You need to seriously re-evaluate your approach. You should NEVER be even close to clipping the input... nor ever even close to clipping on any of your busses.
You are confusing the hotness of the final mix... which can be determined at the very END of the chain... with what's going on throughout the chain.
Above advice was correct. Your recorded tracks should be peaking in most cases no higher than -6db or so. Your busses should be peaking no higher than -6db or so.
Your master buss up until the LAST plugin (not the waves api) should never reach -6db.
I suffered the same confusion about a year ago. I was pushing everything trying to maximize gain everywhere. It's a mistake. There are many reasons for what I have just said, and they are all valid.
Now, after all that is done, and you have an output signal below -6db coming out of waves api
... THEN if you want a presentation master to give the band or whatever, and you want it hot as possible, then run it through elephant or L2
or something, let them take the peaks down another notch, and calibrate the output up to 0db. Added benefit is that if it gets sent for mastering, all you have to do is take off the maximizer and output the signal, and you're good to go.
As a side note, tho... I have read that it is better to output to -0.3db... the volume difference is not noticeable, but apparently some cd players will cause distortion at 0db, and it is possible to have intersample peaks that distort if you have samples that hit any higher.
Between waves api
, you can squeeze the life out of the track if you want to, but doing it this way, you will get the gainstaging right up until that point, and avoid the digital graininess that always gives away when someone is abusing a digital chain. If you have clipped ANYTHING ANYWHERE in the chain, it will simply sound bad... and some plugs don't work properly when pushed NEAR the top of their range.