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Sound of Waves L2

I know that there's a few here who uses the WavesL2, and me too :-)
I'm very happy with it, but after several hours of testing I found a drawback... my monitor system reveals that any signal that's going through gets just a little brighter than the original signal and it probably also does more than that, more to come on this later :-)

What do you do who uses the L2, do you simply compensate for it when you are EQ'ing and just live with it?
I'm just thinking that a device like this is the one who draw the tonal quality and balance of many recordings today... And then it's bright sounding! ooh!


Ammitsboel Thu, 02/05/2004 - 13:29
An important fact here:
The signal that's going trough is digital.

The converters on this thing is as unlinear* as it get's :-) But hey they are cheap! :-)
But i still don't know why they put those converters in it?

*this is when the music is playing, I bet that they mesure 20-20K at -0.5db when just a sine wave is going through.

Michael Fossenkemper Thu, 02/05/2004 - 19:00
Well I haven't noticed anything getting brighter if no processing is going on. Now when I start to push it, then it does bring up the subs and the highs, but that is with any kind of limiter. I do like the converters in them for certain things. I usually like the apogee sound but I've found that on certain projects, i prefered the L2 converters. To me it has a nice open top end to them. Not a lot of punch but on certain projects you don't want punch. The converters in them are made by manely and I think for the price of the unit, the converters themselves are worth it. I also think they have an interesting detail to them that works well on certain things. Anyway, keep trying them on projects and i'll think you'll find a use for them.

Michael Fossenkemper Fri, 02/06/2004 - 05:04
Is this when your limiting or just running sound in with no limiting? Personally I've found no difference if no limiting is going on. If your limiting and switching link in and out, what your hearing is the difference in how and what it's limiting, not the sound of the limiter. It depends on where the holes and peaks freq wise are in the mix. the holes will come up and the peaks will come down in relation as you crank the limiter up. What i have found is that lowering the input into the limiter sounds different. for instance, if I lower the ouput of my compressor into the limiter and then crank up the limiter more, it sounds different than running a hotter signal into the limiter and cranking it less (all digital signal). sometimes better or worse depending on the mix. It almost seems like something is going on at the input stage of the limiter depending on the level of input. has anyone else found this to be the case?

Ammitsboel Fri, 02/06/2004 - 08:02
I hear the signal brighter when just running digital through the L2.
This is when the bypass is in, but also when it's not bypassing at no limiting.

I have to try out that with the link in/out. :-)

I find the converters bad quality. An A/B test with my reference DAC reveals a closed sound scape and lack of detail and microdynamics from the L2 DAC.
I see this as common sence, you can't build good quality converters for that price. Good converters take time and great care to develope... and that's probably why good converters are priced the way they are.
I use an AudioNote DAC5.

I see no use for converters who limit musical quality as the L2's does. They sound like they are trying but can't really reproduce the original signal.

joe lambert Fri, 02/06/2004 - 08:02
Hey Guy's,

I think the L2 a fine device. For the most part I go in and out digitally to avoid the converters. I use my Prism Dream 2 for that which I completely love.

I have used the converters before. I think they are good. Not in the league with the Prism. One thing to remember with the L2 is it's working at 32bit. So if you are working at 24 you should experiment with the different dither/noise shaping.

The waves L1 and L2 have been abused more than any single device in recent years from people trying to make there records too loud. I've seen people using it at +9 and higher. You will hear too much limiting at some point and that's not the fault of the box. It's doing what the engineer is asking of it.

Member Sat, 02/07/2004 - 12:27
I use the software version of the L2, and lately I've a couple of instances of artifacts appearing as I boost the level. Sometimes I can really crank the level of a mix up without any artifacts, although I try not boost mixes to the totally insane level of most commercial CDs. Just keep them competitive. I usually try to stick to between -3 to -6 db of limiting. But with some mixes that have a lot of low end, heavy bass, I end up getting a nasty kind of distortion artifact showing up. What might be causing that? Do I need to roll off really low lows? (And I'm quite sure it's not coming from my monitoring system, it's definitely in the finished mix.) Sometimes when I load commercial mixes into PT to A/B against, I'll notice the PT meters pinning, but no distortion in the mix. But my mix, running through the L2, will be distorting. I'm generally setting the peak limit level to -.03db, sometimes -.02. But even if I set it to -.5, or -1, I still get this distortion.
Any tips...?!?! Thanks - Steve

Member Sat, 02/07/2004 - 13:05
I'm new to this board,so first I'm gonna say HELLO to everybody! Great site!
As for the L2 I have been using both the software and the hardware versions for quite a while now and have done many listening tests and comparisons between the two.
My first impression was that the hardware unit sounded a little harder and more mid-rangy comparing to the software,but also punchier and sounding more up front in a way.
The software sounded softer and also I was not able to get away with as much gain reduction as the hardware version allowed.
That's just my 2 cents.

Jacek Gawlowski

Michael Fossenkemper Sat, 02/07/2004 - 18:16
Innerbooty, the reason your hear these artifacts is because your pushing the limiter too hard and it's now being used as a compressor. If you are seeing gain reduction on the l2 while non peaky stuff is happening, that means that you've pushed the L2 too far and you are now compressing the average level of the mix. The L2 isn't good at this and it will start to flutter and you'll hear it in the low end as breaking up. If you back off the L2, it will go away.
Bob Katz did a comparison of the software and hardware versions and found that with the same settings (I think they did a few different amounts of gain reduction), with the exact same soundfile, the two nulled out. Telling us that they are Identical. I don't have the software version so I can't do a comparison but maybe they differ when pushed harder.

Member Sun, 02/08/2004 - 04:59
For pop/rock/r n b stuff, 3 db of gain reduction is usually my max. limiting I use when using a L2. Most of the time I just get around 2 db of gain reduction. Of cousre, the processing you have before hitting the L2 affects how you set up the L2. But in general, at least from my experience, getting more than 3 db of GR on L2, you will definitely start hearing the ugly artifacts and the mix will start falling apart.

BTW, the hardware L2 and the software L2 plug-in sound identical to me.


Member Mon, 02/09/2004 - 09:31
Wow, this is really interesting. Thanks for your comments guys. The thing I first noticed when I got the L2 plug, and compared it to the L1 is how you could slam the crap out of a mix (not that I do that in practice) and get almost no artifacts on the L2, whereas the L1 crapped out at a much lower level. And I find that is often true in day to day use with the L2. But mixes with heavy low end seem more susceptible to distortion, with only about 3-6 db of gain (which I know is still a lot...) I despise this whole competitive loudness phenomenon, but my clients generally expect to leave here with masters that are at least *close* to the level of the commercial CDs they listen to. How is this done, if not with a relatively state of the art plugin like the L2? Especially on hip hop, and stuff with huge bass, like the Laswell stuff I know Michael does a lot of...?

Thanks again!

iznogood Mon, 02/09/2004 - 12:14
maybe it has to do with the fact that if the release time is shorter than the time of one single cycle at a given frequency (eg. 50Hz=20ms)

it's a good idea to always highpass your mix unless you did the mix yourself and highpassed the tracks individually... not one common hi-fi speaker can produce anything below 40Hz

Michael Fossenkemper Mon, 02/09/2004 - 12:16
It's just not the L2 that accomplishes this. It's a combination of many things. Really great eq's compressors and monitors to hear what your doing. It also depends greatly on the mixes that I get too. Also where the low end lies can be a big factor. The Laswell stuff isn't loud compared to some of the records out there, it's punchy and has a lot of low end. Making something loud with no low end is pretty easy, retaining large amounts of low end is very tricky and can keep me awake at night trying to figure out how to. I can't give you any specifics because each mix is different. What I can tell you is there are no black boxes involved and no animals were harmed. It's just many years of experience turning knobs. I spend 1 weekend a month just trying new techniques to see what happens when kind of stuff. I mean crazy stuff. Most of the time I don't find anything worthwhile, but every once in awhile I do find something that I can use. Basically what i'm saying is you can't just slap an L2 on the mix and call it a day.

Member Thu, 02/12/2004 - 09:34
Just thought I'd check back in. I contacted Waves, and also messed around a bit. Disappointed tech response from Waves at first, but then I got someone good, and they confirmed the concept, already noted above, that for bass heavy mixes you should disable ARC, set the release time to the max, then slowly bring it down until you get what you need. Apparently this comes straight from the engineers at Waves. Seems to work. (Certainly doesn't get past the fact that I should try to avoid ponderously bass flabby mixes, however....) I always thought that ARC was the Magic Bullet differentiating the L2 from the L1 (which sounds like crap), so I've never turned if off. Who knew? They also stressed the importance of strategic compression and/or eq prior to the L2. Which is "uh duh" I suppose...

Thanks - Steve