External Waves plugins for vocals - required or not?

Hey all,

I just upgraded to Cubase Pro 9 but haven’t even taken it for a full spin. Most of my issues usually revolve around my vocal tracks not having the sparkle and shine I need to take the sound to the next level.

Waves announced today their Black Friday deal, and I was thinking about the Vocal bundle: https://www.waves.com/bundles/vocal

Apart from the doubler, compressors, and the de-esser, I’m not sure what other plugins I’d need to improve the quality of the recorded vocal tracks. But then I realized, CUBASE already has a bunch of great stuff. Are there built in plugins that already do these tasks for me? I don’t want to spend money on a plugin bundle if Cubase already has built-in support for the most used functions?

PS: I already bought the Vocal Rider plugin on a special a few months ago. I joke with my sound engineer that it’s like putting him in a box on my computer! He rides my vocal fader when I perform live. :slight_smile:


Those plugins will definitely be good to improve your vocal sound, but you can in fact do all those things with the Cubase plugins as well (except perhaps DeBreath). You will probably get results quicker with the Waves plugins, and/or you may find you prefer the results… There’s a reason why nearly every professional studio uses the Waves plugins, and that’s because they are very good plugins which always sound good and always which give you good facilities to manipulate the sound in the way you want. I personally use a lot of the Cubase plugins because they’re there and they’re built-in, but generally for the less important tracks than the lead vocal. I tend to use Waves, UAD and Soundtoys on the lead vocals, that’s because I’ll be using plugins which have character, e.g. valve compressor sound say.

Another thing is consider what your current studio weakness is, maybe that’s the place to invest money? If that’s currently your vocal sound then perhaps you could invest in a better microphone or a better pre-amp or a higher quality A/D sound device? Or maybe some singing coaching (not intending to be insulting but any form of practice will usually help hone a skill).

Even the better plugins can’t make a dodgy recording sound great - well, perhaps put some distortion on it, been there, done that :slight_smile:


I am a heavy Waves user, but the only plugin from that bundle I ever use at all is Doubler. (I use it a LOT, and often for things other than vocals.)

Cubase’s VariAudio offers a much better tuning workflow than the Waves Tune plugs in that bundle (their Waves Tune Real Time does live tuning better than the tools in Cubase do, but it’s not in that bundle). I tend to use EQ/compression/reverb/delay on vocals , and while there IS a compressor in that bundle, it’s intended for guitar (?) and not as configurable as I normally like. I have used the Waves CLA Vocals and CLA Effects plugins on vocals before, but that’s normally for special cases where I’m looking for a very specific sound or effect. For just traditional pop/rock vocals, the CLA plugs are a bit extreme IMO.

Thanks all… I decided to pull the trigger. The Doubler and Debreath plugins alone make it worth it for me. Re: the advice for singing coaching—no offense taken. Getting a good quality source should be the first step in an awesome track; the next should be recording that source as accurately as possible. One day I’ll have to invest in upgrading my microphone selection, or at least find one that rocks with my voice. But at least I’ll have decent plugins to work with!


the waves stuff is generally based on old classic real outboard racks. some of it is very good and easy to use.

for vocals the waves 1176 plugs are good for compression. the Puigtec EQs are great on kick drums. I also use waves F6 as a dynamic eq, but it might be complex for some users. lots of Wave stuff is real good and the UAD plugs are excellent, but very expensive.

waves is better value for the money.


I’ve been studying this sale as well. I’m reluctant to overbuy, which wastes money time (learning curve). Like you, I’m wary of duplication. Sometimes duplication is good, because it’s never really exact duplication. However, I’m not seasoned enough for that to be a plus. It would just confuse me. I’ll stick with the Cubase plugins for vocals, except for these 3:

  • Melodyne - which isn’t offered by Waves
  • CLA Vocals - what I’m looking for is the “cake mix” option. (As opposed to baking a cake from scratch.) CLA has a lot more experience producing vocals than I do. I’m buying an implementation of his expertise
  • InPhase - This Waves plugin is for multiple mics, which I tend to use on vocals.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the “build your own bundle” offer. It’s a great chance to cherry-pick.

As for the compressors, everyone wants LA-2A (or LA-3A) and 1176. Waves has the CLA-2A and CLA-76. Other companies make these as well. I’m under the impression that Cubase has these as well. (Tube Compressor, Vintage Compressor). These have been compared to the 1176, but not always favorably. There’s also the Portico, but it’s $250.

Thanks Colin!