The Tony Maserati Collection is an assortment of six, unique, native-only plug-ins from Waves. Consisting of the VX1 Vocal Enhancer, B72 Bass Phattener, GTI Guitar Toner, DRM Drum Slammer, and ACG Acoustic Guitar Designer, it manages to wrap up a full chain of Mr. Maserati's studio effects into an easy-to use, stripped-down package.
As part of their ever-expanding Signature Series, it can be purchased individually or included as part of their Mercury Bundle. As you would expect, they'll run up to 96 kHz as RTAS, Audio Suite, VST, and AU on both Mac and PC platforms. Waves worked in conjunction with Maserati to design this collection based upon his stylistic use of EQ, compression, dynamics, and effects in mixing the likes of 2Pac, David Bowie, Jason Mraz, Alicia Keys, etc.
What It Is
First off, these are not your ordinary Waves offerings. Forgoing the traditional GUI interface, they've opted to build a retro-looking collection that features big knobs and funky meters. LEDs and oversized buttons are welcome features in today's shrunken-down software world.
Waves refers to their intended use as "application-specific," meaning the Bass Phattener will, of course, make sense to use on bass, and so on. Each plug-in features a Toolbar, which has 32 actions of Undo and Redo, Setup A/B to toggle between presets, Copy A/B to copy into the next register, Load for Factory presets and Save to save in Waves file formats. Each plug-in also has a Meter Switch that toggles between input and output modes and a Sensitivity LED that indicates Green (good), Yellow (optimal), and Red (very hot) levels.
So, without further ado, let's take a look at the different models and check into what they might do for your sound.
VX1 Vocal Enhancer
The VX1 features three Contour buttons, which are presets that each offer a unique character. Contour 1 (C1) is for a studio or small room, C2 is larger with reflective pre-delays for ballad-type work, and C3 is a small room with pre-delay for faster material. Pressing each button will adjust all knobs and faders accordingly. From there, you can tweak controls such as Sensitivity for input levels, Compress for compression, Bass and Treble for lows and highs and Output for additional level.
Also available at the bottom of the GUI are FX for the amount of desired overall effect signal, DLY for audible delay (range of 100-1000), DLY Mix for blending the delay into your signal, Decay for the speed of the 'verb and VRB Tone for tone shaping.
And that's it. Obviously, these plug-in were built to dial up sounds quickly without getting lost in the details. The different Contours give users excellent starting points. Applying it to both male and female vocals, it did create a vibe that sounds like you've spent time adjusting EQ, Compression and effects. I like what VX1 can do to vocals, offering up just enough to give a sense of clarity and depth when needed. I did experiment with automating the settings here to provide more Air during the choruses of a song, and it worked perfectly.
B72 Bass Phattener
The B72 is nice and simple, but has two different faces. First, in DI mode, you have access to the Sensitivity knob for input levels, Bass and Treble for tonal shaping, and Output for master output control. Putting it on a DI'ed bass gives it a nice, round compressed feel that again sounds like you've assigned a chain of gear to it.
By pressing the Synth button, in addition to the above-mentioned knobs, the FX dials become active. In addition to the FX control and the FX Out, the Tone knob adds buzz into a stereo spread, which adds a cool, wide flange-like sound when I applied it to some sub tracks.
AGC Acoustic Guitar Designer
Trying the AGC on a well-recorded mono acoustic guitar placed it in stereo since it's a mono/stereo plug-in. Immediately the AGC 1 Type button brightened up the sound like there was a harmonic enhancer on it. You can choose from Hi, Mid, and Punch knobs, as well as the usual Sensitivity for input and output. You can also play with the FX, Excite, Dry/Wet, and Pre-Delay controls to add additional depth to the sound.
The AGC 2 Type features darker settings and added more warmth to the character of the guitar. It's interesting that you don't know what frequencies you're working with; it's something I'd like to know. But there's no denying it works to make the track cut through the mix.
GTI Guitar Toner
The GTI also opens up mono/stereo and features buttons for five Guitar Type settings: Clean, Clean Chorus, Heavy, Thick Rhythm, and Soft Flange. The Presence 1 adds amp-like brightening presence, and Tame adds a sense of dynamic compression. In Clean Chorus mode, the Mix and Depth knobs become available for a nice, wide chorus sound: killer on a Strat track. Thick Rhythm changes the lower knobs to Delay and Width, adding also FX, Width, Vibro, and Chorus off/on. Wow, this made the guitar sound like the great "trem" from Jimmy Page's Physical Graffiti era — very nice, indeed. Soft Flange was also nice, offering up FX, Press, Width, Range, and Rate to the knobs.
HMX Harmonics Generator
No doubt, this one is my favorite. The HMX is a Harmonics Generator (mono/stereo) that widens the sound field of your chosen instrument (or voice). The Modal setting adds a slight chorused/verb that can be altered with the Size, Amount, Sensitivity, and Spread knobs.
In Bounce mode, you're offered up DLY Mix, Size, Presence, Tempo, Output, FX, and Wet. Also, there's a Sync slider that allows you to synchronize to session tempo. Believe me, put this on a lap-steel-type track, and it's game on!
DRM Drum Slammer
DRM has buttons for BD (Bass Drum), SNR Top, SNR Bot, HH, Toms, OH, and Room. There are just a few knobs: Sensitivity, Thump (for low frequencies), Snap, Treble, and Output.
Applying it across a kit certainly gave it presence, punch and, again, a nice sense of compression. I especially liked what it did for kick drums and room mics.
I like this bundle. It can help punch up mixes, especially for those with LE-type rigs and limited resources. It's simple enough to just dial up sounds without too much thought, and flexible enough to tweak as needed. Sure, it's not the right call on every track and is kind of pricey at $800, but it has its place, without a doubt.
Rich Tozzoli is a producer, composer, sound designer, and the software editor for Pro Audio Review. www.richtozzoli.com