Using Waves SoundGrid Plug-ins with Avid VENUE | S6L

By in Live Sound

The Avid VENUE 5.3 update for VENUE | S6L was not only a software update—it also added support for the high channel count VENUE MADI-192 MADI Option Card which can be added to S6L’s E6L Engine. The MADI-192 enables the user to send and receive up to 64 channels of audio per card between S6L and any MADI audio device. Four BNC connectors enable two 96 kHz MADI streams into and out of the VENUE | S6L system. These streams are 100% flexible and patchable as inputs, outputs and hardware inserts. It is this flexibility that allows the S6L to fully integrate and communicate with a Waves SoundGrid system over MADI.

So lets have a look at the requirements for this integration and how to set it up.

On the VENUE | S6L side, the E6L Engine needs to have a MADI-192 MADI Option Card. To run a Waves SoundGrid system compliant for integration with S6L you will need the following components:

Waves SoundGrid server

Waves currently offers a choice of three different SoundGrid servers: the Extreme Server, the Server One, and the Impact Server. There are comprehensive charts available on the Waves website so I won’t get into the differences between each system, but it basically comes down to processing power and the number of plug-ins you can run on each of these servers.

DigiGrid MGB

The DigiGrid MGB is a MADI interface that allows you to send MADI streams back and forth between the SoundGrid server and the VENUE MADI-192 Option card. The Digigrid MGB uses four BNC connections to allow for 64 channels of MADI @ 96 KHz.

Computer running Waves MultiRack software

This can be a Mac or PC. Computer requirements are listed on the Waves website. This computer servers as the user interface or GUI for Waves Plug-ins.

SoundGrid Switch

The SoundGrid Switch is an Ethernet switch. SoundGrid system components communicate over Ethernet, so the SoundGrid Server, the DigiGrid MGB and the computer running Waves MultiRack software speak to each other through this Ethernet switch.

Getting started

Lets have a more detailed look at setting up the Waves MultiRack software on the computer. Assuming that you have to set up the SoundGrid system from scratch and the hardware components are connected following the system diagram, you will need to install Waves Central on your Computer:

  1. Login to your Waves account and select ‘Install Products’ from the Waves Central home menu.
  2. Select following components from the ‘Products to Install’ section:
    • MultiRack Software
    • SoundGrid MGB driver
    • Waves plug-ins Bundle
  3. Run the installation process

Waves Central also allows you to manage your Waves licenses. You can authorize a USB key to move licenses around between different computers or you can authorize the computer hard drive running MultiRack—whichever is more convenient for your workflow.

Once all software components are installed and authorized and all hardware components have been connected according to the SoundGrid System diagram, it’s time to launch the Waves MultiRack Application.

Waves MultiRack application

  1. Open the MultiRack Preferences window and in the General section make sure the Local LAN port communicates with the physical Ethernet port that connects your computer to the SoundGrid Switch. Network adapters in the Local LAN port dropdown menu are displayed by their MAC addresses and port name. When you select the proper port, a ‘SoundGrid network found’ message will be displayed.
  2. In the MultiRack Preferences, check the Plug-in Manager TAB and make sure that your plug-in bundle is listed and active.
  3. If applicable you can also configure remote control and setup MIDI configurations.

Once the standard preferences for the SoundGrid Network and Plug-ins are setup, it is time to configure the rest of the system.


The SoundGrid Inventory

The SoundGrid Inventory window is accessed by selecting ‘SoundGrid Inventory’ in the Edit menu.

Waves SoundGrid Inventory window

You should see three items listed in the SoundGrid Inventory Window:

  • The SoundGrid Driver
  • The MultiRack
  • The MGB IO device

Open the control panel for the MGB IO device by clicking ‘settings’.

MGB IO Control Panel window

Check following settings for the MGB IO device:

Clock Settings:

  • Source: ‘Internal / External’ or ‘Digital’ depending your clock setup scheme
  • Sample Rate: 96 kHz
  • Sample Rate Mode: 88.2 / 96 Hi Speed
  • Status should say ‘Sync OK’

Avid suggests to sync the MGB externally by connecting the E6L Word Clock OUT to the MGB WC IN connector.


MADI Options Page:

  • Make sure the MADI Port 1 and MADI Port 2 settings are set to 64/32 channel format

Close the SoundGrid Inventory Window and go to Edit menu and select the SoundGrid Connections menu item.

SoundGrid Connections window

The SoundGrid Connections window will define source and destination signals. In our setup we want to make sure that we have a bi-directional communication between the MGB MADI IO device and the MultiRack, so we need to create two 64 channel connections (or whichever number of channels you want the S6L system and the SoundGrid System to communicate over).

  • Connection 1 will be Source: MGB to Destination: MultiRack with a channel range of 1-64 on either end—these are the INPUTS into the MultiRack from the MGB/S6L over MADI.
  • Connection 2 will be Source: MultiRack to Destination: MGB with a channel range of 1-64 on either end—these are the OUTPUTS back to the MGB/S6L over MADI.

Close the SoundGrid Connections window.


Using MultiRack Plug-ins

A MultiRack Session is a collection of Racks, each of which contains a plug-in or a series of plug-ins (up to 8 in one chain), that communicates with the VENUE | S6L through the MADI-192 option card.

  1. Click to Add a Rack
  2. Specify the Type of Rack: Mono – Stereo or Mono to Stereo
  3. Set the MGB Input source (left side rail) and the MGB output source (right side rail)
  4. Click the + sign inside the Rack window to add a plug-in to the Rack

MultiRack with plug-in window

Setting up the VENUE software

Once everything is set up on the Waves SoundGrid system, we can start using Waves plug-ins with the VENUE | S6L system through the MADI-192 Option card. Plug-ins can be inserted directly on VENUE processing channels through the Hardware Insert path or you can set up a typical send / return (buss fed) type communication:

Via Hardware Inserts:

  • Set up a Hardware INSERT path in the VENUE patchbay for a selected Input or Output Processing channel


  • Activate the Hardware INSERT on the VENUE processing channel


Via Send / Return path:

  • In the VENUE Patchbay > Outputs tab, select the MADI SEND / output path from a VENUE output channel or direct out used to send a signal to the Waves SoundGrid Server
  • In the VENUE Patchbay > INPUTS tab, select the MADI RETURN / input path into a VENUE input channel to return the processed signal from the Waves SoundGrid Server.


And you’re all set. Happy Waves plug-in processing!

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As a Live Sound application specialist at Avid with 20+ years of real world experience as an engineer, my focus is to help our customers set up workflows that help them achieve what is most important in their jobs— creating great sounding content that leads to the best possible listening experience for the audience.