Waves Abbey Road Studio 3 Plugin

Discussion in 'Studio & Stage' started by LSchefman, Jul 15, 2019.

  1. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Waves came out with a plugin designed for headphone use that simulates the sound of the room and speakers (3 sets of monitors) in Abbey Road Studio 3, a very famous mix room used on lots of hit records. The technology reminds me of the complex set of impulse responses used in the Universal Audio Ocean Way plugin that simulates Allen Sides’ main tracking room, plus his mics. I use the Ocean Way plugin quite a lot to take some of the “eewwww, that sounds like a sample” stink off sampled drums and piano when the budget doesn’t permit booking a good outside studio. ;)

    I always check mixes on headphones, and there are times I’ll use them to get more detail on reverb tails, etc., but mostly I was curious to see if this works. The problem is that while I’ve worked in a lot of well-known mix rooms in the US and Europe, I haven’t worked in Abbey Road, so I can’t say if this plug sounds like Abbey Road or not.

    What it does do is make your headphones sound like speakers in a good room. By that I mean, in a room your right ear still hears a lot of what the left ear hears, and vice-versa, plus a room has reflections. You don’t get this listening to headphones. The ears are totally isolated from each other. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes not.

    I tried the plugin two nights ago, and found it disconcerting, and felt I might be hearing too much ‘room’ and not enough speaker, plus the weight of the headphones was a distraction. But then last night, I tried it again with a quickie mix, and found that my ears had somehow become acclimated to it in the interval. I thought it sounded great.

    After I was done, I put the quickie mix up to listen on my monitors - my room is acoustically treated, and the speakers are EQ’d for a pretty flat frequency response at the mix position.

    The mix on the headphones sounded pretty much like it did in the room. I’d say that was impressive.

    The plugin will also use the camera on your computer (if it has one, or it can use an external camera connected to your computer) to track your head movements, and it’s supposedly accurate enough that you can input the measurements of your head for a custom response (I just used the generic ‘average adult’ setting; if I buy the plugin I’ll customize it). The plug has an EQ that smooths out the quirks in a few models of headphones, but not the ones I have. For that I use Sonarworks 4. I don’t quite understand the need for the head tracking feature, but yes, it actually works if you want to use it.

    The three sets of monitors are a near-field pair that look to me a little like ATCs; the mid-fields model the B&W 801s, and the soffit-mounts appear to be Quested Q412Ds. All are very high quality, very expensive speakers, and the emulation seems to do them tonal justice, though without an A/B it’s kind of hard to tell for sure.

    Could I mix through this plugin? Surprisingly, yes. In fact, when I turned the plugin off, my headphones sounded like headphones again, and I thought, “oh crap, I need this plugin.”
     
    Tucson Thump likes this.
  2. alantig

    alantig SSBMA

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    Glad to hear your comments about this. I’d looked at it but hadn’t decided whether I was going to pursue it or not. I don’t like to mix with headphones normally, but this sounds like a really good implementation of a great idea.
     
    LSchefman likes this.
  3. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

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    So.... is this a thing for people who have to mix with headphones only? Can you assign it to the master and bounce mixes with it on?
     
    LSchefman likes this.
  4. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Here’s the thing: It’s better to not mix on headphones IF your monitors are high quality, and IF your room is acoustically designed, or at the very least, acoustically treated and your monitors are set up with something like Sonarworks for flat measured response at the mix position.

    I’ve measured my monitoring setup, and gotten to within +/- 3.5 db at my mix position using the measurement mic and software that came with the monitors, but I still have a trouble spot below 40 Hz. Still, that’s very good for a home studio.

    If your room isn’t properly treated (foam doesn’t cut it), using this plugin with a good pair of cans is an excellent reality check. The key here is that even good pairs of cans often have a fairly iffy frequency response, often with a low mid hump and a “presence boost” between 1-5khz. These frequency bumps make the cans sound exciting, but you can get as much as a 6-10 db inaccuracy that way, even with good headphones.

    So I use Sonarworks 4 as the very last plugin on my output fader, after the Waves Studio 3, to make my headphones flat from 20-20KHz.

    With flat frequency response correction for the headphones, and this plugin, it’s probably more accurate than my mix position with some fairly expensive monitors, though going back and forth, I though the sound was pretty close.

    You assign it to the master, however, you turn the plugin off to bounce mixes. If you bounce a mix with the headphone correction, and then play it back on speakers, it’ll sound pretty weird. If you have an interface that allows it, such as the UA Apollo, you could assign an aux as your headphone output (this is set up in the Apollo app), but I just click the plugin off when I want to hear the mix on speakers, or if I was to bounce the mix (I haven’t done that with this plugin yet, but I have with Sonarworks 4, where you have to do the same thing).

    Anyway, after posting this review I decided to buy the plugin; I thought it was worth having as a reality check for my mixes. You can’t have too many reality checks! ;)
     
    sergiodeblanc likes this.
  5. belensky

    belensky New Member

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    waves recently came up with some really good plugins CLA mix hub is great, this abbey road studio also seems to be promising.
     

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