5 Of The Best Mastering Plugins You Can Get Your Hands On Today
Mastering is the final process of producing a song.
The purpose of mastering is to make your track sound more commercial by processing it further with EQs, compressors, limiters, and other tools.
While you once had to own expensive hardware to do mastering, now you can complete the entire process with software.
Most engineers have made the transition to software. There’s a lot of different tools that are being used to get the job done, but we’ll be going over 4 of my top choices.
If you are not 100% clear on how to master a song. I’d recommend you check out my ‘How To Master a Song’ article to get a much better understanding.
Make sure to check out our Best VST Effects article for even more choices!
iZotope Ozone 6 is a wide-known mastering plugin that has gained its popularity through its intuitive interface, powerful tools, and ease-of-use.
Within Ozone, you’ll get all of your essential mastering tools.
– Dynamics (compressor)
– Exciter (subtle multi-band distortion)
– Imager (multi-band stereo widener)
A great feature in Ozone is that it provides great visuals of your sound. A good example of this is in the imager. It shows how your sound is being spread through its very handy vectorscope.
iZotope supplies you with a ton of handy presets that were pre-produced by professional sound engineers. If you need to quickly create a rough-master to test your track out on different speakers, Ozone makes that easier than ever.
Keep in mind that there are two different versions of iZotope: Ozone and Ozone Advanced.
In most cases, you will want to go with the Advanced version. It is packed with much more features that the basic version doesn’t offer.
An awesome feature about iZotope is how you can either use each tool as a separate plugin, OR you can access all of the tools in one single plugin.
For example, if you want to use the iZotope reverb, but don’t want the CPU drag of having all of the plugins loaded, you can drag in the single reverb plugin instead of the entire suite.
Overall, iZotope Ozone is my favorite mastering tool. It comes with everything you need to master your own tracks.
WaveLab is a piece of software (not an audio plugin) that has been a go-to mastering tool for years.
Before Ableton, Cubase, and FL Studio, WaveLab was your top option for mastering songs. Although a lot of what is accomplished in WaveLabs can be done in most DAWs when paired with audio plugins, there are still some features that are worth using WaveLab for.
WaveLab is able to handle tracks up to 384kHz and 24-bit, A lot of great tools are included. Even iZotope’s MBIT+ dithering is included!
Overall, WaveLab is still a very powerful piece of software with a great workflow and useful features that will save you time.
Har-Bal got its name because it uses a technique called harmonic balancing. Its essentially a complex EQ that can be used to balance out your mixes.
Har-Bal is a standalone program that works on both Mac and PC. Its 3 main features are matching loudness, loudness compensation and its IntuitMatch/IntuitQ.
In all honesty, there are parts of Har-Bal that I don’t like. There’s a lot of “auto-pilot“ features that I would’ve appreciated having more control over.
So who is Har-Bal for? I would recommend this software for anyone who wants to get their tracks sounding commercial without a huge learning curve or a lot of practice.
I can also picture Har-Bal as a learning tool of sorts. It helps you train your ears to recognize what a well-balanced mix should sound like.
Har-Bal’s loudness-matching feature can be quite useful when you want your track at a similar level to other similar songs. It allows you to match your track’s perceived loudness to a commercial recording of your choice.
Its loudness compensation feature makes it so your track won’t gain volume or start clipping when you are adjusting the EQ. It will automatically adjust the volume to keep your track at its original volume.
T-Racks, similarly to iZotope, operates right in your DAW as VST plugins.
In this plugin collection, you’ll get some great T-Racks plugins such as their Classic Compressor, Classic Multiband Limiter, Classic Clipper, Classic Equalizer, Brickwall Limiter, and much, much more.
T-Racks is a single plugin in which you can load up to 12 chains at a time. In each chain, you can use a T-Racks plugin of your choice.
Overall, this is an amazing option for anyone looking to master their own music. Its simple to get the hang of and has a great visual display of your sound.
If you are looking for a tool to professionally master music, T-Racks Grand does an exceptional job.
The last mastering plugin we’ll be talking about on this list is Waves Grand Masters Collection.
If you are familiar with audio plugins, there’s a good chance you have heard of a plugin company called Waves.
They make amazing tools that accomplish a wide array of tasks. Almost every well-established producer has at least 1 Waves plugin.
There is an assortment of different collections you can buy from Waves. The Grand Masters Collection contains all of their top plugins for mastering tracks.
Inside are a collection of maximizers, stereo-wideners, EQs, and compressors that will be perfect for mastering any possible musical style you could possibly want.
I have never seen a plugin from Waves that was low quality. All-in-all, this plugin is a great pick for anyone who needs a great plugins collection for mastering and is a fan of Waves.
No matter what mastering plugin/software you choose to get, you’ll be able to get your tracks to a commercial level with a bit of practice.
Out of all these plugins, I’d have to save iZotope Ozone is my favorite. Its a very natural plugin to get the hang of and is packed with a ton of very useful features.
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