|Fig. 1. Bass Rider automatically rides levels for bass-instrument tracks.|
MOST MIX engineers like to slap a compressor
or limiter—or both—on the bass track at mixdown
to breed big tone. But if the bass player’s
dynamics are all over the map, the quiet notes
don’t get compressed at all, while loud notes
get squashed flatter than Metallica’s Death
Traditional solution: Place the compressor
post-fader, then ride the track’s fader so that
its level is always in the threshold’s sweet spot.
Better solution: Insert Waves’ Bass Rider plugin
(Figure 1) pre-fader (before any EQ and
dynamics processing), and it does the fader
moves for you automatically in real time, saving
you time and foregoing tedium. The crossplatform
Bass Rider supports TDM, RTAS,
AU, VST, and Audio Suite formats and can
be purchased alone or as part of the Waves
Looks Familiar Bass Rider’s GUI is similar
to that for its kissin’ cousin, Waves Vocal Rider.
But unlike Vocal Rider, Bass Rider has no
sidechain or built-in automation features
because, frankly, it doesn’t need them. The
streamlined feature set makes Bass Rider
very easy to use.
On DI’d electric bass tracks played by
ace session players, Bass Rider’s effect often
sounded very subtle. That’s because those
players had very steady dynamics that needed
little if any correction. But used on a part
played very poorly by an amateur bassist,
Bass Rider helped even out the jerky levels. It
wasn’t a perfect cure, but the plug-in remedied
about 90% of the yo-yoing. Slapping Waves
L1 limiter on the track downstream from Bass
Rider took care of the rest. Bass Rider also
made a big difference on a seesawing synthbass
track, leveling the dynamics very effectively
and saving me a lot of time and hassle.
When a player would intentionally goose a
few notes for emphasis, Bass Rider would automatically
dip them to keep the levels steady.
I could override this unwanted action by clicking
and holding the Rider fader (or dragging
it upward to increase gain) with my mouse for
the duration of the passage for which I wanted
to preserve the original dynamics. As soon as I
released the mouse, Bass Rider resumed riding
Transparent Sound In a blindfold test
listening to a smoothly-played bass phrase, I
couldn’t tell whether the plug-in was active or
bypassed as long as it was set to Slow response.
The Fast response setting produced a hair less
air and depth, but provided the best control of
levels on busy bass tracks.
Bass Rider produced negligible CPU drain.
Digital Performer 7.21 and Pro Tools 9.0.5 each
compensated for the plug-in’s inherent 42ms
latency. Use the included low-latency version
of the plug-in, Bass Rider Live, when you hit
If you work only with unfailingly rocksteady
bassists, you probably don’t need Bass
Rider. For the rest of us in the real world, Bass
Rider is another useful Waves plug-in that
takes the tedium out of mixing.
Michael Cooper (myspace.com/michaelcooperrecording) is a mix and mastering
engineer and the owner of Michael Cooper
Recording in Sisters, Oregon.
SUMMARYSTRENGTHS: Saves time and fuss at
mixdown. Transparent sound (using
Slow response). Super-easy to learn
LIMITATIONS: Probably not
necessary on virtuoso tracks.
TDM $300, $200 MSRP