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Top 5 Mastering Plugins ACTUALLY Worth Paying For

Mastering with the FabFilter Pro Q3

This EQ has been a go-to of mine for some time now. It offers up to 24 bands, each of which can be made dynamic, and can be controlled with a great deal of accuracy.

Furthermore, the linear phase mode makes it a great option for mastering , especially when you need to attenuate aspects of the low frequency range without introducing unwanted phase changes.

The Pro Q 3 offers a lot of control, both of the stereo image and the frequency response.

The Pro Q 3 offers a lot of control, both of the stereo image and the frequency response.

The reason I use this plugin more often than not is the mid-side functionality. This makes it a great option for making your low-end mono , expanding the stereo image, and controlling the phase relationships between your mid and side images.

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Mastering with the FabFilter Saturn 2

The FabFilter Saturn 2 stands out as one of the best if not the best digital saturator. It allows for 6 bands, each of which can emulate various forms of distortion from tape, to tube, to transistor, and a lot more.

This version also offers subtle distortion types which are perfect for mastering. The plugin can affect the signal as left and right or mid and side , giving you the option to distort just the side, mid, or a combination of the two.

The Saturn 2 offers up to bands of independent distortion.

The Saturn 2 offers up to bands of independent distortion.

What makes this plugin truly special is the program dependent routing you can create. With it, you can make functions contingent upon other functions, resulting is much more realistic sounding distortion.

Mastering with u-he Satin Tape

This plugin may not always sound the most realistic, but it offers more control over your signal than most other tape machine plugins.

Although you can use this plugin for mixing, it works incredibly well at imparting subtle distortions and alterations to your frequency response.

Satin Tape may be the most comprehensive tape emulation plugin available.

Satin Tape may be the most comprehensive tape emulation plugin available.

By clicking the tab at the bottom, you can introduce some stereo widening with crosstalk, some frequency and amplitude modulation with the wow and flutter, and increase the dynamic range by maxing out the headroom dial.

If you’re in doubt about where to start, there are some amazing mastering presets that come with the plugin.

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Mastering with NewFangled Elevate

If you’re in need of a limiter, a clipper, and a transient shaper, this plugin would make a great addition to your mastering chain.

What makes this plugin unique is how it can separate the signal into 26 bands, limiting each one individual. This is fantastic if you’re trying to push your limiter harder, and don’t want o squash your signal.

Elevate can separate the signal into 26 independent bands.

Elevate can separate the signal into 26 independent bands.

Furthermore, whatever transients you loose and be re-introduced with the transient function. Like the limiter, the transient shaper has the ability to affect all 26 bands individually, making for incredible precise expansion.

The clipper section is pretty simplistic but it makes for a great addition to the plugin nonetheless.

Mastering with TRackS One

If you’re looking to master a track with just one plugin, this is a great addition to your plugin collection. This plugin is perfect for anyone who wants to master a demo or any other recording to commercial levels but doesn’t have the time to tinker with multiple processors.

It includes 3 EQ bands, a maximizer, a limiter, a stereo imager, a high frequency, and low-frequency transient shaper , and a harmonic exciter indicative of analog equipment.

One is an incredibly powerful plugin and can make a good stand alone processor, or add to your signal chain.

One is an incredibly powerful plugin and can make a good stand alone processor, or add to your signal chain.

Even if you have a complex signal chain, odds are this powerful plugin can really augment what you’re working on, by increasing low-level details and creating an overall more impressive sound.

Conclusion

With this 5 plugins, or any one of them, you can make great masters. There are definitely a lot of plugins available, but th ones shown here are actually worth your time and money.

Try a demo of each to see if they're right for you!

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Make Pro Songs
The proven platform for making your mixes sound like professional songs,
even if you have no previous experience.
Lock-in my 70% perpetual discount today = $19.90 /month