AudioThing Wave Box by diogo_c
Plug-In: Wave Box
Requirements: AAX/AU/VST host on Mac (10.7+) or Windows (XP-SP2+)
Price: $49 (MSRP - demo available)
DRM: Unique activation file
The scope: Upcoming developer AudioThing presents Wave Box, a powerful wave shaper with some nifty modulation options. At its core there are two wave shapers with six different shaping functions and amount control. These waves hapers can be symmetrical or asymmetrical. They can be mixed through a bias control, which acts as a threshold, and dynamic range of the resulting sound can be determined with the ceiling slider. Two syncable LFOs with variable rate, four destinations (Bias, Ceiling, Curve 1 or 2) and six waveforms are provided, along with an envelope follower with attack/release settings and the same possible destination of the LFOs. Both the LFOs and the envelope follower have their own bipolar (-100 to +100%) amount control. Lastly there’s an output section with input/output trims, a dry/wet knob, a hard clip button which enables an output limiter and four oversampling options up to 16x to avoid aliasing. Overall this is not a plug-in that is flooded with features, it does only a handful of things but does them very well.
Sound quality: Wave Box is quite a fun plug-in to play with, it sounds very good once the proper settings are dialed and can really turn around a sound. Needless to say that “good” here is totally subjective, and as far as wave shapers goes that can mean a subtle tube-like enhancement or extreme distortion. It can add that extra edge that a sound needs to cut through a mix or add that grungy overdriven fuzzy tones and as expected it’s great over-the-top distortion. It can also act as a sort of bit-crusher, sonically it gets in the same ballpark with the “floor” shape followed by a set of filters with steep slopes. In this regard, running it through a cabinet simulator also wields good results and having your favourite parametric EQ right after it is also a good idea. It’s range of use is quite good, it will work well for supercharged electronic sounds, to add an extra bite for acoustic sources or to completely obliterate things when required, which can be useful not only on music production but also on sound design.
Ease of use: A relatively easy to use plug-in, with a clean, unobstructed interface, and perhaps the only difficult aspect here is the process of wave shaping as a whole rather than the plug-in itself. Wave Box isn’t bloated with features, it shouldn’t take long to figure out with all the controls, but it will probably take some time to get acquainted with the “shaping functions” section, which is what does the heavy lifting and it can transform the sound on many ways, from very subtle to extremely drastic. There are also 30 presets to showcase most of its capabilities, handy “random” button for when creativity falls short, and also a six-page PDF to explain all the controls. In terms of resource consumption Wave Box does really well, demanding very little from the CPU and running with zero added latency. It’s quite efficient even when oversampling is used, so basically any recent computer can run as many instances as desired.
Features: Although I really appreciate concise, clever and clean feature sets, Wave Box leaves a feeling that it could be much more and do much more if a few extra features were included. Starting with a sweepable low pass filter, or even better a multi-mode filter, which for plug-ins of this category are great to have around since limiting the bandwidth is something often used to keep all that distortion in check when required. It’s something you can do with your favourite EQ or filter plug-ins of course, but there’s a workflow benefit of having it inside Wave Box, not to mention it’s another prime target for modulation. The second big feature that I’d like to see is a step sequencer that could be assignable to all parameters, or at least open up the current LFO destinations to all parameters and not only a few. As it stands, the current modulation options are a bit underwhelming here, so implementing both suggestions would greatly improve this plug-in to the eyes and ears of this reviewer.
Bang for buck: Wave shapers aren’t exactly the most abundant type of plug-in out there for reasons beyond my knowledge, as they’re really cool devices that can be used for many purposes, and even though they’re quite popular with the electronic music producers they often don’t appeal much to the rest of the crowd. In this regard, it’s great to see a plug-in like Wave Box entering the scene since there aren’t many alternatives for what it does. However, it faces only one but very strong competitor on iZotope’s Trash, a plug-in that’s been around for many years and it’s somewhat of a pioneer when it comes to modulatable wave shapers. Wave Box definitely has simplicity and ease of use to its advantage, but Trash definitely has the upper hand when it comes to features, and I’m not even taking into account everything else it does other than wave shaping. In terms of sonic quality I’d give Wave Box a slight edge, although they’re very close and more or less matched, and cost-wise things get really tricky when we look at the dynamics of the plug-in market, where older plug-ins are often heavily discounted or available for cheap on our classifieds. Having said that, Wave Box is very reasonably priced and successfully fulfills its purpose of delivering no-frills wave shaping for the masses.
Recommended for: any electronic musician, producer or mixing engineer looking for a plug-in to add some extra edge to their sounds or mangle them to oblivion in a straightforward way.
*Very good sounding
*Mostly easy to use
*A bit short on features