Waves WNS Noise Suppressor is a multi-band vocal and dialogue cleaner/noise reduction plugin. It is great for post-production professionals seeking efficient and rapid broadband noise suppression for dialog track cleaning. It caters to both indoor and location recordings, tackling dialog tainted by stationary and modulating environmental noise.
WNS isn’t designed for surgically removing specific short-term interferences. Instead, it functions as a comprehensive noise suppressor, skillfully preserving dialog while elegantly suppressing unwanted signals with a natural sound and minimal artifacts. It’s a sophisticated solution for maintaining audio clarity in the midst of various environmental challenges.
The plugin operates on a concept similar to the denoiser from Burton Audio, employing multi-bands to target specific troublesome frequencies while preserving desired ones. Its user-friendly nature and vintage design make it easy and pleasing to work with.
The Waves WNS Noise Suppressor boasts a vintage analog feel and a well-rounded set of features. It includes six EQ bands, a threshold slider, a smoothing slider, high pass and low pass filters, and a helpful Linker for simultaneous adjustments of EQ bands.
I really like the visual feedback that the plugin gives on its display.
- The Bold White line serves as a visual representation of the applied Noise Suppression.
- The Thin Orange line indicates the detected Noise Profile, aiding in the identification of undesirable elements.
- The Light Blue line represents the current position of the gain fader, offering a clear visual reference for adjustments in real time
Next, Threshold lets you set the level where the plugin gets activated. Smoothing exercises the rate at which the noise suppression is released, while the “Suggest” mode analyzes incoming audio signals to set initial parameters, streamlining the noise reduction process. The curved display, featuring multiple curves, aids in making informed decisions during playback.
Finally, you can also link all the frequency control sliders so they can be operated by a single control.
What works really well for the plugin is that you can maintain the natural tonality of your sound by working on individual frequency bands separately. You can identify the problematic frequency and fine-tune the settings to remove the cable hiss, AC noise, laptop fan sound, and other background sounds.
That works well on vocals, but just for experimentation, I also used the plugin on a guitar recording and was impressed by the significant reduction of noise while maintaining the character and clarity of the original sound.
It’s a decent noise suppressor with a simplistic workflow and approach, but for more detailed background noise removal, you must try the Waves Clarity VX Pro, an AI-based noise reduction plugin. On the other hand, if you want an even simpler and more minimalistic noise remover, the Wavs NS1 is a good option, too.
It works well in the following scenarios:
- Removing severe ambience (Traffic and Voices)
- Removing high-pitched sounds like alarms and ambulance
- Getting rid of wind, rain, and waterfall sounds
WNS can be useful for podcasters, especially in scenarios where there’s constant background noise or ambient sounds. It helps reduce unwanted noise, making the podcast audio cleaner and more professional. Content creators working on videos, vlogs, or any content with audio elements can also find WNS beneficial in reducing background noise and improving overall audio quality. WNS can be effective for cleaning up boom mic recordings for on-location dialogues.
However, in complex music production scenarios, where preserving intricate details and nuances is crucial, you might prefer using dedicated noise reduction tools over WNS. WNS may also struggle with extreme cases of noise reduction, especially when dealing with very loud or varied background noise. In such cases, specialized noise reduction tools with advanced algorithms might be more effective.
In some cases, when the natural ambiance or environmental sounds are desirable, applying WNS might remove too much of the background, resulting in an unnatural and sterile audio environment. Lastly, the plugin has a fine range of presets to get you started with it.
Pros & Cons
WNS boasts several advantages that make it a compelling choice for those seeking effective noise reduction in audio recordings. The algorithm is adept at minimizing unwanted ambient sounds, demonstrating its efficacy in cleaning up audio recordings.
Its user-friendly interface caters to a wide audience, from beginners to experienced audio professionals, thanks to its simple threshold and frequency sliders. Moreover, WNS operates in real-time, enabling you to preview and adjust noise reduction settings while listening to the audio, enhancing the overall user experience.
The plugin’s versatility is evident in its applicability to various audio scenarios, including podcasts, content creation, music production, and location sound recording. Additionally, WNS supports different plugin formats and seamlessly integrates with popular digital audio workstations (DAWs), enhancing its compatibility.
However, like many noise reduction tools, WNS is not without its drawbacks. Aggressive settings may lead to artifacts or a potential impact on the natural quality of the audio. Resource intensity is another consideration, as the plugin recommends a minimum of 8 GB RAM. While not excessively demanding, this may be a factor for those with less powerful systems.
Furthermore, WNS may not be the ideal choice for specific scenarios, such as complex audio environments with intricate sound details, where more advanced noise reduction tools may be preferred. Lastly, in situations where real-time processing is crucial, like live sound reinforcement or live broadcasting, WNS might introduce latency. In such cases, real-time noise reduction tools specifically designed for live applications might be more suitable.
The Waves WNS is available in VST3, AU, AAX, and VST plugin formats, ensuring its accessibility on both Windows 10/11 and macOS operating systems, including versions such as Big Sur 11, Monterey 12, Ventura 13, Catalina 10.15, and Sonoma 14. To effectively use this plugin, a minimum of 8 GB RAM is necessary, although Waves recommends having 16 GB for optimal performance.
While WNS is a valuable tool in various scenarios, it’s essential to understand its limitations and use it judiciously. Depending on the specific requirements of a project, other specialized noise reduction plugins or tools may be more appropriate for achieving the desired results.
That being said, it is a solid tool for cleaning indoor and outdoor dialogue and vocal recordings and works well with most instruments too. Its 6-band dynamic EQ engine, “Suggest” button and adjustable frequency ranges provide flexibility for a range of applications.
Overall, it is a reliable solution for achieving professional-grade noise reduction without compromising the natural qualities of the audio, and you must try the plugin and explore its vast capabilities.
Shaurya Bhatia, is an Indian Music Producer, Composer, Rapper & Performer, who goes by the stage name MC SNUB, and is also 1/2 of the Indian pop music duo, called “babyface”. A certified Audio Engineer & Music Producer, and a practicing musician & rapper for more than 6 years, Shaurya has worked on projects of various genres and has also been a teaching faculty at Spin Gurus DJ Academy.