Waves have collaborated with long-standing EDM outfit Infected Mushroom to bring us a very interesting multiband sonic enhancer plugin. The most obvious purpose for the plugin would be for mastering a track and getting the optimum push in levels from the track. But it can also be used on single or bussed tracks to enhance the dynamics on them. Let’s take a look at the plugin and what it’s capable of.
When you first launch the plugin you’ll notice that it has a very simple interface with only a few dials. On the top it has an Input control, the high band and the stereo image widener.
On the bottom is Body, which deals with the low mid to mid-range bands of the audio, next to this is the Low band, and then the Push dial which can either be set to clip or limit mode depending on how you want to use it. It’s been hard-coded into the plugin that no matter how hard you push the audio signal there will be a ceiling of -0.1dB. So the audio will never clip.
And in the middle is a dial called Magic, with some extra sliders next to it to fine-tune the focus and the dynamics. But will get to this dial a bit later in the article.
As you can see, things are laid out very easily in this plugin. You're getting 3 EQ bands, a stereo widener, a sonic enhancer (the Magic button) and a clip/limiter. Not bad for a single plugin!
A neat feature is the LED indicator on the Input button. This will light up to a different color depending on the input level. The guide is that if it’s off it’s too low, green is good, yellow is the optimal level and if goes into the red it’s too hot. So this is really an easy feature to make sure you set the Input Level correctly.
Another feature I really like is on the Low band dial where you can set the root key of the song. What I like to do is insert a piano on an instrument track to find the key of the audio track that I pull in. Then you can set the note to this in the Body dial. By setting the key, it will introduce harmonics that correspond to the track. This also helps in playing back the lower registers on smaller system because of these introduced harmonics.
I love it when dial and parameters on plugins have illusive names, especially like this one, the Magic button. You just know it’s gonna be good. But basically, it’s a sonic enhancer dial. You can use the Focus slider to fine-tune the high-midrange area that gets excited. And then the DYN Punch slider allows you to control the amount of punch and crispness that is added to the high midrange area. And it works really well. I tried it out on a track and this Magic button really made my snare punch out in the track in a good way when it was inserted on my master bus.
If you take a look at the presets list available, you’ll notice that this plugin isn’t primarily for mastering. You could even use it to process and color your individual tracks, or apply it to a bus. Maybe you want to use it to saturate your drums with the Magic button, or use it on your Kick drum to really enhance the low frequencies and body of the instrument, and then limit and push it. Or even maybe you want to enhance the higher registers of your synths with the High dial, and spread their panning out more with the Stereo Image dial. So you can use it for mixing or mastering purposes. But I’d say it really shines as a mastering plugin on the master output chain.
Overall I was very impressed with Waves Pusher. You can get very quick results from adding this plugin and then dialing in some settings. I did find that it is maybe more suited to electronic genres where they hard limit the tracks quite heavily. Which is understandable as it was created with an EDM group. So this is definitely a must-have for those styles. If you’re working in genres with more high fidelity, dynamics and headroom needed such as maybe orchestral and classical styles, then this is maybe not the guy for you. But I’m guessing everyone who sees that this was done with Waves and Infected Mushroom will be coming more from an EDM background.
Pros: Very well priced multiband mastering plugin. Easy interface to use.
Cons: Doesn’t work so well with high fidelity music like classical and orchestral which has bigger dynamic range.