Unprecedented S6L Waves SoundGrid Integration Coming Soon

By in Live Sound, Pro Mixing

After almost two years of intense collaboration, we are excited to announce the VENUE 5.7 software update and WSG-HD Option Card for Avid VENUE | S6L which will deliver the most comprehensive integration of Waves SoundGrid plug-ins found in any audio console. The teams knew that it was not enough to offer parity with other consoles, but that we needed to deliver some key functionality not offered by other third-party live systems. From show file compatibility, mapped encoders, multi-touch control, and automatic delay compensation, to auto-failover redundancy and safety features, the Avid and Waves teams didn’t stop working until all of the requirements were achieved. These features will be released as part of the upcoming VENUE 5.7 software release for VENUE | S6L to greatly expand the creative toolset for all live sound engineers.

VENUE 5.7 is coming soon and will be available to download at no charge for all customers with an S6L system and a valid Avid Advantage Elite Live support contract via their Avid Accounts, while the new WSG-HD Option card will be available from your Avid live sound reseller.

 

Here’s an overview of what the new S6L Waves SoundGrid integration will deliver:

  • Unmatched Waves plug-in integration and control from S6L’s arsenal of knobs and from within the VENUE software itself
  • Expanded connectivity and reliability with support for the new Avid Waves SoundGrid WSG-HD Option Card for the E6L Engine, including support for auto-failover redundancy when using two SoundGrid servers
  • More processing power with the ability to connect a Waves SoundGrid Server One or Extreme Server to run up to 128 voices of Waves Plug-Ins, with up to 1024 Waves SoundGrid plug-ins
  • Simplified setup and show file import with no external laptop required for setup, automatic delay compensation, and automatic conversion of legacy VENUE show files with Waves plug-ins—with all TDM instances of Waves plug-ins automatically converted to SoundGrid, including settings and routing

WSG-HD Waves SoundGrid Option Card

Instantiating Waves Plug-Ins

Just like any AAX DSP on-board plug-in on an S6L system, the Waves SoundGrid Rack for VENUE plug-in is instantiated in the VENUE Plug-In Rack, using the same patching and routing method as any other plug-in. While in CONFIG mode, simply select the format (Mono, Stereo or Other), and instantiate SoundGrid Rack for VENUE from the Effects Category. When in SHOW Mode, plug-ins cannot be instantiated or removed—this is to prevent drops in audio as a result of reallocating DSP based on what was added or removed.

What makes SoundGrid Rack for VENUE quite different than a typical VENUE plug-in though, is that it is a ‘chainer.’ This means that within a single instance of SoundGrid Rack for VENUE a user can instantiate up to eight individual Waves plug-ins. Similar to VENUE insert slots on a channel, these plug-ins are processed in order from top to bottom within the chainer. For example, if you have an EQ in the topmost slot and a Compressor in the second slot, the EQ will affect the audio before the compressor. If you wanted to, you could even place a SoundGrid Rack plug-in in a channel’s insert 1, and another in insert 3, and have 16 waves plug-ins on that channel, and even insert any other AAX DSP plug-in into Insert 2 between the two Waves chainers.

 

Instantiating the SoundGrid Rack

Adding Plug-Ins within the SoundGrid Rack chainer—click Add Plug-In and select from the plug-in list

Loading Show Files

New systems often offer great new features, but switching console platforms can be a pain. Engineers may need to learn new workflows, which in itself can be time consuming, but even more time consuming is building new show files from scratch. VENUE | S6L has always loaded VENUE show files from legacy VENUE systems, but until now, users had to find alternates for the plug-ins that didn’t yet exist on the AAX DSP platform, like Waves. With the integration of Waves SoundGrid into the S6L platform, engineers with a library of show files from years of mixing will be able to load up show files going all the way back to version VENUE 2.0 (from 2006!) with confidence that all Waves plug-ins will automatically convert to SoundGrid format. When plug-ins convert to SoundGrid, the SoundGrid Rack for VENUE is instantiated and within it a SoundGrid instance of the TDM plug-in is placed in the first slot of the chainer.

The Plug-in Rack from a VENUE 3.1 Show File

The Plug-in Rack from the same show file loaded into VENUE 5.7

Snapshots

Not only does loading your older VENUE show files convert plug-ins from TDM to SoundGrid with all original routing and plug-in settings, but it also ensures that all of your plug-in snapshot data is also imported. SoundGrid for VENUE is in itself a plug-in, and the snapshot stores all of the data within that plug-in, including the input and output levels of SGR, the plug-ins that are instantiated within the chainer, and the settings of each plug-in within SGR.

All plug-ins scoped in snapshots, as indicated by the red S icon, and the bar across the top, indicating that this plug-in is scoped in 41 snapshots

Controlling Waves SoundGrid Plug-ins

Until now, the best integration on the market of Waves plug-ins by a third-party live console allowed a user to use a mouse, or a single encoder to modify a single parameter at a time on a selected plug-in. Not only does VENUE provide 24 encoders for any selected Waves plug-in, but also allows a user to select a plug-in per CKM module. Forget managing complex audio processing with a single encoder—on a 32-fader S6L-32D control surface engineers have access to up to 72 parameters at once across the desk. If knobs aren’t your thing, you always have a touchscreen. VENUE provides full multi-touch control of all plug-ins, including multi-touch control of all Waves plug-ins. But it’s more than just that—not only can you modify parameters by touching or dragging, but touching a plug-in within SoundGrid for VENUE will select it to be displayed on encoders.

Automatic Delay Compensation

As with all plug-ins on the VENUE platform, delay compensation is automatic, and will delay parallel paths to match up with the longest path. This means that as a user you don’t need to worry about the processing latency of an external server—VENUE will manage this process for you. Additionally, all latency information is reported to VENUE, and with a right click of the plug-in in the rack, a user can find out the SoundGrid Rack for VENUE plug-in latency (as measured in samples), and with a right click on the insert on the Inputs or Outputs page a user can view the plug-in latency plus the routing latency (time to the server and back) in samples. Users also have the ability to turn off automatic delay compensation in the Options > Pickoffs page of the VENUE software if they choose.

Right click on a plug-in in the rack to view the latency of the plug-in

Redundancy

In live sound, there is always the question of “what happens if/when it fails?” The S6L system architecture is built in such a way that keeps plug-ins isolated from the main mix processing of the engine, in effect creating a boundary between plug-ins and the system’s core audio functionality. In the case of any failure within the plug-in rack, the plug-in rack automatically bypasses and reboots—and with Waves plug-ins, there is an similar, but separate, mechanism. If a Waves SoundGrid server has a connectivity or stability issue, VENUE will automatically bypass those plug-in instances, and the Waves system will reboot. But if you require even greater assurance, you can plug a second SoundGrid server into the WSG-HD card, and VENUE will automatically fail-over to the redundant server in the case of a server error, crash, or loss of the primary server.

Connecting and selecting a second SG Server enables redundancy

How Many Plug-ins Can I Run?

Waves SoundGrid requires a ‘voice’ for each path of audio that goes to or from a Waves server. In the real-world this lines up to be one voice for a mono plug-in, two for stereo, two for 1 in/2 out, and one additional voice used for any plug-in path that has a sidechain input. The WSG-HD card supports 128 voices, so that could be 128 mono SoundGrid Rack for VENUE instances, 64 stereo, or any combination of mono and stereo instances that equals 128 voices or less. In addition, to the measure of total voices, each server provides dedicated plug-in DSP, and total DSP usage is displayed at the top of each plug-in, as well as in the inventory app itself.

The DSP meter itself actually shows you two separate values at the same time—one being the average DSP load across all processors in the server, and the other being the peak load of any given processor in the server. In general, it’s considered prudent to keep the average DSP usage meter in the Green, because the peak meter tends to measure much higher than the average meter. Since Waves plug-ins can vary in DSP usage during a session, the DSP may reshuffle to optimize usage, at which point the peak meter may jump. It is possible for the server’s Peak DSP usage meter to max out, at which point the server may put out distorted audio, which is why it’s important to be very aware of your DSP usage on a Waves server.

DSP and Voice usage is shown in every instance of SoundGrid Rack, as well as in the Inventory App

Many engineers rely heavily on the sounds that they have achieved with Waves plug-ins. Coming soon, engineers on VENUE | S6L running VENUE 5.7 software with a WSG-HD card and a SoundGrid server connected to their system will be able to enjoy the same creative palate with unmatched integration and control. With a clear focus on simplicity, stability, and of course sound, we are excited to offer you an integration between Avid and Waves that sets a new standard for performance and control.

The Next Wave in Live Sound is Coming Soon

Get ready to access and control your favorite Waves plug-ins live—directly from your Avid VENUE | S6L console. Sign up to get notified when Waves SoundGrid integration is available.

Avid Live Sound Principal Product Designer and Product Manager