Abbey Road’s Head of Audio Products, Mirek Stiles on 25 years of innovation by Waves Audio.
As Waves Audio celebrate their 25th Anniversary, I couldn’t help but reflect with great fondness the amazing projects we have worked on together over the last seven or so years.
Waves and Abbey Road first partnered back in 2010, after a few flirtatious discussions over the previous years. Around the same time, I was promoted to Head of Audio Products and was lucky that the first new relationship with myself steering the ship was with such a bunch of seasoned pros – it relieved the pressure a little.
Amir Vinci, who was Waves’ Senior Project Manager at the time, suggested he should head over to Abbey Road and check out some of our gear to kick things off. I remember Amir was keen for me to send him a letter headed document explaining why he was visiting the UK, as he had previously experienced fun and games when entering the country from Israel. I wasn’t sure what influence a letter from me was going to have with our border protection officers, but happily obliged. On the flip side I seem to remember receiving a grilling entering Israel when returning the visit – all we wanted to do was make plugins.
Amir made it to Abbey Road and we set up every piece of TG, REDD, RS and anything else vintage in the control room of Studio Three. We were basically like a couple of kids in a candy shop, geeking out over the slight nuances between a TG MK2 and TG MK3 mixing console – seriously rock and roll stuff!
It’s been an absolute pleasure working with all the guys at Waves over the years – I have learnt so much and had a lot of fun. Projects that really stand out for me personally are ADT, Plates and Vinyl – all of which were quite epic undertakings in many ways.
ADT was a labour of love for me – nothing like it had ever been released before. I was first introduced to this unique effect whilst assisting ex-Abbey Road Engineer Peter Cobbin on The Beatles Anthology remixes. During those Beatles projects we had to recreate the exact effects used on the original mixes. I had never seen ADT set up before and it was my first introduction to what I would describe as an organic effect. By that I mean the effect is heavily dependent on operator interaction and the same exact effect can never really be created twice – it’s a performance. I had a lot of fun ‘playing’ the varispeed on those sessions.
The Plates project was a huge undertaking. Just the sheer amount of settings that needed to be captured -11 positions, 4 filters for each position and 4 plates to measure both with and without the amps, I think it amounted to around 530 unique measurements. Anyone who has worked with Plates know how unstable they can be, so that didn’t help. Technician Lester Smith and I spent a long time chasing down hums and buzzes that would randomly appear for no apparent reason. As I have learnt on many occasions, small low-level noises that you would never notice in a normal recording/mix environment suddenly become a big deal when modelling a plugin.
The Vinyl was another first. ‘Crackle’ plugins had been released before, but no one had modelled the lathe and cutting rack. Mike Fradis from Waves was the driving force behind this major R&D project. I must admit the thought of doing a plugin like this hadn’t crossed my mind, but I’m so glad we did it. Not only has it been a successful and ground-breaking release, it also meant I got to spend time discovering the cutting process. I spent most of my time in the studios on the recording and mixing side, so I hadn’t spent much time in the mastering rooms and certainly had little experience regarding the dark art of cutting vinyl. It was amazing to spend time with the cutting engineers, I learnt so much from those guys. Both Geoff Pesche and Christian Wright had the patience of saints on those sessions. It was a strange situation where we were pushing the cutting equipment to do things it wasn’t really designed to do, such as cutting test tones for evaluation. Sometimes the cutting head would get too hot and trip out. The lathes were designed to cut music and not be subjected to such forensic scrutiny.
So, in summary I really just wanted to say huge congratulations to Gilad, Meir, Mick, Mike and Udi and anyone else I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with over the years. The team at Abbey Road is extremely proud of our partnership with Waves and we are all looking forward to developing exciting new products together in the future. I’m particularly excited by the next planned release… which we’ll tell you more about soon.