought “no way.” There’s a difference
between price and value, though: You’re not just getting six plug-ins, but
source-optimized plug-ins within each plug-in. And while you may wish
you could expose some of the under-the-hood settings, again, that’s not
the point. It’s tough to describe just how different these are from the norm,
but fortunately, there’s a seven-day demo so you can judge for yourself.
[Editor’s note: Check retailers for deep discounts. Sweetwater.com, for example,
was selling a download version of the entire Puig package for $373.50
at press time.]
As an inveterate tweakhead, I have no problem creating plug-in chains
to get the sound I want—eventually! But the speed and efficiency of having
all these processors assembled into logical combinations is stellar, and
more importantly, so is the sound.
PROS Goes beyond just emulating Puig’s sound. Macro-like faders control multiple
parameters. Easy to learn and use for newbies, saves time for veterans.
CONS Can only buy plug-ins as a package, not à la carte.
CONCEPT Six processors for specific instruments, designed in conjunction with
renowned engineer Jack Joseph Puig.
FORMATS Mac or PC; AU, VST, RTAS, AudioSuite.
MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS Mac: OS 10.4.11-10.6.2, Dual
G5 2GHz, Intel Core Duo 1.83GHz, 1GB RAM. PC: XP SP2 or SP3, 1GB
RAM; Vista or 7 32-bit SP1, 2GB RAM; Intel P4 2.8GHz/AMD Athlon 64.
See wavesupport.net for full info.
PRICE List: $830
Street: See “Conclusions.”