I’ve always thought Waves One Knob plugins are underrated. So I had a thought:
What if I create a “Waves One Knob Mastering/Mixbus Chain”?
To start, by the time my tracks hit the mix bus they don’t need a lot of processing. The tonal balance is mostly correct and the submix busses already have compression and/or limiting… So the mixbus is just for finalization. The last bit of sweetening before the song goes live.
Here’s the order I used them in:
One Knob Driver > Phatter > Brighter > Wetter > Pressure > Louder > Filter
In this case, “Driver” was used for EQ, as it includes an upper-mid boost centered around ~2000hz or so, to my ears. In my case I just needed a touch – 0.1
Phatter was used as a slight bass boost and Brighter was used to tune the highs a little.
I used Wetter at 0.1, but it worked at up to 0.3. Using reverb on a master bus is controversial, but Andrew Scheps has said he uses it from time to time… Just a wee bit. For my song, 0.1 gave it just a bit of magic, very minimal.
Pressure, of course, was my compression. Did you know One Knob Pressure adds quite a bit of odd harmonics? For example, if you run a 100hz sine wave through it, as you crank it up you get harmonics at 300hz, 500hz, 700hz, 900hz, 1100hz, 1300hz, and 1500hz depending on how high you crank it. So you get more than just compression with Pressure, and it sounds great.
Louder, of course, worked as my limiter and post-compression volume boost, taking the song to about -12dB LUFs. To be fair, I did use L1+ at the end, but just for its TruePeak limiting to cap the audio at -1dB for safe compatibility with codec compression. Louder did the heavy lifting.
Finally, I used Filter with “Resonance: None” for just a hint of high-end roll-off, to soften it out in the highest frequencies that I can’t even really hear.
The end result – I didn’t expect to actually use this chain, it was just a test… But what I ended up with was just right for the song! I rolled with it.
The bottom line is – people sometimes assume that because One Knob plugins only have one knob that they aren’t “professional.”
On the contrary, it’s more like the designers & engineers had just one knob to work with so they had to be incredibly clever to make a tool useful that way. And they did a great job!
On another note, when I lined them up side by side for this task they were a lot of fun to use. The lot of them felt almost like a hardware processor with a row of knobs.
So with all that, here are some suggestions for the developers:
Add a “wet only” button to Wetter. This would allow it to be used on a bus, making One Knob Wetter infinitely more useful.
What about “One Knob Tilt?” A TILT eq would be a perfect one knob plugin. Set the center frequency to 1khz… Turn left for more bass and less treble, turn right for the opposite. Use this on your master bus to tilt your spectral balance toward a more ideal curve. You could even add a button that rolls off the effect on the lowest lows and highest highs so that they aren’t pushed to extremes.
If you don’t add “Tilt” then we need “One Knob Darker” – the opposite of brighter. It would make a track more warm.
What about “One Knob Analog?” Turn it up to add harmonics. Have a toggle-button for Odd/Even/Hybrid(both) harmonics. Use auto-gain to keep the level constant!
One Knob Chorus/Phaser/Flanger/Delay are obvious potential additions. Yes, Waves has complex alternatives but it would be good to have the basics as One Knobs!
Bottom line — the One Knob series is great, and capable of more than most people realize. Try using them as a chain on your mix bus and see what happens and really get to know them. You may not use them this way regularly, but it’s a good way to discover that they’re more powerful than you might have assumed.