11/27/2021

Waves Gate Plugin

Get C1 Gate by Waves and learn how to use the plugin with Ableton Live, Logic, GarageBand, and FL Studio for free. May 24, 2012 Hi other than Waves C1 Gate & Sonnox Dynamics. But somehow spending more than $100 on a gate plugin seems ridiculous to me. May 11, 2018 Waves' SSL E-Channel Strip —modeled after the original filter and EQ strip on SSL's 4000 series recording consoles—is great at removing excess drum bleed. By using the plugin's noise-gate, we've set slower attack times to allow the low-end of the kick to pass through and fast release times to keep it tight and punchy.

Some gates, like the ones in the C1 Compressor, eMo D5 Dynamics and Scheps Omni Channel plugins, have separate thresholds for when the gate opens and when it closes, which helps make a smoother exit as a sound decays. Floor: Sets how far down a gated signal goes when the gate is closed. Waves Center is one of the best Waves plugins for mastering. It utilizes M/S processing to provide some very tactile controls for working with your stereo image. You can adjust the volume of the Mid and Side components, push all the bass into the center, add punch on the center or the sides.

Waves Audio has a bunch of plugins designed specifically to save time in the studio when mixing vocals.

For this reason (among other reasons), they’ve become an industry standard, and many people know it.

So in this guide, we’ll go over the best Waves plugins for vocals….

… we’ve done the research so you don’t have to.

Quick answer: when it comes to the plugins Waves offers for mixing vocals, there are so many, and each offer different specified features you can use.

That said, CLA Vocals from Waves Audio is sometimes referred to as the one plugin you can use for vocals if you could only choose one.

Make sure you take a look at the others below for other choices specific for what you might need.

Let’s take a closer look 🙂

Table of Contents

  • Waves Vocal Plugins Buying Guide

Find more great gear here:

Waves Vocal Plugins Buying Guide

Common Types of Vocal Effects

You might be surprised to know how much effects are applied to vocal tracks in your typical pop or rock production…

Although much ado is usually made about “clean” and “natural” vocals, most songs would sound pretty boring if the vocals weren’t unprocessed in some way.

Compression

Compression is one of the most commonly applied vocal effects. This serves to balance out the levels in the audio, preventing the peaks from clipping the circuitry and letting softer sections be heard over the music.

Read more about how to compress vocals.

Equalization

EQ is also frequently applied in order to enhance the tonal character of the vocal. In some cases, dynamic EQ is used to reduce brightness or bottom end in some sections, while boosting the same in others.

Effects

Other effects that may be applied to vocal tracks are reverb, delay, chorusing or doubling, or even distortion or modulation effects. Unless you are going for a harsh industrial vocal delivery however, effects are best applied judiciously, and always in the service of the song.

Read more about mixing vocals.

Why You Need the Right Plug-ins for Mixing Vocals

One of the reasons why you’d need any kind of plug-in is to make certain aspects of your recording stand out above the rest. And since vocals arguably are the most important aspect of a song, it makes it easier for vocals to be heard over the instrumental background if you apply the right effects or dynamics plugin.

Effects may also be applied for creative reasons, as would be the case when going for a special effect, or treating vocals in a genre-specific manner.

Then of course, dynamics processors such as limiters and compressors are used to address specific technical concerns (ie. in order to prevent clipping or to allow of an increase in RMS levels), or for artistic or creative purposes.

Who is Waves Audio?

Not that any introduction is needed… but Waves Audio is an audio software company that makes the industry standard plugins for music production. They’ve worked with a number of prominent people and companies in the audio industry over the years to develop audio tools and modeled emulations of hardware processors. They were even honored with a Technical Grammy Award in 2011 for its “contributions of outstanding technical significance” to the recording field.

Best gate plugin

However, the objective of this guide is not to “push” Waves plugins. If you check many music production and audio engineering forums, the question as to what Waves plugins are best for vocals always arise…

To settle this once and for all, and to make it easier for those that want to know, we’ve put together a buying guide to instruct you on the best choice to make among Waves Audio’s massive collection.

With that said, let us begin 🙂

The Best Waves Plugins for Vocals

CLA Vocals

CLA Vocals is an all-in-one vocal processing plug-in developed in collaboration Chris Lord-Alge, who is an award-winning engineer. It was designed to aid in vocal mixing using Lord-Alge’s very own effects parameter settings to so that users can produce quality vocal tracks in less time that it would normally take.

Six effects are include in the chain, helping you get your vocal tracks radio-ready with less effort as compared to standard vocal processing. This of it as your “instant Chris Lord-Alge” in a box.

Specs and useful features
  • All-in-one vocal processor plug-in
  • Developed in collaboration with Chris Lord-Alge
  • Combines delay, reverb, and pitch modulation effects
  • Tone controls for easy shaping of vocal tracks
  • Multiple compression types for more control over dynamics
  • Helps you achieve radio-ready sound quickly
User impressions

Like all the CLA plug-ins, CLA Vocals gets high marks from users for its sound and consistently results. For users that need polished, radio-friendly vocals quickly, this has become something of a go-to plug-in.

Although the CLA Vocals can do a great job of prettying up vocals in the majority of cases, some users found that it provides a little less control over certain parameters than they would have liked. While there is no doubt that it can provide all the sweetening that a vocal track needs most of the time, there are instances when a custom effects chain provided superior results.

Bottom-line

The CLA Vocals is pretty hard not to like, especially for its price. For perhaps 90% of all vocal-related processing applications, this could be the only plug-in you will need. For the other 10% of the time however, you might be better off rolling your own vocal processing chain using your DAW’s native plugins. Even so, we can heartily recommend the CLA Vocals as a useful addition to your sonic toolbox.

Demonstration

Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter

The Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter is modeled after the original Aphex hardware processing unit. Developed in association with Aphex, the plug-in does a good job at capturing the character of the original hardware device, adding presence and brilliance to even the dullest audio. The Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter is equally suited to vocal and instrumental tracks, making them stand out in a mix without the need for excessive EQing.

Specs and useful features
  • Modeled after original tube-powered hardware processor
  • Developed in association with Aphex
  • Adds brightness, vibrancy and depth to audio
  • Increases presence without increasing levels
  • Suitable for vocals as well as instrumental tracks
  • Mix and AX modes for insert or send configurations
User impressions

Users that have experience with both the original Aphex hardware unit and the Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter mostly have nice things to say about the plug-in. Although it can handle most any type of audio pumped through it, the plug-in has an especially attractive quality on vocals. In fact, most users that have used the Aural Exciter for vocal processing simply refuse to mix or master a track without it, citing the wonderfully ‘present’ sheen it provides.

Bottom-line

The Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter is one of those plug-ins that can be easy to overuse f you’re not careful, simply because it just sounds so good. With its ability to add life and vibrancy to even the dullest tracks, it is just way too tempting to slather it all over everything, resulting in a harsh and brittle sound. If you can manage to use the plug-in in moderation, it could be quite a potent ingredient in your recipe for vocal perfection.

Demonstration

Vocal Rider

The Vocal Rider is a vocal and dialog leveling plug-in that adjusts the level of vocal tracks automatically. It has the ability to limit the dynamic range of audio without introducing artifacts, so it saves considerable time and effort in mixing down vocals and making them stand out in a mix.

The Vocal Rider also allows for the drawing of the slider adjustments into an automation track in the DAW, enabling finer control over the level.

A Live component with Spill control is also included, which detects and processes just the vocal part alone without affecting the music or background audio.

Specs and useful features
  • Automatic vocal and dialog leveling
  • Automation of vocal parts speeds up mixing
  • Writable to automation track for fine tuning
  • Real-time processing
  • Zero latency and no need for pre-scanning
  • Vocal Rider Live component
User impressions

If there is one thing about the Vocal Rider that makes users almost fanatical about it, simplicity would have to be it. Many users are absolutely smitten with how easy it is to automatically control vocal levels with the plug-in, citing its great value as a timesaver in the studio.

The Vocal Rider is especially popular among those that want the dynamic limiting effect of compression without the artifacts that compressors can sometimes leech into the sound. For these users, the Vocal Rider is a more transparent and natural-sounding solution that often negates the need for a separate compressor.

Bottom-line

The Vocal Rider is such an amazingly simple plug-in in concept that you have to wonder why no one else has ever thought of it before. For the price, you simply can’t do better than this plug-in if you are after natural and musical volume leveling.

Demonstration

Renaissance Vox

One of the most powerful and versatile compressors in the Waves product line, the Renaissance Vox has been optimized specifically for processing vocals.

The controls you get for compression, gating and expansion, limiting, and level maximization are simple yet effect.

With this plug-in, producing polished-sounding vocals can be done with minimal effort.

Specs and useful features
  • Combination compressors, gate, limiter, and level maximizer plug-in
  • Soft-knee compression
  • Auto make-up gain
  • Gentle downward expander for gating noise
  • Optimized for vocals
  • Peak hold indicators for instant visual feedback on signal peaks
  • Clip-Guard Output Limiter prevents clipping
User impressions

The Renaissance Vox has quite a surprising number of devotees, with lots of audio engineer forum users referring this as their go-to choice, which is all the more remarkable considering how long it has been around. The plug-in clearly appeals to those that live by the tenet: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

In any case, most of the complimentary reviews of the Renaissance Vox make mention of its utter simplicity and straightforwardness, which is especially impressive given the amount of control available. For many users, the plug-in suffices for most vocal processing applications, with the added benefit of usability for a variety of instrumental tracks.

Bottom-line

The Renaissance Vox is another time saving plug-in that makes quick work of producing polished and radio-ready vocal tracks. If there is anything negative that can be said about it, it is that it sometimes imparts a sort of metallic quality to the top end. But even this can be seen as a unique, distinctive, and not-wholly-undesirable characteristic. In any case, the Renaissance Vox is well worth adding to your plug-in tool chest, even if you already have a bunch of other compressor plug-ins.

Demonstration
Plugin

Renaissance Compressor

This a multi-purpose compressor that is equally effective on individual tracks as it is on entire mixes, the Renaissance Compressor also works remarkably well on vocals.

“Warm” and “present” are among its most defining sonic characteristics, yet it can be as transparent as you need it to be for natural vocal treatment.

Specs and useful features
  • Two compression modes: Vintage Opto and modern Electro
  • Internal brickwall limiting prevents clipping
  • Auto Release Control (ARC) allows increase of RMS levels
  • Double precision bit resolution processing
  • Up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution
  • Mono and stereo components
User impressions

The Renaissance Compressor seems to attract an equal number of users that praise it for its transparency and those that rave over its distinctive sonic character. Perhaps it is a testament to how versatile it is that people of seemingly different tastes and priorities keep finding uses for this venerable plug-in. As it is, this particular Waves classic is a favorite for vocal processing, but it can quickly switch roles and deliver punchy drum, bass, guitar, and piano tracks at the drop of a hat.

Waves Gate Plugin Free

Bottom-line

There is a good reason why the Waves Renaissance Compressor still makes it to compressor plug-in rundowns years after it was released. Even with so many excellent plug-ins littering the market, the Renaissance Compressor still manages to command attention with its ability to be as transparent or as squashed as needed.

Now, you don’t necessarily want this to be the only compressor you have in your collection, and you definitely don’t want to pump all your audio tracks through it as a matter of course. But we would be lying if we said that the Renaissance Compressor didn’t have a place in every studio engineer’s arsenal.

Demonstration

Renaissance DeEsser

As we mentioned in the de-esser plugin guide, the Renaissance DeEsser is one of the best at reducing and eliminating the sibilant “ess” and “shh” sounds that can ruin a great vocal take.

Its ability to reduce unwanted high frequencies while preserving the audio quality is quite good, as it’s an accurate de-essing technology can handle sibilance in male and female vocals.

Specs and useful features
  • Simple and effective removal of harsh sibilance from vocal tracks
  • Ideally suited for recording, mixing, live sound, and broadcast
  • Frequency-dependent dynamics control preserves original sound
  • Simple adaptive threshold
  • Adjustable gain reduction
  • Phase compensated crossover reduces artifacts
  • Audio and side-chain monitoring
User impressions

Most users of the Renaissance DeEsser have nothing but good things to say about this supremely useful plug-in. Cleanliness and transparency are among its most frequently-praised characteristics, although many users also attest to its ability to nuke sibilance aggressively without thrashing the source audio.

Some users did complain about the absence of an attenuation meter. Others felt that the graph doesn’t do an adequate job of displaying how much of the audio is being treated. Nevertheless, reviews are generally favorable for the Renaissance DeEsser. Many users even rely on it exclusively, even with many other de-esser plug-ins available on the market.

Bottom-line

In terms of quality, ease of use, and consistency, Renaissance DeEsser is classic Waves through and through. You simply can’t beat a classic, and this one definitely fits into that category. A very effective vocal de-esser that can also work wonders on cymbals, guitars, and other high frequency tracks, the Renaissance DeEsser is an essential add on to your set of studio goodies.

Demonstration

Waves Doubler

The simply-named, Doubler adds a doubling effect to source audio, making it sound bigger, wider, and more present in a mix. This particular plug-in more too, offering delay and pitch modulation effects as well. The Doubler is both a unique effects processor and a time-saver in the studio, negating the need for traditional double-tracking in most cases.

Specs and useful features
  • Double-tracking and chorus capabilities
  • Adds shimmer and presence
  • Produces 1980s-style harmonizing and pitch detune effects
  • Automatic vocal doubling
  • Two-voice and four-voice capabilities
User impressions

Ease of use and efficiency are pretty much the most mentioned characteristics of the Waves Doubler, and it’s easy to see why. Making short work of turning even the most pedestrian solo vocals into angelic choirs, the Doubler is frequently praised for the ability to thicken and widen vocal tracks without introducing phasing.

Many users especially appreciate how much time they save in the studio by not having to record multiple vocal tracks. That being said, some users did feel that actually recording as many vocal takes as needed provides better results.

Bottom-line

The Doubler is a great way to add depth, width, and ambience to your vocal tracks. Although this won’t substitute for a meticulously-recorded array of vocalists–or even one or two vocalists recording multiple takes–it does have some charm and flavor of its own. Besides, for the price, you not only get a very capable vocal doubler, but a distinctive sounding plug-in that widens up most any sound source nicely.

Demonstration

Final thoughts – Which to Get?

Most of these plug-ins are so different from each other that it would be pointless to say which one is the “best.”

Suffice it to say, each one brings its own unique set of qualities to the table, and each could potentially find use in a studio setting.

That said, the CLA Vocals has to be mentioned as top choice for its convenient and extremely useful blend of multiple signal processors in one unit. There is also no denying how quickly and easily it can enable you to crank out radio-ready vocal tracks. For that reason alone, we would have to give the CLA Vocals top marks.

Both the Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter and the Vocal Rider stand in a class of their own, but for different reasons. The Aural Exciter is at the very least a modern-day classic, with its tone enhancing qualities having become essential for vocal polishing.

The Vocal Rider for its part does what most other compressors are unable to do so simply and so elegantly: control dynamic levels without adding nasty artifacts. Going solely by that, the Vocal Rider deserves special mention.

As for the Renaissance Compressor and the Renaissance Vox, both of these are quite capable plug-ins that will stand proudly with the rest of your audio processing tools. Even though they have been around for a number of years, there is life in these old dogs yet!

Finally, the Renaissance DeEsser–and certainly the Doubler–might not be quite as essential as all the other plug-ins mentioned. Nevertheless, they do have their uses, and at the price they are going for these days, it would be silly not to at least consider them if you are eager to have a full suite of vocal processing tools at your disposal.

Waves Compressors

Noise reduction can a be crucial part of music production.

In a perfect world, we’d have noiseless and buzzless audio signals galore. But if you’re sampling vinyl, or are forced to record in less than stellar environment, you need something in your audio toolkit that’s got your back.

So in this guide we’ll take a look at some of the best noise reduction plugin software for music producers on the market.

Quick answer: iZotope RX 7 is the top choice for sure.

But if you want something for quick and easy noise reduction, that’s easier on the budget, take a look at ERA Bundle by Accusonus and Waves Z-Noise.

The rest of this guide will look at these and other plugins more in depth, so you’ll be able to make the right choice for what you need.

Let’s take a closer look 🙂

Table of Contents

  • Noise Reduction Plug-In Buying Guide

Find more great gear here:

Noise Reduction Plug-In Buying Guide

What is a Noise Reduction Plug-in?

Like the name suggests, noise reduction plug-ins essentially reduce or eliminate noise from audio material. They do this by using different algorithms and modeled circuitry. These software tools, like the one we’re about to talk about, eliminate things that you’d rather not have in your music production, like background noises, electrical interference, ground buzzes, clicks, hums, and crackles from the source audio.

How Noise Reduction Plug-ins Work

Noise reduction circuits employ different methods for eliminating noise. Here are some of what they include:

  • Spectral noise gating or Fourier analysis – This detects the spectrum of tones that comprise the background noise and reduces their volume levels.
  • Manual threshold setting – This sets the threshold for each individual band and reduces their level independently. Meaning, if a sound is below the a certain threshold (like environmental sounds), then it will be cut out during the “silent” portions of a recording.
  • Graphical noise reducers – Samples the noise profile and creates a frequency-dependent threshold that varies across the harmonic spectrum. Provides control over multiple variables.
  • Spectral analysis – Breaks up sound into different frequency ranges, allowing the removal of specific bands.

Features to Look for in a Noise Reduction Plug-in

As with all plug-ins that have the potential to significantly affect the quality of the sound, transparency is one of the most desirable properties to look for in a noise reduction plug-in.

Although you want your plug-in to effectively remove the noise—or at least reduce it to such a degree that it is no longer apparent—you don’t want to compromise the overall quality of the audio.

Low-latency is also a must as noise reduction is a very CPU-intensive process. When applying noise reduction to several tracks of audio, you might find that some of them will lag as your CPU struggles to cope with the load. This can lead to phasing, loss of sync, and other issues.

Sufficient control over the various parameters is also a good quality to have in a noise reduction plug-in. However, don’t discount the benefits provided by automation, particularly with regard to identifying and detecting noise prints. In some cases, the auto-detect circuitry of a good noise reduction plug-in can be far more effective at pinpointing noise than your ears.

Choosing the Best Noise Reduction Plugin for Music Production

When choosing a noise reduction plugin, a good rule of thumb is to decide on one that offers a good balance between ease of use and control.

Although you will want the ability to get under the hood and tweak the various settings to your content…

…. there will be times when you simply want to “set-and-forget” the controls. Y

ou should therefore choose a great sounding noise reduction plug-in that allows you to get as detailed or as simple as you need.

With that same, let’s take a look at some of our options.

7 Best Noise Reduction Plugins to Use

iZotope RX 7

Upon its release, iZotope’s RX 6 – the previous version – was widely lauded for its ability to clean up even the most troublesome recordings. Used by everyone from bedroom producers to industry professionals, it quickly achieved a reputation for solving audio problems that other software solutions simply couldn’t touch.

With RX 7, iZotope’s RX 7 once again proves that it is at the forefront of audio repair, with a host of new features that greatly expand the suite’s capabilities.

Specs and useful features
  • Repair Assistant intelligently detects noise, clipping, clicks, hum, and other audio anomalies
  • Music Rebalance effectively isolates individual elements of a track for precision enhancement
  • Variable Time and Pitch enables the alteration of pitch without affecting audio timing, and vice versa
  • Dialogue Contour improves pitch, performance, and intonation of spoken dialogue
  • Dialogue De-Reverb reduces reverberations in dialogue tracks
  • Multichannel support
  • Enhanced UI
User impressions

Just like RX 6 before it, iZotope RX 7 is widely considered to be the most powerful and versatile audio repair and restoration tool around. More than just a solution for cleaning up noise, users have found it amazingly effective for getting rid of most anomalies in recorded audio.

RX 7’s users range from bedroom hobbyists to studio owners, and even industry professionals. The versatility of this software suite is such that it can be used for a multitude of tasks of any size. Even with its sheer power and versatility, its ease of use makes it the noise reduction and repair tool of choice for many users.

Bottom-line

iZotope RX 7 is by far one of the most flexible and all-out powerful solutions for restoring and repairing audio. More than just a noise reduction plug-in, it is a comprehensive suite of precision tools that can pretty much fix whatever ails your audio. Whether for individual tracks or completed mixes, iZotope RX 7 will definitely give you quality results.

Demonstration

Sonnox Oxford DeNoiser

“Surgically-precise” noise reduction is what the Sonnox Oxford DeNoiser specializes in, and there not that many tools better than this in that arena. It has a lot of useful features that enable you to clean up even the most problematic audio, like an integrated de-hisser, continual input analysis, and even a Freeze Mode that samples chunks of audio containing just noise.

The Oxford DeNoiser is also capable of preserving the quality of the original recording with a useful post-processing “Warmth” control.

Specs and useful features
  • Separate sections for de-hissing, noise detection, and noise removal
  • High-resolution display of input signal and noise profile
  • Frequency bias curve allows for the fine-tuning of noise threshold and reduction
  • Mid-side mode
  • Warmth control for restoring audio warmth after processing
  • Make-up gain facilitates A/B comparison
User impressions

Most users agree that the Sonnox Oxford DeNoiser packs a lot of bunch a slick and easy-to-use package. The plug-in’s ability to automatically adapt to a varying noise floor is one of its most useful features, although it is possible to set the bias for the detected noise curve to a precise degree.

One other feature that many users appreciate is the “Warmth” control that sweetens the sound after processing. Overall, the Oxford DeNoiser seems to have made a favorable impression, although some users advise using it in moderation in order to avoid introducing unwanted sonic artifacts.

Bottom-line

Sonnox’s track record of producing outstanding plug-ins at reasonable prices is well known, and the company upholds that tradition admirably in the Oxford DeNoiser. Offering the ability to get as simple or as detailed as you like, the DeNoiser is just as capable of delivering quality results quickly as it is at allowing more intensive tweaking and parameter fine-tuning.

Demonstration

Waves W43 Noise Reduction Plug-in

The Waves W43 draws inspiration from the legendary hardware noise reduction unit, the Dolby Cat43, a classic film processor noise reduction from the 1970’s. Like its predecessor, you can expect professional results from the W43 in a highly intuitive user interface.

Of course, a host of modern features is also provided, enabling you to target and eliminate noise to a remarkably precise degree.

Plugin

The W43 is part of the Waves suite of “Intelligent” plug-ins, which utilize DSP in order to differentiate noise from the audio signal.

In the case of the W43, the threshold can be set independently for multiple bands, giving you total control over the noise reduction process.

Specs and useful features
  • Affordably-priced
  • Easy to use
  • Zero latency
  • Multiple instances possible
  • 24-bit/192kHz resolution
User impressions

The Waves W43 is especially lauded for its four fixed frequency bands that provide a good range of noise reduction options. Many users feel that the plug-in is a worthy successor to the hardware unit that inspired it, citing the Waves W43’s high-quality noise reduction capabilities.

Bottom-line

Of all the noise reduction plug-ins available under the Waves banner, the W43 may be the one that provides the most bang-for-the-buck. Now that it is priced more reasonably, adding it to your studio toolkit is practically a no-brainer. For the money, you get a very versatile and great-sounding noise reduction plug-in that comes with a host of useful features.

Antares SoundSoap 5

Antares SoundSoap is a standalone app and a plug-in that works in a variety of hosts. Originally manufactured by BIAS, it has since been made part of the Antares line of audio processing tools, which include the notorious “Auto-tune.”

Now in its fifth iteration, SoundSoap has garnered considerable praise for its simplicity and high-quality results.

Specs and useful features
  • Improved hum removal algorithm
  • Audio metering
  • Automatic noise detection*
  • Ability to set noise location*
  • Video waveform display *
  • Enhanced media controls*
  • Support for FLAC and MP3*
  • Full bypass facilitates A/B comparison*
  • Reset control*

*Standalone only

User impressions

A common thread in user reviews of the SoundSoap 5 is how easy and straightforward it is to use. Users report being pleasantly surprised at how effective the plug-in is at eliminating noise, even with a seemingly modest set of controls.

Unfortunately, although SoundSoap 5 is a pretty capable noise reduction plug-in by most accounts, the fact that most of its best features are available only in the standalone app limits its usability somewhat.

Bottom-line

Antares SoundSoap 5 is a pretty impressive plug-in that suffers from one serious flaw: most of its best features are available only in standalone mode. This really is lamentable, as noise reduction is generally better applied to individual tracks and stems rather than entire mixes. If not for this misstep, the excellent algorithms and precise control provided would warrant a more favorable ranking.

Demonstration

Waves Z-Noise

Z-Noise is only one of the many noise reduction plug-ins marketed under the Waves banner. Boasting of a new proprietary algorithm, this one aims to eliminate background noise from recordings without inducing artifacts or compromising audio quality.

Part of the Waves “manual” plug-ins collection, Z-Noise requires you to specify the noise print to be targeted, after which you can hone in on the offending frequencies with the threshold and band controls.

  • Specs and useful features
  • Improved “musical” algorithm
  • Dynamic noise profiling
  • 5-band EQ
  • Extract mode for creating noise profile from any audio
  • Real-time operation
  • Preserves low frequencies
  • Improves high frequency detail
  • Reduced time domain sensitivity eliminates “smearing”
  • True broadband processing
User impressions

Most reviewers of the Waves Z-Noise mention the plug-in’s ability to reduce noise while retaining high-end detail and low-end clarity. The absence of “smearing” is definitely one of the plug-in’s biggest strengths, and many users appreciate the ability to eliminate noise without reducing the punchiness of the source audio.

That being said, some users did feel that the Z-Noise isn’t quite as effective as other plug-ins in terms of eliminating more severe noise.

Bottom-line

Waves Z-Noise is quite a capable and versatile solution to most noise reduction needs. It isn’t quite as easy to use as other plug-ins in the Waves lineup, although that comes as no surprise given its extensive features and capabilities. And although it isn’t as effective as removing noise as other more recent offerings, it does provide excellent value for the money.

Demonstration

Accusonus ERA Bundle

The Accusonus ERA Bundle is a set of audio restoration plug-ins that includes the ERA-N, feature in our article on audio restoration and enhancement.

Well this is the noise reduction plug-in of the bunch, providing you with the ability to reduce noise via a single knob control, which is pretty unique. The ERA-N actually provides a surprising amount of flexibility even with its modest controls, with the automatic noise profile estimation especially useful at pinpointing problem areas. Used in conjunction with the five frequency presets, the ERA-N is quite effective at removing noise in different frequency ranges.

The bundle also includes the ERA-D, which provides “intelligent” noise reduction capabilities in a dual-channel configuration, along with the reverb reduction features of the ERA-R.

Specs and useful features
  • Enhanced de-noise algorithm
  • Five spectral presets for focusing on specific frequency bands
  • Automatic noise profile estimation
  • Single knob noise reduction
User impressions

Ease of use and simplicity seem to be the biggest draws of the Accusonus ERA Bundle, going by the overall tone of the user reviews of the plug-in. Users especially seem to appreciate the modest-yet-effective set of controls that consist only of a single knob and a couple of settings.

Although it may be too simple for those that require more control over certain parameters, users generally agree that the ERA Bundle makes it possible to get great results quickly.

Bottom-line

The Accusonus ERA Bundle is a surprisingly capable set of noise reduction plug-ins that gives you get great results with minimal effort. Although there are lower-priced solutions that provide results of comparable quality, there is no denying the ease of use and simplicity of these plug-ins.

Demonstration

Waves NS1 Noise Suppressor

Also part of the Waves “Intelligent” range of plug-ins, the Waves NS1 Noise Suppressor is equally at home in the studio and on stage. Those that don’t want to bother with the extensive controls of other noise reduction plug-ins will definitely appreciate the single-fader interface of the NS1, as it provides all the control needed for most basic tasks.

Despite its simplicity and modest features, the NS1 is quite effective at removing noise without causing warbling, unwanted modulation, or other artifacts. It also imparts no latency whatsoever, allowing you to patch it into any audio track without having to worry about losing sync.

Specs and useful features
  • Simple-yet-effective noise-reduction
  • Intuitive single-fader design
  • Attenuation gauge for monitoring noise removal
  • Suitable for cleaning up audio from a wide variety of sources
User impressions

“Simplicity” is also a common thread in many user reviews of the Waves NS1, with the single fader interface garnering praise for its effectiveness and ease of use. Users report simply being able to turn the fader up to just before the artifacts set in, easing back a bit, and getting acceptable results. Like even the most fully-featured plug-ins however, subtlety is key in using the Waves NS1 to maximum benefit.

Bottom-line

As far as noise reduction plug-ins go, the Waves NS1 Noise Suppressor is about as simple as they come. Although it has only a single fader, it still manages to deliver performance that equals–and even surpasses–that of its higher-priced counterparts.

Demonstration

Final thoughts – Which to Get?

The iZotope RX 6 is truly the Big Daddy of audio restoration tools, and its noise reduction components meet the highest standards for usability, flexibility, convenience, ease of use, and sound. In fact, this could very well be the only noise reduction plug-in worthy of discussion, if not for the excellent qualities of the other plug-ins in this roundup.

Tied for a close second are the Waves W43 and the Sonnox Oxford DeNoiser, which both provide excellent bang-for-the-buck. Even though these don’t come close to the features and functionalities of the iZotope RX 6 suite, they are definitely deserving of a place in any studio.

Special mention has to be made of the Antares SoundSoap 5, which is a pretty serious piece of noise reduction technology. As impressive as it is however, the fact that most of its best features are available only in the standalone app forces us to shave a few points off its final score.

As for the Waves Z-Noise and the Waves NS1 Noise Suppressor, these definitely aren’t slouches by any means. Even though they have both been surpassed by more recent offerings, they could still be of some use for general noise reduction tasks where surgical control isn’t absolutely necessary.