Waves ceases plugin sales and moves to subscription-only with Creative Access

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Waves has officially ceased plugin sales and has moved to subscription-only with the new Creative Access plans, starting at $14,99/month.

What comes to your mind when I say Waves/Waves Audio? I think 99% of people will agree with me: endless super, mega sales, endless newsletters, and the dangerous WUP trap, Waves paid service for plugin updates.” Get the plugin almost for free, but pay it 4 times more for the WUP. And please do this annually.

Those are the reasons I almost stopped covering Waves Audio. I can’t support the business model because every purchase has a bad aftertaste. But as of today, those are things of the past. Waves has changed its business model and is now completely on subscriptions.

Waves Creative Access

Bye Bye Waves Plugin Sales, Hello Creative Access Subscriptions

Starting today, Waves Creative Access is the only way to get Waves plugins. They also ceased the sale of plugin sale, aka perpetual licenses. This means, if you are interested in a new plugin, the new subscription plan is the only way to get it—owners of plugins from before the subscription will continue to own the existing version of their plugins.

Then, the “beloved” WUP (Waves Update Plan” is not longer available. In order to continue receiving updates, plus new products, features… you will need an active subscription.

There are two different plans available differing in the plugin amount: Waves Essential and Waves Ultimate.

Waves Essential ($14.99 month / $149 year

  • 110 industry-leading plugins including Waves Tune RT, Clarity Vx, Vocal Bender, and many more! 
  • All plugin updates included at no extra cost  
  • Select new plugins added at no extra cost 
  • Limited time bonus: 2 free months of Splice Sounds+ included 
  • NEW! StudioVerse – the AI-powered community for plugin chains: Thousands of mixing chains with AI search 

Waves Ultimate – $24.99 month / $249 year 

  • Over 220 industry-leading plugins—All Waves plugins in one subscription! 
  • All plugin updates are included at no extra cost
  • New plugins added regularly at no extra cost
  • Limited time bonus: 2 free months of Splice Sounds+ included 
  • NEW! StudioVerse – the AI-powered community for plugin chains: Thousands of mixing chains with AI search.

Important: Waves Creative Access does not include Waves live sound applications such as eMotion LV1, SuperRack, SoundGrid Rack for Venue, and Dugan Speech.

Waves StudioVerse

Besides the new business model, Waves also introduced StudioVerse which includes thousands of plugin chains (and growing daily!), created by a community of hundreds of producers and engineers, accessible directly inside your DAW. 

StudioVerse opens from the Waves StudioRack plugin chainer, instantly allowing you to use and is powered by Musical AI search that recommends the best chains for your tracks. Just hit the ‘Scan Audio’ button: StudioVerse’s musical machine learning engine will learn your track’s “Audio ID” and instantly recommends mixing chains matching your unique sonic fingerprint. 

 Each chain has up to 8 macros for easy tweakability 


First Impression

Honestly, this is the first time I welcome a subscription service. After the never-ending mega sales (newsletters) and the overpriced WUP service, this business model is more transparent and easier to understand for the customer. No longer the bait offered to buy the WUP at some point.

Yes, subscription services are not great, especially for musicians who can’t easily deduct them from their taxes. Nonetheless, I prefer this new “Waves” to the Waves we’ve known before.

Waves Creative Access is now available now, starting at $14,99 per month or $149 per year.

More information here: Waves Audio 

Plugin News


  1. This is way worse than WUP. I have been using Waves plugins for seven years and never paid WUP and all the plugins I bought are still working fine under Windows. Why would I want to pay $14.99 a month? Maybe only Mac users would welcome it? Makes no sense for me.

    • There’s been one reason to upgrade, on the Mac: native support for Apple Silicon. Plugins work well without it, though. And it felt really strange to have to pay for such an upgrade, with Waves, when many other companies released free updates with native support, often much quicker than Waves did. Overall, the WUP never made that much sense anyway.
      Given how little improvement there has been with these plugins, a subscription is indeed a tough sell.

    • I’m on Mac and I do not welcome thos anti consumer behavior with endless subscriptions. Imagine spending thousands of dollars on Waves plugins for them to tell you you have to pay again monthly. F that and goodbye Waves!

      • Hey Matt, I not singling you out or anything just relying as I have just had an email from Waves that says this : Dear Waves community,

        We would like to update you that starting now, perpetual licenses for plugins and bundles are available for purchase on our website. Going forward, perpetual licenses and subscriptions will be offered side by side.

        Nearly all single plugins on our website are now $29.99 each.*

        Wishing you all the best,
        The Waves Team

  2. Any “subscription only” model is bad for the user unless your a pro who’s constantly producing with those tools. Not fair.
    Bye, Waves!

    • Even if you constantly work with these tools, a subscription model remains an issue in a context of “subscription fatigue”. To mix-and-match between products from different companies, you need to pay several subscriptions at once. And while it may sound like a steady revenue stream for the developers involved, situations like recessions make people drop subscriptions rather quickly.

  3. This is really bad for the music industry. The WUP solution was much better than subscriptions, and if waves droppes that, no on will be promoting such a solution.
    The WUP prices were a bit high, especially if they wanted people people to keep updating yearly, even though they did not need to.
    But it was kind of a fair solution, if software developers have to keep updating their software to be compatible with the yearly Mac OS update and the occasional compatibility breaking Windows update.
    They seemingly also used that method to be able to sell some plugins at a lower price compared to competitors (they have lots of plugins that they have been able to discount, because they have already covered the R&D costs, or that they can sell cheaper than competitors due to the volume of their sales, but some plugins released in recent years, they seemingly have been able to discount to a level that suggest that either WUP or Sales of other plugins covered their cost, so they could discount them that much).

    Sure, their sales tactic was annoying, but they could have set a balanced priced and focused on getting as many people as possible to get WUP plans, even though they might not need, because they haven’t made any OS update that would require it.

    Their subscription prices are laughably high. That strategy will not work, long term.
    Software makers need to realize that if they are going subscription, they will have to lower the prices of them, to only a couple of dollars/euro per month.
    Most sales that software makers make, is to hobby musicians, that can’t write the costs off as business expense.
    With those prices, people will only be able to get a limited number of subscription, and the winners will be those that are best at providing content, and Waves is not among them, they make a lot of plugins, but they have a lot that are looking terribly dated, with a UI that also makes them harder to use than some of their competitors.
    NI, at least can always just purchase content from a kontakt library maker, to make sure they can provide enough new content every year.
    8dio/soundpaint and spitfire, have a lot of content, if they can keep making new content, it is possible they could sustain a subscription model. But they will lose some fans among the hobby users.
    DAWs, I could see work as a subscription, if they start making yearly updates with new features, instead of every other or third year. DAWs are quite expensive but kind of necessary (I know there are some alternatives that are free or cheap, but a lot of people want specific DAWs, and some feel they need more than one).

    People will want a lot of plugins from different makes, so unless that is accessible for hobby musicians and musicians that don’t make any real money of music making, they will not sign up to subscriptions that will tanke all, or most of their yearly budget, for just one or a couple of companies.

    I hope it becomes apparent soon to wave that they completely miscalculated.
    They only make a few plugins that are competitive at any price, and some that only were due to their price. Many producers had go to waves plugins, but most only had a couple of go to plugins that were Waves, I really don’t see those people signing up for a subscription. At least with WUP, it was only occasionally needed expense, not a monthly subscription, and while it might have stung a bit to have to get WUP, especially for those with a large number of plugins, or having to update their full bundle via WUP, even if they only used one or two plugins from that bundle, and had not moved to separate licenses for those. But paying every month for Waves, to keep that limited number of plugins in one’s arsenal, I doubt that will work.

    And how will they get new customers. With their sales, people bought in to waves, by getting a plugin for very little money. Most did not buy a waves plugin every other month, when getting started with waves plugins.

  4. Thanks for you candour and honesty. It’s been rare to hear honest comments about that company from most blogs and podcasts, probably because they have relationships with people talking about Music Tech. It’s a weird industry as it doesn’t take well to criticism.
    Honestly, it doesn’t sound like switching exclusively to a subscription model will help anyone in the long run. Especially given the current state of the plugin market. Waves has contributed to a bit of a price war (with 100ILS/30USD as the expected base price for all plugins). There are several subscription services and people really feel the pain of having to pay for multiple yearly plans. Unless Waves steps up its rate of improvement, these plans mostly feel like a way to extract money from existing users and won’t expand the market. It’s also weird to go there at this point, given the controversy around Bitwig’s move to get certain plugins away from its update plan (which is much better than a subscription plan despite being confused with one). And there are enough improvements to the plugin scene which aren’t on Waves’s radar that this all feels like a “last ditch effort”.

    Ah, well…

  5. Well THANKS BUT NO!!! So ANGRY!!! Renaissance Comp and RChannel are some of my favourite plugins!
    This compressor is magic if set it right. Together (In series) with the TCL-2 from Millennia it is unbeatable for kick/bass bus ( ESPECIALLY in Psytrance) but also on bass guitar, synths, percussion… All of us have to write them emails! Every week.. People CAN change things. Remember Bitwig?…

  6. I like Waves a lot but am I the only one on subscription overload? I think UAD Spark has been groundbreaking (particularly on the road), but then there’s Plug-in Alliance, Roland Cloud, and SSL to name only three. And at four I’m tapped out. Waves is by far the only game in town now and others have beat them to the punch.

    • Exactly this. The only reason I bought waves was that I could get something for $30 and use it for a while. But their chaotic update/second license scheme with different timing for every plugin purchased was too much to keep up with. Their lower $15 tier is mostly old stuff that nobody wants except maybe a few, so the ~$23 is the only viable one. But if I’m going to spend that, it’s definitely not going to be for Waves. With all the Brainworks stuff at Plugin Alliance, that’s the way to go for me. Also looking at SSL also now that they are Apple Silicon native.

  7. To be really honest I hate this. Limiting your markets choice purely for profitability makes me leave supporting companies like this. WUP was a joke but at least we had the choice to say no to it.

  8. The author grossly miscalculated the appetite of users, musicians and professionals alike that the cost of doing business must be fair and equitable. This is not! As a developer I emphasise with the desire for steady income, however this is precisely what not to do!

    I think a base price with a modest quarterly or yearly update subscription model is fair and allows to users to determine if they must have the latest version and features. These models give credence to hardware despite their inherent limitations. At €250 a year, within 4 years you have purchased a €1K hardware unit! That hardware unit will most likely last for decades with minimal upkeep, and certainly within a studio environment. I have had a 10 year relationship with Waves and at three new prices, I will have spent £2,500 euros for a product I will never actually own.

  9. Saying “going subscription is great” is flabbergasting. That suck big time. Never had to use WUP. Been updating my bundle from time to time and WUP gets renewed with no extra. You don’t have to pay for WUP every year either. I had plugins from 15 years ago that still work great. Even if I had to pay WUP every 5 years (and keep in mind I never had to), that would make it a $50 fee/year, not a big deal. Now, the bundles I bought are worth nothing as I can’t update to the next bundle and won’t be able to access updates like at all.

    They were selling bundles and individual plugins until yesterday knowing they would go subscription only, that’s quite fishy.
    I will not use their plugins anymore, I’ll be fine, not sure Waves will be.

    • mac and windows are very different. Many music producers still use Waves plugins on v5 without problems on Windows. On macOS, it’s different, especially during the transition to Apple Silicon ARM chips.

      • I’m on mac and still on Intel. Will switch to ARM in 2-3 years, not anything different from my normal buying cycle

  10. The value of Waves was always the issue. Horrendously over-priced from the beginning, so the blurb makes it look like a bargain.
    It isn’t.
    Every single plugin that waves makes can be found as an equivalent from smaller devs with a perpetual licence for a fraction of the cost if you look hard enough.

  11. I can understand somehow how a professional can like subscriptions, as they are tax deductable and they are more “operational expense” than “capital expense” which is often better. However even then, if more companies go subscription only this will add up to a point where you can’t afford them all. With bought plugins, in the worst case you can archive the complete hardware, or disk image and will still be able to open it in the future, hopefully.

    And then, for hobbyists, $250 / year is just a lot of money. For me too much. And without anything in return. With PluginAlliance, if you go subscription then at least you get vouchers so you can keep plugins even without subscription, and they also offer an “all bundle” where you can buy everything, forever. Without subscription.

  12. I banned everything by Waves from my studio years ago and never looked back. Their copyright protection, licensing, and update policy were super annoying and got me into trouble several times. I replaced most of their plugins with Softube and SSL and never had any issues.

    • You found the copyright protection, and licensing… super annoying and then moved to Softube and SSL with iLok. It sounds like a big improvement 😉

      • In a professional studio setting, iLok is better. One usb key holds all the keys. Walk up to any computer and plug and go. Plug in my custom presets and settings on another usb drive and I am good to go. Many people miss this angle if they do not make records for a living…

        • Every musician has a different workflow. I had an iLok USB for a long time. I had a few annoying issues (occupied one a few USB ports, a defective hardware…) then I moved to the software solution where I’m still. It’s okay for me but don’t love that license transfers costs money :S I always prefer classic registration systems.

  13. If like me you’ve owned Waves Plugins for 25 years I think you’d feel quite differently about what Waves just did. No advanced warning; no grace period and of course these plugins that I’ve spent thousands of dollars on have no resale value. You are on the wrong side of this decision.

    • I agree. Have been using their plugins for 10+ years and own like 80% of them. The forced switch to subscription is BS, as a long time customer this sucks. For new customers its great, but why not just make it a CHOICE?

      Us long terms can keep our stuff and pay for updates because it makes more sense, new people can go subscription if they want or buy things outright if they hate subscriptions.


    I spent hundreds on their “Diamond Bundle” and a few others…and their only offer was one month free basic subscription?!

    BUH-BYE crap-ware plugin manufacture!

  15. I do not agree with move and will not be purchasing a subscription. If they don’t bring back the option to renew my perpetual licenses I will use my other perpetual plugins that I own. I will not pay for plugins with a subscription. That’s for utility bills not software.

    • I won’t do it either. I will be looking for alternatives beginning today. I “own” about 20 of their plugins and use several in a live setting. Time to get out. Just a dirtbag company. This is how they reward long time customers.

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