In this post, we’ll look at the best mastering plugins. These are the effects that can be used, subtly, in both the mixing and mastering processes. As with many aspects of production, it’s a restrained approach that pays dividends – and most mix-and-master effects are designed for tweaks and light touches.
Izotope Ozone 8 → $249-$499.
The standard in many studios. With Ozone 8 Advanced you get all the tools you need to mix and master your tracks. They even added the new Vintage EQ, Vintage Compressor, and Vintage Tape modules to the product recently, making a well rounded choice for many producers – including me 🙂 Get Izotope Ozone 8 here.
Izotope Neutron → Around $349.
The auto pilot of mixing plugins. Simply let Neutron analyze your track and give you a unique mixing preset based on its advanced algorithms combined with the award-winning audio processing by Izotope.
Waves SSL 4000 Collection → $749.
Developed under license from Solid State Logic, the SSL 4000 Collection includes four plugins meticulously modeled on the legendary SSL 4000 mixing consoles.
UAD Shadow Hills → $299.
Used by artists like Green Day and Gnarls Barkley, this plug-in for UAD Audio interfaces provides everything from a velvet touch to an iron fist, making it a go-to compressor in mastering.
Audified Mixchecker → $149.
This plugin lets you check your mixes through models including Classic Studio Monitor, Classic Cube Monitor, On Ear Headphones, Smart Phone and more. Great plugin which can help you achieve better mixes quickly.
Mastering The Mix Levels → $65.
All-in-one metering solution, which lets you quickly assess Headroom, Stereo Field, Dynamic Range and Bass Space, so you can quickly see if there are any problems in these areas of your mix.
Best Mastering Plugins (Free)
As with everything there are a lot of free options in the VST world when it comes to find the best mastering plugins for the job! Check some of our favourite picks below:
Ozone Imager is based Ozone’s legendary Imaging technology. This Stereo Imaging Plugin can narrow or widen your stereo image with simple controls, stunning visuals, and incredible sound. Some of the best mixing engineers in the world swear by Ozone’s mastering plugins. They have a stellar reputation for a good reason. Find out more about this excellent Stereo Imaging Plugin.
Panipulator 2 is an essential tool for checking how your mixes will translate to different systems. Best of all, it’s available for free. Panipulator will also barely make a dent in your CPU usage, so there is no reason that this plugin should not be a default on every single song you mix. Even though you spent considerable time and effort getting your mix to sound amazing on your monitors, there is still one very important question: What will it sound like playing at a theme park? or at the dentists office? or on your old radio? What if they wired one of the speakers backwards? As much as we’d like to think that everyone is listening our music in stereo, the truth is that many many people are listening in less than ideal environments. Panipulator lets you hear what your mix will sound like in those environments so you can be sure that your mixes will translate across all systems. Download Panipulator here!
Shattered Glass Audio’s Code Red Free is one of the grooviest ‘vintage’ free plugins in recent memory. Designed to emulate the legendary tube-based REDD consoles used in Abbey Road during the 1960s, Code Red Free combines a punchy vintage EQ with the rich sound of the REDD’s preamps. Download Shattered Glass Audio Code Red Free
Basslane is the original freeware classic used in countless productions to control the stereo field of lower frequencies on tracks and mixes. It’s a simple, yet very handy little utility that allows you to narrow the width of the frequencies below a defined threshold. The easy-to-use interface features a range of monitoring options allowing precise finetuning while auditioning the processing at different stages. Download here.
The Noisebud Fletchy-Muncher is dope! If you mixed and mastered something at home and excited as a kid on Christmas-eve patiently waiting for the DJ to drop it in the club and when he finally does, with the volume cranked up to 11, it sound like someone hitting a hammer on a anvil and you see people with bleeding ears everywhere, then you might need this… Download it here!
HOFA 4U+ BlindTest provides a means by which various plugins or signal paths may be compared unhindered by bias based on, say, a plugin’s name or GUI. 4U+ BlindTest is instantiated at the end of every signal path to be compared. The interface hides the identities of the test subjects and you can shuffle their positions in the interface for utter anonymity. This obscurity enables you to choose the best based on your ears, rather than your emotions. It’s a great idea and one that will shake up your preconceptions. Download it here.
LVC Audio Limited-Z is a terrific transparent dynamics processor that can be pushed very hard indeed without creating unwanted distortion and can serve as alternative to the classic Waves L2 limiter. Download LVC Audio Limited-Z