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, and strings/keys.
- Audio demos of the various Artist Signature plug-ins.
- A personal note from Jack Joseph Puig about this project.
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 REQUIREMENTSMac: 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.”