20 Best Waves Plugins – Ultimate Waves Audio Guide

Best Waves PluginsLooking for the best Waves plugins to buy, but can’t make up your mind?

Well, you’re not the only one in this position. We’ve all been there. But not to worry, this guide takes a look at 20 of the must have Waves plugins, sorted by type.

Yup, this massive guide is exactly what you need!

Here we rundown many of the company’s most popular offerings, a number of which are certifiable classics in the plugin world.

So whether you need a specific plugin or you simply want to know what’s out there, this Waves roundup will prove to be an interesting read.

Let’s take a look! 🙂


Waves Audio Plugins List

Waves Audio Plugins Type
OneKnob Brighter
Waves OneKnob Brighter Tape Saturation
Scheps 73
Scheps 73 Tape Saturation
J37 Tape
Waves J37 Tape Tape Saturation
Vocal Rider
Waves Vocal Rider Vocal Processor
Waves Tune
Waves Tune Vocal Processor
Reel ADT
Waves Audio Reel ADT Vocal Processor
C6 Multiband Compressor
Waves Audio C6 Multiband Compressor Compressor
SSL G-Master Buss Compressor
Waves Audio SSL G-Master Buss Compressor Compressor
CLA-76
Waves CLA-76 Compressor
F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ
Waves Audio F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ Compressor
PuigTec EQs
Waves PuigTec EQs Mastering
Vitamin Sonic Enhancer
Waves Audio Vitamin Sonic Enhancer Mastering
Abbey Road Reverb Plates
Waves Audio Abbey Road Reverb Plates Reverb
Abbey Road Chambers
Waves Abbey Road Chambers Reverb
H-Reverb Hybrid Reverb
Waves Audio H-Reverb Hybrid Reverb Reverb
Grand Rhapsody Piano
Waves Audio Grand Rhapsody Piano Virtual Instrument
Element 2.0 Virtual Analog Synth
Waves Audio Element 2.0 Virtual Analog Synth Virtual Instrument
Electric 88 Piano
Waves Audio Electric 88 Piano Virtual Instrument
PRS SuperModels
Waves Audio PRS SuperModels Guitar
NS1 Noise Suppressor
Waves NS1 Noise Suppressor Noise Reduction

Selection of Best Waves Plugins

Tape, Exciter, Saturation Plugins

Waves Audio OneKnob Brighter

Waves OneKnob Brighter

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OneKnob Brighter is one of our favorite exciter plugins. It isn’t quite like most other treble boosters, in that it only affects signals from the mid-high range and higher. In fact it’s part of Wave’s celebrated OneKnob series, and it provides single knob control for adjusting its primary function.

In this case, Brighter’s sole knob intelligently adds a treble boost to the signal. This will brighten up the source material, making practically anything cut through the mix more effectively. With this feature, Brighter could be the only thing you need to give your tracks enough ‘poke’ to shine through a busy mix.

Useful features and application

Brighter applies a fairly broad treble boost in an ‘intelligent’ manner, which helps preserve the sonic character of the audio being processed. The range in which the signal is boosted actually changes as you turn the control. The lowest part of the knob affects frequencies around 3kHz. The affected frequency shifts upwards as you go up the dial.

OneKnob Brighter is about as simple as it gets. In most cases, you can simply patch it onto a dark or murky audio track and it will get you where you want with a slight twist of the knob. Although you can use an EQ plugin to achieve a similar effect, Brighter gives you great results with little to no effort.

User impressions

Brighter has earned praise from a varied array of users, from recording artists to engineers, and even home recording practitioners.

Mike Patton of Faith No More/Mr. Bungle delights in the plugin’s easy navigation and dependable results. Thom Russo, who has engineered for Michael Jackson, among others, has found it an effective solution for altering harmonic content in a pleasing manner.

Other users have found the Brighter to be useful for adding ‘sparkle’ in a way that EQ plugins cannot achieve. Some even have it permanently strapped on to the end of their mixing chains.

Bottom-line

The Brighter’s single knob may turn off users looking for more control over their tone shaping. Even so, it’s hard to argue with the results. So for a quick and easy one-knob solution to dull and lifeless audio, this could be exactly what you need.


Waves Audio Scheps 73

Scheps 73

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Scheps 73 is a 3-band EQ that adds a healthy helping of color to any audio pumped through it. Modeled on the EQ and mic preamp of the legendary Neve 1073 console, it was developed in conjunction with noted mixing engineer Andrew Scheps. Andrew has worked with Adele, Lana Del Ray, Black Sabbath, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others.

Scheps 73 pretty much mirrors the specs of the 1073, from the interrelated frequency ranges of the EQ to the behavior of the circuitry. The chances of having an actual 1073 in your home studio are pretty slim, to say the least. But for the money, this is certainly the next best thing.

Useful features and application

Scheps 73’s EQ bands match those on the 1073. In addition to the fixed 12kHz band, there is a switchable low/mid-range control that can be cut and boosted, and an 18dB/octave high-pass filter.

But what really makes the 73 special is the 10kHz midrange band control. This was a little-known feature that was tucked away in the original schematics of the 1073. Previously, this control only existed in the 1078 channel strip, which is about as rare as vintage studio equipment comes. Now, this little bit of magic dust is available to users of the Waves Audio Scheps 73.

User impressions

If you purchase the Scheps 73 with the idea of getting all microscopic with your EQ tweaks, you are likely going to be disappointed. As its most ardent users know, the character is what you are paying for, and not surgical EQing capabilities.

What users do appreciate is how the 73’s modeled preamp makes most any source audio positively drip with harmonics. From making bass tracks bigger, louder, and more impressive to adding extra body and presence to vocals and synth tracks, users know exactly what to expect with the 73.

Bottom-line

By most accounts, the Scheps 73 does a great job of replicating the character of the Neve console that inspired its development. A surprisingly versatile and useful plugin, it should find a place in any modern or retro-flavored production.


Waves Audio J37 Tape

Waves J37 Tape

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The warm and harmonically-rich sound of analog tape has come back in a big way. In fact, some might argue that it never really went away at all. In any case, you will likely agree that the J37 Tape is just the thing to give your tracks some of that coveted tape mojo.

The Waves J37 is one of our favorite tape saturation plugins. It’s inspired by the 4-track tape machine that was used to marvelous effect on The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Now, you can get the same tape magic in your own productions in a more convenient form.

Useful features and application

J37 Tape comes with a host of features that make it a lot more versatile than your typical tape saturation plugin. You can adjust “tape speed” and bias, and add varying amounts of noise, saturation. J37 Tape even lets you approximate wow and flutter, which is a pretty neat trick.

You could approximate the sound of a well-maintained J37 tape machine simply by setting all the controls of the J37 plugin to ‘zero’. Even when set in this manner however, the J37 still imparts a distinctive tape-like warmth and character to the sound.

Apart from the J37 tape machine, the plugin also offers three flavors of oxide tape approximations. These are modeled after tape formulas developed in the 1960s and 1970s by EMI.

User impressions

The J37 plugin has found favor among countless users, from professional producers and mix engineers to home recording enthusiasts. Among its most famous proponents are Butch Vig, who is known for his work with Garbage, Nirvana, and Smashing Pumpkins, and Billy Bush who has manned the board for Jake Bugg, The Naked and Famous, and Neon Trees. For both these professionals, J37 Tape nails the sound of the classic hardware J37 to a ‘T’.

Others have found the plugin to be an excellent solution for crunching up drum tracks. Still others simply leave it at the default setting, which provides surprisingly pleasing results.

Bottom-line

Waves Audio J37 Tape adds loads of character to even the blandest tracks. You will need a lot more to get the full sonic impact of a classic Abbey Road recording, of course. But this will at least get you a good part of the way there.


Vocal Plugins

Waves Audio Vocal Rider

Waves Vocal Rider

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If you’ve ever had to ride vocal levels automatically but didn’t want to use a compressor, Waves Audio Vocal Rider is tailor-made for you. Listed as one of our favorite Waves vocal plugins, it’s a simple and elegant solution to an age-old studio requirement, this plugin could save you considerable time and effort.

Traditionally, mix engineers evened out volume level variances in vocal and instrument tracks by actually ‘riding’ the faders. Compression was also used to achieve a similar effect, although this frequently results in unnatural sounding tracks.

Waves Audio Vocal Rider essentially acts as an intelligent fader rider, adjusting levels without the need for automation. Designed specifically for vocals, the plugin makes it easier to achieve consistently-balanced vocal tracks.

Useful features and application

If you don’t have an automated mixer with flying faders–or a capable mix engineer with impeccable timing–Vocal Rider is the next best thing. Its ability to adjust levels on the fly could save you a great deal of time in the studio, and spare you the trouble of having to draw in automation in your DAW.

The way Vocal Rider works is wonderful in its simplicity. All you have to do is set your desired vocal range, and the plugin does the rest. The intelligent manner by which it increases or reduces gain effectively flattens out the level, eliminating peaks and lows in a totally transparent manner.

User impressions

Most users of Vocal Rider find that it provides natural sounding results with very little effort. The transparent way it evens out volume levels negates the need for heavy-handed compression, which often compromises audio quality.

Users also like not having to draw in automation curves anymore, which is a tedious and painstaking process. In fact, some have even found the Vocal Rider to be a more effective solution for smoothening out level peaks.

Bottom-line

Vocal Rider isn’t the solution to all your vocal woes. It won’t create radio-ready vocals from performances with extremely wide level variances. For those times when you simply need to tame a few peaks and boost a few soft spots however, this plugin is a godsend.


Waves Tune

Waves Tune

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For better or worse, auto-tuning has become a ubiquitous part of music production in the 21st century. Utilized in most every recorded genre, it transcends genres and has become something of a catchphrase for anything and everything that has to do with vocal pitch correction.

There are various tools that you can use for auto-tuning of course, options like Celemony Melodyne and Antares Autotune for instance, which we mention in our pro audio plugin round up. But Waves Tune might just be the most capable of the lot. It is certainly one of the easiest to use, and you might find it to be an essential tool in your producer’s toolbox.

Useful features and application

Waves Tune offers a plethora of pitch shaping tools that can help you produce natural-sounding–or wildly creative–vocals. There is nothing stopping you from drawing in wide pitch-shifts or warbling T-Pain passages if that’s what turns you on. But the beauty of Waves Tune is how it makes pitch correction virtually undetectable.

With Tune, you can do all your editing right in your DAW. Because you don’t have to bounce or process audio offline, you can work faster and more efficiently. You could even pitch vocal tracks to scale and export your creations as MIDI files.

User impressions

For most users, the natural sounding pitch correction is one of the most appealing aspects of Waves Tune. The degree of transparency and near-total absence of phase shifting makes this a more feasible alternative to other commonly-used auto-tune plugins.

Even with the wealth of controls available, users found Tune very easy to use, thanks in part to its large display. The MIDI export capabilities and the wide range of scales further make this an excellent solution for transparent pitch correction and even creative experimentation.

Bottom-line

Even if you already have a favorite auto-tune plugin, Waves Tune is definitely worth a second look. Its flexibility and ease of use are second to none, and the transparency with which it transforms pitches will likely make you a true believer.


Waves Audio Reel ADT

Waves Audio Reel ADT

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Abbey Road Studios is ground-zero for some of the most important developments in music and recording technology. One of the most enduring aspects of its formidable legacy is Artificial Double Tracking (ADT). Developed to meet the creative demands of the studio’s discriminating clients, ADT makes tracks sound bigger, fuller, and more interesting.

Now, the distinctive sounds of ADT are available in Waves Audio Reel ADT. Offering a convenient way to get classic doubling, delay, and pitch variation effects, it even warms up tracks with tasty tape saturation.

Useful features and application

Reel ADT doubles the audio being processed and allows you to advance or delay it as you please. This gives you the characteristic sound of ADT, which is similar to chorusing, but not quite as ‘shimmery’. The sound produced can be quite lush though, with subtle pitch variations that make for a nicely ‘organic’ sound.

Reel ADT also allows you to drive the direct and doubled signals independently. This enables you to simulate tape saturated sounds as well as varying combinations of dry and effected signals.

Wow and flutter emulation further enhances the plugin’s tape simulation capabilities. You can even achieve classic flanging and phasing effects reminiscent of numerous Abbey Road recordings.

User impressions

Among the most ardent users of Reel ADT is live sound engineer Dave Stagl. Dave uses the plugin to thicken up live vocals and to create multi-voice textures.

The plugin is also used by noted producer and musician Butch Vig, who remarked on its ability to simulate the classic sounds on Beatles records. For Butch, Reel ADT is useful not just for vocals, but for guitars and drums as well.

Bottom-line

Waves Audio Reel ADT is a surprisingly versatile doubler plugin that does a lot more than advertised. It doesn’t quite get in the realm of phasing or flanging, but it produces a wide variety of doubling effects and adds some nice tape saturation besides.


Compressor Plugins

Waves Audio C6 Multiband Compressor

Waves Audio C6 Multiband Compressor

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Waves’ C4 multiband compressor has been a studio and live favorite for many years. Its ability to even out levels and frequencies has made an essential tool for studio engineers and FOH mixers alike. With the release of the C6, Waves added a host of welcome features, making an already-useful tool even more versatile.

As mentioned in our multiband compressor roundup, Waves C6 carries on where C4 leaves off, serving as a virtual one-stop solution to a variety of processing requirements. More than just a compressor, it could effectively deal with most of your audio-related woes.

Useful features and application

Think of Waves C6 as a C4 with the addition of two floating bands and a sidechain feature, and you would have a hint of its enhanced capabilities. These qualities by themselves give the C6 added versatility for vocal and instrument treatment, enabling you to precisely target problem frequencies.

As you would expect, the C6 works marvelously well for de-essing and de-popping. Having both multiband compression and dynamic equalization in a single plugin gives you unparalleled control over shaping your source audio. And with the four crossover bands and two floating bands, you could process only specific frequencies or the entire signal all at once.

User impressions

The addition of floating bands is something of a big deal with this release. Producer/engineer Andrew Scheps in fact specifically mentioned this feature when citing the qualities of the C6.

DJ and producer Armin van Buuren is another fan, finding the plugin an essential studio tool. For Armin, the sidechain feature is often helpful for carving out space in a mix.

Sean “Sully” Sullivan, who works FOH for Beck, Rihanna, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, praised the C6’s ability to balance out live vocal performances. Sully found this quality especially useful for singers that frequently move closer or further away from the mic during performance.

Bottom-line

Waves Audio C6 Multiband Compressor is a tremendously versatile plugin that works equally well as a compressor, feedback buster, de-esser, and in various other roles. It even makes budget mics sound more expensive than they actually are! Definitely look into this plugin for an all-around problem-solving audio solution.


Waves Audio SSL G-Master Buss Compressor

Waves Audio SSL G-Master Buss Compressor

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Running audio material through a vintage mixing board is a great way to glue mixes together and add tasty analog mojo. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a great sounding console, least of all something like an SSL4000G.

But with the Waves Audio SSL G-Master Buss Compressor, you can get the same warm and rich analog flavors in your productions. Best of all, you don’t have to take out a second mortgage on your home to afford it, nor do you have to deal with a temperamental piece of equipment that will take up half your studio space.

Useful features and application

The master bus compressor of the original SSL4000G console serves as the inspiration for the Waves SSL G. The plugin will replicate the sound and frequency response of the original SSL4000G, particularly with regard to its input and amplifier sections. It seems to have succeeded for the most part–many engineers have cited its ability to glue mixes together, add punch to drum tracks, and even smoothen out piano dynamics. In particular, this comes in as one of the best compressor plugins for drums.

The way the SSL G approximates the input section and dual VCA gain reduction amplifier is pretty impressive in itself. It is these particular features that make the SSL G quite an effective “finalizer” rather than just another saturation effect.

User impressions

Unsurprisingly, users of the Waves SSL G include some of the most sought-after mixing engineers in the industry. One of them is Ken “Pooch” Van Druten (Jay-Z, Kiss, Justin Bieber), who routinely uses the plugin for parallel compression. Calling it “one of the best-sounding mix buss compressors”, Ken finds the SSL G equally useful in live and studio settings.

Miles Walker, who has worked with Beyoncé and Usher among others, also frequently patches the Waves SSL G onto the master buss. Given the plugin’s ability to glue highly dynamic audio in a pleasing manner, it is Miles’ go-to master buss sweetener.

Bottom-line

The Waves SSL G is one of those rare plugins that simply make everything sound good. Whether for reigning in the dynamics of a single instrument track or gluing stems and mixes together, it will definitely get plenty of use in your studio.


Waves Audio CLA-76

Waves CLA-76

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Waves Audio CLA-76 draws inspiration from two legendary pieces of studio equipment from the 1960s. In particular, it is inspired by the two versions of the Universal Audio 1176LN–the “Blacky” and the “Bluey”–both of which are equally revered.

The Blacky and the Bluey are Class-A line level limiting amplifiers known for their extremely fast attack. Audio passed through them comes out extraordinarily punchy and powerful, making them ideally-suited for drum buss processing. Although, it also took our pick for one of the best bass compressor plugins around.

Useful features and application

The Waves CLA-76 replicates the same fast attack as its hardware predecessors. It also has a unique “All” control that mimics the behavior of the original units with all the ratio buttons pushed in. This results in an even more powerful attack that makes drums and bass really pop out of the mix.

If all that isn’t enough for you, the Waves CLA-76 also has a distortion control that dirties up audio in a musically-pleasing manner.

As you may have guessed by now, the Waves CLA-76 is practically tailor-made for drums and bass. But you could certainly use it for other audio material if you wish, particularly for anything that you want to make bigger and ballsier.

User impressions

The “CLA” in Waves CLA-76 stands for Chris Lord-Alge, the noted mix engineer and producer under whose name the CLA line was marketed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Chris’s own brother Tom–also a notable producer and mix engineer–is one of CLA-76’s most avid users. For Tom, the plugin sounds exactly like the originals, and it is regularly put to good use for vocal and guitar processing.

Ethan Mates is another longtime 1176 user who finds the CLA-76 equally satisfying. Ethan was especially impressed with how the plugin reacts to the audio in a similar fashion to the hardware units.

Bottom-line

There are those who will argue that the CLA-76 doesn’t sound like the real thing in the slightest. But the way it adds a nice meaty punch to audio tracks is undeniable. Use it on drums, use it on bass, use it on vocals, and even strap it onto your master buss (go easy!). Chances are, you will like what you hear.


Waves Audio F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ

Waves Audio F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ

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The Waves F6 is an ultra-precise dynamic EQ that can solve a long list of audio-related issues. Now, that’s a pretty bold statement to be sure. But the F6 has a full set of features with capabilities that many other EQs wouldn’t be able to touch. Dig deep into the controls of the F6, and there’s practically nothing you can’t fix.

Of course, comparing the F6 to your standard run-of-the-mill EQ isn’t exactly fair. After all, the plugin performs a wide array of tasks, from corrective EQing to compression. It even does a great job as a de-esser plugin, so it definitely packs more value than your typical EQ.

Useful features and application

Even when judged solely on its EQing capabilities, the F6 can’t help but impress. The six floating parametric filters can be adjusted to a remarkably precise degree. Add in the dynamic EQ and the per-band compression and expansion, and the F6 begins to look more like the complete audio tweaking toolkit that it is.

Still other features such as the mid-side processing feature and the spectrum analyzer further emphasize the F6’s pedigree as a serious piece of studio technology.

The dynamic EQing capability alone is well worth the price of admission. The F6 reacts to the dynamics of the audio, cutting and boosting according to a user-defined threshold. This results in crisp and clear vocals that maintain consistency regardless of level.

User impressions

The Waves F6 has some pretty high-profile users, including Andy Sneap, who has worked with Judas Priest, Megadeth, and Arch Enemy, and Richard Chycki, who has manned the board for Rush and Aerosmith, among others.

Andy has found the F6 especially useful for carving out space in the lower midrange of summed guitar tracks. Richard for his part routinely uses it to tame resonant bass peaks and overly pokey cymbals.

Bottom-line

The Waves F6 is as close as you could get to an all-in-one problem-solving EQ. You can use it simply as a basic EQ, although that would be selling it short. Put all its various other functions to use, and the F6 could be one of the most useful plugins on your bag of tricks.


Mastering Plugins

Waves Audio PuigTec EQs

Waves PuigTec EQs

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The cleverly-named PuigTec EQs draw from an impressive lineage, having been inspired by the legendary Pultec EQP-1A. They’ve even made our list of Waves mastering plugins to get. Revered for its ability to cut and boost the same frequencies at the same time, the Pultec EQP-1A was one of the few EQs of the time that was able to provide a resonant shelf.

The PuigTec EQP-1A is no less remarkable, managing to replicate the character and response of the original hardware unit in a convenient software plugin format. The particular unit the plugin was modeled after is actually owned by Jack Joseph Puig, the noted producer and engineer for which the Waves version is named.

Useful features and application

The PuigTec EQ package actually consists of two separate plugins: the broadband EQP-1A and the midrange-focused MEQ-5. Between these two plugins, you pretty much have the full EQ range covered.

The EQP-1A is classic PulTec broadband through and through. It is quite simply one of the most versatile EQ designs available, with the ability to do things other EQs could only dream of.

The effectiveness of this design is due largely to the simultaneous boost and cut controls that affect the same frequency range at the same time. The resulting resonant shelf gives audio material the characteristic presence that the hardware EQP-1A is famous for.

The MEQ-5 is no less capable. Focused firmly on the midrange, it boosts and cuts three frequencies. This provides precise control over the way the midrange is shaped.

User impressions

Many users of the PuigTec pair have found that it works amazingly well for adding warmth and depth to vocal tracks. With these plugins, there is no need to endlessly mess with the knobs. As its most avid users will attest, simply calling up a preset and modifying a few parameters will result in awe-inspiring sound.

Drew Lavyne, who has mastered tracks for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The White Stripes, perhaps paid the ultimate compliment with regard to the plugin’s simplicity. For Drew, simply patching in the plugin is enough to warm up the sound.

Bottom-line

If you are familiar with the sound of Pultec EQs, you know that there can be no substitutes. The Waves PuigTec EQs make a bold effort at approximating the sound of the hardware units and seem to have largely succeeded. If you’re looking for an EQ pair that drips with attitude, you could do far worse than the EQP-1A and MEQ-5.


Waves Audio Vitamin Sonic Enhancer

Waves Audio Vitamin Sonic Enhancer

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Vitamin is billed as a “sonic enhancer”, but that phrase only offers a suggestion of what you can do with it. Technically speaking, it’s a multiband harmonic enhancer, and it has tone-shaping features that brighten up any source material and make it sound bigger and more powerful. Mixes, stems, and individual tracks need all the boost of energy they can muster, and a shot of Waves Vitamin might just be what the doctor ordered.

Useful features and application

The way the plugin works is remarkable in its elegance and simplicity. The original signal is enhanced with the addition of the processed signal, resulting in a rich and sparkly blend. Simple enough in concept to be sure, but there is no denying that the results are pretty impressive.

For anyone so inclined, it is theoretically possible to get close to the same effect with a string of EQs, compressors, and saturation processors set up in parallel. But Waves Vitamin does away with all that, providing a quick and easy solution that produces arguably better results. You could even adjust the width of the five bands precisely, giving Vitamin stereo spread capabilities that you simply can’t get without doubling the aforementioned parallel processing chain.

User impressions

Legendary producer Tony Visconti is one of Vitamin’s more esteemed users. Citing the plugin’s ability to go where standard EQ plugins dare not go, Tony gushed about the way Vitamin makes most any source material jump out of the mix.

FOH Engineer Jon Lemon had equally good things to say about Vitamin, this time from the perspective of a live engineer. Jon found the plugin to be of tremendous help in echoey venues, wherein focusing solely on the mid and high sections was sufficient to tighten up the sound.

Bottom-line

Waves’ Vitamin is not like any other EQ you’ve ever tried. In fact, it’s probably not like any other stereo enhancement tool you’ve ever tried either. What it does is pretty impressive nevertheless. And after you’ve gotten a taste of it, you might never want to start up a session without it.


Reverb Plugins

Waves Audio Abbey Road Reverb Plates

Waves Audio Abbey Road Reverb Plates

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Abbey Road is known for some of the most groundbreaking developments in music and recording technology. The characteristic sounds produced on its premises are in fact still highly-revered to this day. The reverb sounds that have made their way to countless recordings are especially lauded, with the plate sounds being a perfect example.

Now, you too can have the coveted Abbey Road plate reverbs in your own productions, via a four-pack software emulation by Waves Audio. Although purists will argue that these fall short of capturing the authentic character of the Abbey Road plates, there is no denying that they can come up with some tasty sounds that stand on their own merits.

Useful features and application

Four Abbey Road plate reverbs were modeled in the course of developing this plugin, and Waves has taken great pains to capture their unique individual characteristics. From the drivers’ harmonic distortion to the pickups and even to the output amplifiers, each component was modeled in meticulous detail. The result is an sonic brew that places you right there where the Beatles and Pink Floyd produced their most iconic work.

Of course, the acoustic properties of the reverb plates were subject to the same detailed modeling process as well. The golden-eared among you will especially appreciate how the virtual plates interact with the dampers, affecting the length of the reverb in a thoroughly musical way.

User impressions

The Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates have earned considerable praise from professionals that have actually used the originals. One of them is Giles Martin, who compared the plugins favorably with the actual Abbey Road plates. For Giles, the Waves version not only captures the spirit of the originals, but is an excellent sounding set of reverbs in its own right.

Guy Massey is also intimately familiar with the Abbey Road sound. Comparing the Waves models with the originals, Guy feels that they are practically indistinguishable from one another.

Bottom-line

The Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates are more than a retro throwback to classic reverb sounds. They are simply vibrant and versatile reverbs that will fit in just as well in any modern production. Use it on drums, use it on vocals or guitar…use it on anything! You will almost certainly love the results.


Waves Audio Abbey Road Chambers

Waves Abbey Road Chambers

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Abbey Road Studios is equally known for its rich chamber reverbs, and the aptly-named Waves Abbey Road Chambers allows you to add that same warmth and complexity in your own recordings. Capturing the character of the Abbey Road reverb and echo chambers to a ‘T’, this Waves package is a short and easy way to that elusive vintage vibe that turns merely ‘okay’ tracks into instant classics.

Useful features and application

In one sense, Abbey Road Chambers is the next best thing to actually having your recording and mixing done at the legendary studios. On the other hand, the plugin version adds a host of features that even the studio’s most-esteemed clients wouldn’t mind having.

Precision control over the chamber reverb is possible, with rich and deep delay cascades threatening to break out at any moment. The plugin even meticulously recreates the legendary send-tape-echo-echo-delay (STEED) setup, which utilizes signal splitting and feedback loops to create lush and otherworldly soundscapes.

For the price, you also get an extra set of modeled filters that–again–hearken back to the actual studio. With this particular feature, the ideal chamber sound is only a couple of tweaks away.

User impressions

Dave Pensado, who has worked with Black Eyed Peas and Justin Timberlake among others, now considers Abbey Road Chambers a favorite. He uses it on pretty much anything and is all-praises for its ability to flatter mixes in a musical way.

Guy Massey was impressed from the get-go. For the renowned recording, mixing, and mastering engineer, simply patching it onto a drum buss for the first time was enough to convince him of its excellence. Guy was especially taken with how exciting results could be produced so quickly.

Bottom-line

Classic Abbey Road recordings continue to be the standard to this day for many reasons. The distinctive reverb sounds definitely have a lot to do with the studio’s enduring legacy. Check out the Waves Abbey Road Chambers for a bit of that flavor in your own work. Who knows? Some of that magic might just rub off on you!


Waves Audio H-Reverb Hybrid Reverb

Waves Audio H-Reverb Hybrid Reverb

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Waves Audio’s H-Reverb is billed as a “hybrid reverb”, which doesn’t really say a whole lot about its capabilities. In a nutshell, this innovative plugin is a Finite Impulse Response (FIR) reverb that produces deep and rich reverbs with a healthy helping of airiness. The result is a classy sounding effect that blends in nicely with the mix without being too obtrusive.

Surprisingly for something so innovative, the H-Reverb is actually based on fundamental reverb concepts. But it is the inclusion of advanced features that set it apart from your ordinary, run-of-the-mill reverb.

Useful features and application

The FIR engine gives H-Reverb users the ability to twist and shape the decay envelope in many interesting ways. You can therefore come up with different flavors of exotic reverbs, all with outstanding clarity and quality. From gated reverbs to dense washes of sound, H-Reverb makes it all possible without compromising the integrity of the mix.

Those that have cut their teeth on high-quality hardware reverb units will be glad to know that many of the same rich analog flavors can be had with the H-Reverb. Waves’ own advanced analog modeling algorithm is sweetened with a tasty drive control, providing signal-shaping capabilities rarely seen in the digital world.

User impressions

Producer and engineer Ross Hogarth had to dig in a bit to see what the fuss with H-Reverb was all about. After finding his way around the various features however, he was quite taken with the wide range of quality effects possible.

Frank Filipetti actually welcomed the chance to dig into the depths of the H-Reverb. The producer and engineer who has worked with Foreigner, James Taylor, and Frank Zappa found it to be an amazingly versatile reverb that offered loads of control. For Frank, the H-Reverb is his go-to solution for extraordinary spatial effects.

Bottom-line

H-Reverb is one of those rare reverb plugins that are equally at home producing rich and tasteful reverbs and outlandish sonic soundscapes. Most every flavor short of authentic spring reverb can be had from this unit, and the results are always musical.


Virtual Instruments

Waves Audio Grand Rhapsody Piano

Waves Audio Grand Rhapsody Piano

Check Price & Demos @ Waves Audio

Waves Audio is a company better known for its effects processors than its instrument plugins. So when news of the Grand Rhapsody Piano came out, not a few people were caught totally by surprise. But despite the company’s relative newness to the world of the instrument plugin, Grand Rhapsody Piano is actually pretty impressive.

The plugin certainly has a respectable lineage. Its samples were painstakingly captured from the Fazioli F228 grand piano that you hear on Adele’s “Hello”, among other chart-toppers.

Useful features and application

As with all sampled instruments, the Waves Grand Rhapsody Piano is only as good as the original instrument from where the samples are derived. In this case, it is the Fazioli F228, an instrument whose pedigree is unquestionable.

The F228 is the product of the highest quality components and Italian expertise. Furthermore, it is made of wood from the same forest where Antonio Stradivari sourced wood for the prized violins that bear his name. As far as construction and tonal quality go, the F228 is practically faultless.

The Grand Rhapsody Piano plugin itself was produced via a state-of-the-art recording process, with the best mics, preamps, and converters. The result is an exquisite playing and listening experience that is as close as you could get to the real deal.

Of course, Grand Rhapsody provides a good amount of control over shaping the sound. You can choose from three mic pairs and blend them according to your musical vision. You also have control over details such as pedal, key up, and resonance. You even get a nice selection of piano-friendly effects, including a reverb based on Waves’ own high-quality H-Reverb.

User impressions

Sound designer Dwight Okahara had nothing but good things to say about the Grand Rhapsody Piano. Senior Audio Lead at Insomniac Games, Dwight was especially thrilled with the virtual piano’s depth and presence.

Keyboardist and producer Jason Miles was equally ecstatic. The flexibility of the plugin was the strong point for Jason, particularly with regard to how many options are available for tailoring the sound.

Bottom-line

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Grand Rhapsody Piano is its price. It’s hard to believe that something this good can be priced so reasonably, but that’s the Grand Rhapsody for you. With its clear and ultra-realistic sound, you may have just found a new studio standby.


Waves Audio Element 2.0 Virtual Analog Synth

Waves Audio Element 2.0 Virtual Analog Synth

Check Price & Demos @ Waves Audio

Now on its 2.0 release, Waves Element shows that the noted effects plugin developer has what it takes to compete in the software instruments arena. A virtual analog synth modeled in the vein of well-loved vintage classics, Element offers a number of features that give it enhanced capabilities and control.

The sound is, of course, the measuring stick by which all instruments are judged. Element definitely measures up in that regard, with a rich, fat, and warm sonic character that can be surprisingly flexible.

Useful features and application

Element is the first of what is expected to be a series of software synths that rely on the new iteration of Waves’ Virtual Voltage technology. High-resolution oscillators and envelopes that closely mirror the behavior of their analog counterparts give Element that satisfying analog feel that often eludes digital approximations.

Of course, Element 2.0 is a modern instrument through and through, so you know that modern features are included. Five integrated effects give you plenty of options for sweetening and mangling, and all controls feature MIDI learn capability. There is also an onboard 16-step sequencer, and a huge library of presets to get started with.

User impressions

Junior Sanchez, the DJ, producer, and remixer behind Daft Punk and Madonna, definitely knows his way around a synth or two. For him, Element is every bit as inspiring as the most venerated analog synths. Whether tweaking presets or designing sounds from scratch, Junior finds Element to be an amazingly powerful and creative instrument.

Within minutes of firing it up, Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess knew that Element was something special. For the keyboard wizard and composer, the modeled oscillators of the plugin are beyond reproach. In fact, it has already made an appearance on a few Dream Theater tracks!

Bottom-line

In a world littered by two-oscillator synth options, Waves Element still manages to stand out with its features and quality sound. Even if you already have a few softsynths in your possession, this will make a worthy addition to your collection.

You can check out other great synths such as Serum and Spire in our best pro plugin list.


Waves Audio Electric 88 Piano

Waves Audio Electric 88 Piano

Check Price & Demos @ Waves Audio

If you cannot dish out the cash for something like Spectrasonic Keyscape (mentioned in our pro plugins roundup), Waves Audio Electric 88 Piano aims to bring the rich and soulful sounds of a vintage electric piano to your studio creations. Meticulously sampled from an actual electric piano, the Electric 88 captures the unique idiosyncrasies of a well-loved instrument.

One of the most distinctive characteristics of vintage electric pianos is that no two of them are exactly alike. There can be considerable variances between model to model, and even the individual keys may not sound exactly alike. The passing of time only serves to emphasize the unique qualities of each instrument, until you end up with something that is all your own.

Useful features and application

The Waves Electric 88 captures the soul and vintage vibe of an actual electric piano because it is sampled from one. Each key is sampled multiple times in order to replicate the variances that occur in a real instrument. The source instrument itself is a well-loved, road-worn beauty that is evocative in its range of tones and flavors.

Of course, it is the 21st century after all, so Waves has made some concessions to modernity. The Electric 88 provides controls over the blending of the different modeled components, and there is even a formant control that lets you venture into areas where vintage pianos dare not go. The result is a broad range of tones, colors, and textures, from the vintage to the out-of-this-world.

User impressions

Charlie Judge, a musician, arranger, and composer who has worked with Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban, is absolutely smitten with the Electric 88. For Charlie, the plugin has the perfect blend of grittiness and character that invites hours of playing.

Mike Stevens, who has worked as musical director and instrumentalist for Annie Lennox, Tina Turner, and ELO, loves how the Electric 88 sits so nicely in a mix. For Mike, this comes pretty close to the sound and feel of a real electric piano.

Bottom-line

Waves Electric 88 is a great choice for anyone looking for that classic electric piano sound in plugin form. Perhaps the only thing negative that could be said about it is that it might just render your other electric piano plugins useless!


Guitar Plugin

Waves Audio PRS SuperModels

Waves Audio PRS SuperModels

Check Price & Demos @ Waves Audio

If “PRS SuperModels” calls to mind images of tall and disinterested women dressed in high-end fashion, you would be a bit off the mark. If the phrase instead makes you think of modeled guitar amps in various stages of simulated meltdown, you’ve come to the right place.

The Waves PRS SuperModels recreates three of the finest amps under the Paul Reed Smith banner: the Archon, the Dallas, and the never-released Blue Sierra/V9. What you get for the price are loads of very usable tones, with every detail of their hardware counterparts meticulously modeled.

Useful features and application

PRS SuperModels is the product of Waves’ own Precision Analog Component technology. Drawing from the schematics of the original amps, this technology is utilized in the service of bringing you the rich tones of top-of-the-line PRS amps.

Each model comes surprisingly close to the sound of the originals. With the Archon, you get the shimmering cleans and nasty overdriven signals that give way to awesome distortion the harder you push it.

The Blue Sierra/V9 model is every bit the quintessential boutique amp. It excels at both clean and medium-gain sounds, and you pretty much can’t go wrong wherever you set the knobs.

With the Dallas, all the classic tones of the great American are available at a click of the mouse. It ranges from big and bold cleans to various flavors of overdrive, with a lush reverb to top it off.

User impressions

Alex Skolnick of thrash band Testament and the Alex Skolnick Trio definitely knows amps. For him to praise the PRS SuperModels is therefore a…testament to its excellence. For Alex, the dynamics and natural sound of the models are right on the money. It even cranks out convincing feedback, which pleased Alex to no end.

Harvey Mandel, who at one time was asked to fill in the guitar spot in the Rolling Stones, was equally taken with the PRS SuperModels. Citing the wide range of combinations possible, Harvey has pretty much settled on these as his virtual amps of choice.

Bottom-line

Guitar purists are notoriously hard to please. The PRS SuperModels isn’t likely to change the minds of the most hardcore tube amp fanatics, but that’s their loss. If you have no reservations about getting your guitar tones from a software plugin rather than from glowing tubes, the PRS SuperModels will be a pleasant surprise.


Noise Reduction Plugin

Waves Audio NS1 Noise Suppressor

Waves NS1 Noise Suppressor

Check Price & Demos @ Waves Audio

Featured in our guide on top noise reduction plugins, Waves NS1 is a noise suppression plugin that might just be the best as far as ease of use and capability are concerned. Admittedly, it does have a simple design that may mislead you into thinking that it isn’t anything special. But underneath its somewhat plain interface is a remarkable chunk of code that effectively clears up noise from any source audio. Best of all, it does that without compromising sound quality.

Useful features and application

Waves NS1 isn’t going to win awards for complexity. You get a single fader and a single attenuation gauge, and that’s pretty much it. But it is what the fader does that makes this plugin so special.

Slide the fader up and the NS1 magically makes all your noise issues fade away. The secret to this is the intelligent noise suppression feature that differentiates noise from desirable audio material. You can therefore push the fader up pretty high before the quality of the audio begins to suffer.

All this magic happens in real-time. The NS1 quickly analyzes the audio signal even before you could react, pushing the main sonic elements to the front where it belongs. Background noise is relegated to the background, and you pretty much won’t have to worry about it anymore.

The attenuation meter may not be the sexiest display you will come across in a plugin, but it does its job. This lets you know how much energy is being sapped from the incoming audio signal, so you can ease back on the fader if necessary.

User impressions

Users of the Waves NS1 are a varied lot. From pro producers to mix engineers and even home studio hobbyists, everyone has a use for the NS1. Mastering engineer Piper Payne finds that it makes his work considerably easier, and cleaning up audio can be done within minutes as opposed to hours.

Singer, songwriter, and producer Mike Flannery has found NS1 to be useful for voiceover production. When Mike needs to ensure absolutely zero noise in his signal chain, Waves NS1 always delivers as expected.

Bottom-line

The simplicity of Waves NS1 goes hand-in-hand with its sheer intuitiveness. Even excessively noisy audio can be cleaned up surprisingly well, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to get quality results. More surgical correction might require more fully-featured plugins. But for the majority of noise reduction tasks, the NS1 might be the only tool you need.


Final thoughts

That’s our Waves plugin roundup for you. You’re likely a bit bewildered with all the different types available so we’ll try to make it easy for you.

If I could only buy one plugin, we would recommend that you go with the one that offers the most bang-for-the-buck. The Waves F6 is a good choice, offering EQ and compression capabilities in a single plugin.

Of course, going for the F6 means that you would still have to shell out for reverbs, delays, and other plugins. But with its range of features and capabilities, the F6 offers the most potential to change your sound in a significant way.


Who is Waves Audio?

Waves Audio is one of the world’s leading names in audio plugin development. The company made its mark with several lines of software effects plugins, which have since been augmented with virtual instrument plugins. The company also manufactures hardware signal processors, although its software plugins remain its most popular products.

Waves actually released the first commercially-available audio plugin, the Q10 Paragraphic Equalizer. From that fateful day in October 1992, the company followed up Q10 with a string of plugin releases, many of which are still widely used today.

Waves plugins comprise a varied lot, from EQs compressors, delays to reverbs, modulation plugins, and more. The company has also produced noise reduction and audio restoration plugins, and even pitch correction plugins designed for vocals.

Among the most avid users of Waves plugins are noted producers and mix engineers such as Tony Visconti, Chris and Tom Lord-Alge, Craig Anderton, Charlie Clouser, Butch Vig, and many more.

Are Waves Audio plugin worth the money?

Waves’ reputation in the audio and music production worlds is pretty peerless. For years after its debut, the company’s name was virtually synonymous with high-end software signal processing.

But like the most major companies, Waves has its share of detractors. Many feel that the company’s products have since been eclipsed by the offerings of newer and more forward-looking companies.

As to whether or not Waves plugins still represent a worthy investment, there is no denying that the company has produced many excellent plugins, most of which work just fine with modern computers. The company has also seen fit to release many of its plugins in 64-bit format, which bodes well for the future.

Of course, there is the issue of cost. Waves is also known for its high prices, particularly with its bundled/suite offerings. However, the company does offer its plugins for individual sale quite often, so you could simply pick and choose the ones you need.

Furthermore, Waves plugins often go on sale, at very reasonable prices. So if there is something in the Waves catalog that you absolutely must have, wait for it to go on sale. Chances are that you will get pretty good value for the money.

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