Online Review: REQ, Waves





Plug ins developer Waves brought the REQ to the shelves. REQ stands for Renaissance Equalizer, a 6-band audiophile equalizer plug in that helps you -among others- to give digital generated sounds (such as from synthesizers) a more warm "feeling" and breath some extra life into your Macintosh hard disk recordings. It is intended for professional use. So, when using REQ, at least you should know what you are doing.

The sometimes quit "cold" patches, programmed in synthesizers, can be made more lively by giving them some of the fatness old analog synthesizers used to produce. With REQ, Waves did not bring "just another equalizer" to the Macintosh digital audio world: "The new REQ provides warm and clear vintage-style EQ on native Macintosh applications. It includes real-time graphing, preview, bypass functions and all with just a few intuitive clicks" is what Waves tells us about this new plug in. ~~Let's see if that is true.

We decided to test REQ in a rather strange project we are running at the moment. A guy contacted eCompany some time ago with a question: "Can you make very old jazz recordings more audible, without killing the historical feel". Wow, quit a question. He brought in a bunch of old long play records with recordings from unknown jazz bands, all recorded somewhere in the 50's. Cracks, hiss, bad microphones: it was all there, plus that aging and intensive use had brought a lot of damage to the LP's with loads of dust and cracks. Quit a challenge, right?

Of course there is professional software and plug ins, that denoise and decrack perfectly, but the quality of the records this guy brought was too poor to do the normal automated job with this kind of software. We needed hand work, and we decided to try REQ in this one.

It took us about two weeks to find the best way to bring these old records back to an acceptable level with REQ, but all the results we got are worth all these efforts. REQ appears to be a Swiss knife, that can be used for just this kind of special demands.

One of the presets of REQ, hiss removal, shown below, appeared to be of great value in this project.



It indeed remove most of the hiss, so typical for old tape recordings, without distorting the "natural look" of the recording. Great!

The user interface is very intuitive and user friendly. You can pick up the colored dots and drag them anywhere you like: left to right, up and down. Alternative: slide the values in the lower part of the user interface according the direction, drawn with little yellow triangles at the left.

If you are too wild with these multidirectional sliders, your audio gets the flue, or tries to fly above the digital sealing. A red overload indicator above the two sliders on the right will warn you when you try to run out of the safety zone.

But you do not have to invent the wheel all by yourself. REQ comes with a bunch of presets for 6-band setups, and for 2- and 4-band setups. For example the Rezonator: it can add more acoustic flavor to e.g. an electric violin, or -if you like- make it sound even more electrical. We used this setup to lighten up a bit some of the old brass and sax recordings, that were very "dark". Another setup is "60 Hum Notch": it killed effectively irritating 60 MHz hum in some of the old recordings, especially those heard with old electric guitars or badly wired microphones.

We loved working with REQ and it has become already one of the tools, we use standard for mastering, especially when it comes to lighten up old tapes, or low budget bands that come in with prerecorded music made with low budget synthesizers. We at daMac are not the only ones that love the REQ from the very first beginning. Here are some quotes, Waves uses in it's promo campaign (and we fully agree with these guys):

Dirk Buro, dB Tonstudio:
"REQ is FANTASTIC!!! Warm sound, smooth operation, the best sounding digital EQ I've ever heard! Big congratulations for this masterpiece (it's already in use my latest production)."
Frank Heller, Weaselboy Recording Power:
"I would like to say that I really enjoyed the actual layout and look of the REQ. It is a nice set of graphics. This is a real nice improvement over the Q10 controls. Much slicker."
Ray Brunelle, Rumblestiltskin Sound FX Design:
"Looks and sounds great. Beautiful interface. I am knocked out by the design!"

Here is some feature information about REQ:
-48-bit internal processing.
-Filter-curves based on vintage analog equalizers.
-Resonant shelves.
-Flexible controls including simultaneous multi-parameter adjustment.
-Stereo, dual-mono or linked modes of operation.
-Real-time EQ graphing.
-Comprehensive setups.
-Fast operation.
-Clean and intuitive user-interface.

And this is what Waves gives as a product description of REQ: "Renaissance Equalizer recreates the distinctive sound qualities of classic analog hardware in the digital domain. Including support for both native and TDM/DSP Macintosh applications, Renaissance Equalizer delivers warm, sweet and clear sound tracks! High-precision, 48-bit internal processing for maximum resolution make Renaissance Equalizer your best choice for paragraphic equalization. Renaissance Equalizer gives your audio the warmth and clarity it deserves using filters based on vintage analog filter-designs. Get Renaissance Equalizer, the ideal tool for tracking, mixing and mastering!". We at daMac cannot do but agree with this statement.

The REQ supports the following platforms on the MAC (version numbers minimal required, or higher): Premiere 4.0, Cubase-VST 3.02, Peak 1.5, WaveConvert Pro 2.01, Pro Tools 4.0 (TDM and AudioSuite), SoundEdit 16 V2.0, Deck II 2.5, Digital Performer 2.11, Logic Audio 3.0, Studio Vision Pro 3.5, Opcode Vision 3.5, Turbomorph1.5 and MultiRack 2.3.

The system requirements: Any Macintosh with a 68040 processor or higher, including PowerMac, AV and PPC computers (fast PowerPC recommended).
MacOS version 7.5 or greater. 24MB RAM minimum for basic processing. 32MB RAM minimum for multitrack application. Cubase supported by a minimum 120MHz processor (150MHz recommended).

Conclusion.

REQ is a very powerful, flexible, and easy to use tool, rich equipped for the professional audio environment on Mac. You can freely reshape your audio in many ways, or -if you are not that experienced- start using the perfect presets that come with REQ. Very strong tool, absolutely not "just another equalizer". Working this plug in is like working with that toy stuff Silly Putty, you probably know that soft flexible stuff that can be squeezed in any form you like. One small (may be for some of you) disadvantage: on slower Macs you will hear a click each time the REQ jumps to a new value while sliding around. Well, disadvantage...: to be true I did not mind at all. The clicks gave me a check on changing of values by ear, rather than by looking at values on my Mac screen. The clicks told me something was happening, and enabled me to "count" the number of clicks. If I went too far, I just had to "click" back the same amount to get the sound back I started with. To my opinion, the best way to alter audio is using your ears! Waves describes the clicks as a less better something: I just loved them. My small advice to Waves: don't remove this "bug"!

In this country, we rate from 1 to 10, where 1 is very bad, and 10 is absolutely great. The REQ gets our 9 appreciation, with an extra compliment for the easy of use of this plug in, and the magnificent results you get, by hand, or by presets. It's capacities make it an absolute must-have-tool for mastering activities on the Mac platform.

A full working version (will work as a demo for non WaveKey owners) of the REQ can be downloaded at the Waves site, Macintosh section: Download the full version of Renaissance Equalizer V1.0 (1.60MB). Mind this: this REQ download will NOT demo under AudioSuite!


All reviews in AudioMac.net are written by Peter J. Bloemendaal. All rights reserved.

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12-09-99