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The Top 5 Best Waves Vocal Plugins Of 2024

June 10, 2023 
BY DAN SPENCER
Last Updated on January 8, 2024

Waves Audio is known for its industry-leading lineup of audio plugins used by music producers, mixing engineers, and audio professionals worldwide. For every aspect of audio production, there’s a Waves plugin that promises to upgrade and fine-tune your sound.

Most of Waves’ plugins are well-designed, user-friendly, and practical to use. However, the challenge lies in finding the best tool for your task, as there are hundreds of available plugins, each with its own specific uses and capabilities!

If you want to unlock the full potential of your vocals and harness the power of Waves’ plugins but don’t know where to start, this guide is definitely for you. Keep reading to discover the best Waves vocal plugins, their key features, and how you can make the most out of them.

1. Waves Vocal Rider

Top Pick
Waves Vocal Rider
10/10Rating

Interested in getting this plugin? Click the link below.

One crucial aspect of music production is maintaining the perfect balance between your track’s vocals and instrumentals. To do this, mix engineers usually turn to heavy compression to smoothen the sound. However, they run the risk of losing the dynamic range of the vocals.

You could also painstakingly draw your automation levels manually, but this tedious task can take hours of your precious time. This is where Waves Vocal Rider comes in handy. It’s a powerful plugin that automatically adjusts your fluctuating vocal levels to fit nicely into your mix. 

It can level your vocal track on its own or seamlessly match your vocals to the rest of the music and maintain a consistent and relative volume for the entirety of your song. Vocal Rider is a functional and time-saving solution that makes vocal processing so much easier.

How To Use Waves Vocal Rider

Start by enabling the plugin on your vocal track and feeding your instrumental mix to the sidechain. You can set a target level for your vocals and let the plugin efficiently increase or reduce the vocal gain for you with its precise fader moves.

You’ll observe that Vocal Rider’s intelligent adjustments don’t smother the life out of your music and stay true to your vocal’s full fidelity. Instead of just processing your track’s waveform, this plugin responds to audio and analyzes the incoming signal.

Unlike other competing plugins, Vocal Rider actually writes automation. How cool is that? After making mix adjustments and achieving your desired balance, you can simply write this plugin’s automatic volume adjustments as track automation in case you want to fine-tune levels later on.

But wait, there’s more! Here are some other notable features of Vocal Rider:

  • Compensates for varying vocal levels resulting from mic technique issues
  • Produces up to 12 dB of gain and 12 dB of attenuation for consistent vocals
  • Suitable for music production, video narration, and podcasts
  • No latency makes it ideal for both studio and live performances
  • Prevents instrumental spillover from affecting vocal leveling during real-time operation

2. Waves CLA-2A Compressor/Limiter

Top Pick
Waves CLA-2A
10/10Rating

Interested in getting this plugin? Click the link below.

Are you familiar with the five-time Grammy-award-winning mixing engineer Chris Lord-Alge? Well, he isn’t called “Lord of the Mix” for nothing! You’ve most likely heard his work many times on the radio, as he has mixed songs for Tina Turner, Green Day, Stevie Nicks and more.

When it comes to compressors/limiters, Chris has a personal favorite hardware unit: the classic electro-optical tube compressor, LA-2A. It’s famous for its silky smooth response as well as its rich and alluring sound.

Fortunately, you don’t have to have Chris’s personal vintage hardware to replicate his legendary music. He has partnered with Waves Audio to develop the CLA-2A Compressor/Limiter, a model of his original hardware in the form of a convenient plugin with a simple yet effective interface.

How To Use The CLA-2A Compressor/Limiter

This plugin allows you to achieve exceptional control of vocal and instrumental dynamics in just a few clicks. Select compression or limiting, dial in gain reduction using a Peak reduction knob, and adjust makeup gain using Gain control. 

Enjoy satisfying attack/release times and a warm sound that retains clarity and definition. If you want to add punch, consider tweaking the peak reduction further. This plugin lets you choose between squeaky clean sounds or adding natural-sounding hiss and hum.

Take a look at this plugin’s other impressive features:

  • Additional presets by Chris Lord-Alge for drums, guitar, vocals, and more
  • Sidechain for locking compression to your other tracks
  • Mix control for effortless parallel compression
  • Trim knob for making quick level adjustments
  • Tube emulation for added harmonic saturation

Related Article: My Top 5 Best Waves Plugins | I Use These In Every Mix


3. Waves CLA-76 Compressor/Limiter

Top Pick
Waves CLA-76
10/10Rating

Interested in getting this plugin? Click the link below.

As for the CLA-76 Compressor/Limiter, it’s also inspired by the prized and beloved hardware units of the acclaimed mix engineer Chris Lord-Alge. His original units, “Bluey” and “Blacky,” are stored and kept in perfect condition in his private studio, but this plugin brings them to you.

What differentiates the CLA-76 Compressor/Limiter from your typical optical control-based compressors is its unbelievably quick response and tube-like distortion, which mimics FET control circuitry. This plugin’s lightning-fast attacks can be as speedy as 50 microseconds.

How To Use The CLA-76 Compressor/Limiter

As mentioned earlier, you can choose between “Bluey” and “Blacky” to deliver the right tonal color and provide a tight, bold, and aggressive compression sound. Note that these two models have varying harmonic distortion, time constants, and gain stages.

With this plugin’s program-dependent attack and release times, you’ll get complete control of your transients and dynamics. Choose "All" ratio mode to craft an explosive performance fit for creating muscular and powerful drum sounds. 

There’s also a leveling-amp design that offers steady compression on your vocals, keyboards, and bass. Additionally, this plugin features more than 30 unique and dynamic presets prepared by Chris Lord-Alge, Greg Wells, and other Grammy-winning producers and sound engineers.

Let’s go over some other features of the CLA-76 Compressor/Limiter:

  • Intuitive and easy-to-use mix control and trim control
  • Zero latency both in and out of the studio
  • Preamp distortion modeling to add edginess

4. Waves Clarity VX Pro

Top Pick
Waves Clarity VX Pro
10/10Rating

Interested in getting this plugin? Click the link below.

Do you need a hand in cleaning up noisy vocals and removing unnecessary sounds? Let Clarity VX Pro do the work for you in real-time and deliver high-quality and artifact-free results. Watch as its AI engine instantly recognizes what’s noise and what’s not.

The secret behind Clarity VX Pro is its Neural Networks technology. Its machine learning engine has analyzed millions of voice files to develop superior noise reduction quality that’s both natural and consistent. This plugin is fully automatable and can also remove voice and keep ambiance.

How To Use Waves Clarity VX Pro

Skip the ADR, bouncing, or rendering—just enable Clarity VX Pro, turn its main knob, and tweak a few advanced controls if you wish. Then, you’re done! It doesn’t get any easier or faster than this, as the plugin completes all its noise reduction tasks in one pass.

You can choose any of four neural networks which are optimized to process various source materials. For instance, Broad 1 does a great job at retaining main and secondary voices, while Broad 1 HF works best at preserving high frequencies. There’s also Broad 2 and Broad ECO.

The impressive abilities of Clarity VX Pro don’t end there. Head over to its advanced controls to experience the following features:

  • Six bands with varying processing amounts, delta, bypass, solo, and gain controls
  • Built-in limiter to avoid digital clipping/peaks
  • Reflections control to restore natural reflections
  • Voice-sensitive Neural Network ambiance gate

5. Waves Harmony

Top Pick
Waves Harmony
8/10Rating

Interested in getting this plugin? Click the link below.

Waves Harmony is your go-to plugin if you want to add real-time harmonization to your music while you’re on stage or in the studio. Instantly generate as many as eight voices from a single voice and customize the character and texture of each in a flexible and intuitive interface.

With three functional workflows, this plugin adapts to your creative process, style, and genre. No music theory knowledge? No problem! This plugin has 450+ creative artist and factory presets, and quick harmony chord presets that let you create harmonies automatically. 

How To Use Waves Harmony

Waves Harmony gives you the freedom to create harmonies in the way you like best. With MIDI vocal control, you can connect your MIDI keyboard and play some notes while you sing to harmonize your vocals. Simply set the key and scale to get the right tune.

If you want more control, why not draw your desired harmonies on a graphical soundscape view? Arrange, delay, tune, and filter as much as you want. Then, use snapshots to make adjustments to the arrangement.

For instantly generated voices on automatic mode, don’t hesitate to tweak the pitch, modulation, formant, panning, delay, and filtering until everything is just the way you like it. You also have access to a vocal FX toolkit that lets you level up your mix with the following:

  • Creative voicings
  • Complex delay arrays
  • Layering of thick vocal stacks
  • Doubling effects
  • Modulated melodies and sequencing

Related Article: How To Mix Vocals: 8 Tips & Techniques For Radio Quality Tracks


Final Thoughts

In today’s modern music industry, production standards are continuously getting higher, and only polished and high-quality vocals make their way to the top of the charts. But now that you know the best waves vocal plugins, nothing can stop you from producing pro-level vocals.

Whether you want to reduce noise on your recordings, introduce dramatic harmonies to your music, or achieve the perfect vocal levels, the right vocal plugin from Waves Audio will help you get the job done quickly, precisely, and conveniently. Elevate and empower your vocals by getting a Waves vocal plugin today!

If you found the information in this article helpful, please consider subscribing to our blog for more music production tips, tricks, and advice.

"Some of the links within this article are affiliate links. These links are from various companies such as Amazon. This means if you click on any of these links and purchase the item or service, I will receive an affiliate commission. This is at no cost to you and the money gets invested back into Audio Sorcerer LLC."

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