Whether you are a professional mix engineer or an amateur rapper and hip-hop songwriter, chances are you want to use the best tools to create your art. One brand you should definitely check out is Waves, as it has the world’s largest collection of pro-level audio plugins. Best of all, they come at reasonable prices and are very easy to use with just a little practice.
The best Waves plugins for rappers when it comes to mixing vocals are CLA Vocals and Sibilance. For a great EQ, check out F6 Floating-Band Dynamic. CLA-76 and CLA-2A are among the top-performing compressors on the market. For reverbs and delays, Abbey Road Chambers is hard to beat.
But that’s not all: Waves also offers great channel strips, plugins for mix buss and mastering, drum-specific plugins, and more. In addition, you might also want to check out their bundles, which give you various assorted plugins at significantly lower prices than the individual products. To learn more about these and more, keep reading.
If you want to find out more about what these vocal effects actually are, we have a whole article explaining the best ones HERE.
Best Waves Vocals Plugin
CLA Vocals was curated by five-time Grammy-award-winning mix engineer Chris Lord-Alge. He has worked with legends such as Joe Cocker, Tina Turner, Madonna, the Rolling Stones, and more.
Lord-Alge has given his all in this collab with Waves, and it certainly shows. CLA Vocals brings you the best tried-and-tested settings he uses in his everyday mixes. With this all-in-one vocal processor, you get the top six effects you need when mixing vocals: bass, compression, reverb, delay, treble, and chorusing or doubling. What’s more, you get three types of each!
Of course, you can always tweak and play with the presets until you get the sound you want. CLA Vocals is very quick and user-friendly, and it won’t take long before you learn all the ins and outs.
Best of all, CLA Vocals works great for all types of singing and not just for rap, so you will be getting good value for your money.
You can purchase CLV Vocals separately or as part of the CLA Signature Series bundle.
- All-in-one vocal plugin
- Quick and easy to use
- Works great for all vocal styles
- Created by Grammy-winning mix engineer Chris Lord-Alge
- You get Lord-Alge’s favorite presets for bass, compression, reverb, delay, treble, and chorusing/doubling
The Runner-Up: Sibilance
While it’s okay for rap vocals to be a little punchy and in your face, that doesn’t mean you want all those ear-piercing “s” and “sh” sounds in your track. To get rid of these, you need a vocal de-esser.
So, if you are looking to truly step up your rap game, you should definitely check out Sibilance. This plugin is one of the most powerful vocal de-essers on the market. It features Waves’ ground-breaking Organic ReSynthesis technology, which allows it to eliminate harsh vocal “s” and “sh” sounds faster and more effectively than ever before.
Most other de-essers out there act like narrow-band compressors. In contrast, Sibilance uses the Organic ReSynthesis spectral filters to detect and separate unwanted sibilants, leaving the rest of the vocal signal intact.
The end result? Brighter vocals and smooth de-essing that maintains the duration, timber, and natural resonance of the original sound intact and ready for further processing.
Sibilance is very easy to use too. It only takes a few seconds to set up: simply insert it on the track, set your desired range and threshold, and you are good to go.
- Powerful de-esser
- Great for both vocals and voiceovers
- Features Waves’ innovative Organic ReSynthesis technology
- Fast, smooth, and glitch-free elimination of harsh sibilants
- Removes “s” and “sh” sounds without changing the original vocal
Best Waves Equalizer
If you are looking for a surgical-grade dynamic equalizer, look no further. Waves’ F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ is an extremely versatile plugin that can be used for equalization as well as expansion, compression, and de-essing. You also get six 100% adjustable parametric filter bands, real-time frequency spectrum analyzer, mid-side processing options, and more.
However, the F6’s best feature is its sensitivity to the dynamics of the track. That allows it to move in time with the vocalist, whether they are closer or further away from the microphone. The F6 activates automatically when the vocal level reaches the threshold that you have set and deactivates when it falls below that threshold.
What’s more, the F6 allows you to detect specific problems on individual tracks and fix them as they appear.
- Specially developed for high-precision EQ
- Built-in dynamic processor
- Six fully-adjustable floating bands
- FFT real-time spectrum analyzer
- Great for both studio and live mixing
The Runner-Up: PuigTec EQs
The PuigTec EQP-1A is an almost-perfect digital replica of the hand-crafted analog unit owned by legendary engineer and producer Jack Joseph Puig. He is known for his wildly successful collaborations with artists such as The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, and U2. This plugin boasts a unique ability to create a resonance shelf by boosting and cutting the same frequencies simultaneously.
The midrange MEQ-5 is the perfect complement to the broadband PuigTec EQP-1A. Together, these make the ideal pair and have become a staple in high-end recording studios.
- Modeled after a legendary vintage PuigTec unit
- Both midrange and broadband
- The EQP-1A creates a unique resonance shelf
Best Waves Compressor
Another addition to Waves’ CLA range, the CLA-76 was inspired by the iconic Class A line-level limiting amplifier from the mid-60s. The CLA-76 comes in two versions that are affectionately known as “Blacky” and “Bluey.” Both are equipped with the super-fast attack feature that made the original unit a studio legend. How fast is superfast? 50 microseconds!
In addition, the CLA-76 also comes with an “ALL” control function modeled after the original’s unbeatable “All-Ratio-Buttons-In” mode. That, together with the built-in pre-amp distortion, will give you some of the most powerful drums sounds in the game.
- Modeled after the classic 60s Class A line-level limiting amplifier
- Superfast attack feature can reach up to 50 microseconds
- Exclusive “ALL” control mode
- Pre-amp distortion modeling
- Great for drums
The Runner-Up: CLA-2A
The CLA-2A was inspired by yet another mid-60s classic: the iconic electro-optical tube compressor. However, it is fair to say that the contemporary version definitely outshines its predecessor.
The CLA-2A keeps the original’s signature frequency-dependent behaviors. While it works great on guitars and bass, it really excels when used on vocals. What’s more, you also get Chris Lord-Alge’s favorite presets and virtually countless instantiations.
To learn how to compress rap vocals using the CLA-76 and CLA-21 compressor plugins, check out this short video tutorial by Czar Smith.
- Modeled after the 60s electro-optical tube compressor
- Perfect for guitars, bass, and vocals
- Features Chris Lord-Alge’s personal presets
- Compressor and limiter modes
- Sidechain frequency filter and zero latency
Best Waves Reverbs & Delays
Waves developed this plugin together with Abbey Road Studios. The goal was to recreate the famed studio’s signature echo chamber that gave the classic Beatles recordings their unique reverbs and delays.
The plugin features the Altec 605 speaker and Neumann KM53 microphones that were used on almost every Abbey Road recording from the 60s. And to perfect the chamber sound, you also get a set of the original EMI’s RS106 hi/low pass and EMI RS127 Presence EQ filters.
But that’s not all. This Waves plugin comes with a full recreation of the iconic Abbey Road Studio S.T.E.E.D. (Send. Tape. Echo. Echo. Delay.) system and the sound of two legendary venues: Abbey Road’s Mirror Room and Olympic Studios’ Stone Room in London!
The best part is that you can work with only the chamber or S.T.E.E.D. effect, or both.
- True-to-life audio reconstruction of Abbey Road Studios’ echo chamber
- Complete with Abbey Road’s original S.T.E.E.D. system
- EMI RS106 and EMI RS127 EQs
- Both classic and modern speakers, including Abbey Road’s Altec 605
- Both vintage and modern microphones, including Abbey Road’s Neumann KM53
- Original artist presets
The Runner-Up: H-Reverb
H-Reverb is based on Waves’ pioneering Finite Impulse Response (FIR) reverberation technology. That allows for much richer and deeper reverb tails than the industry average. The FIR technology also lets you personalize the reverb decay beyond the traditional linear forms, giving you a smooth real reverse and dense reverb tails that fit seamlessly in the track mix.
Moreover, H-Reverb features Waves’ innovative analog modeling technology, which results in signal behavior that until recently was only possible with pro-level hardware reverb units. This plugin also supports input drive, which is a favorite of many professional mix engineers.
Last but not least, H-Reverb comes with a wide array of original artist presets inspired by vintage classics and modern hits and developed by leading professionals in the industry.
- Cutting-edge FIR reverberation technology
- Resonant filter sweeps for unique reverb effects
- EQ and dynamics features for ducking, compression, and de-essing
- ADA analog modeling and drive control
- Pre-delay BPM sync
Best Waves Channel Strips
Developed in collaboration with Grammy laureate mixer Andrew Scheps, who has worked with the likes of Adele, Jay Z, Metallica, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Scheps Omni Channel is one of the top channel strip plugins out there.
The Scheps Omni Channel combines the awesome sound of old-school hardware, mixing consoles with the flexibility and diversity of contemporary modular channel strips. The best part? All these various features work together seamlessly and glitch-free.
With this Waves plugin, you get six modules that you can mix and match in any order you like.
- The Pre module gives you three types of analog saturation, diverse harmonic distortion, and filters and resonance controls.
- The Compression module comes with three compressors and a unified control set.
- With the EQ module, you get a 4-band equalizer.
- The DS2 module features a de-esser, four filters, and two full-range bands to eliminate unwanted “s” and “t” sounds and more.
- The Gate module has the standard threshold, attack, and release controls and also allows you to set the maximum noise reduction.
- Finally, the plugin also comes with an insert slot that you can place anywhere on the chain to insert any other Waves plugin.
- Pre, Compression, EQ, DS2, and Gate modules
- Insert slot allows you to position any other Waves plugin anywhere in the channel strip
- Internal MS/Duo/Stereo routing per module
- Artist presets by Billy Bush, Ken “Pooch” Van Druten, Tony Visconti, and more
The Runner-Up: CLA MixHub
The CLA MixHub is truly one of a kind. It is the first-ever plugin that can work on up to eight channel buckets simultaneously. That means you can be mixing up to 64 channels from the same plugin window! With most other plugins, you can only work one channel at a time.
What’s more, these channel strips were created by Chris Lord-Alge based on his personal console.
Each channel of the CLA MixHub has five sections — EQ, dynamics, input, output, and an insert slot — that expand to reveal even more functions.
- Developed by Chris Lord-Alge
- Control up to 64 channels from a single window
- Option to switch between multiple and single-channel view
- Insert slot to load any other Waves plugin
- Flexible dynamics sidechaining
- More than 250 original artist presets
Best Waves Mix Buss & Mastering
The L2 Ultramaximizer boasts an unbeatable combination of great level maximization, peak limiting, and ultra-high resolution that is well-known in the industry and touted by leading artists and engineers. This plugin brings you a powerful yet crystal-clear sound with every track.
- Manual and Automatic Release Control (ARC)
- Increased Digital Resolution (IDR) with double precision bit re-quantization
- Dither with 9th-order noise-shaping filter
- Peak limiter and level maximizer
The Runner-Up: SSL G-Master Buss Compressor
Waves modeled its SSL G-Master Buss Compressor after the classic master buss center compressor of the SSL 4000 G console. As a result, this plugin brings you the distinctive sound of the original, as well as a twin VCA gain-reduction amplifier.
The SSL G-Master Buss is perfect for gluing tracks together, which makes it your best choice for highlighting drums and percussion or tweaking piano dynamics.
- Ideal for tying up final mixes
- Features original presets from Grammy award winner Chris Lord-Alge
- Original license by Solid State Logic
Best Waves Drum-Specific Plugin
Drums and percussion are essential to most music genres but can be especially important in hip-hop. That’s why you should always strive to achieve a perfect drum tonal balance.
Here is where Torque comes in. This is yet another plugin that features Waves’ Organic ReSynthesis technology. That allows it to improve the tone of drums, kicks, snares, and toms while bringing you a natural sound that is as close to the original as possible. Needless to say, this is not something you can achieve with regular pitch-shifters.
Thanks to its revolutionary technology, Torque can automatically identify and analyze the drums’ amplitude, formant, and carrier information. It then reassembles it and lets you adjust the pitch and tonal characteristics while preserving the rest of the track intact.
As a result, you can fix and enhance mis-tuned drums and pitch them to a key of your choice — without losing any of the attack, body, resonance, or timbre of the original recording. You also won’t have to deal with the antics of conventional pitch shifters, such as re-triggering or replacing.
- Pro-level pitch shifter that works great on both acoustic and electronic drums
- Fixes drum pitch and timbre without re-triggering or replacing
- Precise pitch shift by +/- 1200 cents (12 semitones per 1 octave)
- Developed for both studio recordings and live shows
- Features Waves’ signature Organic ReSynthesis technology
The Runner-Up: Smack Attack
The Smack Attack plugin allows you to amplify or tame anything from drums, percussion, loops, and synth hits to claps, kicks, and snares. It also works great on piano arpeggios, guitars and bass, and even the whole of your mix.
Smack Attack allows you to fully adjust the duration, level, and shape of the transient attack of all percussive sounds. You can easily introduce minimal tweaks as well as massive sound special effects. This way, you will always get just the track dynamics and tightness you are looking for — something that can’t be said for most conventional compressors on the market.
What’s more, unlike regular transient shapers, with Smack Attack, you can above and beyond simply adjusting the attack and sustain levels. As you also get to fully control the shape and duration of the transients, you can make your kicks tighter and your snares more powerful than ever. In addition, the built-in Sensitivity control allows you to selectively process only some or all of your transients.
Last but not least, Smack Attack comes with a real-time graphic wave display, a Wet/Dry mix-control for parallel processing, and a built-in limiter/clipper.
- Assignable MIDI control
- Full control over transient attack and sustain
- Ability to adjust transient duration, shape, and/or level
- Sensitivity control for selective shaping of transients
- Zero-latency makes it perfect in the studio or for live performances
Best Waves Specialty Fix and Utilities
The Renaissance Bass or R-Bass plugin is the industry’s go-to choice for when you need to make sure that your bass will be heard even on laptops or mobile devices. This is especially important for rappers and hip-hop artists, as the bass is an integral feature of the genre.
But how does that work? Everyone knows that the playback systems of most smartphones and laptops cannot physically reproduce low-frequency bass signals.
The answer lies in Waves’ patented MaxxBass psychoacoustic technology. That allows the R-Bass plugin to create an auditory illusion, which tricks the brain into perceiving low bass frequencies that are not really there! The result is a richer and much deeper low-end sound that users can enjoy even on smaller playback systems.
What’s more, the R-Bass comes with a simple and intuitive interface. There are only three controls to tweak the intensity, output gain, and frequency tuning. That makes this plugin quick and easy to navigate.
Check out this video tutorial by seven-times Grammy-award winning mixer MarioSo DeJesus to learn how to mix beats and vocals using the R-Bass plugin.
- Best low-frequency enhancement Waves plugin
- Helps achieve richer and deeper bass on even the smallest playback systems
- Extends perceived bass response with up to 1.5 octaves
- Features Waves’ patented MaxxBass psychoacoustic technology
- Includes presets by leading producers and mix engineers
The Runner-Up: Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter
The Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter is the specialty plugin for true connoisseurs. It was modeled after the one-of-a-kind Aphex Aural Exciter from the mid-1970s. That was — and still is — one of the very few tube-powered hardware units ever made.
When it was first introduced some four decades ago, the Aphex Aural Exciter took the music world by storm due to its highly distinctive sound. It soon started touring recording studios as an exclusive rental unit and was used in many best-selling albums.
The modern Waves plugin brings you the unique sound of the classic hardware unit and couples it with all the benefits of modern software. It can enhance the energy, vibrancy, and presence of both vocal and instrumental tracks — all without using an equalizer. The result is a uniquely bright sound that you cannot achieve in any other way.
If you would like to learn more, check out this video featuring producer and engineer Val Garay, who helped engineer the original hardware unit and collaborated with Waves to develop the modern plugin.
- Modeled after the iconic Aphex Aural Exciter from the mid-1970s
- Delivers the unique vintage sound of its predecessor with a modern twist
- Developed in collaboration with Val Garay who helped engineer the original hardware unit
- Helps achieve unparalleled depth, brightness, and vibrancy
- Works great on both vocal and instrumental tracks
Best Waves Plugin Bundle
Individual plugins are great for when you just need a specific sound effect or functionality. However, if you plan to purchase two or more plugins, you might want to consider investing in one of Waves’ product bundles instead. These can give you great selections of plugins at much more affordable prices.
Gold is by far Waves’ most popular plugin bundle in the industry, and with good reason. It includes more than forty of the most essential Waves plugins. If you are a beginner producer or mixer, this pack is all you need to get started.
In the Gold bundle, you will find every single plugin category from vocals and EQ to compression and more. You will also get some of the plugins reviewed above, such as Renaissance Bass and Sibilance. Other featured plugins include Doubler, H-Comp, H-Delay, the C4 Multiband Compressor, the L1 Ultramaximizer, the Vitamin Sonic Enhancer, the Neve-based V-plugins and more.
Overall, the Gold bundle is all you need to hit the ground running as a beginner in the recording industry. However, it could also be a great addition to the toolkit of experienced mixers and producers.
- Great value for money
- Perfect for beginners and amateurs
- Includes more than 40 essential Waves plugins
- Features plugins from all major categories, such as EQs, compressors, reverbs, and many more
The Runner-Up: Mercury
This one is a bit more expensive, but it is worth every dime. Mercury is not just Waves’ largest bundle. It is the biggest and most comprehensive collection of audio plugins in the world. With a total of 172 high-performing plugins and over 400 components, Mercury is the best plugin package for experienced professionals and pro-level amateurs.
With this bundle, you will get plugins from every plugin family from EQs, limiters, reverbs, and compressors to modeled analog console modules, noise-reducing plugins, surround processors, and more. And it’s not just basic plugins either: you will also get access to special Signature Series collections.
So, if you want to invest in a bundle that has more plugins, sound effects, components, and mixing tools than any other — Mercury is the way to go. However, if you are just starting out in the industry, it might be better to opt for the more affordable but still great Gold bundle.
- The largest bundle of plugins, sound effects, mixing tools, and components on the market
- Over 170 Waves plugins
- Upgrades available from all other Waves bundles
- Great value for money
- Perfect for professional mix engineers, producers, and recording artists
The Best Waves Plugins for Rappers: A Quick Recap
Whether you are a rapper or a hip-hop producer or mix engineer, Waves is your go-to brand for high-quality plugins and sound effect tools.
If you are looking for a pro-level vocals plugin, make sure to check out CLA Vocals and Sibilance. The F6 Floating-Band Dynamic and PuigTec are among the best EQs on the market. For a great compressor, check out CLA-76 or CLA-2A. For unique reverbs and delays, Abbey Road Chambers definitely steals the spotlight.
With all these amazing plugins your rap vocals will be crisp and your beats will pop 🙂
- Waves.com: Abbey Road Chambers
- Waves.com: All Bundles
- Waves.com: Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter
- Waves.com: Chris Lord-Alge Signature Series
- Waves.com: CLA-2A Compressor / Limiter
- Waves.com: CLA-76 Compressor / Limiter
- Waves.com: CLA MixHub
- Waves.com: CLA Vocals
- Waves.com: F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ
- Waves.com: Gold
- Waves.com: H-Reverb Hybrid Reverb
- Waves.com: L2 Ultramaximizer
- Waves.com: Mercury
- Waves.com: PuigTec EQs
- Waves.com: Renaissance Bass
- Waves.com: Scheps Omni Channel
- Waves.com: Sibilance
- Waves.com: Small Attack
- Waves.com: SSL G-Master Buss Compressor
- Waves.com: Torque
- Wikipedia: Abbey Road Studios
- Wikipedia: Andrew Scheps
- Wikipedia: Chris Lord-Alge
- Wikipedia: Jack Joseph Puig
- YouTube: Compressing Rap Vocals with CLA Compressors
- YouTube: How to De-Ess Sibilant Rap Vocals
- YouTube: Mixing Beats & Vocals with Renaissance Plugins: MarioSo DeJesus
- YouTube: Val Garay Talks Waves Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter