Waves Audio is one of the most relevant plugin manufacturers in the industry. Their plugins are pretty much a standard for audio engineers and artists all over the globe. Yet, they actively keep improving their techniques and technology to develop tools that can solve any engineer’s everyday problem.
This list gathers what we consider the best of the best from this strong manufacturer and includes different types of plugins, which showcases the company’s versatility. We’ll explore some of their older and latest plugins, going from metering plugins, samplers, analog emulations, vocoders, synthesizers, and more, so let’s dive into it without further ado.
20 Best Waves Plugins 2022 For Mixing, Mastering & Producing, Metering & Audio Restoration
1. CR8 Creative Sampler (Modern Sampler)
This sampler makes the sound design look easy.
The CR8 Creative sampler lets you add any sound, modify it to taste, and turn it into a fast and easy MIDI instrument. It gives you several parameters that you can use to shape the sound of your sample, modify the envelope, and even gives you editing tools.
This plugin is a gigantic sampler that portends to transform any sound into a fully functional and playable instrument, layer several samples into the same instrument, and mix them within the one instance of the plugin.
- Root Button
You can rapidly set up your sample across the entire keyboard by clicking on the “root” button, which will automatically set the root key of your sample so that it’s in tune.
- Filters and modulation
CR8 lets you add up to four modulation filters, like low-frequency oscillators (LFO), or sequencers, to any parameter and modify its rate, phase, smooth, and warp.
- Sample several layers
It allows you to layer several different sounds together, which you can process individually as separate instruments to create unique layered textures that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
- Different algorithms
You get up to five algorithms specified according to the type of signal of your input, being melodic, beats, harmonic, voices, and classic. Each algorithm has a particular set of controls explicitly made to treat the specific source as intuitively as possible.
After working on your instrument’s different layers, you can mix all of them by clicking the mixer icon to be able to adjust their tune, pan, width, and volume making an ideal blend where your samples work perfectly together. After mixing them, you can save your work as a preset and load it later.
The CR8 Creative Sampler is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
The CR8 Creative Sampler is a potent tool that will change how you think about music production and sound design. With this plugin, you can create a unique soundscape with intricate instrument synthesis and several layers in just a couple of minutes, making your job ridiculously easier with its piece-of-cake workflow and layout.
2. Clarity Vx Pro (Advanced Noise Reduction)
With this noise reduction plugin, you can get rid of the most complicated noises with the least amount of artifacts.
Clarity VX Pro is Waves Audio’s latest and most advanced noise reduction plugin that automatically cleans up vocals with the best quality and the least artifacts. This plugin uses neural networks to attenuate background noise and keep your primary signal intact.
Clarity VX Pro includes a smaller version, Clarity VX, which is more automatic and lighter on your CPU usage. This plugin is very adaptable to different situations and noises and can achieve extreme amounts of reduction seamlessly.
- Multiband noise reduction
Clarity VX Pro separates the spectrum into four frequency bands. You can adjust the amount of reduction and focus to apply with the plugin and reduce artifacts, allowing higher quality results.
- Neural Networks
You can choose one of the three neural network options to produce better results for different types of noise. These neural networks are the backbone of how this plugin works, as they behave in an intelligent way and can perform multiple noise reduction tasks at once in real-time.
- Ambiance keeping
You can set this plugin to remove background noise or preserve it and remove the voice, which is helpful if you need a specific ambient noise and people are talking in a language that doesn’t work with your scene.
- Fast results
Since this plugin works with an intelligent noise reduction algorithm, you can reduce a significant amount of RX time by trying to reduce background noise to just a couple of seconds, setting up Clarity’s parameters with even fewer artifacts.
- Clarity VX
Clarity VX Pro includes a smaller CPU-friendly version with limited controls, but it’s still able to produce results almost as good as the larger version. This addition lets you apply advanced noise reduction processing to your dialogs and get good results on the fly.
Clarity VX Pro is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats
Clarity VX Pro is an excellent tool for podcasters, film editors, and video editors. These are fast-paced environments where you’d likely need to clean up recordings on a regular basis.
Noise reduction is often a common need, and more often than not, it can be pretty hard to achieve if you don’t have the experience. This plugin solves that problem and quickly gives good results by playing around with the settings.
3. SSL EV2 Channel (Channel Strip)
This plugin is a recreation of Wave’s SSL GChannel but with the latest modeling technology and new features.
The SSL EV2 Channel emulates the sound and channel strip of the SSL4000, a classic studio mixing console from the ‘70s. This plugin is a notorious improvement of the earlier SSL GChannel, released in the early 2010s, and had limited modeling of this famous console.
This plugin portends to be an all-in-one channel strip solution for mixing situations. It includes several signal path possibilities, a preamp, two console EQ emulations, stereo enhancing capabilities, etc. Let’s see more about that in our key features section.
- Four-in-one solution
In this version of the SSL 4000, you get all you need to make your tracks sound great, as it includes a mic/line preamp, the standard compressor, expander, filters, two EQ types, and stereo enhancing features.
- Modern and analog distortion
At the top, there’s a button labeled “Analog,” which you can turn on and off to change the color of your preamp saturation. When turned on, you’ll get the harmonic distortion from the original console, and when off, you get a modern type of distortion.
- EQ types
At the very top of the EQ section, two switches give you two choices for the sound and reaction of the EQ. The brown one mimics the sound and reaction of the older SSL4000 consoles and is better for drums and bass. The black one sounds cleaner and is better for vocals and guitars.
The SSL EV2 includes many presets made by Grammy-award-winning producers and engineers to get you quickly set up and make it easier to see what this plugin can do. We advise you to use these presets as a start point and take it from there.
- Signal paths
On this rebooted version of the SSL channel strip, you get several routing possibilities:
– Default: The signal goes to the dynamics first, then the filters, then the EQ last.
– Split on: In this mode, the filters are placed first, and then the signal passes through the dynamics and EQ.
– Channel out on: Here, you get the filters, the EQ, and the compressor at the end.
– Dynamic Sidechain: Turns the EQ into an internal equalizer for the compressor.
SSL EV2 Channel is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
The SSL EV2 does a terrific job of recreating the sound of the SSL4000. It’s also effortless to go through, remarkably malleable, and works great on anything you’d like to use it on.
It’s practical to use, and you can find ideal settings in the least amount of time by only moving some knobs here and there. On the other hand, it’s a particularly heavy plugin, so it requires a lot of effort from your CPU on the downside.
4. Abbey Road Saturator (Analog Saturation/Distortion)
The Abbey Road Saturator plugin is a saturator with a crossover that models tube and solid state distortion.
Waves made this plugin by recreating Abbey Road’s saturation chain. With the AR Saturator, you have control over its tone, distortion type, and behavior, being able to split the frequency spectrum and determine what frequencies you want to distort.
The Abbey Road Saturator is a solution to dull instruments and vocals, and its tonal flexibility lets you get even better results in a blink of an eye. Regardless of what you use it on, AR Saturator can take you to the correct settings in less than a minute with its simple graphic interface and layout, making it self-explaining and intuitive.
- Mid/side-focused processing
You can set how the Abbey Road Saturator will process the signal to stereo, mid, or sides. Then, choose whether to affect the signal entirely or whether to distort only the middle or sides exclusively and balance the amount.
- Compander section
This section incorporates a crossover, on which you can set the specific frequencies on which you want to add more harmonic distortion, the amount of saturation, flip the phase and blend in separately from the distortion itself.
- Saturation section
This section lets you set and blend saturation modeled after the TG12345 and the EMI REDD 17 consoles from Abbey Road Studios. In addition, this section includes an individual mix control just as in the previous stage.
- Tonal control
You get a pre-EQ and a Post-EQ to balance the input and output tonality of the signal. Both are three-band semi-parametric equalizers with two shelving filters (high and low) and a mid-frequency bell filter with variable frequency and bandwidth.
The Abbey Road saturator lets you activate or deactivate each section, which allows tremendous tonal possibilities that you can achieve by combining all or some of the specific aspects of this plugin.
Abbey Road Saturator is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
Abbey Road Saturator is simple, powerful, versatile, and especially practical because of its crossover and tonal controls. It delivers great quality and can bring to life almost anything that might come your way. It’s not as heavy as other Abbey Road plugins, which allows anyone to use it regardless of your computer specs.
5. Abbey Road RS124 Compressor (Vintage Tube Compressor Emulation)
This compressor can make your tracks sound better by just loading it.
The RS124 is a classic custom-made compressor from Abbey Road Studios that was created when they were modifying the components of the Altec 436B as an attempt to replicate the American sound. This plugin is meant for use on individual tracks in a mix but sounds pretty good on full mixes.
It’s also super simple and makes an excellent solution to bring excitement to any track or bus.
- Sidechain high-pass filter
You can add a sidechain HPF to keep your lower frequencies from being compressed. You can set the filter up to 200 Hz so that the compressor hits the mid and high frequencies and get a cleaner and rounder low-end.
- Super fuse switch
When turned on, the super fuse automatically matches the attack and release times and adds some subtle distortion, making the sound more aggressive and up-front. Use this option on guitars, 808 bass, or pop/rock vocals.
You can improve the sustain of your signal with the auto-hold feature, which makes the attack and release times slower, causing the audio to last longer at a consistent level.
- Cutter and studio modes
Each mode alters the prefixed attack time for the compressor. For example, you get a slower attack time with studio mode, which gives you a more aggressive sound and more notorious harmonic excitement. When switched to cutter mode, the attack time becomes faster, and the compression slightly more subtle.
- It just sounds good
You’ll be able to notice an instant improvement in the sound as soon as you open one instance of the plugin. This is because its default settings are, in most cases, ideal, already limiting your time tweaking it to get a better sound to just asking yourself whether you like what it does to the signal or not.
Abbey Road RS124 Compressor is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
The Abbey Road RS124 Compressor honors an impeccable classic by carefully recreating the reaction of the original unit. It doesn’t really need you to do anything, as it sounds noticeably better on its default configuration.
This is not the kind of compressor to use for subtleties, although it can be pretty subtle on its own, it’s better to use it for its color and particular sound to get the best out of it.
6. CLA Epic (Reverb/Delay)
The name of this plugin comes from the legendary engineer Chris Lord-Alge (U2, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Cocker).
We all know who he is and how his spacious mixes sound. The CLA plugin aims to capture the spacious feel by emulating the reverbs and delays the mix engineer uses, based on his favorite studio gear.
The result is a plugin with Chris Lord-Alge’s go-to delay and reverb settings, which he uses in various combinations in each of his mixes.
Likewise, you can combine all the available four delays and reverbs in one instance of this plugin to get the renowned sound of the mix engineer. Let’s have a closer look at the plugin’s various features to get more familiar with it.
- Four Delay Types
The plugin has four delays, each with its unique style: Tape, Throw, Slap, and Crowd delay. The Tape delay is a rich and warm effect, which emulates the signature sound of tape machines. Next, the Throw delay is like the Tape delay, but you get to trigger the delay manually. The Slap delay is used for getting one short feedback similar to what you get in alleyways. And finally, the Crowd delay generates increasingly longer delays to create a pleasing effect.
- Four Reverb Types
The reverb effects in this plugin use emulations and distinctive EQ curves to create different sounds. The four types include Plate, Room, Hall, and Space. The first three are the traditional types, whereas the Space type sounds like digital reverb and has a Depth control, which lets you trim the reverb before its defined length. You could use this feature to make gated reverb sounds for snare, for example.
Each effect in the plugin has a Modulation parameter, which adds movement to the plugin’s output. A small amount of modulation in both reverb and delay creates space. However, a larger amount creates strange pitch shifts and disorienting effects.
The faders at the bottom of the interface let you control the amount of each type of delay and reverb in your track. Similarly, you can also send the output of each delay to a specific reverb, which then goes out to the output. This routing is called serial routing. However, by clicking on OUT in the routing section of the delay modules, you can create parallel routing as well. Next to the OUT button, the small value box controls how much of the delay is being sent to the main output and the rest to the reverb selected above.
CLA Epic is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
If you are a fan of classic rock and roll sounds with epic spaces, you will love what this plugin has to offer. This plugin is described as a “super-suite” of reverbs and delays designed with Chris Lord-Alge, and we must agree.
It features four kinds of reverbs and delays, each with its own set of controls, blend, and route mode.
7. Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain (Mastering Chain Emulation)
This plugin is an emulation of a well-known console employed in every Abbey Road Studios’ mastering process from the early 70s and even today.
The name TG Mastering Chain comes from the EMI TG12410 Transfer Console it emulates. You can use it in any stage of music production to give it the console’s transistor-based sound. There are five stages in the plugin the audio passes through. Let’s talk about them in brief.
The screenshot below shows the five modules: an input module, a tone control, a limiter, a filter, and an output module. The tone module is a four-band EQ with five pre-selected frequencies and filter shapes. Similarly, the limiter has three options for its dynamic processing, ranging from soft compression to hard limiting.
Furthermore, like all Waves products, it comes in four components: mono/stereo live and non-live. The live components are latency-free, whereas the non-live components have linear-phase and oversampling.
The modules in the plugin can be placed in any order you like. However, if you are using it for mastering, we suggest keeping the limiter module at the end of the signal chain. Similarly, you can enable or disable each module, which can help save CPU usage over time. For example, in many cases, the input module may be of little use.
- Mastering Grade Filters
The filter module has a high-pass, low-pass, and broad peak filter. The cut-off/pass filters have a fixed slope of 48 dB per octave. In addition, if you are using the non-live components, the filters will process in linear phase mode to create little to no artifact on your audio. In general, you should stick with the non-live components.
- Stereo Processing
Above every module are three switches labeled ST, DUO, and MS. As you might have guessed, ST is stereo, DUO is dual mono, and MS is mid/side mode. So, for instance, from a single instance of the plugin, you can EQ the mid and side signal individually, filter each stereo channel separately, and use stereo mode for limiting.
- Analog Elements
Each module in the plugin focuses on retaining the characters of the original EMI hardware. For example, the limiter module has three compressor/limiter types: Original, Modern, and Limit. The Original is an emulation of the unit’s Zener diode-based limiter, whereas the Modern is a more transparent processor designed by Waves and Abbey Road. Similarly, the Limit type is based on the original hardware but has a much harder knee.
Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
This plugin serves as an all-in-one mastering bundle for people who enjoy working with hardware units. The sound is distinct and familiar to anyone who’s listened to albums like the renowned Dark Side of the Moon. The plugin also comes with a separate metering plugin, which “communicates” with the main plugin on any track, displaying in/out peaks and gain reduction.
8. Nx Germano Studios New York (Virtual Mixing Room)
With this plugin, you’ll have a high-level studio monitoring room inside of your headphones.
NX Germano Studios New York is a solution for the stereo field perception issue that arises when mixing with headphones.
The thing is that when you work with headphones, because the source is so close to your ears, it affects your perception of the stereo field, and that’s why most headphone mixes don’t have the depth and dimension that monitor mixes have.
Because of this big problem with our perception, Waves recreated a room from the so-called “hit factory” to improve your monitoring and make better decisions when mixing and mastering. Let’s see how it solves this problem.
- Three sets of monitors
With NX Germano Studios, you get three separate sets of monitors to reference from: the GA2, which is more mid-range-focused, the NS-10m, which is also mid-range but crispier and lighter in the bottom end; and finally, the Energy, which has a higher low-end definition.
- Headphone EQ
Like other studio room emulators, you get some EQ presets modeled after the most commonly used professional mixing headphones, including various models and brands, such as the Audio Technica ATH-M50x and the AKG K-702, and the Sennheiser HD 280.
- Manual head modeling
The plugin allows you to enter the exact size of your head’s circumference or the distance between your ears to give you an exact emulation of your particular perception if you were in the studio. It can also do this automatically with Wave’s head tracker software through your webcam.
- Head tracking
This plugin can track your head movement in real-time and lets you perform a 360° rotation, which gives you a realistic perception of the dimensions within your mix as if you were in a high-class studio room.
- Ambiance control
As you’re able to rotate yourself around the speakers, you can also manipulate the perception of distance from the monitors with the ambiance control, which emulates the room’s acoustics and mimics its natural reverb.
NX Germano Studios New York is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
NX Germano Studios New York does a great job emulating an ideally treated mixing room and giving you a solid perception of what you’re hearing.
As a result, this is an excellent plugin for mixing and mastering your tracks. It has three sets of monitors and a headphone EQ.
On the downside, this plugin is not for you if you have a low-end computer because it’s cumbersome on your CPU.
9. Waves Tune Real-Time (Smart Auto-Tune)
Mentioning auto-tune brings robotic voices and T-pain style vocals to mind, but Tune Real-Time aims to sound neutral and natural, provided you dial in the proper settings.
The first step in this plugin is to select the right scale notes using the global settings at the bottom of the interface or using the buttons above the keyboard. Next, choose the range of your voice, which helps the software hear your voice better.
Finally, make adjustments to the upper section of the interface by selecting how fast or aggressively you want the correction to happen and so on.
- Formant Correction
Formants are the resonant frequencies defining the timbre and phonetic/vowel quality of a voice. Naturally, when a voice changes the pitch, the formants do as well. In this plugin, you can choose to activate or deactivate formant correction. Keep it activated for a natural sound, but if you are after a robotic or quantized effect, consider disabling it.
- Correction Customization
The button above each note lets you select which notes are legal or not. In addition, it also enables you to define what happens if an illegal note is sung. You can let the plugin shift it to the nearest legal note or force it to always shift it to a note above or below the illegal note. For example, if your singer tends to sing a high G instead of a G#, switch the corrector to a right-facing arrow (→) on the G note.
- Natural Vibrato
Enabling Vibrato makes sure the natural vibrato is left untouched, whereas turning it off will flatten out any natural vibrato. You can also control whether the natural vibrato is preserved, diminished, or emphasized using the Vibrato Depth parameter.
This plugin is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
Tune Real-Time is an autotune plugin that aims to keep the voice sounding natural using pitch glide and intelligent vibrato handling.
Of course, it will not make your singer reach the prowess of Frank Sinatra, with flawless vibrato and ultimate control, but Tune Real-Time will keep the voice in pitch and perfectly usable.
10. Waves Ovox (Voice-Controlled Synth)
Ovox is Waves’ voice processor and synth engine, capable of reproducing esteemed classics and intricate modern sounds.
As with traditional vocoders, Ovox uses a modulator signal to modulate another sound. In this case, the modulator is, of course, a human voice. However, it doesn’t stop there – Ovox uses multiple engines, built-in synths, pitch correction, doubling, auto harmonization, and even chord building to open a whole new world of vocal processing.
In addition, Ovox has many tone controls and filters to create highly effective results. For instance, mixing sibilance along with the carrier output results in a much more natural-sounding effect. And finally, you can further shape your sound by adding effects and modulators at the bottom of the interface.
- An Instrument
Ovox can generate midi by detecting live input, so you could use it to control another virtual instrument with your voice. Similarly, it features dual engines and eight built-in synth sounds to make unique effects on its own. So, this plugin is as much an instrument as it is a voice processing effect.
- Auto Note Mapping
A Note Mapper section lets you map a single sung note to multiple notes. For example, you could map the C note to play the root, E, and G note to make a C major triad chord, while an A note would also trigger C and E to form an A minor. You could continue building on this, or use presets to make automated harmonization based on your song’s scale.
The plugin has four types of modulators: four LFO or Sequencers, two Envelopes, and three Organic Modulators. The first three are relatively self-explanatory, so we’ll focus on the last type. The three organic modulators include Amplitude Modulation, Pitch Tracking, and Formant Tracking. The first AM modulator lets you control parameters using the volume of your voice signal. Similarly, you could use the pitch and formant trackers creatively to make complex filter effects.
Ovox has seven built-in effects: AutoPan, Chorus, Compressor, Delay, Distortion, and Reverb. They are built to be simplistic and offer only two controls other than a mix knob. You can insert up to five effects in an instance of the plugin in any order. There are also several “flavors” in each effect like hall, plate, room, etc., variety for the reverb.
This plugin is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
Ovox is a multi-processor and instrument for voice. It features several modulators, effects, dual engines, and midi out, making it an immensely versatile tool.
From creating Daft Punk-inspired vocals to controlling a virtual instrument using your voice, just about anything is possible in this plugin.
11. Retro Fi (Lo-Fi Workstation)
This plugin is a wonderful sound design tool that makes anything sound lo-fi.
Retro Fi brings to the table a complete recollection of analog sounds, noises, distortions, and effects. This plugin presents itself as the ultimate analog device with over 60 different noises and textures, over 200 artist presets, an era-specific styler, and a perfectly easy-to-follow signal chain, making for an impressive creative tool to achieve this type of sound.
- Device Section
Here you can change the curves for the distortion behavior. Retro Fi lets you alter any aspect of the tonal processing, including the vibe of a specific decade, the amount of compression, harmonic saturation, and mix.
- Space section
In this section, you get two reverb types and a ping pong delay. Both dimensional effects have straightforward controls and are fully customizable and synchronizable to your session’s tempo.
- Noise section
You can add several different types of noise to your tracks, including cassettes, vinyl, and electrical noises, and blend them into your mix to give it a unique tonality and character. Then, customize each aspect of these noises and blend them with ducking or gating for smoother results.
You get High-pass and Low-pass filters with a broad frequency range. For example, the HP filter goes from 30 Hz to 1.5 kHz. The LPF, on the other hand, starts at 20 kHz and goes back to 1500 Hz.
- Good looking and easy
Retro Fi’s graphic interface is straightforward to use and follow. It guides you from the beginning letting you know what each control sounds like with very descriptive labels, not to mention it looks pretty cool.
This plugin is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
There’s no wrong way to go with Retro Fi. It’s super simple to use, it keeps everything at hand, and the separate mix controls help keep things under control.
The styler captures the sound of these eras that you can choose, and it adapts the color of your processing to each of them.
One outstanding feature of this plugin is its smart noise generator because it adapts itself to the signal instead of sounding like a loop.
12. J37 Tape (Tape Emulation/Saturation)
This is a tape machine emulation that sounds amazing on full mixes.
The J37 portends to be a precise model of the original piece of gear into which several legendary albums were recorded and printed. With this tape saturator, you’ll be able to color your mixes, tracks, or groups with tape saturation and add exciting and distinctive delay effects.
This is one of the many tape machine plugins out there. If you want to know more about tape machine plugins, how to use them, and what’s available, click here to see the list.
- Tape types
This plugin has three different tape models, or formulas, with different distortion styles reminiscent of the ‘60s and ‘70s. These tape formulas were modeled after three classic tape types used on many famous records from Abbey Road Studios.
- Delay section
You get a fully adjustable tape delay with three behavior algorithms and two alternative modes. You can set it as a slapback, feedback, or ping pong delay, use it on your tracks as an insert or send, sync with the session tempo, and filter. Then, combine it with the wow and flutter to create intriguing delay effects.
- Modeled tracks
J37 Tape lets you choose which channel of the tape recorder you want to emulate. For example, track 2 is for the left channel, 3 is for the right, and 2+3 is analog stereo.
- Wow and Flutter
You can set the rate and depth of both wow and flutter effects, which are small pitch (wow) and amplitude (flutter) variations that occurred with tape machines. This can help you create excitement on a track by adding a subtle bounce effect or some fascinating character with a subtle flange.
J37 Tape Saturator is terrific to add warmth and color to your tracks and mixes. Differently from other tape saturation models and even from Waves’ catalog, this is also an incredible plugin to get creative and achieve interesting and unique textures.
13. WLM Plus Loudness Meter (Versatile Metering Tool)
WLM Plus solves the problem of measuring and adapting loudness levels for different platforms.
WLM Plus is an all-in-one solution for measuring, metering, and correcting loudness for all different platforms. It has a level warning feature, extended short-term, long-term, and peak readings, and is fully compliant with all EBU, ITU, and ATSC specs.
Waves developed this plugin to make it easier for content creators and post-production houses to match the specifications for final audio deliverables in films, TV, games, and broadcast quickly, efficiently, and accurately.
- True peak limiter
WLM Plus adds a true peak limiter which threshold is automatically set depending on the standard and target while you’re working on to prevent momentary peaks from clipping your mix.
- Automation warning
This plugin can show you automation when the short-term loudness is running below or above the minimum or maximum values. This is helpful because you get an exact time reference of when it occurs so that you can easily reach and correct it.
- Unders/overs display
With this metering plugin, you can also monitor how often the short-term loudness goes below or above the specified minimum and maximum values from inside the plugin without any automation. This is the better option if you have a slow computer.
- Smart trim
WLM has a trim function that suggests you an amount of gain reduction needed to trim to meet the standard you’re working on based on the loudness analysis performed by the plugin, the standard, and preferred parameters. If you click on the trim button, it’ll automatically trim your mix to its suggestion.
- Up to the standards
The WLM Plus meter is fully compliant with the current ITU, EBU, and ATSC standards for broadcast, games, films, and movie trailers and gives you precise and comprehensive monitoring of each parameter within these standards.
WLM Plus is an excellent solution to loudness metering because it’s convenient, easy to use, and has a bunch of presets to help you get started.
In addition, its True Peak limiter is crystal-clean, which is a fantastic feature of this plugin since it’s entirely transparent and doesn’t over-compress your signal or alter the sound of your mix.
14. F6 Dynamic EQ (Dynamic Equalizer)
Surgically control annoying resonance or tame thunderous bass with a single instance of this versatile plugin.
EQ in mixing is rather obvious and traditional, but manipulating audio with the frequency content changing dynamically (like a drum stem or a vocal recording) can be a puzzle. A clever 7 kHz cut to eliminate voice sibilance may work in one specific word, but the rest of the vocals end up dull unless you tediously automate the gain manually.
That’s when a dynamic EQ comes in. F6 by Waves is designed to be as intuitive as modern EQs can go. You can use the graphical view to position your frequency band and adjust the threshold and range to control (or compress) the frequency.
As with any parametric EQ, you can also define how precise or broad the shape of your filter is. Furthermore, the frequency spectrum in the background is handy for identifying problematic areas.
- Six Bands
The EQ has six bands, each capable of being a low-shelf, peak, and high-shelf filter. You can modify the dynamic parameters to either compress (negative range) or expand (positive range) only when the frequency level crosses the defined threshold.
Other than the bands, there are two filters in the plugin: a high-pass and a low-pass. As with the bands, you can enable or disable each filter as you need. The high-pass filter can be set from 16 Hz to 1 kHz, whereas the low-pass can be set from 1 kHz to 20 kHz. The slope of both the filters ranges from 6 to 24 dB per octave.
- Stereo Processing
Each band in the plugin can work in stereo, mid, and side mode. This feature’s most common use case is for reducing low frequencies on the side signal to avoid negative correlation or phasing issues. However, you can also use it during mastering. Sometimes, when you only have a full mix to work with, and you still need to do basic things like reducing the level of the vocals, a dynamic EQ set to lower the middle frequencies in the mid signal can be a perfect tool.
- External Sidechain
You can also feed each band of F6 external side-chain audio. In addition, it features Split and Wide modes. The first mode will use the filtered external side-chain input as the signal for compression, whereas the Wide mode will use the entire spectrum of the external input. Everyday use for this feature is to reduce the subsonic frequencies on bass when the kick hits.
Instead of treating a frequency one time and leaving it there for the entire track, dynamic EQs only engage when a certain threshold is reached. Waves F6 is a fabulous instance of such a plugin capable of performing even the most precise manipulation.
Combine that with its modern interface with a frequency spectrum, and you have a winner.
15. Waves Brauer Motion (Full-Featured Auto Panner)
Designed with mix engineer Michael Brauer, this plugin adds depth and movement to your mix.
Brauer Motion is an auto-panner that moves an audio signal in 2D and 3D space using several complex processors under the hood.
It comes with two panners in the stereo component (one panner in the mono component). You can control various settings per panner to give your sound unique movement styles, including rhythmic, swirly, and step patterns.
- Trigger Mechanisms
There are six modes of how the auto-panner behaves after being triggered:
- Off mode doesn’t use any trigger mechanism. It moves the signal continuously.
- Simple mode uses a threshold to start the panner and doesn’t stop until you stop it using the stop button.
- One Shot mode also uses a threshold to start the panner, but it stops by itself once the path is completed. If the threshold is still breached, it makes repeats the cycle until the threshold is not exceeded.
- Re-trigger mode uses the threshold to start and stop, which can be used for rhythmic effects.
- S-Trig Reverse mode starts movement when the threshold is passed and reverses back to the start point when the audio isn’t over the threshold.
- A to B mode positions the audio at the A position first, and when the threshold is breached, the signal jump to B. This process goes back and forth.
- Ultimate Movements
For even more complex results, you can use the mechanisms listed above with an external side-chain input as well. You can also sync the panning to your tempo, let it run free, or even pan the audio in a stationary position. Furthermore, you can select the shape in which the signal moves, including sine, triangle, sawtooth, and square shapes.
- Motion Filter
This filter applies a high-shelf to the moving signal based on the values you input. It lets you choose the frequency and gain value for the center/close and sides/far positions. Using this feature, you can make the auto-pan movement sound much more evident and emphasized.
- Dynamics Controls
Brauer Motion also features a compressor/dirty limiter to which you can assign the wet, dry or mixed signals. This feature works excellently for creating a saturated analog sound. Its Drive parameter increases the input while simultaneously decreasing the output, so you will not hear any volume changes. And the Ratio parameter is used to transition between the compressor and the limiter smoothly.
Whether you are producing a larger-than-life track with ultra-realistic stereo movements or creating a beat for your client, Brauer Motion can help you stand out from the mass.
It makes incredible stereo motion and positioning highly accessible, along with multiple complex modulations, filtration, and so on.
16. Waves Aural Exciter (Vintage Exciter Emulation)
Based on the first design by Aphex, this exciter helps bring some of the original vintage sounds to your mix.
Aphex Aural Exciter adds sheen and clarity to audio by adding controlled distortion to the high-frequency content. Similarly, it also adds the original hardware character thanks to the emulated tube-based signal chain.
It’s generally a good idea to add a smaller amount of excitement on multiple tracks so the high-frequency content can add up without sounding exhausting.
The interface of this plugin features the standard parameters you’d expect from an exciter, but Waves also provides a Mode knob, which controls how the signal chain flows in a virtual console. If you wish to learn more about this plugin or find more exciters, have a look at this list.
- Authentic Sound
The most significant advantage this plugin has is the detailed work in capturing the Aphex sound. Waves have emulated each stage of the plugin in various configurations to ensure complete reproduction of the original sound. The result is a fully authentic sound reminiscent of many famous artists like James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt.
- Extensive Modeling
The plugin lets you select various configuration methods possible to achieve the abovementioned level of authenticity. Since the plugin is a tube-based exciter, each configuration presents a different character. So, we suggest trying each Mode and listening for the subtle difference they bring before settling on the one you like.
- Noise Section
Adding further to the original sound, an optional noise section adds an electrical hum based on the electricity frequency you choose (50 Hz/60 Hz). Similarly, you can also dial in the exact amount of noise you want – turning the knob fully left makes it noise-free, whereas turning the knob fully right emulates the original unit’s noise level.
Aphex Aural Exciter is one of the easiest yet most flexible exciter plugins. It has all the functionalities you’d expect and even more because of the various variations of the signal chain.
Similarly, keeping the analog noise optional and adjustable gives this plugin authenticity and usability in modern, digital music.
17. Abbey Road Reverb Plates (Plate Reverb)
You can make unique reverb for your tracks with this plugin.
Waves modeled all of the four plate chambers from Abbey Road Studios, which have been used on the most iconic albums in music since 1957. These plate chambers were initially installed to complement the fixed reverberation times of the studio’s echo chambers.
With this plugin, you will have the ability to use Abbey Road’s legendary plate reverbs and control the amount, distortion, damping, and tone of the plate. Abbey Road Reverb Plates is a tremendously powerful analog reverb, perfectly suitable for a massive-sounding drum room or a heavenly vocal part.
- Four plates
The Abbey Road Reverb Plates plugin gives you four plates with different sonic characteristics, which you can select with the selector wheel. For example, selection A emphasizes lower frequencies but has a cleaner sound, B focuses on low-mids and gives you a darker sound, C is the brightest with more high-mid information, and D is the flattest of them all.
- Reverb EQ
You get an EQ with a high-mid-frequency shelving boost at around 4 kHz and an exclusive three-step low-cut where number 1 cuts up to somewhere around 50 Hz, number 2 cuts around 80 Hz, and three around 125 Hz.
Abbey Road Reverb Plates lets you set the amount of harmonic distortion and the behavior of the driver amp and the plate itself. This knob adds more harmonic information to your reverb effect and enriches the tonality in a very particular way. Use it to add coloration and excitement to a drum bus or vocal take.
- Straightforward interface
The graphic interface allows no time to be wasted trying to figure out how this plugin works. Instead, everything is plain and simple for you to play around with the different settings, quickly achieve the results you’re looking for, and move on to the next thing.
Abbey Road Reverb Plates is a monster analog reverb plugin that recreates some of the most iconic plate reverb chambers and brings them right into your tracks.
It can be incredibly lovely and colorful as well as it can help your track a lot, especially if it’s lacking some interest or emotion or add aggression to a signal and make it more exciting.
18. C6 MultiBand Compressor (6-Band Multiband Compressor)
Based on one of their most commonly used classic plugins, C4, this plugin adds to the legacy and presents fresh innovation to the multi-band plugins.
The Waves C6 is a multi-band compressor fit for any usage, from broad sonic shaping to surgical editing. Similarly, it also works well as a live de-esser because of its low latency performance. There are four traditional bands and two dynamic EQ-style bands called “floating bands.” Each band can be set to function as a compressor or an expander.
- Bands Linking
You can control various parameters of all bands linked together using the controls under the Master section on the left part of the interface. For example, if you modify the Gain parameter here, all the bands will have their gain changed. Note that they don’t work in ratio, so any value you set in the master will be the exact value in each band regardless of their previous positions.
- Floating Bands
Alongside the four regular bands, C6 also has two special floating bands. You can identify them using the dynamic peak-filter-like appearance on the graphic view at the top of the interface. You can set the frequency and Q-factor for each floating band and use them for precise tasks like eliminating annoying resonance.
C6 comes in two versions: the regular C6 Component and C6 Side-Chain Component. So far, we’ve only been talking about the first one. The latter one includes a new section at the bottom of the interface for external side-chain input. Each band can be set to listen to a sidechain input for tasks like compressing sub-bass when kicks hit.
Even if you already have a multi-band compressor, the C6’s unique dynamic EQ-styled floating bands alongside the four regular bands make this plugin versatile.
Furthermore, we also laud the inclusion of multiple components/versions for providing side-chaining features per band. Overall, it feels like there isn’t a use case where this plugin wouldn’t benefit.
19. CLA-2A Compressor / Limiter (Opto Compressor/Limiter)
CLA-2A is Waves Audio’s model of the classic electro-optical tube compressor by Teletronix.
This classic compressor model is part of Chris Lord Alge’s classics series. Its original peer was created by Jim Lawrence, who served in the Navy during WWII operating military radars and was passionate about radio and broadcasting.
The idea that gave birth to the creation of this piece was that he was annoyed about having to ride the gain manually to achieve a consistent broadcast level so he made the LA-2A so that it would do it automatically. This model of the classic compressor delivers a crisp high-end and nice build-up in the mid-range and sounds best with guitar, bass, and vocals.
The CLA-2A compressor mimics the appearance and functionality of its original hardware peer, keeping the attack and release times prefixed, letting you switch between the compressor and limiter, giving you the classic gain and peak reduction knobs, and changing the VU display.
- High-frequency distortion
A dial at the bottom lets you add harmonic distortion to the high frequencies of your signal, giving it a crispier color. You can blend the amount of distortion or keep it flat to get a clean response from the plugin.
The compressor can handle very extreme settings without crushing your signal or generating artifacts. When you set it to the limiter, it brings everything up pretty even.
This compressor is suitable for achieving transparent results. It also gives you lots of harmonic distortion to add to your signal, which brings up the high-mids and higher frequencies of the signal and colors it in a unique way that increases punch and brings life to any source.
The CLA-2A plugin has many things that make it a fantastic tool to keep around, like its unique tone character, the ability to achieve a flat response, or the fact that you only need to move a few knobs to get an outstanding sound out of it. It’s the simplest yet most effective compressor for vocals and guitars.
20. Infected Mushroom Pusher (Multi Effect Tool)
Pusher, developed in collaboration with Infected Mushroom, enhances your audio using exciters, multi-band limiting/clipping, and more.
If you are a fan of electronic music, you undoubtedly know about the duo Infected Mushroom. This plugin aims to capture their style of mixing and mastering in an easy-to-use plugin that is fit for individual instruments, buses, and even full mixes for mastering.
The result is an instant sonic enhancement that you could use for all genres. Using this plugin is simple. After placing the plugin in your signal chain, adjust the Input knob until the LED indicator is steady yellow.
Then, dial in Low, Body, and High knobs to enhance and excite the low, low-mid, and high frequencies. All of them add harmonics to make your sound thicker, weightier, and sparkling.
You could say the very definition of audio enhancement is excitement. Adding harmonics to any range of frequencies makes your audio sound fuller and more pleasing. However, take care not to overdo it, as overly enhanced audio can sound overwhelming and harsh. What we like about this plugin is that you can enhance the low, mid, and high frequencies separately from a single plugin instance.
- Stereo Control
The second form of audio enhancement is stereo widening, and Pusher features a single knob labeled Stereo Image to make any stereo content wider. However, it focuses on the higher frequencies only, so the stereo correlation of your mix will likely remain positive.
Finally, Pusher can employ either a limiter or a clipper at the end of its signal chain. And using the Push knob, you can maximize the loudness of your track without going over 0.1 dBFS. However, if you intend to use this plugin as a mastering limiter, we recommend adding a proper limiter plugin to ensure the audio doesn’t clip in the True Peak scale (dBTP).
We would recommend this plugin for people who wish for quick results or aren’t experienced with multiple mixing techniques. As it includes so many proven tricks in mixing music, you are bound to reach at least an acceptable mix without spending a long time.
And although the plugin is suitable for any genre, it tends to fit best for electronic or harder genres like DnB, trance, trailer music, rock, and pop.
Waves Playlist Rider (Auto-Leveler)
This plugin automatically balances the volume of multiple audio signals to a selected target.
Playlist Rider is a hands-off solution for content creators, podcasters, live streamers, DJs, and engineers to achieve high-standard quality audio without any effort. You only need to set it up and let it do its thing while focusing on other essential aspects of your work.
- Easy start
Playlist Rider is as simple as it gets with its intuitive graphic user interface. You can just set up your target level, input sensitivity, and attack time and you’re good to go.
- Dynamic range preservation
This plugin automatically levels the volume of the existing sound sources to match them to your target without any compression or limiting to preserve the dynamic range of your mix in real-time.
- Tonal Character
Playlist Rider can match the different sound sources to a pink noise tonal curve to smooth out tonal differences between elements of your mix. This function can improve the consistency of the overall balance.
- Good for live sound engineers
Its automatic capabilities and lookahead functionality can spare you from using compression in some instances and help you avoid feedback while keeping your levels smoothly. You can use it on subgroups, monitor mixes, or your main mix.
Playlist Rider is an efficient piece of software that will take considerable weight off your back by automatically leveling your audio source to the target of your preference.
Playlist Rider also works on live sound engineering cases because you often want to avoid using more compression for your tracks to avoid feedback and maintain some dynamic range.
Since this plugin doesn’t compress but levels the volume of different sources at a time, it’s a relief during the performance, helping you achieve cleaner results.
Waves keep surprising us all with more fascinating plugins every time they come up with something new. One thing that makes this company so reputable among so many producers and engineers all over the globe is the constant improvement and evolution of their problem-solving-focused software.
It’s noticeable that Waves Audio will remain one of the top professional audio plugin manufacturers globally.
You can tell that they look deeply into the problems that engineers, producers, and artists go through during their process and work on developing a solution that facilitates addressing these issues.
Hopefully, other big companies will develop plugins as competitive and neat as Waves Audio’s, and we’ll get to see more and better tools that make our lives easier.
I have a B.Sc. Degree in Audio Engineering and +5 years of work experience. I specialize in Audio Post-Producing and Sound Design to help brands and online businesses stick out delivering top-notch audio quality for advertisement, podcast, films, and music.