Skip to content

reFuse Lowender vs. Waves Lo-air

Two subharmonic synthesizer plugins, from two different companies, with diverse parameters, but both due to one aim, to create real powerful bass. This type of processing is very ubiquitous in post production, because if it’s used subtly, it can create real sense of power, or earth trembling explosions, huge ground shaking monster steps.

Both plugins are cheap, so the real question is: which is the better one? One more note before the introduction of today’s “guests”. Don’t confuse them with some other type of processing e.g. what Maxbass does, it’s entirely different. While Maxbass creates frequencies higher than the original, it can make the bass more audible on little speakers, or create the feel of a more powerful bass line, Lowender and Lo-Air are creating new frequencies under the original content, hence the name subharmonic synthesizer. They are the same only in one trait i.e. if there is absolutely no low frequency information exist in the source material, neither of these plugins will work.

Lowender

ReFuse software’s subharmonic monster uses a little more parameter than one would expect for this task, but fortunately everything is there with a reason. At the time of writing this post it’s 69$ so it’s a really affordable piece. It’s available in VST, RTAS, Audio Suite, Audio Unit, and as the website declares, AAX native format will be supported later on, but AAX DSP is unlikely.

The controls are logically organized, they make sense even without reading the manual. The plugin is very cpu efficient, it won’t cause any trouble if you use many of it in an FX session.

While it’s very easy to use and actually works great in most of the situations, during my test I felt that it’s somewhat hard to use it subtly. You have to be vigilant, or this little “sub-monster” will overwhelm your effects or mix instantly. The bass gate function is very nice addition, while in my opinion the range parameter (classic, guitar, bass) is a little ambiguous, you have to experiment with it to find the right one for each task. Maybe it’s just me, but in many occasions, the best setting didn’t really made sense. It’s not a big deal, just maybe it is harder to connect e.g. an explosion with the guitar setting, or a horse with the classic.

The bass output section which comprise the drive and the low pass settings are very useful, a really nice touch.

Pros:

  • cheap
  • good sound
  • diverse parameters

Cons:

  • some parameters are ambiguous
  • little hard to use it subtly

Lo-Air

Well, I won’t introduce the company as we all know them for eons already. I must confess, I’m in a love-hate relationship with Waves. They have many plugins that I love, and many which… is not really for me…

The Lo-Air is very affordable too, as at the time of this post is only 49$ in native format and 75$ in TDM format. The interface is easy, with fewer parameters than Lowender. In surround mode, we have a few more options which is useful. But what about the sound?

Well, it’s very good. Though it has less buttons to adjust, the sonics don’t suffer. It’s able to create very powerful rumble in a second. Also it can be subtle if needed. The align button synchronizes the direct signal with the generated one, which sometimes a very good thing. What is really obvious is that it’s an easy-to-use plugin.

Though it does the very same thing as Lowender, in my experience, it’s somewhat more easy to fine-tune the subtleties. And not because of the lack of esoteric parameters. In my tests Lo-Air required less tweaking to get the results.

Pros:

  • great sound
  • easy to use
  • additional surround options

Cons:

  • maybe WUP?

Conclusion

Don’t hit me, but it’s really up to you. Both are very good plugins, and sonically they are perfect for a wide variety of jobs. However, I felt that Lo-Air is more easy to adjust if you’re like me, who loves real subtle things. This – obviously – does not mean that Lowender isn’t capable of such subtleties, but it might require more attention and time. One more plus is Lo-Air has better metering as well as nice additions in surround mode. All in all I feel that this time, Lo-Air is a little better option.

a little example, which is not really subtle…: