The message from Waves at the launch was a clear one: because most records are mixed on laptops in home setups, this has been developed with the Abbey Road team as a tool to help Generation Z and beyond make their mixes sound as good as possible. There were one or two doubters in the room suggesting that unless you're using top-end headphones, you won't get the desired results – but for me, that's missing the point: this is a unique experience, using what is essentially a VR audio engine; and if you know your headphones, it's all relative. You will notice the nuances, and you will get value.
And to reiterate, Waves and Abbey Road aren't suggesting that this is how everyone should mix a record from start to finish, they're simply offering a fantastic tool to help people that perhaps can't afford to hire a studio and engineer for a day or more to fine tune their tracks, and provide a high-end listening environment that they can trust. I know engineers and producers that have finalised tracks on headphones on planes, trains, and automobiles – this is just making that process way easier, and more fun. So the young generation is not the only market for this - but it's certainly an obvious one.
I'm already familiar with the Nx Headtracker and the Nx software – the tracker clips on top of any set of heapdphones, and the software then takes over, and in no time at all, you're experiencing something pretty immersive. But this plugin takes it to a whole other level. As you travel 360 around Abbey Road's Studio 3 control room, it's an entirely unique experience.
We were invited to A/B the plugin with the actual Studio 3 control room (how cool is that, by the way?), as two tracks played on repeat, one being one of my favourite Fleetwood Mac numbers, which was a nice surprise. I was taken aback by it before I went into the control room to compare, but when I did go in, the mad similarities in the two listening experiences really hit home. Game-changer sounds cliché, but I'm struggling to find another term.
We're going to put this cool plugin to the test with a couple of artist projects, using several pairs of different headphones over the coming weeks, and go deep into the functionality in a video review – then we'll really be able to give you some detailed feedback. But on first impressions alone? Extremely impressive.