Gear Reviews

Waves' Clarity Vx & Vx Pro noise reduction plugins: "The ones all others will now be judged by"

As a regular Waves user, I’d seen a number of adverts regarding the forthcoming Clarity Vx plugins. Noise reduction is a must, but not all the offerings I’ve seen to date have lived up to their promises. Some require a decent length of noise in isolation from which to ‘learn’ – which is not always possible. Others are stand-alone and require rendering and reimporting, which is inconvenient, and others only work with the right kind of noise… Headliner finds out what all the noise is about regarding Clarity Vx and Vx Pro.

In today's home studios it is inconceivable to hope that everything you do is going to be completely isolated from the outside world. A friend of mine who helps with vocal takes on our projects works in a particular spot in his living room where there’s the least amount of room reflections. 

The issue is, it's also just above a busy street – which although isolated with double glazing and heavy curtains – can't hide the noise of sirens or the rumble of buses going by. 

This means I have ‘vocal stuff’ that has previously been ditched and re-recorded, sometimes not with as impressive results, performance-wise. Other files have taken up large amounts of my time, often yielding varying or inconsistent results when attempting to clean up these recordings.

Clarity Vx is not only the best and the cheapest noise reduction plugin, it’s the one all others will now be judged by.

Unbelievably Simple

The first plugin of the two I’m keen to try is Clarity Vx, which is very modestly priced and is aimed at home studio enthusiasts and content creators the world over. Does it work? Quite simply, yes it does, and not just well – dare I say – exceptionally well. 

It is pretty much – ‘the more you dial in, the less noise you get’ – with no learning time and no perceivable degradation of the original vocal. With only a single dial to adjust and the results in real time, you no longer have to be a knowledgeable sound engineer to use it! 

While there’s an FFT display right in front of you, who cares? This is a plugin that is nothing if not audibly obvious!

Clarity Vx is a product developed using AI. As far as the information from Waves leads me to understand, Clarity Vx, like its big brother Vx Pro, share the same Waves Neural Networks which have spent their time learning how to identify the human voice in all its guises. 

This means that rather than trying to identify and learn random and varying types of noise, it approaches the issue from the other angle, identifying the voice and isolating it. 

This means that, having already done all its learning courtesy of the experience of sound engineers and the talented Waves team, the Waves Neural Networks give you a clean voice or vocal with zero additional learning time.

Vx Pro offers new possibilities and a wealth of creative alternatives to sound designers and audio professionals alike

While Vx has only a single dial with which to gauge the level of noise reduction, it does feature two Neural Networks labeled Broad 1 and Broad 2. Broad 1 seems suited to a more musical style of performance and it worked well on backing vocal tracks that have more than one person around the mic at the same time (often a source of fidgeting, foot tapping and light thigh slapping). 

Whereas Broad 2 was better at picking the interviewer and interviewee out from the general hustle and bustle of an exhibition floor.

How I wish I’d had this plugin when I first started editing Headliner Radio’s podcasts! And it would have come in handy when I first started making videos; my old Hackingtosh fan used to kick in seconds after I pressed record! In fact just wait there a moment while I go and add this plugin into all my Headliner Radio project presets...


Having established that in many cases Clarity Vx is going to be your one stop shop, you may wonder what is offered by the Pro version that is going to warrant the higher price tag?

Immediately when you open Clarity Vx Pro you’re confronted with the heading at the bottom: Advanced Controls. Click on this and your once stark interface becomes a wealth of options. 

Taking centre stage is a multi-band screen for greater control over what areas of the frequency spectrum you focus your manipulations on. With fully adjustable click and drag crossover points and each band with solo and bypass buttons, it’s very easy to hone in on the particular frequency range you wish to affect without interfering with the audio of other frequencies. 

The Delta button on each band is useful for hearing the actual noise content you’re removing from the original track, or put simply, input minus output. I personally appreciate Delta buttons as I find it just as useful to hear the other side of the equation as opposed to just seeing it on a GUI.

At the top center of each frequency band is a small semi-circular icon which pulls down – a little bit like a window. This pull down changes the percentage of the central dial’s processing power for each frequency band, effectively making each band its own noise reduction process. 

Further control for each band is provided by a level control below the Delta button providing up to 24 (presumably dB) of boost or anti-clockwise to infinite cut.

The next thing you notice is the central dial now invites you to remove the voice and turn up the ambient noise, should you feel the urge to do so. The fact that the dial now resides in the 12 o'clock position, turning anticlockwise is now the other half of the story. 

It would seem that Vx Pro offers new possibilities and a wealth of creative alternatives to sound designers and audio professionals alike. If you wanted to make a feature of the street noise rather than the busker in the foreground, then this is absolutely the plugin you need.

The Reflections control allows you to restore the natural reflections of the input voice, should you feel that they should not be considered noise. 

This was a useful control on some voices where tight room-like reflections could be considered part of the vocal sound, together with the Ambience Gate – which can allow part of the ambient sound through with the voice, but can remove all ambience when the vocal is no longer present. 

Both of these controls are extremely useful for fine tuning the really awkward-to-clean-up bits, for example, dialogue recorded in a noisy warehouse or factory floor.

Both Clarity Vx and Vx Pro feature switchable analysis for stereo files between Single and Dual mode processing. Single sums stereo signals for processing, saves CPU, and where the audio is similar from both sides, produces excellent results. 

Dual comes into its own when the left and right channels are different in the levels of ambience to be removed, or feature different voices. In this mode far more CPU is required. They also share the same width control which at 100% maintains the original stereo field, or can be narrowed by reducing the value.

For those who prefer a brighter user experience, there’s an alternative. The top bar has a light mode option and on the same bar are all the usual undo, redo, preset menu, A-B and setup options.


Pretty amazing! That's my response to what is quite simply the most effective noise reduction tool for content creators and music makers in all fields. 

Clarity Vx is not only the best and the cheapest noise reduction plugin, it’s the one all others will now be judged by. It works just as well on spoken word, dialogue, and the singing of single melody lines and multi harmonies.

If you're in the business of creating new sounds, archiving old recordings or post production for film and TV, then you need look no further than the Pro alternative to Clarity Vx, which I had immense fun getting to grips with. The clever people at Waves who came up with the idea, design and feature list for this plugin: pure genius!

Waves Clarity Vx and Vx Pro are available from your Waves Central application now in all the usual formats, or alternatively head over to the company website.