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Simple comparison of Cakewalk/Sonitus VST vs. Waves Renaissance Maxx

I downloaded a Waves plugin package I'm thinking of getting. I didn't realize that they had anything available that didn't cost an arm and 2 legs. Someone else had an old post about waves plugins for $9. That got me looking at their website.

I have never tried their plugins but they are a standard. They have a "Renaissance" package available for $99 and a demo available ([[url=http://[/URL]=""]Waves | Bundles | Renaissance Maxx[/]=""]Waves | Bundles | Renaissance Maxx[/]).

I thought I'd try them out. Their registration process is kind of klunky like Native Instruments and Toontracks but I can't blame them. They have a 7 day demo available on everything they have once you register.

I took my new tune "The Sound of My Heart Breaking" and replaced a lot of the Cakewalk and other plugins with Waves equivalents to see what difference they made, if any. This isn't a complete or exact comparison but it may be of interest.

Here's links to the 2 versions (you probably don't need to listen to the whole song to hear the differrences):

Cakewalk plugins:

Waves plugins:

First, I think I ended up with an overall louder mix with the Waves. Both
versions pass through the Jeroen Breebaart Barricade Pro maximizer/limiter, with
a -0.3 dB threshold. The difference is that I am using the Waves channel strip
vs. the Cakewalk channel strip on the master bus. I do have a Cakewalk
multi-band comp on the master before the channel strip. Any way, I think the
overall level is not the thing to listen to because I could still pump up the
Cakewalk version.

Second, this song is still in progress so the performances aren't all
ironed out, etc. The acoustic is my Taylor but DI only. This is the first
scratch vocal track. I'm not making excuses as much as saying don't dwell on
those aspects. I just thought this was interesting, comparing the different
plugins using the same tracks.

I like the intro acoustics. I used the Waves EQ plugin instead of the Sonar
channel EQ. I really like their EQ. It just seems cleaner somehow. I like the
rhythm acoustic the most. I didn't end up tweaking the "lead" acoustic as

I have the waves channel strip on the drum bus instead of the cakewalk
strip. I think they end up sounding better with the waves strip. Their strip has
presets for kick and snare which I hope to try out on one of my songs with live
drums (this song is using Superior Drummer).

I also like their convolution reverb. I think I have about 8 of them and my
PC isn't dragging at all. All the verbs on the waves version are using their
convolution reverb.

They have a bass enhance that I'm using on the bass guitar and on a Taurus
pedal patch. What it does is generate harmonics for bass fundamentals and adds
them to the channel. Kind of cool (the Renaissance Bass). It enhances the bass
without simply turning it up, and includes making it sound more present on
playback systems with small speakers that can't reproduce the fundamental note.
I think it made the Taurus more present without necessicarily being

I used their channel strip on my lead vocal track too and again it just
sounds smoother somehow.

If I listen to the waves version and then go back to the cakewalk version
it seems to suck. And I didn't think the cakewalk version was that bad.

Overall, I think there's some value there and now I need to convince myself
to spend more money!


Member for
8 years 4 months

Chief Engineer Fri, 01/18/2013 - 08:41

Hi Randy, Well plugins are certainly getting better. Some of the modeling plugins can make it tough to tell a difference even.

I think the differences that we are hearing between the two mixes aren't as much associated with the type of plugins you are using, but more the processing decisions you have made.

Unfortunately there is just no way of telling from your test which are the better plugins. Of course we have our ideas and beliefs about which ones we like better, and sure we could pick one mix as being the one we like, but to say the type of plugin used was the determining factor to the way the mix turned out might be a bit misleading. The Waves mix can be approximated with the Sonitus plugs and vice versa.

Now, if your ears just flat out tell you that you like the Waves stuff better, and/or if it gives you more confidence to mix with the Waves stuff, then i say by all means get them. Ha! Im sure weve all NOT liked a plugin just because of the way it looks. This stuff is supposed to be fun too, so my vote goes to what ever makes the most enjoyable experience for you.

Member for
15 years 4 months

MrEase Fri, 01/18/2013 - 10:05

I'm firmly with "Chief Engineer" here. Although you may have even changed each plug in one by one and tried to replicate the settings, what you have done is change so many things this becomes a comparison between two different mixes rather than a comparison of plug ins.

Of course if you find a big difference with ease of use and understanding the plug ins then that is a large factor in your choice but as it stands in terms of overall sound I don't think it proves anything. If you have the time or inclination I'd strip out everything and take it back to the recorded tracks only. Then remix the song from scratch, making no reference to either of the existing mixes. I'd do this with Waves plug ins first and, time permitting, again with Cakewalks. You'll then have four different mixes to compare. See if you still feel the same (about the sound - not operation) after that. It should help you make the decision more cleanly...