The new plug-in brings the sound of the Studio 3 control room at Abbey Road to your laptop and headphones
Ever wished you had a better environment to mix and master your productions in? Tired of trying to create professional-sounding tracks using a pair of budget NS-10 clones in the corner of your living room? If so, then Abbey Road Studio 3 could be the plug-in of your dreams!
Announced yesterday, the new plug-in brings the sound of the control room in Abbey Road's Studio 3 to your laptop and headphones. It's essentially a convolution reverb on steroids, taking the audio output from your DAW and using sonic trickery to recreate what that would sound like played back in the room that many top-flight engineers regard as one of the best acoustic environments in the world. Studio 3 is where Pink Floyed recorded Dark Side Of The Moon, for instance, and is the mixing environment of choice for many of today's biggest stars.
Just to be clear: it's not the actual equipment in the control room that's being modelled here – it's the acoustics of the room itself (though of course they used the former when modelling the latter). But iDJ was lucky enough to try out the plug-in at the product launch at Abbey Road yesterday, and trust us: it works! Tracks played through the plug-in (versus the same tracks played in bypass mode) boasted a more spacious soundstage, greater definition of each individual sound/instrument and more 'life' generally. We also had the chance to hear the same tracks played back in the Studio 3 control room itself, and can confirm what we'd heard in the headphones was a very faithful recreation.
What's more, the plug-in is based on Waves NX technology, which uses a matchbox-sized box attached to the band of your headphones to track your head movements and adjust the sound accordingly. So just like in the real world, if you turn your head to the right, then you'll hear more sound in your left ear (assuming you're facing monitors), and vice versa – making the virtual mixing/mastering experience even more lifelike.
Waves Audio says the plug-in is aimed at:
• producers who don't have access to an acoustically treated mixing environment (so that'd be most bedroom producers, then)
• producers who do, but would like another high-quality point of reference
• those working on the move, on planes or in hotel rooms (which will certainly apply to a lot of working house, techno and D&B producers out there)
• remote collaborators, who can check out the files they send back and forth in identical listening environments
The plug-in offers a choice of stereo, 5.1- and 7.1-channel monitoring modes, although not all DAWs currently support the surround modes. As the overwhelming majority of iDJ readers will be working only with stereo audio anyway, we're guessing that shouldn't be a big problem for most of you, but a full DAW compatability list can be found here.
Abbey Road Studio 3 is suitable for both Mac and PC users, and you don't need any special headphones to use it: all it's doing is affecting the signal fed from your DAW to your ears. So while the best quality monitoring cans you can afford are still highly recommended, you'll still notice a difference even in a £20 pair!
Waves Audio hasn't ruled out the possibility of putting the same technology into a smartphone app at some point, so that simply listening to music on your phone or tablet can benefit from the same kind of audio enhancement. But for now, this is one for producers, not the general public.
Abbey Road's Head of Audio Products, Mirek Stiles, said: "This plug-in was probably our most challenging yet, and I’m extremely grateful to the Abbey Road engineers for their feedback and input, and to the talented, resilient and patient team at Waves Audio. I hope this plug-in inspires music creators worldwide to realise their visions with more confidence than ever before.”
Abbey Road Studio 3 is available now, at the introductory price of $99 (rising to $199 soon). For full details, see the Waves Audio website.