Waves have been one of the most famous software plugin developers for decades, and not for nothing. In this article, we round up the 13 best Waves plugins in 2021.
Waves’ plugins have remained of steady quality and convenience over the years. Similarly, their current pricing has boosted their fame even more. However, from their myriads of plugins from years ago to recent updates, it can be challenging to pick the select few that are essential without spending a lot of time.
Therefore, we have curated this list of plugins, handpicked as the best of Waves in each kind of plugin they have developed. They range from channel strips and compressors to reverbs and pitch-shifters. Furthermore, in each plugin entry, we mention what makes it worthwhile and unique, so you will have adequate information to decide.
Now, let’s get on with the list.
Top 13 Waves Plugins For 2021
1. Waves Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain
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.
2. Waves CLA Epic
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 notorious 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 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.
3. Waves Ovox
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 to 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.
4. Waves F6 Dynamic EQ
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.
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.
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.
5. Waves Scheps Omni Channel
Anyone who has used channel strips knows its benefits, and this plugin expands further by offering even more controls.
This channel strip was designed by Waves in collaboration with Andrew Scheps, a notorious mix engineer. It features emulations of the effects preferred by the engineer in a modular package. What’s more, Scheps Omni Channel lets you customize the signal chain and provides deeper controls on each module than you might expect.
The interface is quite straightforward, and it has a VU meter showing input, gain reduction and output. Similarly, at the right end of the interface, you will also find a Limit button, which activates a hard limiter to keep peaks under control. Overall, it feels like a comprehensive channel strip that fits just about any use case.
The plugin has everything you’d typically need to shape your sound, from input saturation and EQing to dynamic filtering. The five modules include a Preamp, Gate, Dynamic Filters, EQ, and a Compressor module. You can also disable each of the modules to save CPU resources. Among these modules, the dynamic filters module (DS2) is fascinating. It has two bands, each with the option to be a peak or shelf filter. And you could use it as a de-esser (on high frequencies) or any frequency like a dynamic EQ’s band.
You can rearrange the modules in the plugin freely to suit your workflow. Furthermore, you can even add one more module to the default arrangement using the empty Insert slot. So, for example, you could have one more compressor or EQ to shape your sound further from a single plugin instance.
- Focus Mode
At the top of the plugin’s interface, next to the preset drop-down menu, you’ll find a button labeled Focus. This button enables a unique feature that helps you identify parameters you are likely to find helpful by lighting them blue after selecting a preset. If you are a beginner and aren’t yet familiar with all the various kinds of effects in this plugin, this mode will help you get inspired from the start.
Scheps Omni Channel also supports external side-chain input for Gate, DS2, and Comp modules. So, you could easily tame the bass track using a side-chained kick. Similarly, each module has an Expanded view, which offers more control than by default. In this view, you will also find the left and right or mid and side controls.
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.
The Scheps Omni Channel lets you mix and match diverse processors hand-picked by studio professional Andrew Scheps for the perfect combination of sound. The channel modules produce musical and pleasant sounds in any order. With saturation, compression, de-essing, dynamic filtering, gating, EQing, etc., tone-shaping has never been easier.
6. Waves Brauer Motion
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 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 of the mass. It makes incredible stereo motion and positioning highly accessible, along with multiple complex modulations, filtration, and so on.
7. Waves Tune Real-Time
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 on 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.
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.
8. Waves Sibilance
Convenience and effectiveness are the spotlights of this de-essing plugin.
Sibilance features a straightforward interface with merely four knobs. Instead of manually selecting the sibilant frequencies, it employs an algorithm called Organic ReSynthesis, a spectral filter that automatically identifies the sibilance. You can control the kind of sibilance it detects using the Detection and Mode knobs.
After detection, you can use the Range slider to control the maximum amount of reduction. And finally, to listen to the sibilance it has detected, use the Monitor button. Considering the ease and speed at which you can get results, the plugin does an outstanding job with a smooth sound. If you wish to learn more about de-essers, this plugin, and our other top selections, have a look at this article.
- Quick Results
With the automated sibilance detection algorithm, Sibilance doesn’t require complex parameter setups or extensive knowledge about voice spectrums. Simply dial in the Detection and Mode knobs (less for s sounds, more for sh/ch sounds), turn down the threshold and adjust the Range if it reduces too much at times.
- Excellent Sound
The spectral filters employed by this plugin also ensures that your audio remains free from artifacts caused by traditional de-essers using compression techniques. Waves Sibilance spectrally separates actual sibilant noise and uses phase cancellation to reduce its volume. The result is a transparent and natural de-ess.
Waves Sibilance 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.
Spectral filtering is a tried-and-true method for achieving better results than the traditional high-frequency compression technique. Using the Organic ReSynthesis engine, Sibilance accurately identifies unwanted sibilant noises and removes them without artifacts. So, if you don’t already have a similar de-esser, a look at this plugin is a must.
9. Waves Torque
Torque is a drum tone shifter designed to help you fix mistuned drums and percussion.
As mix engineers, we often receive poorly tuned drum stems that make even the most well-processed mixes sound slightly off. That’s when you will want to introduce an audio tuning plugin. However, ordinary pitch-shifting plugins can produce strange artifacts that change the punch and timber of your drums. Enter Torque.
This plugin is tailor-made for drums and percussions, ensuring that the punch, body, timbre, and resonance remain untouched. And since Torque comes with a Live component with zero latency, you could even use it in live performances to tune the drums mid-show. As with Waves Sibilance, this plugin also functions using Organic ReSynthesis technology.
- Wide Range
Torque can pitch shift up to 1200 semitones, up or down, without changing the audio length. This superb range gives you complete control over your drum sound. However, we recommend only utilizing up to a couple of semitones as even the most advanced tuner will introduce artifacts at extreme levels of processing. Unless, of course, you are after unnatural, creative sounds.
- Focus Section
This feature is used to locate the part of the frequency spectrum in which tone shifting will occur. You can use the provided formant spectral display to help you identify the fundamental tone of your drum. It might require a bit of hit and trial to find the exact area where the tuning is most effective.
- Formant Protection
The feature above is related to formant protection. By only shifting the fundamental tone of your drum, you are essentially letting the rest of the audio spectrum remain as they are. While it may seem counterintuitive, note that our ears detect pitch primarily by identifying the fundamental tone; the rest of the spectrum is used for detecting the timbre. And in drums, we definitely want the timbre to remain untouched.
Along with the intended use for tuning mistuned drums and percussions, we also found it creatively useful for dance music. For example, if you are making a snare roll, instead of tuning each clip/note, why not simply automate Torque? It’s much easier and works just as well. The formant preservation technique works excellently for retaining the original timbre of the drums.
10. Waves C6
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.
11. Waves Aural Exciter
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 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.
12. Waves SSL E-Channel
SSL E-Channel gives you the fantastic sound of Solid State Logic’s 4000 series console, all in a convenient software package.
What makes this channel strip so impressive is its unique sound. The channel strip has a filter section, an equalizer section, and a dynamics section. The equalizer emulates the esteemed Black Knob equalizer, developed in 1983 with engineer George Martin. Similarly, the dynamics section is based on the SSL LS611E from a console unit.
You can have the components of this plugin placed in various orders by using the routing buttons next to each section. For example, by default, the signal chain looks like this: Dyn→Filter→EQ. However, if you enable the Split button in the filter section, the Filter moves to the start of the chain. Then enable the Ch Out button in the dynamics section to get Filter→EQ→Dyn. You can achieve several more configurations, including a side-chained blend, which is explained in the manual.
The dynamics section contains three kinds of effects, which makes it worth mentioning. It has a compressor, which is a permanent inclusion. Next, you have an expander, which you can swap out for a gate as well. Note that if you turn up the compressor’s ratio to the maximum, it doubles a limiter.
- Analog Emulation
SSL E-Channel has a separate switch to enable and disable the analog emulation, which adds character and subtle saturation of the Class A amplifiers. Try enabling it on drums, bass, and vocals to give them a warmer attribute.
Channel strips are fantastic for ultra-quick results when you want to focus on the critical aspects of managing the tone and dynamism of your sound. The SSL E-Channel contains everything you’d need for that purpose and has the sound of the well-known Class A elements. However, we fear the routing buttons may not be the most intuitive for a beginner.
13. Waves SSL G-Master Buss Compressor
Yet another emulation of an SSL unit, the SSL G-Master Buss Compressor, is also based on the 4000 series console.
The primary focus of this compressor is on delivering punchy sound. Generally, this compressor is best suited for mix busses or drum busses. You’ll notice that its attack can range from as little as 0.1ms to 30ms. We recommend a smaller value for a subtle glue-type compression, whereas heavy compression with slow attack brings out the “popping” and saturated sound of the original hardware.
- Optional Emulation
The Analog button activates the emulation of the classic analog processors, creating more noise and harmonic distortions. This attribute is what makes SSL 4000 console sound like it does. However, if you wish for more transparent and cleaner processing, you can deactivate the emulation with a button click.
- Fade Off
While some people argue that an ending that fades out is a lazy person’s way out, we can’t deny that it helps end the song in a sort of cliffhanger, making you want to listen to it all over again. If you agree, then you no doubt are also interested in creating fade-outs, which is what the button Fade Off does. Just set the fade-out rate using the Rate-S knob, automate the Fade out button, and you’re good to go.
During buss compression, you will either want glue compression or punchy compression to make the sound cut through the mix, and SSL G-Master easily handles both. We also liked the optional analog emulation stage for adding saturation and character of the original hardware.
Infected Mushroom Pusher
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, busses, 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 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.
Since the article covers such a large variety of plugins, it’s likely that you already have at least one of the kinds of plugins mentioned. However, we hope the key features and descriptions help you notice the difference or advantage they may offer in your arsenal. Of course, the opposite may also be the case, so keep a close watch.
Anyway, we would pick Ovox, Brauer Motion, Sibilance, and Aphex Aural Exciter if we had to make a few selections as our favorites in this list. The sheer level of versatility offered in Ovox as a vocal synthesizer and instrument makes it an obvious choice. Similarly, Brauer Motion’s power makes it a one-of-a-kind auto-panner.
Sibilance is a natural choice when it comes to de-esser; it utilizes spectral filtering to perform artifact-free processing. And finally, Aphex Aural Exciter’s natural and analog-sounding audio enhancement makes your tracks shine and sparkle.
Our selection doesn’t mean that the rest of the plugins aren’t of use. They are simply often found in common and may already have alternatives in your collection.
K. M. Joshi is a multi-award-winning composer and sound designer, specializing in film, game, and TV audio. He enjoys making cinematic music, rock, blues, and electronica.