Not bad but not all that
I'm no engineering genius. I'm exactly the target audience for these Signature Collections from Waves. I know just enough about recording and mixing to be dangerous, so I'm always looking for a quick, simple way to get my tracks sounding professional, as my lack of real knowledge or training often means I spend hours on a single instrument track only to end up sounding worse than the raw signal.
Well, shame on me for thinking there exists a panacea plug-in that would instantly make my individual tracks sparkle and sound like the pros. The ad copy for this JJP suite from Waves almost had me convinced: drag and drop one on your guitar track, one on your bass, one on your kick and another on your snare, a last one on your vocals, and voila, your mix sounds like Green Day.
Sadly, it hasnít worked out like that. Of course, there are so many variables in how an instrument or voice was recorded that a preset plug-in has only a small percentage chance of making it sound better instead of worse, and these JJP plug-ins are no different than any other in that respect. Waves tried to manage that by including quite a number of drop-down preset options from which to choose, categorized by things like (bass) DI, Amp and Synth, (vocals) Male 1, Male 2, Female, or (guitar) Clean, Amp/Blues, Chug, etc., which should increase the likelihood of your raw track sounding the way the plug-in expects so that it can work its particular magic starting from the right baseline. However, in spite of those categories, I have found the JJP plug-ins to be no more magical or accurate than any other VST effect, including those that came free with my DAW.
So, tweaking is still required, and the next thing Waves tried to do with JJP is simplify the tweaking by including simple faders with promising names like "Warm" and "Edge" and (literally) "Magic." Still, I find tweaking the JJP to be no more simple nor rewarding than tweaking a more traditional faux rack gear interface. In the end, Iím back to running through all the presets looking for one that sounds better than the raw track, and playing randomly with faders when I canít find a preset that fits the bill. And the truth is, I dislike most of the presets on pretty much all of the different instrument plug-ins. Some in the guitar plug-in, for example, make my track sound so horrible I canít imagine what kind of raw sound they were designed for. I have found one bass preset and one vocal preset that I now live by Ė I use them on almost every song. Not so with the kick, snare, overheads, keys, guitarsÖ so Iím not sure it was worth $300 to find a good sounding preset for bass and vocals, and I guess I need to spend more time ďunder the hoodĒ of the other effects to find a similar setup for my other tracks in order for this to seem like a deal. But the nagging thought that keeps me from rating this higher than three stars is that I could have just as easily tweaked the free plug-ins from my DAW if thatís what itís down to.
So, to summarize, I think these JJP plug-ins are probably no better or worse than most other VST effects these days that have preset bundles meant to combine effects to sweeten a particular type of track or a master channel; so if you already have a fair collection, you might not need to spend the money on this. If you donít have many already, you might as well get these. Note: these are 32-bit plug-ins, so to use them with a 64-bit DAW, you will need a bridge (J-bridge worked fine to get it running with Studio One Pro).