Is it dangerous, or the future of mixing?
You’ve probably seen and played around with the some of the “one knob” mix plug-ins out there. This goes beyond Waves One Knob Series and includes things like iZotope Ozone 7 Elements, iZotope Neutrino, Waves Greg Wells Series, and even the Waves CLA Signature Series.
These plug-ins offer a simple interface to get a “better” sound. But is this mindset dangerous, or is it the future of mixing audio?
The Dangerous Side
Some would argue that these types of plug-ins are extremely dangerous to the creative process. They allow almost anyone to quickly load them up and get that “better” sound without much thought or knowledge of what is actually happening to the sound.
This lack of knowledge of what is happening will lead to less informed music creators over time. If things just “sound good” when you turn up the knob or load up the preset, are you even in control of the engineering? Or are you letting the plug-in manufacturer decide what sounds “good”?
This is the core of the issue. Without control over the actual parameters, you are letting someone else decide how your track should sound.
But is that such a bad thing?
The Future Perspective
Just because you’re using a preset or simple plug-in doesn’t make you any less of an artist. Sure, you might not be as technically proficient as someone who studied the ins and outs of all of the pieces of outboard gear known to man, but you can still make great art that sounds amazing.
One thing to remember is that all technology is ultimately designed for one purpose – to make your life easier. From the wheel to the iPhone, it is the underlying force that pushes us to innovate and create.
These plug-ins do just that. They give you an option for a faster way to achieve a goal. In my opinion, the true engineer is the one who knows when to reach for Waves One Knob Pumper, and also knows when to set up a side-chain compressor.
My advice? Use these tools as tools, not as a crutch.
Dean Palya Jr is the Director of Digital Media at Westlake Pro and a producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist based in LA. He works with artists of all genres and loves taking a creative vision and turning into reality. When he isn’t producing music or videos about pro audio, he enjoys exploring new places and binge watching Netflix shows. Check out his website here.