Difference between Elements 11 and Pro 11-- Why should I upgrade?

Sweetwater and Vintage King Audio both ran a sale on WaveLab Elements for Black Friday that made it about $50 cheaper to buy Elements and upgrade than to just buy WaveLab Pro, so I did it.

I only had time to test WaveLab Elements out for a moment but it appears to have everything I need. to make me uninstall StudioOne and switch back to WL for mastering permanently. After installing the Nuendo 11.0.4 update, I can now easily move back and forth between Nuendo 11, Spectralayers Pro 8, and WaveLab Elements 11. What little I’ve gotten to test out so far has already made me fall in love.

To help you help me, let me describe the environment we’ll be using it in and what for. This is a professional recording studio offering both in-studio and remote mixing, mastering, and tracking. We use a hybrid mixer/control surface, a lot of analog processing, externally processed plugins (UAD2, WSG, AG, etc), and we’re looking to add either an Otari or Studer reel to reel this year (just haven’t decided how many tracks to go with yet).
While mastering, my main concerns are to be able to easily go back into Nuendo to fix issues in the mix if any arise then jump back to WaveLab to continue mastering, use the DAW controls of the console, run through tape during mastering, use analog hardware, and encode cover-art & metadata during mastering.
The ADC/DAC we use are Lynx AES16e w/ Lynx Aurora16 or our Dante network of: Focusrite RedNet PCIe w/ Lynx Aurora16 LT-Dante + Focusrite RedNet A16R + Neve 1073 OPX w/ Dante card.
Windows 10 Pro x64 for now. We’ll update to Windows 11 after all of the hardware and software companies catch up.

What are the benefits of following through with the plan to upgrade to Pro?

If any of your mastering clients ask for a DDP for CD production, you’ll want WaveLab Pro.

I personally find the lack of ability to manage track lengths with markers in WaveLab Elements to be one of the bigger limitations. Last I checked, a track length is based on the clip length and you can’t freely add CD track markers.

There is also a lack of metadata support (or at least more limited) and definitely more limited metering.

That being said, if Elements isn’t holding you back at this time then that’s all you need. You may reach a point where Pro will either make your life easier or be necessary if you’re offering mastering as a service.


Possible to upgrade from WL Elements to Pro.
Don’t know if there is demo on both ?

regards S-EH

Looks like you said the magic words there. Yes, metadata capabilities are a critical feature. My clients are paying for their digital download to be no different than if their fan paid for a download of a Taylor Swift/30 Seconds to Mars/Eminem/Rhianna album or single. if they load it in their phone or car and the album cover and all the details possibly available don’t pop up on the screen, they may be lured away by another studio that can. The majority of our clients come to us because they want to work with me specifically but there is a lot of competition out there so I don’t just need to worry about offering what others are offering. I need to offer MORE. My taste, my experience/skill, a rich analog sound they can’t get with software alone, the clarity of professional grade converters, the detail my monitors give that allow me to resolve issues they didn’t know they had, my creativity, and the most well-packaged final product that can possibly be created.
Thanks for your input.

Yes. I don’t use Elements myself so I can’t speak to what limitations exist in Elements vs. Pro when it comes to metadata but there certainly are some.

While the main digital distributors (CD Baby, DistroKid, TuneCore, etc.) do not read or care about embedded metadata, many of my clients offer download codes with the vinyl release, cassette release, and offer the hi-res version on Bandcamp and that’s where having metadata embedded can help your files look great as well as other means of direct sharing/downloads outside of the big streaming services.

WaveLab Pro makes very easy work of entering the project info in one time and then it pushes that info everywhere (CD-Text, Metadata, file naming, etc.)

I recently did a video about Metadata in WaveLab here:

If you start with Elements, you’ll have to see what limitations you run into and if it’s a big deal for you.

Exactly. That’s why something as seemingly simple as metadata is a big deal for our studio. Additionally, the clients tend to load their copy directly to their phone, car, and whatever other devices before releasing and they often email MP3s to friends/contributors so having a commercial quality file adds to that impression of professionalism.

I got lucky just a minute ago. I bought Elements 11 on Black Friday from Sweetwater for $50 less than Steinberg charges direct. Then I just bought the upgrade from Elements to Pro 11 for $30 less than direct today (“Cyber Monday”).

Now I’m waiting on the activation code to be sent (system must be bogged down by all the online sales today) and I decided to familiarize with Elements while I wait, so I can speak on the difference first-hand.
However, I’m having a problem that doesnt make much sense. I loaded a file from a project I’ve been meaning to remaster for a client and everytime I press play, I just get load static. The waveform also looks too squashed. Appears to be a problem during import, if I had to guess. Any clue?

It’s hard to say without more info. Are you using version 11.0.10? Also, version 11.0.20 should be available this week.

I would start a new thread with more details about the issue.

I plan to in a moment. Just figured I’d ask while I had someone who’s familiar with the latest version of this software’s attention.

I don’t like that I have to manually type the sample rate in the import pop up window. That seems odd and like it might have something to do with the issue.

Its also only letting me import 1 file at a time, which is really annoying, I’m hoping that’s just me doing it the wrong way or something unique to Elements that I won’t have to deal with after I activate my Pro license.

Normally the Audio Editor can open any file and know the native sample rate. Maybe there is something strange about this file.

This is why it’s important to start a new thread with more info, screen shots, etc. so we can see what is actually happening. There are too many variables and not enough info here to say more.

Audio Editor or Audio Montage? The Audio Editor doesn’t import audio, but it does open audio files. The Audio Montage allows you to Insert (or Import) files inside the Audio Montage to non-destructively work.

I can’t speak to Elements but in Pro I can open many files at one time in the Audio Editor and of course Insert (or Import) many files at one time in the Audio Montage when mastering and EP/album.

Don’t use Import but Open to open a file in Wavelab.

Yes use file selector or drag and drop audio files in to WL 11.

regards S-EH

I got it. Yeah, that’s what I had to do. I opened up the file browser and dragged a file. That worked. Then I selected the rest of the project and dragged it all at once, so that problem is solved but now I have no idea what the import feature is for lol.
Now I need to figure out how to get 2 lanes of audio on the screen at the same time so I can start arranging the album and do a little work to familiarize more before switching to my Pro license, as planned. At the moment all my songs are in tabs side by side. I want it laid out in more of multitrack view like I’m used to in Nuendo and like I saw on the screen in ads.

It sounds like you’re only using the Audio Editor, not the Audio Montage which is what I would recommend. I don’t have the bandwidth at this time to explain every detail of using WaveLab but I have a bunch of videos here:

One of them explains the difference between the Audio Editor and Audio Montage, one explains mastering and EP/Album in the Audio Montage, and there is a bunch of others.

All the info should be there, but it will take you some time to understand WaveLab and what makes WaveLab be WaveLab.

@TiKkO8803 Do yourself a favor and read up on the basics of Wavelab (or watch the videos).

It is easy to start off on the wrong foot, and IMO a user especially needs to know how the Audio Editor window is different from the Audio Montage window. Also, knowing how the Master Section is used is crucial information. Good luck, once you know the basics you’ll have a very powerful tool in your hands.

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I think you’re right. I was hoping because I used it 15 or so years ago and been working for so long that I’d just pick it right up but the DAW appears to have a lot of little WL specific things that I need to sit down and learn before I can really use it.

Justin, thank you so much for your original advice. I was gonna watch some tutorials but decided to close out the app, start over, and just get to working on something like it matters and I’ve got the hang of it for the most part now, I think.

What I’m thanking you (and everyone else in the forum that recommended going through with the investment) for. This truly is THE mastering suite.

For years, my mastering process went something like this:

  • Load clients files 1 at a time into Acid Pro
  • Map the tempo of each and make note of the bpm
  • Normalize each track so that I have a consistent starting point
  • Export at 32bit/96kHz or double whatever the rate the track originally was
  • Load all tracks into Nuendo for analog and plugin processing
  • Get a consistent sound and level across all tracks
  • Export in real-time each song 1 at a time
  • Load all tracks into StudioOne
  • Add what little metadata it allows me to add
    -Adjust and fades and little touchups that I night catch before exporting
  • Export Project

It looks like I’m going to be able to do all of that within WaveLab (except maybe tempo mapping, idk if WL has a way to figure out the tempo quickly)

2 things I’m disappointed with right now though and they’re actually extremely important…

  1. I don’t see the “External Plugin” plugin anywhere on the master bus. It very important that I be able to process tracks and projects through our analog hardware. For many clients, that’s what they’re paying us for [in reality they’re paying us for our expertise but everything thinks they can do what we do if they just buy 1 more plugin lol but the fact that we use expensive hardware helps some people admit to themselves that professionals have something they don’t].
    Either way, its absolutely essential because I can get a much more sonically pleasing result from our hardware than what any UAD2/Waves plugin is ever gonna provide.

  2. It’s not connecting to the console. We use a custom console built around an SSL Nucleus for DAW control [Yes, I’m aware we could have bought a Neve Genesys with all the same features as our console for half of what this thing will have cost before its finished but Neve only has Neve modules, SSL only offers SSL, and ours offers Neve, SSL, API, and every other option of EQ and comp we want at our fingertips-- Sorry, I just get this debate every time its brought up in discussion in other forums] Anyway, the SSL Nucleus works great with Nuendo but its not giving me any control over WL. If I can even just get the transport to connect I’d be happy since I don’t really need the mixing console to master, for the most part. Transport would be a big help though. Transport works in project mode in StudioOne so iut should be possible. I’d love for the plugin control and all those functions to work too but transport is the biggest thing I need it for. Didn’t wanna buy a little single fader controller like whatever that Steinberg controller is called and have it taking up space just for transport in WL but that’s the last resort.

First go to
File > Preferences > Audio Connections
Then under the External Effects tab, you need to add a bus for your external hardware and select inputs and outputs .

Then in the Mastersection > Effects the External FX Plugin will be available under the Steinberg submenu.

Using External Gear

That wasn’t it but thanks.
It turned out everything I spent all day trying to figure out how to do was solved by switching over to my WaveLab Pro license.

There was no external FX plugin in Elements and the MIDI control device setup was only letting me select my MIDI ports but nothing more than that so I wasn’t able to configure. As soon as I switched to Pro, both things unlocked.

I was also able to layout the 12 song album across 12 different tracks. Elements restricted me to 8 (which was the thing that made me give up on testing Elements any further).

Perhaps I’ll prefer to do it another way as I get used to the workflow but, at least for now, spreading 12 songs across 12 tracks makes the individual processing of each track much quicker and easier.

Also a ton of different little features unlocked that its gonna take me awhile to get used to but I can officially report that…
WaveLab Pro is an absolutely essential upgrade from Elements if you’re using it for work in a professional environment.