Waves Vocal Rider Plug-in

Plug-in that Automates Track Volume without Affecting Dynamics and Writes Generated Volume Automation - Mac/PC AAX Native, RTAS, AudioSuite, VST, AU, SoundGrid
Waves Vocal Rider Plug-in image 1
Waves Vocal Rider Plug-in image 1
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Waves Vocal Rider Plug-in
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Getting the Perfect Vocal Mix Has Never Been Easier!

Waves Vocal Rider plug-in makes vocal processing easier than ever before. The name says it all! Vocal Rider is designed to simply match your vocal tracks to the rest of the mix, maintaining a relative volume throughout the song. All you do is instantiate it on your vocal track, bus a summed instrumental mix to the side-chain, and hit play. Then kick back and watch as Vocal Rider's fader takes over, keeping the relative volume of the vocals consistent with the volume of the rest of the mix. When you mix with Vocal Rider, perfection is never far away.

Waves Vocal Rider Automatic Level-Riding Plug-in at a Glance:
  • Intelligent adjustment that preserves the dynamics of your music
  • Save time achieving the automation you would otherwise have to program manually
  • Writes automatic volume adjustments as tack automation for future fine tuning

Intelligent adjustment that preserves the dynamics of you music
Every day, even the best engineers struggle to find the perfect balance between enough and too much compression. You need to use some compression, but how much? The textbook way to address this is to use just enough compression to smooth out the tone, but not so much that you crush the life out of your music. Then you take the mildly compressed audio and use automation to preserve the dynamic range. Waves knows that this takes a great deal of diligence, and sometimes even professional engineers end up cutting corners and smothering the dynamic range of their vocals. That's where Vocal Rider comes in. Unlike conventional compression, Vocal Rider doesn't reduce the dynamic range of your tracks or color them at all. This is extremely useful when you consider the further uses of Vocal Rider as a tool for leveling out ungainly instrument tracks — like bass — that become completely incoherent if compressed too much.

Save time achieving the automation you would otherwise have to program manually
Don't throw out your compressors just yet! Some compression is absolutely necessary to achieve the smooth, polished, and professional-quality vocals found in most modern music. That's why it's so important Waves made sure that Vocal Rider responds to audio, and doesn't just look at the recorded track's wave form. By "listening" to the incoming signal including those processors instantiated ahead of itself, Vocal Rider lets you add the right touch of compression before it takes control of the automation. That means you don't have to commit to the amount of compression by bouncing down the vocal track before using Vocal Rider to level out the volume. And since you would need to automate your compressed (but not crushed) vocals by hand normally, Vocal Rider acts as a sort of assistant by saving you time by getting the results you need quickly.

Writes automatic volume adjustments as track automation for future fine tuning
With Vocal Rider, you get the best of both worlds — a hands-off automation tool, and the ability to fine tune the results. Unlike most dynamics plug-ins that respond to track automation, Vocal Ride writes automation. Once you have made all of the basic adjustments to your mix and you've achieved the general balance you want, you can write Vocal Rider's automatic volume adjustments as track automation. That way you can make fine adjustments by hand, giving you all of the control of conventional automation, while still benefiting from Vocal Rider's time-saving ease of use.

Waves Vocal Rider Automatic Level-Riding Plug-in Features:
  • Automatically maintains the balance between your vocals and instruments
  • Saves you time by getting the results you need quickly
  • Preserves dynamics while controlling track volume
  • Writes automation for fine tuning
  • Available for use on Mac and PC platforms
Save time, preserve dynamics, and get amazing results with the Vocal Rider plug-in from Waves!

Tech Specs

Software Type Vocal Processor
Platform Mac, PC
Upgrade/Full Full
Download/Boxed Download
Bit Depth 64-bit
Format AAX Native, RTAS, AudioSuite, VST, AU, SoundGrid
Hardware Requirements - Mac Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7 / Xeon or higher, 4 GB RAM minimum
Hardware Requirements - PC Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7 / Xeon or higher, 4 GB RAM minimum
OS Requirements - Mac OS X 10.9.5 or later
OS Requirements - PC Windows 7 SP1 or later
Manufacturer Part Number VRDTDM

Customer Reviews

Based on 12 reviews
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Riding the Waves

This is my first Waves Plug-in, and I'm loving it. A real time saver when mixing. The automation feature is amazing and the results are great. The automation is easy to adjust if there are some tweaks you want to make after the rider does it's thing. Get it!

Changes everything!

I'm definitely way late to the game on this Vocal Rider plugin. It's 2016 and this thing has been on the market for many years. Up until now, for me, leveling vocals has been done with compression. Properly leveling a vocal with compression generally introduces other issues, like excessive sibilance, which then require more plugins to fix. Vocal Rider is quick and dead accurate, especially when used with the sidechain (always use this with the sidechain!). Minor tweaks can easily and quickly be done manually after you write the automation. Once Vocal Rider gets you most of the way there, you can then apply compression in a musical way, and not so much in a utilitarian way. Once you hear the results, you'll know how it makes all the difference. I never realized I "needed" this until I went ahead and tried it on a song that was just about finished. I just happened to be struggling getting the vocals to sit the way I wanted. I got rid of all my compression stages, dropped in Vocal Rider, set it up, let it do it's thing, then added some very minimal compression to taste, and it was absolutely perfect (to my ears). Yes, you can manually ride your own fader or manually pencil in the automation points, but let's be honest about the kind of tedium that presents. Even if you did do that, it simply would not be as accurate as Vocal Rider delivers. It's not only an incredible time saver, but it also serves up more precision while it's at it.
Music background: songwriter, engineer

Vocal Rider Plug-in

Greate plug-in, great seller. Thank you Nick, thank you Sweetwater !
Music background: Producer and Recording Engineer


Easily my favorite Soundgrid plug-in. We use it with the Allen & Heath GLD80 Waves Soundgrid system. The GLD has excellent built in effects but it doesn't have anything like Vocal Rider. What this does for live backing vocals is amazing. Everything comes out smooth, intelligible and at a lower overall volume than you would use if you didn't have Vocal Rider. It's not a compressor. You can't get this effect with any compressor I've used. I love it.


I used to stack compressors to even out my vocal levels, sometimes it would color the tone a little too much and it was easy to lose the dynamics if I wasn't careful. When I am not looking for that coloration in my vocal tone, I reach for the Vocal Rider, very transparent while maintaining the emotion of the performance. Simply an awesome product.
Music background: Musician, Producer, Engineer
See also: Compression Software, Waves, Waves Plug-ins: Dynamics