Single knob-style plugins can be convenient for quickly adding effects, but can they be used in a more creative way? We string together a chain of Waves’ OneKnob plugins and find out.
Endless options can be paralyzing. Paradoxically, applying limits and constraints to yourself can be creatively liberating. Instead of reaching for a modern, all-singing-all-dancing effects unit, we wondered what we could do with just a bundle of single-knob plugins. Could we get release-ready results just by whacking up a few dials? Spoiler alert: most definitely.
We used the chain to take this techno chord stab from lifeless and uninspiring:
To one with plenty of character:
N.B: We recommend following along with headphones or studio monitors as some of these results can be subtle. As ever, click any image to see a larger version.
Overview of Waves’ OneKnob Plugins
The OneKnob series of effects plugins from Waves are as simple as can be. Each one focuses on a single effect, such as compression, filtering, or reverb, with often just a single knob to make any adjustments. There’s more going on under the hood than just MOAR though, with a number of effect-dependent changes happening along the way. They’re designed to be open-ended and source-material dependent, allowing you to work your way through the dial until you find a sweet spot.
Waves insists that the OneKnob plugins should be used on insert tracks and not sends, but hey, rules are made to be broken.
Let’s get started.
Step 1: OneKnob Wetter
We start by creating a chord stab line in Ableton Live. We’ve used the Blue Chords preset from Operator and tweaked it for our techno track. There’s a little delay baked in, but no reverb at all. It’s bone dry and could really use something to liven it up. Let’s construct a chain of OneKnob plugins on a send track to take care of that.
To start, we drop OneKnob Wetter onto an empty send track and send signal from our Operator lane. OneKnob Wetter is the reverb plugin of the series. It’s only got a single knob (they weren’t lying when they named it) so it’s dead simple to use. Turning the knob from fully left (zero), we can hear it cycle through short and bright, to long and dark reverb types. We want it as long as possible so we turn it all the way up to 10. It’s a little bit darker than we’d prefer, but we can address that later on.
The dry chord stab:
And with OneKnob Wetter:
Step 2: OneKnob Filter
Let’s use filter resonance to give the reverb a little bit of bite. To do this, we add OneKnob Filter next in the chain. Unlike the other seven plugins in the series, OneKnob Filter has zero at the fully clockwise position. It’s a lowpass filter after all, so this makes sense. Turning the knob counter-clockwise removes frequencies. Let’s bring it down to around 8.
In default mode, OneKnob Filter is non-resonant. To give it some squelch, we need to engage the Resonance button. There are four settings: None, Moderate, High and Extreme. Moderate works for us as we’ll be introducing a compressor next and we don’t want to exaggerate any whistling.
With lowpass and resonance:
Step 3: OneKnob Pressure
So far so good, but the overall effect is a little wimpy. Let’s bring in dynamics to make the reverb more upfront. We drop OneKnob Pressure, the compressor in the series, after the reverb. The dial takes us from light, parallel compression to a full-on nuked signal. We don’t need to get crazy with it, we just want to bring up the reverb effect and make it even and full. A knob setting of around 6.5 works well. Finally, we toggle the Input button through Pad (low level), Unity (as is), and Boost. Unity sounds the best.
The reverb now with dynamics:
Step 4: OneKnob Pumper
The effect is sounding good, but it’s a little static. Some motion will really open it up. To do this, we next add an instance of OneKnob Pumper to the chain. This is a dynamics plugin with a built-in LFO to give it a pumping feel. The knob controls how much effect is applied. We go with 6 for an obvious, but not heavy-handed feel. Using the Rate button, we choose 1/4 but faster or slower rates are also possible.
Top Tip: Use the Offset button to change the phase of the LFO.
The reverb, now modulated with an LFO:
Step 5: OneKnob Brighter
There’s no OneKnob EQ (how would that even work?), but the next best thing is OneKnob Brighter, a plugin that boosts treble. We can use this to help balance the reverb effect against our full mix. We sweep the dial and find that a setting of 8 sounds good.
The reverb chain with boosted highs:
Here’s the effect in the context of a song with sounds from Splice’s Techno pack and additional reverb and delay on the send channels:
Waves’ OneKnob Series bundle is currently available at a discounted price of $89.99 (£70.94).
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