All Waves NX plugins would benefit GREATLY with this one simple addition

Background: Waves NX plugins are powered by WavesHeadTracker (see image), which runs as a separate process outside of your DAW.

The WavesHeadTracker is, by default, launched upon the initialization of an NX plugin instance (be it loading an existing project or adding it to an existing project.) The good news is that Waves 13 gave users the option to choose whether or not the WavesHeadTracker would be launched in that fashion.

There are generally two types of users who would prefer this option:

  1. Those who won’t use a Bluetooth or Camera tracker – thus have zero reason to use the WavesHeadTracker.
  2. Those who wish to manually control the launch and shutdown of the WavesHeadTracker_x64.exe process, as opposed to having the plugin close the instance upon switching projects or exiting the DAW.

The bad news for User 2 is that there is currently no way to tell the plugin to not also close the WavesHeadTracker instance upon exiting. If you’re switching from one project session to another, you will have to reconnect your Bluetooth connection to the NX Tracker, which in theory shouldn’t be a hassle – although it has sadly proven to be for myself and at least one other user. Whether it be having to turn off Bluetooth entirely on the computer, reset the NX Tracker, reconnecting is not the “simple button press” that it ought to be.

Being a User 2, I wanted to come up with a solution to the problem. I realized that I could just launch a dedicated instance of WavesHeadTracker_x64.exe manually. This worked as I had hoped it would – until I closed the DAW. Because there is no option to maintain the active instance of WavesHeadTracker, the DAW automatically assumes that you intended to close it – and with it, your Bluetooth connection.

Therein lies the problem, and why I created this thread – if the DAW didn’t try to close down the WavesHeadTracker_x64.exe process upon exiting, then I would still have an active Bluetooth connection to the tracker, and I could immediately continue my Bluetooth connection into another project. I would simply go to the dropdown box (see point 2 in the bottom image) and select the active instance of the WavesHeadTracker from the dropdown.

The solution I am proposing: Allow the user to choose whether or not they want to automatically close the running instance of WavesHeadTracker_x64.exe upon removing the plugin, switching projects, or exiting the DAW. (see point 3 in the bottom image) This would effectively allow the WavesHeadTracker to run in the background as if it were a service, and not as something that can just be terminated at the beck and call of the DAW.

The workflow for the user would look like

  1. Start up computer.
  2. Start up WavesHeadTracker (outside of DAW)
  3. Start up DAW
  4. Load project containing an NX plugin or create a new project and add an NX plugin
  5. In the NX GUI, connect to the WavesHeadTracker instance.


I can’t even begin to explain how much this would help people use NX more efficiently. It is seriously the one thing that has made using NX feel a little clunky for me, as I like to switch between a lot of different projects in my DAW, yet I have to keep juggling the Bluetooth connection upon each switch.

Having the ability to launch a dedicated instance of the WavesHeadTracker outside of the control of the DAW would be a dream come true for usability!

EDIT: Added a clearer demonstration image for what I am proposing
EDIT: Clarified my initial proposal

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This “reconnect each time” is a nightmare. I stopped using my Tracker due to this, and I have a very hard time believing anyone uses multiple trackers which is theoretically supported.

It should be like Bluetooth headphones which maintain their connection without issue. To give the benefit of doubt, maybe there’s a technical reason they couldn’t do that…

But as it is, the Tracker is almost amazing – but not.

I use a webcam instead, because it doesn’t have this issue. It has latency the tracker didn’t have, though…

PS. Someone might respond “Just connect again, it’s no big deal!” But that hasn’t been my experience, either… I’ve used NX on three different machines and on all of them – connection rarely works the first time. I end up having to turn off my Bluetooth, reset the Tracker, re-enable Bluetooth – and do this all repeatedly. It takes 2-5 minutes to successfully pair every time… And yes, this includes updated firmware. TBH I have a hard time believing anyone at Waves uses the Tracker regularly or someone would have addressed these usability issues.

But if they could ever make the thing reliable it would be incredible. For now, though, I recommend a webcam.

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This is my experience entirely. I eventually found a specific combination of things that I can do to get the first connection about 80% of the time. I forget the NX Tracker in Windows and then reconnect it while the WavesHeadTracker is open. It seems like upon the connection being made here, the WavesHeadTracker receives a notice that there is an NX Tracker being connected, and then successfully appears and connects in the WavesHeadTracker.

If I could just keep one instance (and thus one connection) open, then I wouldn’t have to keep reconnecting. Waves 13 introduced a bug fix to prevent it from timing out after 10 minutes in Windows, which enabled me to keep a connection open for quite some time without even realizing it, as I was minimized out of my DAW and doing other things.

If there was just an option to not automatically CLOSE WavesHeadTracker… then I would just keep that one connection open, and be able to switch projects while maintaining a connection to the head tracker app.

An example of what it could look like.

With Waves 13, my problem is no longer having the connection drop out randomly, but its that the plugin tries to close out the Waves Head Tracker (and with it the connection).

The NX technology is SO CLOSE TO PERFECTION, and this one simple change would only need one additional line of code to add an option to the GUI, then a bool check in the plugin for OnClose (or whatever its respective counterpart code happens to be) to see if the user wants the plugin to handle the closing of the Waves Head Tracker process or not.

Bluetooth stability aside, at least in my situation, getting connected is the hard part, and as of Waves 13, it doesn’t seem like staying connected is any longer a problem. I just wish the plugin would stop auto-closing the Tracker app so that I could just maintain an instance of it outside of my DAW. I’d rather just use the dropdown (see image, point 2) to select the existing instance than wrestle around with trying to establish a new connection.

EDIT: Oh, I almost forgot. What would make this fix even easier is that the WavesHeadTracker is actually already a dedicated process that is called by the plugin.
Notice how I have a shortcut created to it? I’ve pinned it to my start menu.
(see next post) for the image)

I understand that not everyone would want to manually handle the opening and closing of the Waves Head Tracker.

Which is why adding this an option (and leaving it off by default) would be akin to something of an “Advanced Mode” that those who are already familiar with the plugin could choose to use. Further stability for those who wish to use it, convenience for those who would rather let the DAW handle the opening and closing of it.

(see previous post: posting the example of having it pinned to the Start Menu)

I’ve had mine for a week and I’m just about ready to return it. I’m not sure I’ll have the patience to deal with a finicky Bluetooth connection. If I put my computer to sleep, when it resumes the I have to go through hoops to get the thing working again. If I go for a tea break, same thing, when I come back the connection has been dropped. It seems a combination of killing the WavesHeadTracker_x64.exe process and cycling the Bluetooth interface off and then on again restores the connection, after a varying delay. Some times the status indicator flashes green, then goes dark again. The other thing is one needs to remember to press the rubber button on the top of the unit. I wish this button was not as stiff as it is. It would have been more ergonomic if located on one side of the unit, at the end of the battery compartment. It would also have been much better if the battery compartment lid was located on the top, to enable uses to change the battery without having to take the tracker off from the headphones.

I own have Genki Instruments Wave wireless ring gesture controller that also uses Bluetooth but doesn’t need to be paired in Windows Settings, it does it all in the app itself (somehow), and it’s very reliable, it connects immediately every single time. Maybe this is something Waves might want to look into.

I’m curious, what exactly does the “RESTART” button in the Nx plugin actually do? If I click it it just seems to bring the already open WavesHeadTracker window to the foreground, but it doesn’t restart anything.

A couple of days ago I encountered a situation where I loaded the plugin in Live and WavesHeadTracker wouldn’t start. I clicked the RESTART button and it just wouldn’t open. I went into Device Manager and the associated process was not running at all. I was able to launch it by double-clicking WavesHeadTracker_x64.exe, which I now have a shortcut to in a convenient place.

Edit: I’ve just done a bit of testing on this issue. If I power-cycle the head tracker, the Bluetooth doesn’t seem to be automatically restored, regardless of the state of the “Automtic Connect” checkbox. Furthermore, when I turn off the head tracker, the plugin detects this and grays out the 3D head graphic a couple of seconds after the fact. However, the WavesHeadTracker server app continues to display the green indicator next to the tracker in the list for a lot longer, as if it was still connected.

I really like the concept but there are way too many annoying design niggles and plugin itself features a number of annoyances that take the joy out of using it. I’ll report those on a separate thread though.

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Hey @djscoox – my experience is the exact same as yours.

I’m pretty much a Waves superfan so I don’t want to come across overly negative, but the tracker is problematic enough that I can’t believe they’re still even selling it. They actually encourage people to use multiple trackers at once.

Can you imagine what that would be like?! With all the trackers losing connections and having to resync and restart bluetooth repeatedly? It would add hours and hours of lost time.

And you’re right – there is a big problem with the button design, especially with how often you must interact with it. My first one was so hard to press I had to return it. The second one is at least usable, but it’s unpleasant.

I’m utterly baffled by this product. When it works, it’s FANTASTIC and there’s nothing like it… But the connection/sleep(?) issue is so bad it makes me feel like they didn’t even test it. (And yes I have disabled all the USB sleep parameters in my power settings, it’s not that.)

I use Bluetooth headphones and speakers all the time on a variety devices. They all work consistently. I wish the tracker was that simple.

So I use NX with a webcam – the webcam does work consistently! I wish I could return my tracker.

Well, in the end I sent mine back to where it came from. I bought mine from Thomann and I had actually registered the software so I’ve no idea how they intend to restock the thing but they told me it was no problem—touch wood! I really wanted to like Nx and I was even prepared to hold onto it hoping a future update would fix at least the Bluetooth stuff, but I changed my mind as soon as I realised this product was released well over 5 years ago, which IMO is more than long enough for most of its problems to have been reported and resolved, and yet that’s not been the case, which leads me to believe Waves are not committed to developing this product. The most likely reason is that it continues to sell because it’s too inexpensive not to try. Many bedroom producers will be lured by the promise of an acoustically treated room in their cans for a few tens of bucks. The real question is: how many users are using Nx with multiple simultaneous head trackers? I’ll bet not many. After seeing how problematic it is with just one tracker, who’d want to buy a second one?

I have owned other Waves plugins before, free ones actually and, despite being free, I never fell in love with them and finally uninstalled them from my computer. Excepting the often non-resizable tiny GUIs, they worked ok in some DAWs, but not in FL Studio where I’d get an empty “Waves shell” window. The registration system was another big hurdle as it binds the plugin to the network interface that was used to connect to the Internet while registering the thing. This prevented me from using the plugin when using my home wireless network, e.g. in a different room and wasted me hours trying to figure out why a plugin that was working fine an hour ago suddenly refused to load in my DAW. Overall I was unhappy about the user experience very early on.

Some may say I’m splitting hairs with these complaints but, sorry, it’s 2022 and we are spoiled for plugins with incredibly sleek UIs and a totally hassle-free UX. I get the feeling Waves spends more on marketing and paid endorsements than actual product development.