Waves are one of the biggest plugin creators in the world. The variety of their near 200 plugins is enormous and the quality is always top-notch. It’s for this reason that they are widely regarded as the industry standard creators. However, with so many great plugins to choose from, it can be difficult to navigate. Finding the unique Waves plugins, the tools that will revolutionise your workflow, isn’t straightforward.
Today, I’m bringing you a list of the most unique Waves plugins that really will add something to your arsenal. This is by no means a full list of everything worth checking out. However, it has some great variety and consists of tools that completely changed the quality of my work when I first got hold of them. Check them out and take advantage of Waves generous discounts to snag yourself some powerful new plugins.
The Most Unique Waves Plugins Available Today
If you’ve been looking for a way to add some analogue warmth to your mixes then look no further than the Waves J37. Modelled on the original J37 that lived in Abbey Road Studios for so many years, this awesome plugin captures the heart and soul of a machine that recorded so many amazing albums. The exact tone of this machine has been faithfully modelled with precision. It even includes a variety of tape types, each with a specific formula to provide a different kind of tone. This is by far one of the best plugins for tape emulation ever made. Warmth, character and colour come in heaps with this beautiful tool. I recommend trying it out on vocals, mix buses and even entire tracks to hear its full potential.
Do you struggle with mixing vocals? Too much boxiness or harshness in every mix? Then you need the Triple D! Designed in collaboration with multiple Grammy award winner Manny Marroquin, the Triple D does three things. Deboxy – Remove those nasty, boxy tones from the low mids. Deharshner – Strip away those harsh, piercing frequencies in the upper mids. DeEsser – Clampdown on nasty sibilance that sticks out in your vocal takes. All in all, this plugin is a miracle worker and one of the most unique Waves plugins you can use in your vocal chains. Once you get used to it, it will literally live on your vocal chain presets.
I’ve mentioned convolution reverb in a few previous articles. For getting a realistic and natural reverb sound, nothing beats it. Typically convolution reverbs can be quite pricey but this is where Waves comes in to save the day yet again. The IR1 convolution reverb provides a multitude of modifiable impulse responses as well as a built-in four-band equaliser to shape your reverb sends. Although it’s quite nerdy, one of my favourite things about this plugin is that it actually displays RT60 times as well as full decay times. This is immensely helpful for managing how a reverb will sound in a full mix. Give this a spin on anything and create some large, natural and accurate sounding spaces!
Greg Wells has collaborated on a few unique Waves plugins. MixCentric is one of the best plugins I have ever had the pleasure to use. I might even have to say it’s the best plugin on this list. With over 85 million units sold of music he has worked on, you can trust Greg Wells ears. Pair him up with the Waves engineers and you’ve got a recipe for something really special.
Using a combination of pre-determined EQ, compression and harmonic distortion, this plugin works much like the Waves one knob series. All you have to do is load it up and dial it in. When it comes to finalising mixes, adding those final touches to buses, or creating test masters, MixCentric has you covered. Its application of each of these subtle effects is nothing less than pleasing to listen to. It’s easy to overdo it with this one but when you dial it in just right, you’ll hear improvements you didn’t even know needed adding. Seriously, this is worth picking up!
In the past, I’ve always made a point of explaining and detailing the different circuit types of compressors. Although we all use digital plugins now, it’s important to understand the circuitry as many plugins are modelled on popular hardware units. By knowing what you’re getting, you can ensure the best results when it comes to processing certain sources. With that being said, if you were looking for a powerful stereo compressor that, to a degree, can offer it all in one then you’d want the Pugichild Compressor.
Modelled on the vari-mu compressors of old, this is one of the best plugins for compression that waves have to offer. Capable of dual mono, stereo, and mid-side compression, it is incredibly versatile and wonderfully straightforward to use. Simply dial in the gain, choose the attack and release times from six prest configurations and then start compressing. The variable-ratio of vari-mu compressors means it’ll always act accordingly to how hard you drive it. Less compression sounds more musical, aggressive compression gets thrashy. Learn to use a vari-mu and you’ll be a compression wizard in no time.
Torque is a relatively new one but is quickly cementing itself as one of the best and most unique Waves plugins available. Simply put, Torque lets you tune drum hits in the mix to specific keys without the introduction of nasty artefacts or the loss of power that traditional tuning tends to apply. Drums slightly out of tune during mixing? No longer a problem. Torque will let you adjust the recording to a specific note and then pitch it up or down to better suit your mix. Gone are the days of trying to fill out mixes where the tom drums are too closely matched. Now I can make each drum sound like its own and have it routed right into the heart of the song.
We tend to ignore the idea that even drums have melodic tonality and this is a huge problem. Much like every other instrument in a mix, your drums need to be in tune with the song or the magic is lost. Save yourself countless wasted hours of drum replacement and instead, grab torque to get things sounding right. Mixing drums has never been so easy!
The final plugin on my list is one for those of us who like to ensure that things are going to sound right once we bounce them down. It’s really important to measure loudness and true peaking in anything you ever work on to ensure the best possible results when it’s played back elsewhere. LUFS metering has become the defining standard for how sound is measured these days and all of the major streaming platforms are using it. Being aware of these important numbers and making sure that your tracks aren’t peaking is so important. It may not be the most creative plugin ever made but it’s one of the best plugins you can buy simply for its value, its accuracy and how much time it can save you. It’s also one of the most unique Waves plugins in this category for providing an extensive list of different standards. This even has a preset for Loudness on a PlayStation! If you don’t have a dedicated loudness meter, now is your chance. I promise you it’ll live on your master bus for the rest of the time.
Waves make some seriously top-notch, unique plugins. It’s so difficult to pick and choose which ones are worth the investment if you’re not in a position to just buy them all. Today’s list covers a wide range of different plugins that I think can really help to add something to any mix. The J37 Tape is great for some character and tape warmth in your mixes. Manny Marroquin’s Triple D is going to take your vocal mixing to a new level. The IR1 reverb adds a sense of realness to any mix and is well worth getting. Greg Wells is a genius and his MixCentric plugin will add heaps of fullness to your mixes. The Puigchild compressor is great for so many things and a wonderful tool to learn compression with. Don’t settle for out of tune drums. Get Torque in your life and make those kicks and snares sing! Finally, be aware of modern metering standards. Grab the WLM plus loudness meter and make sure your mixes are always correct before you bounce them.
All prices listed in this article are correct as of January 2019. Waves regularly have big discounts so if you like something you saw today, it’s best to be patient and save a few dollars!
About the Author
Over 10 years experience working in the audio business. Everything from coiling up XLRs to mastering albums. I'm a self-made man and I keep my assets in Bitcoin. What more is there to know!?
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