If you’ve ever found yourself working with a budget, mixing inside a pair of headphones and finding it difficult to trust the accuracy of what you’re hearing, Abbey Road Studios and Waves Audio have teamed up once again with a plugin that may solve that for some. The Waves Abbey Road Studio 3 plugin virtually places you into a sonic recreation of the Abbey Road Studio 3 control room to let you mix your songs in a “more acoustically treated” environment.
Included in this piece of software is a large visual layout of the entire control room where you see each set of monitors, which are labeled “near,” “mid,” and “far.” And a switch at the bottom allows you to select which of these digitally emulated monitors you would like to listen through. Next to that is a slider labeled “Rotate Studio,” which gives you the ability to move your position closer to the left monitor, right monitor, dead center in the sweet spot, or anywhere in between. A “level” knob to the right of that will act as your typical studio volume knob found on the console. Additionally, some other neat features available within this plugin are a headphone EQ, allowing you to adjust the overall EQ of what you are hearing if desired, as well as a section dedicated to “head modeling.” What this allows is adjustments to the circumference and ear-to-ear distances of the virtual head that is listening back. Otherwise, you can just keep it set at the factory default setting. Finally, an optional feature included allows for the use of head tracking using the Nx Head Tracker — a small device that you place on your headphones that will track wherever you turn your head and adjust what you receive in each ear accordingly.
At the end of the day, this new plugin seems interesting as a fun way to immerse yourself into a different environment as an alternative way to listen to your mixes. But we believe it seems to fall a bit short as a practical tool, and that it should never be used as a crutch when headphone mixing. While the room itself is likely quite amazing, the advertised notion that Abbey Road‘s Studio 3 control room is the “best sounding room in the world” or that this virtual mix reference plugin should be the only one you use seems awfully outlandish and far-fetched — especially as a digital emulation. So while these new features such as the head tracking break a unique and exciting new ground in the potential future of virtual mix referencing, it seems still too early to trust as a whole. However, if this seems like a plugin you’ve been missing in your life, you can grab it for yourself now right from the Waves Audio website for an introductory price of $99, which is discounted from a regular price of $199. If you feel inclined, grab a copy for yourself and let us know what your experience is like.