There seems to be an unhealthy cynicism that pervades some parts of our industry (not to be confused with a healthy skepticism) in anything that seems too simple to be of use. One can only assume that the cynics are yet to use a dbx overeasy compressor or iZotope RX dialogue denoiser, to name two audio gems that are so simple a chimp could use them but that deliver excellent results.
Cynic or skeptic? The cynic writes things off, normally because of ill-informed prejudice, living a life of self fulfilled prophecies and poorer for it. The skeptic on the other hand investigates to test claims, some claims fail to live up to the promise whilst others surprise... if you live in the second camp then I urge you to test the claims that the Waves Greg Wells MixCentric can improve mixes. If you live in the first then nothing I or anyone else writes is likely to change your mind and I'd recommend you stop reading now.
So now I've got that off my chest on with the review.
Greg Wells MixCentric Review
The Waves Greg Wells MixCentric is the third in a recently announced collection of simple but effective plugins designed in collaboration with producer, mixer, engineer Greg Wells, they are the Greg Wells VoiceCentric and Greg Wells PianoCentric and now the Greg Wells MixCentric.
The MixCentric is a bit like an audio version of Coca Cola or KFC seasoning, in the fact that we might know the basics of how this thing is put together but the exact mix of those ingredients is a mystery. The MixCentric uses EQ, compression and harmonic distortion and these are then applied to the source material using the intensity control. You also have a Input and Output control which at first glance are there to help balance the volume between the original and effected signal.
The unit has no limiter included so Waves suggest you place your favourite limited after the MixCentric plugin to limit the final effect. I put a Waves L1 after it and set it to prevent any clipping by adjusting the ceiling.
What became apparent after I spent over an hour with it was that the input control can make a huge difference to the results achieved - even on the same material. This should come as no surprise as both compression and harmonic distortion are affected by gain. A LED is included to help you set the optimum gain and whilst it is a good idea to follow the guidance around how this is set I found breaking the rules gave me some very cool results, in fact the differences were quite noticeable.
So what should one expect from the Waves MixCentric? Well I wouldn't expect it to replace a mastering engineer so if you have the money to use one then I'd take that route. However some of us do not have the money to use a mastering engineer but would still like to give our mixes a final bit of sparkle and energy... if that's you then you should check out this plugin.
That said, even if you do have the budget for professional mastering I still think the Waves Greg Wells MixCentric offers you something to spice up either the whole mix or on submixes.
What I found as I spent more time with the MixCentric was that its simplicity belies its power to deliver some excellent results. Could you get the same results with a plugin chain of your favourite plugins? If you had the skill and time to set them up right then probably yes - but this plugin is aimed at those people who want or need a helping hand, dismissing it for its apparent simplicity would be a mistake.
As I've already said no one is entirely sure what's going on inside the MixCentric plugin, yes we know it's using EQ, compression and harmonic distortion, but how that special sauce is being combined and adjusted is a secret that I'm guessing will stay in the head of Greg Wells and the Waves gurus.
In conclusion the Waves Greg Wells MixCentric plugin is a very nice plugin. I'll repeat what I told my friends on Facebook at 1am this morning; If you think this is some kind of one-knob smoke and mirrors auto-mastering bullshit then spend some time playing with the 3 controls to find the sweet spots and hear how many differences you can make with one knob on a plug-in. It's a little bit of audio voodoo.
Believers buy it, skeptics try it. I'm a believer in both the man and the plugin... so its a thumbs up from me!