What is the noise feature in Plugins doing to your mixes?

I am a huge fan of using aural exciters and tape emulations to add color to a mix. I think it can really give a mix character and depth as well as to help to glue together the elements of a mix. Things like the Aphex Aural Exciter or J37 (both produced by Waves) allow you to achieve this with an extreme amount of control over how much and what kind of noise is added, and I think this sort of control is extremely important. Otherwise these added harmonics can really bog down an otherwise great mix.

The Analog feature found on a lot of Waves plug ins seems like a really odd feature to me, the feature is meant to model the frequency of power lines in both North America and Europe, 60Hz in North America and 50Hz in Europe but it affords you no control over how much and what kind of noise it adds. You can turn it on or off and select between 50Hz and 60Hz, this is all well and good but without the ability to control how much of it is added this effect can get out of hand really quickly. Just a handful of plugins with this feature enabled can create a significant noise floor across the whole of the frequency spectrum. In the video you see a spectrum analyzer with large bumps in both the low and high end of the spectrum and that’s just with five compressors active. This added noise floor can really crowd an otherwise clean mix and this is a feature that I tend to avoid.

If Adding additional character and depth to your mix is the goal i would not recommend using this analog feature, there are plenty of great plugins that emulate tape and hardware in a way that afford you much finer control over not only the color of noise but how much is added and these will serve you far better than the simple on off interface of the Analog feature. Now i’m not saying you shouldn’t use it, if you like the way it sounds and can utilize it in an effective way, then go for it. Explore and experiment and form your own opinions, but for me it’s not a feature I find useful.