Canadian Musician - March / April 2018 - Page 22

ROAD TEST JST Original & Joel Wanasek Bus Glue Plug-In Bundles By Joe Mullen J oey Sturgis Tones is quickly becoming an audio production room standard. I’ve been watching JST and using its plug-ins consistently since its inception and was really stoked to see that Joey was doing a mix bus series. I figured it would sound amazing and boast a ton of utility based on my past experience with his products, not to mention his list of recording credits, which includes including Asking Alexandria, Miss May I, and Emmure, among others. A little while later, I saw a video of producer/ mixer Joel Wanasek at NAMM presenting his new line of JST bus compressors. Again, I was immediately stoked about it. If you have ever encountered Joel through Nail the Mix or the Unstoppable Recording Machine initiatives, you will understand why. Joel is full of fire and a very inspirational dude. His credits speak for them- selves, as he has worked with bands like Machine Head, Vinyl Theater, and Dope. Here, we’ll test out these two Bus Glue collec- tions from JST – the original Bus Glue Series and brand new Joel Wanasek Bus Glue Series – on some projects I have underway. JST Bus Glue Series BG Drums BG Drums has four very different sounding compression algorithms – Tight, Open, Fat, and Boom – that do an admirable job of produc- ing results consistent with what their names suggest. In fact, for novice engineers, they can actually help you understand what “open” means as compared to the other options in regards to bus compression settings. I know for me and my level of compression knowledge, I couldn’t just whip up these different compres- sion approaches and know exactly what the settings would be, let alone all four and then being able to A/B them on top of that. What a powerful and creative tool. BG Guitars This one is all about utility. I love the three options of Tame, Clamp, and Smash. Again, the terms really do describe what these tools can bring to some heavy guitars in certain parts of the mix. These modes can be automatable, which leaves no end to the mixing possibili- ties. Use the Tame settings to smooth out the chorus rhythm guitars then switch to Clamp 22 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N were tricking me or not so I A/B’d it a bunch of times to see what the difference would be just by having it in the chain. It was actually a really good lesson in using your ears because it is very subtle but also very powerful from a mix perspective once you start to hear it. Definitely a go-to for me from now on. to get a truly crushing breakdown lock-up sec- tion. The Tone toggle switch gives the guitars a lot more presence in the mix without any an- noying frequencies, while the Warmth toggle switch gives the mids a nice solid boost but in a very subtle way. BG Mix BG Mix puts everything you need on your two- bus in one plug-in. You can select from four carefully designed compression algorithms, add warmth, and clip. The warmth button does some crazy magic to the mids and highs that I found to be spot on. It’s the kind of thing you need to hear. I find that a lot of the time, mid and high end can bother my ears, but not with this. It makes the mids and highs smooth and well defined, almost adding more space within the high-end. I also appreciate its user-friendly approach to gain staging. I loaded it up with my other busses way over 0dB, and yes, of course the result was overloaded, but I noticed something unique; the headroom has a “hard limit” to where you can’t really clip it unless you are sending in way too much signal. Joel Wanasek Bus Glue Series JW Drums I tested out JW Drums on some fast death metal drumming I had tracked for an upcom- ing Unburnt EP. I imported the mix-ready drum stems, did a quick balance and pan, routed everything to a bus, and loaded up the freshly installed JW Drums v1.0.0. I noticed that with nothing except the Pumpin’ setting selected, I heard a slight lift and tightness in the low end, some sweetness in the upper mids, and improved separation. I wasn’t sure if my ears JW Bass To test drive JW Bass, I loaded it up on a single bass track and its effect was immediately ap- parent. There is a subtle amount of processing it does natively that smoothes out the DI and successfully balances out the mids. There are also a couple more in-depth features, such as the top and bottom “mode” selection that al- lows splitting the bass within one track on one plug-in. Joel is all about speed and JW Bass delivers on that philosophy. The Grit section is just fantastic. There are three options of satura- tion that all sound really good and mix so easily. My first-hand experience with JW Bass proved I can go from raw DI to album-ready bass with one plug-in. JW Mix What can I say about this other than #NO- SMALLTIME! Again, this has a nice little lift right when you load it up. Adding some Crush brings up the loudness nicely in a very smooth and musical way. I really enjoyed the unique Iron, Steel, and Nickel transformer settings. The tonalities here are subtle but very powerful. A/B these with fresh ears and you will know what I mean. Summary These series share common qualities but are still unique in their own ways. Both are far more than just a signal processor; you get the added benefit of Joey and Joel’s years of mixing experience baked in with a slight EQ bump here or a bit of saturation there. They each speak in their own way and reflect the individual styles of each designer. These are going to be all over my work this year. Happy mixing! Joe Mullen owns and operates JoeDown Studios in Hanover, ON. He plays drums in the metal out- fits Odium and Unburnt and contributes regularly to Professional Sound and Canadian Musician magazines.