After about 3 months of consistent weekly use, 2 large heavy usage shows (you can see recordings of it in action on my youtube channel while I’m mixing a Christmas Show and a Worship Concert) and several iterations of my showfile, I feel like I’m finally ready to review the Waves Multirack replacement, SuperRack (go to this link and search for it!). I’ve been using waves plugins now for the better part of a decade and learning something new just about every time I load one up. Over the last 5 years or so I started using a plugin manager in the form of Waves Multirack as we transitioned to use SSL L500 consoles in our main auditorium. The more I used the it the more I began to feel its’ limitations. From the limitation to how many plugins you can view at a time, patching on the Soundgrid was quite difficult if I wanted to use Soundgrid to run a backup tracking pathway, to just simple stability issues. As soon as I heard that an update was coming I was excited again about Waves products. With SuperRack came tons of new features, a fix for just about every gripe I had with Multirack, and a new touchscreen based workflow (finally). On paper SuperRack had everything that I was looking for. Because of some serious glitches that I’d reported and had yet to be fixed with Multirack I didn’t really have anything to lose from getting SuperRack right away and making the switch so I jumped right in. In fact, here is a link to the promo video showing it off just a bit.
I’ll be honest, my initial impressions were weak at best. The migration from Multirack wasn’t as “seamless” as advertised. In the end, I just built a new showfile from scratch. It ended up being a great opportunity to trim the fat in my showfile and since the presets could be transferred between software I was able to bring across a couple of the key things that I use all the time. There were also some stability issues in the early days but after a few updates things stabilized and I started to really enjoy and further customize my layout. Initially I started with a single dell touchscreen and was really happy with the way the program responds to touchscreens. Every menu and option were easy to access and there were very few settings I found myself reaching for my ball mouse to complete. Unlike Multirack, it was easy for me to live in full-screen mode so there was no wasted space on my monitor. I especially love the “detail fader” as I call it that you can use to make minute adjustments to options. I also really appreciate the extra ways to navigate around the suite. From the extra hot plugins to a fully programmable set of buttons that call up specific racks, save the show, or do just about anything else you could want. As of my writing of this article, I use almost all of the programmable buttons to recall various racks in my show and because the hot plugins can automate, I use them to make specific plugins available if needed during large shows on a per scene basis. I also love the two custom tabs in each overview windows because I can lay out the racks in whatever order I want and allow them to be grouped together more efficiently than I could previously.
But things aren’t all roses. I still have found a few glitches in the new versions of some of the plugins. For example, in the C6 plugin, the buttons that allow you to move all the same variables across the bands at the same time are not visible despite them being there (if you click in the space where they were you can still make the move and button appears when you actually do it). Also, now that I have two touchscreens I’ve use one screen with the overview page and the other just shows me as many plugins as I can get to fit on the screen. However, as the shows I did grew with more scenes and more automation, the saved positions of those plugins began to drift. While most of them always recalled back to positions that were just a bit off. Some of them even had the menu bar for the window (the place you need to grab to move it back) off the screen. Probably the only limitation that is an immovable object right now is that the software was designed to use 1920×1080 screens. Anything bigger or smaller and the scaling will be weird and you’ll experience a few GUI issues. You’ve been warned.
But, in many ways, those frustrations ended up being small in the grand scheme of SuperRack. As if all the new navigation options I talked about above weren’t enough, I’ve noticed a higher efficiency of the servers which has given even more headroom for additional plugs for those big shows that drift through. Even the setup got easier with soundgrid patching right within SuperRack. With each update, the platform becomes more and more stable, and my confidence grows with the platform daily. With that, I’m able to do more and more advanced techniques through automation and programming which allow for a finer control than I ever expected to have in an outboard effects processor. I still wish waves would develop or at least partner with someone to develop a midi or network controlled hardware controller with a big knob on it to complement the fader and a set of rotaries and buttons that could tie to programmed parameters within the plugin you’re viewing. At least my Kensington Expert Mouse gets me pretty far down that road and if you don’t already use one, just try it. You’ll thank me later.
Well in the name of not letting this drag on too far, that’s about it for this review. I am currently not endorsed/sponsored by Waves (that link on the right is an affiliate link but anyone can get those and using it just helps me keep the content coming). I wrote this just to share my experience, so if you have any questions, just reach out either with a comment here, a comment on facebook, or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do whatever I can to answer your questions. If you want to be sure to catch my future posts, just go to this link, and sign up to be a subscriber. You’ll get an email as soon as anything new is posted! See you all next time!