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Top 5 Best Waves Mastering Plugins To Finalize Your Songs

January 28, 2024 
Last Updated on January 28, 2024

Mastering is arguably the most important step in the music production process. It's where your tracks transform from good to great, achieving a polished, radio-ready quality. Waves, a leader in audio plugin technology, offers a range of tools that can elevate your music to a new level. So, let's explore the top 5 best waves mastering plugins and discover how they can enhance your production workflow.

Included in this guide:

Best Overall
Waves Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain

Waves Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain

  • Five independent modules for versatile application
  • Advanced 48dB/octave linear-phase filtering control
  • Flexible monitoring options (Stereo/Mono/L/R/M/S modes)
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Waves Abbey Road J37 Tape

Waves Abbey Road J37 Tape

  • Three distinctive EMI tape formulas
  • Bias, Wow, Flutter, Tape Speed control (and more)
  • Sync feature and LP/HP filter controls for customization
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Top Pick
Waves F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ

Waves F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ

  • Robust EQ and compression/expansion controls
  • High and lowpass filters
  • Touch screen compatible for intuitive control
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Top Pick
Waves L2 Ultramaximizer

Waves L2 Ultramaximizer

  • Double precision bit resolution processing
  • Mono and stereo components
  • Manual and Automatic Release Control (ARC)
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Top Pick
Waves WLM Plus Loudness Meter

Waves WLM Plus Loudness Meter

  • Multi-format loudness measurements
  • Mono and stereo configuration support
  • ITU 1770-3, ATSC, and EBU compliance
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Related Article: My Top 5 Best Waves Plugins | I Use These In Every Mix

The Top 5 Best Waves Mastering Plugins

The Waves Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain is a premium mastering plugin modeled after the iconic EMI TG12410 Transfer Console. As such, it combines the vintage analog warmth of Abbey Road Studios recordings with modern digital precision.

Conveniently, this plugin includes many modules for filtering, EQ, compression, and limiting. It also allows you to turn on and off any section you like. So, despite being a classic mastering solution, it’s highly versatile.

That said, such a fantastic plugin may need some time to get used to. That’s especially true for those unfamiliar with working on analog equipment.

  • It emulates the unique sonic characteristics of the original Abbey Road EMI TG12410 Transfer Console.
  • The compressor is very transparent, adding glue to your mixes.
  • It’s suitable for many musical styles, meeting the different preferences of mastering professionals.
  • The plugin has a slight learning curve, especially for those not used to analog equipment.

Capturing those vibes of analog tapes without the hassle of upkeeping an actual tape machine seemed far from reach. However, this changed with the release of the spectacular Waves Abbey Road J37 Tape plugin.

Our choice of runner-up plugin emulates the legendary J37 4-track tape machine used at Abbey Road Studios. It injects a rich analog tape saturation into the audio mix for the vintage feel of classic tape recordings.

Such a remarkable plugin offers controls for tape speed, saturation, and tape delay. So, whether you want to enhance an individual track or add glue to an entire mix, this plugin is what you need.

  • It adds character and captures the essence of classic hits.
  • It includes three different delay types for creative applications.
  • It’s affordable and relatively easy to use.
  • It can be CPU intensive

The Waves F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ plugin is an achiever in equalization. It features a superb processor that responds dynamically to audio content. It also has six flexible floating bands, easily deployable anywhere in the frequency spectrum.

Such a plugin gives you outstanding control over the audio signal. On top of that, it provides you with an effective toolkit for shaping the sound’s tonal characteristics.

From side chaining and parallel compression to mid-side processing, the plugin’s capabilities are exceptional.

Plus, its compatibility with touchscreen interfaces ensures a user-friendly experience for all users. With zero latency and low CPU usage, the F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ is the real deal.

  • The plugin’s solo and sidechain monitoring options per band enhance precision during the shaping process.
  • It provides efficient and highly responsive performance because of the low CPU usage.
  • It’s versatile to use in different audio scenarios, whether it be individual tracks, mixing, or mastering.
  • Some users may experience a slight learning curve due to the amount of features and controls included.

For peak limiting and level maximization, the Waves L2 Ultramaximizer plugin delivers exceptional precision. Its look-ahead brick wall peak limiting ensures optimal signal integrity, preventing overshoots and distortion.

This popular plugin offers a dynamic range of control, allowing users to switch between manual and automatic release control. As such, it helps users manipulate the release characteristics to their liking.

Furthermore, with Increased Digital Resolution (IDR), the plugin guarantees a high level of detail and transparency in audio reproduction. It also helps achieve pristine audio quality through advanced options, such as bit re-quantization and dither with a 9th-order noise-shaping filter.

  • It supports resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz for high-fidelity audio production needs.
  • It provides mono and stereo components for different applications in many audio scenarios.
  • It offers fantastic features on a simple and user-friendly interface.
  • It has limited features compared to other popular mastering limiters and maximizers.

The Waves WLM Plus Loudness Meter is a spectacular solution for loudness monitoring. Designed to meet broadcast and streaming standards, it offers flexible monitoring modes. This includes Momentary, Short-Term, and integrated to provide detailed loudness analysis.

With advanced display options and customizable layouts, users can utilize this excellent plugin for many audio production needs. Additionally, its program and short-term loudness history graphs provide dynamic content insights.

Not only that, but this plugin also comes with a helpful logging and warning system. Such a feature helps alert you when you exceed or fall short of a specific loudness range.

So, whether you work in film, audio, broadcast, or media production, the Waves WLM Plus Loudness Meter should be one of your go-to plugins.

  • Customizable layouts and advanced display options for optimal visibility.
  • It allows for real-time loudness measurement during playback as well as offline analysis for pre-recorded audio.
  • It includes peak level monitoring with True Peak detection for accurate measurement of audio peaks.
  • It offers simple configurations at a reasonable price point.
  • There are no significant drawbacks to this plugin.

Related Article: The Top 5 Best Waves Vocal Plugins Of 2024

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are mastering plugins?

Mastering plugins are specialized software tools used in the final stage of music production to enhance and optimize the overall sound of a recording. They help in achieving a polished, cohesive, and loud enough final track without losing clarity or quality.

Why choose Waves plugins for mastering?

Waves plugins are renowned for their high-quality sound, versatility, and user-friendly interfaces. They are used by professional sound engineers worldwide and offer a range of options suitable for various mastering needs.

Can I try these plugins before purchasing?

Yes, Waves often offers trial versions of their plugins, allowing users to test them out before making a purchase.

Are these plugins compatible with all DAWs?

Waves plugins are widely compatible with most major DAWs, including Pro Tools, Logic Pro, FL Studio, Ableton Live, and others. However, it's always good to check compatibility with your specific DAW version.

What is a suitable LUFS setting for mastering?

This is a subjective question. With that being said, we shoot for between -8 and -11 dB integrated LUFS. This ensures that your music will have a comparable loudness to major label releases.

Product Recap

By now, you should’ve collected a few tips to help you find the best Waves mastering products for your needs. Our best overall suggestion, the Waves Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain, captures the timeless sounds of Abbey Road Studios.

As for the runner-up, we recommend the Waves Abbey Road J37 Tape. It replicated the iconic tape machine, making it an indispensable tool for infusing your digital records with warmth and character.

If you found this guide helpful, please consider subscribing to our blog for more music production tips, product reviews, and buying guides. Also, you can support new content by contributing to our tip jar.

"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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