The best audio mastering plugins will provide you with everything you need to finalize your own tracks and get them ready for commercial release.
In this post we take a look at 3 mastering plugin solutions you should consider when you decide it's time to master your own music. All 3 the options you'll uncover below will give you all the tools needed to get your tracks up to a professional level.
Note: Mastering can be done with plugins you already own. The mastering plugins listed below are simply tools designed especially for mixing and mastering. So while they make the mastering workflow more efficient and combine all tools in the same place, you don't need these types of plugins to master your music. They're nice to have but not a must for mastering.
That said, let's dive right into the best audio mastering plugins list straight away!
The purpose of this series of posts is to provide you with only 3 good DAW audio plugin choices for the different types of available professional music production plugins.
This, as you can imagine, is no easy task given the sheer amount of plugins available in most of the various audio plugin categories. Some really excellent contenders had to be left on the virtual cutting-room floor.
Why not just list more?
That would've been the easier option for me, but there are countless blog posts listing the 20 or 10 "best [.....] plugins". While these types of posts have their place and purpose they can still leave you with a bit of overwhelm when it comes to making a choice. Even more so when you start comparing plugin features.
So, the general idea of these posts is...
... to narrow-down to just 3 top contenders in each of the popular DAW plugin categories. This means you can start with a solid shortlist and demo the plugins which appeal to you most, knowing that these have been selected for good reasons.
So, how are the included plugins selected?
Nothing too scientific. It's a mix of my what I've picked up in my experience in audio and music for the past 20-ish years, coupled with some light research on sites with ratings and reviews and various lengthy "what's the best plugin for... ?" music production and audio forum posts. You know the ones. ;-)
So, you can think of it as my opinion plus a bit. Take it with a grain of salt as you would with any opinion about music production software and gear in general. My hope is you'll find the 3 recommended plugins in each category a good starting point and find the plugin that suits you best, faster.
First in our list of the best audio mastering plugins we have iZotope's Ozone 9.
This behemoth of a mastering plugin includes all the tools a mastering engineer would be most likely to use to finish a track. With Ozone you can do EQing, Imaging, Track Referencing, Maximizing, Exciting, Dynamics and more, all inside one plugin. Add to that the excellent vintage modules which include a Tape Saturator, Limiter, Compressor and EQ and you can imagine why this mastering plugin has become a firm favorite among some of the top producers and engineers in the game.
Now, while the tools I mentioned above are all top-notch in terms of design and usability, with all the features you would expect in high-quality modern plugins, Ozone takes the whole thing much further...
The built-in Master Assistant taps into the power of AI to give you assistive tools to intelligently get your track ready for release in terms of both sound and loudness.
The Match EQ module furthermore allows you to compare and match your own track with any reference track you've loaded into the plugin.
Combine all the above with all the professional analysis and metering you need for mastering and you have yourself a beast of a mastering plugin that can help you get the job done and done well, fast.
iZotope Ozone is available in 3 different versions; Elements, Standard and Advanced and supports both Mac and Windows systems. You can compare the different versions and take advantage of the free trial to take them for a test drive here (affiliate link) right now.
Next on our list of the best audio mastering plugins we have the Elevate Mastering Bundle (Eventide) by Newfangled Audio.
Now, while producers and engineers around the planet tend to rave mostly about the Elevate Limiter plugin, this bundle comes with so much more than just this excellent multi-band limiter and maximizer.
Also included is EQuivocate, a powerful graphic EQ which is modeled on the human ear and Saturate, a spectral clipper algorithm that allows you to overdrive your tracks without affecting the tonal balance of your mix. Finally, you have Punctuate, a multi-band transient modulator that allows you to emphasize or tame your transients, precise and easy.
It also has 6 different types of metering so you can analyze and check every aspect of your mix.
The Elevate Mastering Bundle is available for Windows and Mac and at the time of writing this is available for half-price over at Plugin Boutique. (affiliate link)
Our list of the best audio mastering plugins concludes with T-RackS 5 by IK Multimedia.
The latest version of this modular mastering powerhouse comes with 9 modules included and can be expanded with up to 38 modules in total.
The 9 modules that come included are:
If you want to be able to customize your mastering workflow and mix-and-match different high-quality processors then you'll love T-RackS 5.
The standard version is a great starting place for beginners as it has everything you need to get your masters done. There is also a Deluxe and MAX version available. The Deluxe version features 22 modules and the MAX version includes all 38.
T-RackS 5 is available for Mac and Windows users and has a demo version available to try before you buy.
You can learn more about T-Racks 5 and grab it right now here.
So, there you have it! 3 of the best audio mastering plugins available to you if you want an all-in-one mastering solution for your studio.
Remember, you don't have to invest in these types of plugins if you want to master your tracks. You can master with plugins you already have. These types of mastering plugins can however make life easier and improve your workflow since everything is pretty much in one place. Some of the more advanced features included in these mastering plugins may also be more difficult to find in other plugins.
If you want to explore the world of mastering plugins a bit more first then head on over to Plugin Boutique's mastering section, sorted by highest rating for your convenience.
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