The latest addition to my audio processing toolset is MaxxVolume by Waves. This dynamics processor has been on my radar for the past few years. I was always under the impression that Waves plugins required an iLok account/key. It was for this reason I never bothered to pull down the demo and test it.
A few days ago I noticed that a few online plugin resellers were advertising a price drop for MaxxVolume. I believe the original price was $300. Sweetwater and DontCrack are currently selling it for $149. I decided to purchase a license. By the way prior to doing so – I realized Waves has moved away from the iLok requirement. They now provide a standalone “Waves License Center” (WLC) application that can be used to manage both purchased and demo licenses. Licenses can be transferred to a host machine and/or a standard (FAT32 formatted) USB Flash Drive. You can then move and manage licenses via the Flash Drive or within their proprietary License Cloud.
After making a purchase you simply register the new product on the Waves site, run WLC, login to your Waves account – and move your license(s) from the cloud to your target destination. I must say the process was easy and seamless.
So what is MaxxVolume? The plugin is a four module dynamics processor: Low Level Compressor, Gate, Leveler, and High Level Compressor. All four processing stages run in parallel.
The Low Level Compressor is essentially an expander. So any signal that falls below the set threshold gets compressed upward. It’s controlled by a Threshold fader and Gain fader. The Gate feature is controlled by a single Threshold fader that applies gentile downward expansion affecting any signal that drops below the threshold setting. The Leveler is essentially an AGC (Automatic Gain Control) controlled by a single Threshold fader. Lastly the High Level Compressor is controlled by a Threshold fader and a Gain fader. This compressor functions just like any standard compressor – when the input signal exceeds the threshold it is attenuated. The Gain setting compensates for the attenuated signal.
Waves notes “It’s a Broadcast tool, bringing any program to a fixed destination level; ideal for radio and TV, podcasting, internet streaming, and more.” It took me some time to get a feel for how the four processing stages interact. So far I like what I’m hearing. The AGC is pretty impressive. I’m using Adobe Audition CS6 as my host. The processor works fine in the Adobe environment.
I will say this tool is not your sort of cut and dry loudness maximizer. It may not be suitable for less advanced or novice users. In my view a clear understanding of upward/downward expansion, AGC, and compression is a necessity.