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Difference between Waves NLS and, say, PA or Kazrog for summing?
Old 10th August 2020
  #1
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Does Waves NLS do something different than stacking other console/circuit emulations does?

I have and use console-style emulations from PA, Kazrog, and Kush, and use them in various places as needed, both on channels and busses. What I'd specifically like to know is if the Waves NLS summing plugin dealie (or "summing" plugins from other companies) is something different than using, let's say, Kush Omega A in the same way (both on the channels and the busses, noting that Kush doesn't have separate channel and buss modules for so-called "summing" like NLS does). I'm only talking about the claimed "summing" effect of Waves NLS and whether that does something different than simply stacking other console/circuit emulations on tracks and busses.

I'm just curious.

Last edited by noah440; 11th August 2020 at 06:01 PM..
Old 11th August 2020
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noah440 View Post
I have and use console-style emulations from PA, Kazrog, and Kush, and use them in various places as needed, both on channels and busses. What I'd specifically like to know is if the Waves NLS summing plugin dealie (or "summing" plugins from other companies) is something different than using, let's say, Kush Omega A on separate channels and then their corresponding busses. I'm only talking about the claimed "summing" effect of Waves NLS and whether that does something different than simply stacking other console/circuit emulations on tracks and corresponding busses.

I'm just curious -- nothing more.
EDIT. I'm not familiar with for example Kush Omega A and "their corresponding busses", but what isn't obvious how these differ when you use those? Because either the makers have worked to model channel/buss interactions, or they haven't. If they have done this, I'd expect them to be open about this. I think maybe your question needs to be made more clear.
Old 11th August 2020
  #3
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The only summing emu plugs I know of that do more than just saturation are the Airwindows Console Ch/Buss plugs...they use some kind of encode/decode, so while Logic is still doing the summing, there is some extra sauce/interaction between the channel and busses. Not that this is better/worse, but it's different workflow/possibilities/sound for sure.
Old 11th August 2020
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikael B View Post
EDIT. I'm not familiar with for example Kush Omega A and "their corresponding busses", but what isn't obvious how these differ when you use those? Because either the makers have worked to model channel/buss interactions, or they haven't. If they have done this, I'd expect them to be open about this. I think maybe your question needs to be made more clear.
Yes, good point - thank you. I edited the question above.
Old 11th August 2020
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teej View Post
The only summing emu plugs I know of that do more than just saturation are the Airwindows Console Ch/Buss plugs...they use some kind of encode/decode, so while Logic is still doing the summing, there is some extra sauce/interaction between the channel and busses. Not that this is better/worse, but it's different workflow/possibilities/sound for sure.
Interesting -- thanks. So you're saying that the Waves NLS doesn't have this channel/buss interaction like Airwindows? I hear you that it's not better or worse -- I'm just curious about the mechanics.

Last edited by noah440; 11th August 2020 at 06:00 PM..
Old 12th August 2020
  #6
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Originally Posted by noah440 View Post
So you're saying that the Waves NLS doesn't have this channel/buss interaction like Airwindows? I hear you that it's not better or worse -- I'm just curious about the mechanics.
Yeah, I'll say it: NLS is worse. And it's not doing the interaction, it's just saturation. And not a flavor of it that I found useful at all.

Console6 is the jam. Blew me away. You need a fair number of separate sound sources to hear it do its 3D thing, though, and it's very subtle. I recommend following Martin's guide, getting Blue Cat Gain and everything: http://yewtreemagic.co.uk/soundworlds7.php
Old 12th August 2020
  #7
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Thanks for the plug Dirk

I'm still loving Console6, and now peak my buss levels at -10dBFS. The improvement in '3D-ness' can be remarkable.


Martin

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirk Churlish View Post
I recommend following Martin's guide, getting Blue Cat Gain and everything: http://yewtreemagic.co.uk/soundworlds7.php
Old 12th August 2020
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirk Churlish View Post
Yeah, I'll say it: NLS is worse. And it's not doing the interaction, it's just saturation. And not a flavor of it that I found useful at all.

Console6 is the jam. Blew me away. You need a fair number of separate sound sources to hear it do its 3D thing, though, and it's very subtle. I recommend following Martin's guide, getting Blue Cat Gain and everything: http://yewtreemagic.co.uk/soundworlds7.php
Thanks for this -- hadn't heard of it. I'm gonna give it a go!
Old 12th August 2020
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirk Churlish View Post
Yeah, I'll say it: NLS is … not doing the interaction, it's just saturation. And not a flavor of it that I found useful at all.
Console 6 is hot stuff, but I don't think you're correct about NLS. At all.
Old 13th August 2020
  #10
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Which bit? he's right that there's no interaction - sure, there's overall control of channel groups on the bus version of the plug but that's not interaction in a sonic sense. It's just saturation added to the channel and saturation added to the bus, which isn't what Airwindows is doing (ie with one channel through the system coming out basically the same, but many channels coming out differently) or even SKnote's or Presonus's consoles, which model crosstalk between adjacent channels (Not an effect I think's particularly useful, but it *is* interaction!)
Old 13th August 2020
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
Which bit? he's right that there's no interaction - sure, there's overall control of channel groups on the bus version of the plug but that's not interaction in a sonic sense. It's just saturation added to the channel and saturation added to the bus, which isn't what Airwindows is doing (ie with one channel through the system coming out basically the same, but many channels coming out differently) or even SKnote's or Presonus's consoles, which model crosstalk between adjacent channels (Not an effect I think's particularly useful, but it *is* interaction!)
The quoted bit of course. The proof there is no interaction? Interaction here simply means multiple channels' saturation affect the buss channel's saturation in a way stacking multiple saturation plug-ins in the same setup won't do. Which is what mimics that aspect of a real console. That there is no user control of this is totally uninteresting.

Crosstalk is beside the point, I think. You could model that, but I don't think very many producers want that. Kinda cool I guess, but I don't need it.
Old 13th August 2020
  #12
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Perhaps we're talking cross purposes.


For clarity, here is what I'm saying:

NLS channels apply distortion & a frequency response to the channel they're applied to. They don't talk to each other, and only talk to the bus NLS in order to see if control modifiers have been applied (gain and vol).

NLS busses apply distortion & a modelled frequency response to the bus signal.

The system's not bad, but it's just saturation at the point the plugin is placed. It's not doing something you couldn't also do with, say, Lindell 80 which has a Neve channel model and a bus amp model.

This is different than Airwindows fundamentally where the concept is;

Airwindows channel applies distortion to the channel they're applied to. Like NLS, they don't talk to each other. Nothing special there.

Airwindows bus applies the opposite mathematical function to the bus - an undistortion / expansion. This means that one channel will go through both plugs and be the same as it started. But multiple signals going into the bus will have shifting phase cancellations that mean the channel distorted peaks of the signal don't necessarily hit the bus as signal peaks - and so don't get undistorted, which means the system is applying distortions at lower levels in the mix than the NLS system which is in both channel and bus saturating peaks in the normal way.

The downside is that to work properly, there can't be any gain changes between airwindows channel and bus, so it can be awkward to route in some DAWS.

So, I agree with what you quoted from Dick Churlish - it's not interacting. And you said you disagreed with the bit you quoted, so are you also disagreeing with him that it's not a flavour he finds useful? :D
Old 13th August 2020
  #13
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I've done a bit of my own experimentation with this a little while back.

While I did notice that smaller track count can benefit from using the "same" preamp/mixer style, on bigger arrangements the harmonics do tend to stack up, make things sound a bit muddy. Generally not the kind of thing they had to struggle with using the real pieces of gear. Although, anyone who has attempted to record a project using the same mic, with enough tracks that can become an issue with buildups and deficiencies happening in key places. This is kind of like that, except more subtle.

I think thats where something like the NLS or Brainworx's TMT can really benefit. Personally I never cared too much for crosstalk myself , even back in the day, as it tends to narrow a mix. However, I don't mind a little additional noise as I feel that can help with mix cohesion and can even help out with the dithering process, or so I've been told. I've yet to experiment with it myself, however.
Old 14th August 2020
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
only talk to the bus NLS
You seem to be missing that the different channels imbuing the sound with something is communication to the buss and is how a real mixer works and is what NLS set out to emulate. It may do this badly or well, but this is how it's designed. There need not be silent communication between parts anywhere.

To prove this is wrong one need to do a specific test that clearly shows the Buss always do the exact same thing. As I understand it's designed to react like a real buss would. If it doesn't then I can understand the critique.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
So, I agree with what you quoted from Dick Churlish - it's not interacting. And you said you disagreed with the bit you quoted, so are you also disagreeing with him that it's not a flavour he finds useful? :D
Thanks for the clarification. I think you describe what I think is interaction as explained. What counts is the result, right? I find NLS very useful and it can't be replaced with just slamming on a series of saturation plugs. Obviously anyone can have a differing view on whether the NLS design & implementation is useful or not, so let's drop that aspect.

This's not to say AirWindows's solution isn't great and/or different. But this is besides the point of me questioning that NLS has no interaction at all.
Old 14th August 2020
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikael B View Post
You seem to be missing that the different channels imbuing the sound with something is communication to the buss and is how a real mixer works and is what NLS set out to emulate. It may do this badly or well, but this is how it's designed. There need not be silent communication between parts anywhere.

To prove this is wrong one need to do a specific test that clearly shows the Buss always do the exact same thing. As I understand it's designed to react like a real buss would. If it doesn't then I can understand the critique.
Right! Which reinforces what simon.billington was saying.

I've been putting Airwindows through its paces, and it's very interesting. I find I like it in combination with PA TMT/80Bus or True Iron on some channels/groups for coloring. Airwindows definitely does something deeper with the "3D" imaging that the others don't do for me, sometimes extremely subtly and sometimes more dramatically...but the others give me some color/saturation if I need it (on both channels and groups at times).
Old 14th August 2020
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noah440 View Post
I've been putting Airwindows through its paces, and it's very interesting. I find I like it in combination with PA TMT/80Bus or True Iron on some channels/groups for coloring..
Yep, me too.

I set up AW console like a summing amp (so any bus or channel that would go to the main bus goes to its own bus w/console channel on, then all those busses go to another bus with console bus which then routes to the master) at the start of the mix and hide those utility busses, and just mix as usual and let console do its thing in the background. So I still add colour and saturation at the channel and bus level.

When I used Waves NLS I'd use instances of that as well, which I suppose illustrates the practical difference for me - The airwindows system isn't something I think of as colour, it's just "replacing" (by riding on top of) the DAW's perfect additive summing. Whereas NLS has a more obvious vibe, changes the sound where I want it to. I don't use it any more, since I was using it for saturation/mojo and there are options I prefer now. But I consider them quite different tools.
Old 14th August 2020
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
Yep, me too.

I set up AW console like a summing amp (so any bus or channel that would go to the main bus goes to its own bus w/console channel on, then all those busses go to another bus with console bus which then routes to the master) at the start of the mix and hide those utility busses, and just mix as usual and let console do its thing in the background. So I still add colour and saturation at the channel and bus level.

When I used Waves NLS I'd use instances of that as well, which I suppose illustrates the practical difference for me - The airwindows system isn't something I think of as colour, it's just "replacing" (by riding on top of) the DAW's perfect additive summing. Whereas NLS has a more obvious vibe, changes the sound where I want it to. I don't use it any more, since I was using it for saturation/mojo and there are options I prefer now. But I consider them quite different tools.
Totally, yes. I'm glad I got that clarification on this thread.
Old 15th August 2020
  #18
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Originally Posted by noah440 View Post
Right! Which reinforces what simon.billington was saying.
Great.

Quote:
Originally Posted by noah440 View Post
I've been putting Airwindows through its paces, and it's very interesting. I find I like it in combination with PA TMT/80Bus or True Iron on some channels/groups for coloring. Airwindows definitely does something deeper with the "3D" imaging that the others don't do for me, sometimes extremely subtly and sometimes more dramatically...but the others give me some color/saturation if I need it (on both channels and groups at times).
Yes, I haven't argued for that Airwindows systems would be inferior in any shape or form to anything else (NLS nor otherwise). I just want to make that clear once again. These AW console tools are certainly planned to be used in some coming mixdown sessions.
Old 16th August 2020
  #19
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikael B View Post
These AW console tools are certainly planned to be used in some coming mixdown sessions.
Ah, I'm excited for you to try it! And I'm sure they would work well in tandem with NLS on a mix, if you are liking the NLS sound. In other words, I wouldn't swap one for the other if I were you (not that you implied one way or the other how you're planning to do it.) Compared to NLS, implementing Console6 is much "fiddlier" I believe is Martin's way of putting it. Sensitive to gain staging, in other words. Would be curious to know how you find it!

Cirrus, good on you for explaining the Airwindows mechanics and my statement about interactivity. Mikael, you're right that gain structure and saturation stacking has a certain interactivity and interdependence to it, though it's an interactivity that I would file under general gain staging, and not something special about NLS. Kind of upsets me that NLS overstates its performance as regards digital summing. It is not in fact a summing mechanism at all. The summing you get is plain digital summing. It's marketing BS, in other words. Airwindows is actually addressing the summing itself, algorithmically, with two separate plugins that together (and only together) are mathematically modeling a physical (physics) aspect of console summing. That it sounds good is kind of miraculous to me; I would not have expected it to work had I designed it myself. Pretty ingenious.

What's left that's special about NLS is the mysterious inter-channel variance ("tolerance" is what they call it these days?). But to that point, I'd just like to know which channels are the best sounding and then I'd just use those. Except that I didn't think any of the channels were good sounding. And I will say one other thing about NLS: I did like the sound of the bus plugin better than the channel. But still not enough to use it over True Iron, or Desk4, or many others.
Old 6 days ago
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirk Churlish View Post
Ah, I'm excited for you to try it! And I'm sure they would work well in tandem with NLS on a mix, if you are liking the NLS sound. In other words, I wouldn't swap one for the other if I were you (not that you implied one way or the other how you're planning to do it.) Compared to NLS, implementing Console6 is much "fiddlier" I believe is Martin's way of putting it. Sensitive to gain staging, in other words. Would be curious to know how you find it!

Cirrus, good on you for explaining the Airwindows mechanics and my statement about interactivity. Mikael, you're right that gain structure and saturation stacking has a certain interactivity and interdependence to it, though it's an interactivity that I would file under general gain staging, and not something special about NLS. Kind of upsets me that NLS overstates its performance as regards digital summing. It is not in fact a summing mechanism at all. The summing you get is plain digital summing. It's marketing BS, in other words. Airwindows is actually addressing the summing itself, algorithmically, with two separate plugins that together (and only together) are mathematically modeling a physical (physics) aspect of console summing. That it sounds good is kind of miraculous to me; I would not have expected it to work had I designed it myself. Pretty ingenious.

What's left that's special about NLS is the mysterious inter-channel variance ("tolerance" is what they call it these days?). But to that point, I'd just like to know which channels are the best sounding and then I'd just use those. Except that I didn't think any of the channels were good sounding. And I will say one other thing about NLS: I did like the sound of the bus plugin better than the channel. But still not enough to use it over True Iron, or Desk4, or many others.
Well not exactly. The fact that each channel is slightly different, “sum” to a different result than if it were all the same characteristic. It can be argued that this result is an improvement too. Then those channels can be sent to a mix or a submix where you can apply their “Buss” emulation. This has a global effect on the summing of those separate elements. The effect is different than if there were just summed digitally, without the Buss plugin, that is.

The summing aspect really isn’t marketing BS, not as I see it. I think it does what it says on the tin. The only reason I can think of for the independent plugins to “interact” with each other is just to be able to produce crosstalk, which we’ve already established isn’t something NLS offers. If crosstalk is important to anyone than NLS wouldn’t be the ideal choice. If it’s doesn’t bother you, then yeah, it will do the “summing” job quite well and does in fact make for a better “cohesive” mix. In my mind that is exactly what summing is about.
Old 6 days ago
  #21
I used to use NLS on all tracks in my mixes, and I thought it did a good job at creating extra space and dimension in a mix. If you used it as the last plugin on a channel and the first on all your busses, it was supposed to emulate summing, with each channel being slightly different.

Prior to that I used Slate VCC, and I liked what NLS did better, mixes were wider and deeper, although VCC had better tone. So I switched to Console 1 for the tone, which I think is unsurpassed if you consider all the other functionality of Console 1. I still use it today on every mix. But now I'm using hardware summing, which so far is superior to summing emulations.
Old 6 days ago
  #22
Gear Nut
To me, the fact that NLS doesn't do anything sonically different than any other saturation plugin (besides slight variances & eq) makes the "summing" aspect of it bullsh*t. It's saturation; summing is another story. I believe summing has more to do with impedance fluctuations that result from the phase of sounds arriving together at a given bus.

Blayz, have you ever tried Airwindows Console? Would be curious how it compares to Console 1 and real console summing.
Old 6 days ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirk Churlish View Post
To me, the fact that NLS doesn't do anything sonically different than any other saturation plugin (besides slight variances & eq) makes the "summing" aspect of it bullsh*t. It's saturation; summing is another story. I believe summing has more to do with impedance fluctuations that result from the phase of sounds arriving together at a given bus.

Blayz, have you ever tried Airwindows Console? Would be curious how it compares to Console 1 and real console summing.
Well it is doing something different with whatever creates the variances. And it definitely had a different impact to the VCC and the Satson. But I agree it’s not summing, it’s trying emulate the results of analog summing. Which no one really agrees on what exactly analog summing actually is.

I haven’t tried Air Windows, I have some recollection of it being complicated to implement, but I might have that wrong.
Old 5 days ago
  #24
Gear Nut
No, you have that right; it's a bitch to implement. I love it though. You need to hit the bus with peaks close 0dbFS without going over. And you're not supposed to change the gain or panning between the channel plugin and the bus plugin, so for any given track, you either have to route the channel to a new aux with just the channel plugin on it or do your fader moves on a trim plugin. All for a very subtle improvement in dimensionality/depth.
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