With such a plethora, literally hundreds of Waves Plugins to choose from, it can be hard to decide which ones are best suited for you. Waves Plugins have been an industry standard for quite some time now and for good reason.
You’ll find the Top A List Producers and Engineers swear by their sound and quality. Everyone from Chris Lord Alge to Jaycen Joshua has either been sponsored by them or given out their secret processes using their tools.
So, with that being said we present to you, 20 Amazing Waves Plugins You MUST Have!
Waves Plugin #1 – Vitamin Sonic Enhancer
The Vitamin Sonic Enhancer is a multiband harmonic enhancer than can dramatically affect certain aspects of your track in different frequency bands. When used correctly this tool can make your track go from amateur to amazing in seconds.
The plugin itself has zero latency and can used in both a studio and live environment. When added to a track or bus this plugin gives unparalleled warmth and color comparable to a parallel chain of EQ, Compression, and Saturation but with just one plugin.
The controls on the plugin are very intuitive and user friendly, allowing you to find and adjust the crossover points between the 5 frequency bands and also control the over mix level of the direct signal. On top of all this, it also has an added feature to control the stereo width of each band as well, allowing ultimate control to leave room for things like vocals in the mix.
This is a great tool to be used on just about anything from synths, drums, vocals, and guitars to the overall mix in general. Check out this video of The Production Expert showing you how to dramatically sweeten up your mix with the Waves Vitamin Sonic Enhancer Plugin.
Waves Plugin #2 – Vocal Rider
If you work as a Vocal Producer or Recording Engineer, this is a must have plugin end of story! Those who work in this field know that riding vocals and vocal automation is a tedious yet crucial aspect that is needed on professional sounding vocals.
This plugin does just that, automatically in minutes. Simply setup your ideal level for the vocal and then set your thresholds and the plugins does the rest. This plugin is also ideal because it doesn’t add any sonic characteristic to the track at all.
It just simply does the hard work for you, even writing in automation within Protools and other DAWs as well for your vocal tracks. An absolute time saver for any Vocal Producer and Engineer. Watch this video by Waves detailing how to use this plugin perfectly.
Waves Plugin #3 – Waves Doubler
Doubler by Waves has been a best kept secret for many years in the industry. It has also been used on tracks by the likes of big stars like Justin Timberlake and Rhianna.
This plugin is used on background vocals to thicken them up in the mix and give them a more desired chorus effect that most of us are used to on background vocals. Very versatile though, this plugin can be used on instruments like claps to make them seems like they are coming from the side instead of straight down the middle.
You can also change the pitch slightly on each side of the stereo spectrum on instruments to create more interest in the mix. This is by far one of the best plugins to use period and should be in everyone’s arsenal.
Waves Plugin #4 – S1 Stereo Imager
This plugin can be quite difficult to understand at first, but once you do, this thing is a power house! Intuitively its quite simple as there are only 4 controls to use but one main slider control.
Basically, this plugin allows you to expand the stereo width of a sound to create more room for other things like vocals and drum up the center. This is a great tool to use on thing you want really wide in the mix like background vocals and even pads and synths.
This is THE PLUGIN everyone uses to get those wide background vocals that stand out in the mix. Check out this video of Engineer, Jordan “DJ Swivel” Young using the S1 plugin on Beyoncé’s background vocals for her song “I Care”.
Waves Plugin #5 – API Collection
For those who don’t know, API’s Compressors, Console’s, and EQ’s have been a stable in the recording industry for quite a few decades now. Their plugins models don’t fall far from the tree as well. API actually partnered up with Waves to bring you a true to life remodel of the original hardware sound that API makes.
Within minutes you can dial in just what you need with these plugins as they are very user friendly. The fact that you can have classic gear that greats like Jimi Hendrix used on his records right at your disposal is insane. This is a definite must have plugin.
One of my favorite techniques to use this plugin with is parallel compression a snare. Check out this video by Grammy Award Winning Engineer Dave Pensado as he showcases how he uses the API EQ plugin doing this very technique.
Waves Plugin #6 – Waves Center
What I love about this plugin is the simplicity. I personally use this plugin in just about every mix. What this plugin does essentially is let you separate the center from the content on the left and right sides and vice versa. Allowing you to take something that is in stereo and make it completely mono as well as the opposite where you take the center channel completely out of a track.
This can be ideal for things such as pads where you want to make room up the middle for that perfect vocal to shine or just to make room in the mix in general. The punch knob located on the plugin basically does the same thing except it reduces the transients of the incoming signal.
Overall this plugin rocks and is a must especially those who remix songs and needs to remove certain unwanted parts from acapella tracks.
Waves Plugin #7 – CLA Classic Compressors
The CLA Classic Compressor Bundle comprises of 3 classic and vintage remodeled compressors. The LA-2A, 1176, and LA-3A all of which were originally manufactured by Universal Audio.
Waves has since teamed up with Legendary Engineer Chris Lord Alge, who has worked on records from the likes of Green Day, U2, James Brown, and Tina Turner to accurately capture the sound and feel of these classic compressors. Here is the breakdown of the 3 types of compressors that come in the collection.
- CLA-2A – This is a compressor that doesn’t react as quick as most compressor usually would. Instead this compressor is good for things like backgrounds vocals where intense compression isn’t need but rather slower compression just to keep things in check. This is my absolute go to for background vocals period.
- CLA 1176 – This compressor is the quick acting fast compressor you hear everyone talk about. The 1176 was designed catch and bit down on transient right away. This compressor is amazing on things like drums and percussion, and will give them extreme punch in the mix.
- CLA-3A – Another great compressor, this one is more suited to be used on instruments like bass and guitar. A compressor/limiter this piece of gear was synonymous with giving off a bit of harmonic distortion on its input, where is why it was so coveted by bass and guitar players.
This compressor bundle to me is a must have tool with so many options at your disposal and so many uses.
Waves Plugin #8 – Renaissance Vox (RVox)
Now this next plugin has to go down as the secret weapon of the recording industry. Ask any top-level recording and mixing engineer and they’ll tell you this plugin is straight gold.
The Renaissance Vox plugin or RVox, is a simplified compressor that takes any sound and really brings it into the forefront. This has been a staple on lead vocals in the industry for quite a while now to get those in your face vocals everyone loves on today’s records.
The compressor also features a gate and gain knobs for added control over the recording or sound. Check out this video of Legendary Engineer Andrew Scheps using RVox in his mix.
Waves Plugin #9 – Kramer Master Tape
So Waves partnered up with legendary mixing engineer Eddie Kramer to deliver an incredible tape plugin. I’m sure you’ve heard other producers explain just how great the sound of tape can be on your tracks.
Well Kramer Master Tape is a tape emulation plugin modeled after a rare ¼” reel-to-reel tape machine. Please believe this plugin will give you all the warmth and richness that is true to the tape sound and also has key features and controls like adjustable tape speed, wow & flutter, bias, flux, and noise parameters.
Don’t believe us? Check out this video with the man himself, Eddie Kramer explaining this heavyweight plugin!
Waves Plugin #10 – Renaissance Compressor
The renaissance compressor is another OG plugin that has been around forever but is still in my humble opinion one of the best they’ve put out and has stood the test of time.
This multi-purpose compressor has a very musical sound and works great on instruments like synths, drums, bass, and vocals. As far as controls go, you can toggle between both “Opto” and “Electro” modes for slightly different types of compression.
Check out this video of multi-platinum recording and mixing engineer for Pharrell, Jermaine Dupri, Mariah Carey, and more, Phil Tan as he shows how he uses the renaissance compressor on his mix of the song “Diamonds” by Rihanna. Check out the video here.
Waves Plugin #11 – PuigTec EQ’s
Now when it comes to my top EQ weapons, this is by far my secret gem. This plugin is a modeled recreation of the infamous Pultec EQP-1A EQ that is famous for having the ability to both boost and cut the same frequencies simultaneously creating a resonant shelf.
In collaboration with Jack Joseph Puig the good people at Waves have recreated and emulated this iconic hardware unit that has been heard on some many classic recordings. I’m talking everything from the likes of U2 to Lady Gaga to the Rolling Stones and more!
I personally love enhancing my low end with this plugin and it fits the bill quite nicely. Check it out for yourself and watch the Legend Dave Pensado use it in action here.
Waves Plugin #12 – SSL G Master Buss Compressor
Ask any audio engineer and I’m sure this compressor is either in their repertoire or on their wish list. This SSL G plugin is modeled after the famous SSL 4000 G console compressor within the board and has captured the true sound of the original immaculately.
This is thee plugin synonymous with the phrase “gluing” that you hear come out of a lot of producer’s and engineers’ mouth. Where the SSL buss compressor really shines is on a drum buss or mix buss.
Add this plugin on your drum buss and hear how the drums go from individual sounds to a cohesive unit working together. But hey, don’t just take my word for it. Check out this video by Raw Technique Studios where he details how to use this very plugin to achieve success on your drum buss. Watch the video here!
Waves Plugin #13 – Waves Trans-X
When I need my snare, clap or percussion tracks to really smack my first choice sometimes isn’t to always grab a compressor, or even an EQ. Sometimes I like to just go with a transient shaper like Trans -X that does the work for me with ease.
Essentially what Trans-X is, is a transient plugin that will attenuate and accentuate the attack of anything it’s put in front of. This is especially great for things like loops and drums.
If you’re a sound designer this tool should definitely be in your toolbox period.
Waves Plugin #14 – C4 Multiband Compressor
Multiband compression can be a hard concept to master in the beginning, but when learned effectively it can be an incredibly powerful tool. Basically, multiband compression allows you to separate only certain frequencies you want to be affected by compression and leave out the other frequencies you don’t want.
This is especially helpful say on your mix buss where you want to contain the low end of the whole track and not affect any of the other instruments in the track. The C4 also has 4 different bands you can affect independently for maximum transparency.
Watch top mixing engineer for Pharrell and Robin Thicke, Tony Maserati, as he walks through using the C4 Multiband Compressor. Watch the video here!
Waves Plugin #15 - CLA Vocals
Another Chris Lord Alge plugin makes the list again and for good reason. This plugin has got to the best one stop shop vocal plugin on the market period. It’s basically an all in one multi-effect plugin that has the top 6 effects you’ll need when handling vocals.
That includes bass, treble, compression, reverb, delay, and pitch. Don’t sleep on this plugin. It was used heavy on the vocal mixing of Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow”.
Waves Plugin #16 – H-Delay
This is my go to delay for all projects I do! H- Delay by Waves is a PCM style delay plugin that has incredible built-in effects like filtering, phasing, and flanging as well as classic delay effects like ping-pong delay, slap-back delay, and tempo synced echo.
Hence the name Hybrid (H) Delay, it can function like both a vintage delay unit and as a modern one. The controls on this thing are incredibly useful as well with things like a tap tempo pad to find tempos on the fly and the ability to sync the tempo to the host tempo or adjust it manually.
With so many features in one, this delay plugin is a must, end of story! Check out Grammy Award Winning Engineer, Jordan “DJ Swivel” Young as he showcases how he used H-Delay on his mix of The Chainsmokers hit “Closer”! Watch the video here.
Waves Plugin #17 – Torque
This is another slept on plugin that a lot of people don’t know about. It especially comes in handy for Sound Designers who make their own drum sounds or any sound for that matter.
Torque is a frequency shifting and tuning plugin that allows you to accurate identify and change the pitch of drum and percussion elements in your mix. This plugin is great because a lot of people don’t know that tuning your drums to the key of the song is so critical for success.
With a tool like this, it makes the process so much easier and quicker. Check out Producer for Dr. Dre and Beyoncé, Focus explaining how he incorporated the Torque plugin in his workflow. Watch the video here!
Waves Plugin #18 – Soundshifter
To all my Producers and Sound Designers, this plugin is for you! In the era where everyone and their mom is creating samples, this plugin helped you alter the pitch of loops and samples to create a whole new vibe different than what you had before.
Soundshifter also allows you to time-stretch audio as well to mold it to your specific tempo. It does all of this in real time and the pitch algorithm is smooth and accurate.
Check out Platinum Producer, Jahaan Sweet as he showcases how he uses the Soundshifter plugin in his production of Eminem’s “Lucky You”. Watch the video here!
Waves Plugin #19 – Renaissance Bass (RBass)
When you want to get your 808s to hit HARD, this is the plugin you go to. Renaissance Bass or RBass is essentially a low-end enhancement tool that helps deliver deeper and richer low end that sounds great on any sound system.
I love to you this plugin in parallel on an 808 to give it even more low-end harmonics, still keep the original timbre of the 808 from the beginning.
Try this plugin on anything you want to enhance the low end on, including bass and kicks as well.
Waves Plugin #20 – Metaflanger
When you need a crazy effect to go on just about anything, look no further than this plugin from Waves. Metaflanger is basically a flanger on steroids that can also do things like chorus, phasing, and more.
This plugin is great on things like pads and synths to give them added interest. You can also add this to a vocal for crazy effects that sound out of this world!
Check out Grammy Award Winning Engineer for Timbaland and Madonna, Marcella Araica as she shows how she uses the Metaflanger plugin in her workflow. Watch the video here.
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