The 10 Best Waves Plugins in 2023
Check out our list of the 10 best Waves plugins in 2023.

In this blog post, we'll look at the top 10 Waves audio plugins available, from the classic SSL E-Channel Channel Strip to the versatile Vocal Rider. We'll also provide tips on how to get the most out of your Waves plugins so that you can get your desired sound every time. So let's dive in and explore what Waves has to offer.

Overview of Waves audio plugins

Waves audio plugins are a powerful and versatile tool for any audio engineer. Waves plugins offer various audio mixing options to give your project the sound you want.

Waves' plugin catalog is divided into four main categories: Reverb, Delay, Dynamics, and EQ. If you're unfamiliar, reverb plugins mimic natural reverb in real-world spaces such as concert halls or churches. Delay plugins provide an echo effect that can create interesting rhythmic textures or add ambiance to a mix. Dynamics plugins allow you to control the volume levels of your track without sacrificing quality. Finally, EQ plugins allow you to fine-tune each track by adjusting frequency balance.

Waves plugins are available for Mac and PC and compatible with most digital audio workstations (DAWs) such as Pro Tools, Logic Pro X, Studio One, and Cubase.

Why Waves? What makes Waves great
Thanks to Waves plugins and other manufacturers, mixing and mastering audio has never been easier. These powerful tools offer comprehensive features for novice and experienced engineers, making them the perfect choice for any production. You can quickly adjust each parameter without going through a long learning curve. Advanced features like sidechain inputs, variable soft-clip limiting, and automatic gain control provide even more control over your sound. With complete integration into popular DAWs such as Pro Tools, Logic Pro X, Cubase, and Ableton Live, Waves plugins help reduce the time spent on post-production tasks like mixing or mastering.

Here is our list of the ten best Waves plugins in 2023:

SSL E-Channel Channel Strip

The SSL E-Channel Channel Strip is the perfect all-in-one audio mixing plugin for vocal and instrument recordings. It features a 4-band EQ, compressor, gate, and expander for maximum sound control, all powered by Waves' advanced processing algorithms for transparent sound with minimal artifacts.

The 4-band EQ allows you to dial in the frequencies you want to highlight or suppress. The compressor helps you keep your audio levels consistent, while the gate and expander will enable you to remove ambient noise from recordings.

The SSL E-Channel Channel Strip's comprehensive range of features makes it an ideal choice for novice and experienced engineers.

Check it out here.

CLA-2A Compressor

The CLA-2A Compressor is a classic Waves audio plugin modeled after the iconic Teletronix LA-2A compressor. Its simple three-knob interface makes it easy to dial in the perfect amount of compression for your instrument or vocal performance. It offers a gentle 4:1 compression ratio, allowing you to add subtle compression to vocals and instruments without affecting the overall dynamics of the mix. The CLA-2A is also great for adding punch and clarity to drums and smoothing out inconsistencies in vocal performances or taming overly loud sounds.

The CLA-2A Compressor is renowned for its warm sound quality, making it ideal for adding warmth and depth to tracks without compromising clarity or detail. Its low noise floor ensures that your recordings remain free of unwanted artifacts, while its sidechain filter helps you focus on specific frequencies when compressing. As a bonus, it includes a limiter with adjustable threshold and release parameters for extra control over your dynamic range.

Check it out here.

CLA-76 Compressor

The CLA-76 Compressor is a timeless piece of hardware that has been updated to meet the demands of modern audio production. With its switchable attack times, sidechain filter, and intuitive user interface, it's perfect for engineers of any skill level looking for an analog-style compressor with added features. The parallel compression feature adds punch and clarity to drums or vocals without sacrificing warmth. It also offers stereo-linking capabilities to get your mixes sounding just right easily. 

Check it out here.

L1 Ultramaximizer/Limiter

The L1 Ultramaximizer/Limiter is an all-in-one audio plugin that offers both a limiter and a compressor. It features an advanced look-ahead peak limiter and a compressor with both single and multiband options, giving you the flexibility to tailor your sound to your exact specifications. This allows you to increase the overall loudness of your track while still maintaining clarity and dynamics without introducing distortion or artifacts.

The L1 also comes with a spectrum analyzer for visualizing your mix and reducing unwanted background noise in recordings. This feature makes identifying problems in your mix easy before they become audible.

The plugin also offers several presets tailored for different types of music production, from hip-hop to EDM. With these presets you can quickly achieve professional-sounding results without spending hours tweaking parameters. The L1 Ultramaximizer/Limiter also includes a visual feedback system that provides detailed information about how each parameter affects the sound of your mix, allowing you to make informed decisions when adjusting settings.

Check it out here.

Vocal Rider

Waves Audio's Vocal Rider is a powerful audio processing plugin that offers users an effortless way to maintain consistent vocal levels with minimal effort. The plugin uses sophisticated algorithms to analyze the incoming signal and automatically adjust it according to a predetermined range, giving users complete control over their recordings. With an intuitive graphical user interface that displays all parameters at once and adjustable compression ratio, attack and release times, and sidechain filtering, Vocal Rider provides producers with unprecedented precision when controlling vocal track levels. In addition, Auto Mode and Manual Mode give more customization options for more precise adjustments depending on the situation. At the same time, its advanced delay compensation feature ensures accurate synchronization of multiple tracks with ease.

Check it out here.

Waves CLA MixHub

This intuitive plugin provides complete control over each track's levels, panning, and EQ, all within an easy-to-use interface. It includes a built-in compressor, expander, and gate to shape your sound further.

The CLA MixHub is compatible with all major DAWs and supports up to 16 audio tracks in both stereo and mono mode. This makes it an ideal tool for creating polished mixes without spending hours tweaking parameters or struggling through complex menus. With its user-friendly setup, the CLA MixHub is the perfect choice for novice engineers looking to get their feet wet in mixing and experienced engineers who need a quick solution for getting the job done right.

One of the best features of the CLA MixHub is its ability to automate levels and panning on multiple tracks at once easily. This lets you quickly move sections around within a mix while maintaining consistent levels throughout your project. Its integrated compressor/expander/gate also helps you keep your mix sounding clean by reducing noise and unwanted background ambiance.

Check it out here.

PuigTec Equalizers (EQP-1A + MEQ5)

The PuigTec EQP-1A and MEQ5 are two of the top Waves audio plugins for audio mixing and mastering. The EQP-1A is a classic tube-style equalizer with a vintage sound, while the MEQ5 is a 5-band parametric equalizer with an intuitive user interface. Both plugins offer mid/side stereo processing, allowing you to shape the sound of each channel separately.

The EQP-1A provides a warm analog sound perfect for vocals, bass, drums, and other instruments. Its low and high-shelf filters and cut/boost control knobs offer precise control over your mix's frequency balance. It also features an auto gain switch for automatic level compensation when changing settings.

The MEQ5 offers even more flexibility in terms of control over your mix's frequency balance. It has four different filter shapes—bell, notch, low shelf, and high shelf—allowing you to achieve exactly the sound you want. Additionally, it features high-definition analog-modeled filters, which provide greater clarity and accuracy than standard digital filters.

Check it out here.

C6 Multiband Compressor

The C6 Multiband Compressor is a powerful and versatile plugin for audio mixing and mastering. It features five adjustable crossover points allowing users to compress and limit individual frequency bands easily. Its intuitive graphical user interface visually represents the processed signal, making it easy to adjust each band's dynamics without sacrificing sound quality or clarity.

The C6 Multiband Compressor also features an advanced "soft knee" mode, allowing users to compress audio sources such as vocals and drums gradually. This mode helps preserve the natural dynamics of the source material while still providing precise control over loudness and dynamic range. The plugin also includes several presets tailored for different types of music production and sidechain filtering options for further customization.

Check it out here.

Waves Vocal Bender

The Waves Vocal Bender is an incredibly versatile plugin that can manipulate the pitch of your vocals without affecting the time. This plugin gives you access to adjustable parameters such as pitch, formant, speed, and mix and a preset library for quick access. It can also be used on any audio track, including vocals, drums, synths, and more, allowing users to create unique effects like vibrato, harmony, and double-tracking.

The intuitive user interface makes it easy to use for both novice and experienced engineers alike. Its advanced features, such as adjustable filter frequency response curves and sidechain options, can be used to shape sounds.

Check it out here.

H-Delay Hybrid Delay

The H-Delay Hybrid Delay plugin from Waves Audio is a powerful and versatile tool for adding unique delay effects to your audio projects. It is one of my all-time favorite Waves plugins. The H-Delay Hybrid Delay offers users an intuitive way of creating complex delays, featuring up to six separate delay lines, an EQ filter section with four bands, and several modulation options, such as Flutter and Lo-Fi. This plugin can add depth and character to any sound.

From subtle echoes to extreme sound manipulation, the H-Delay Hybrid Delay can be used in various ways. Its versatile parameters allow users to create anything from classic slapback echoes to intricate rhythmic patterns that can be used for music production or post-production work. Its low latency processing also ensures no noticeable lag while using the plugin during playback.

For added control over the sound of your project, the H-Delay also includes a sidechain input with frequency range control for ducking sounds to create room within a mix. It also has adjustable feedback controls, which allow you quickly change the length and intensity of each echo effect without having to repatch anything. 

Check it out here.

Tips for getting the most out of your Waves plugins

Getting the most out of your Waves audio plugins is all about experimentation. Take the time to explore each plugin's settings and parameters to find the sound you're looking for. Don't be afraid to try different combinations of plugins from other brands, as this can help bring unique textures and sounds to your mix.

Another great way to get the most out of your Waves plugins is through sidechain compression. Sidechain compression allows you to use one signal (such as a kick drum) to control another signal (such as a bass). This technique can be used creatively or to give instruments space in a busy mix. Taking advantage of sidechain compression can help make your mixes stand out.

Step outside the studio for context

The plugins on this list are some of my favorite Waves plugins and go-to tools in production. H-Delay is a staple on my vocal busses, and the new creative tools Waves is releasing, such as Vocal Bender, are a never-ending source of inspiration.

Along with inspiration in the studio, one of the most important tests of a new production for me during my career was the car test. Putting a new record on my phone and listening to it in the car outside the studio, or taking it home and listening on the way or on the way to work the next day, was key for me in fine-tuning my work and getting the context I needed to take songs and productions to the next level.

I always found this part of the music-making process hard. Strangely, putting a new song on your phone and listening to it was never as easy as it could or should be, so we developed Crate.

Crate is an audio-file library in the cloud built for musicians. Think of Crate as your private streaming service - "Spotify with an upload button." Built specifically to handle unreleased music, Crate makes it easy to listen to your music outside the studio and get the context you need to take it to the next level.

Use Crate to perfect the car test; simply drag and drop to upload to all your devices, and then take your music with you when you leave the studio. Manage your versions with Crate's version management features, add artwork, and share with collaborators - all from Crate on your phone or computer.

What you should do now
Store your music with cloud storage for music creators, Crate.fm, and spend more time making music than moving music.

If you’re already with us, here are more production tips to give you the edge:
What is Crate?
Crate is the easiest way to store, organize, and share unreleased music. With Crate, your unreleased music syncs across your devices. Available for iOS and desktop.
Rylan Talerico
July 6, 2023
Before founding Crate, Rylan Talerico was signed to Warner Records as a recording artist, producer, and songwriter. These days, Rylan enjoys spending time with his family and working on Crate building tools to empower musicians to be more creative and connected.
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Ella B.

Songwriter, producer, artist

I keep finding songs in my library I forgot about with

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