FabFilter MB is often overlooked, but it’s an incredibly powerful mastering plugin that allows for frequency-specific dynamic control. It allows for downward and upward compression, as well as both downward and upward expansion - which really comes in handy when trying to shape the dynamics of your master.
The plugin can even affect the stereo image when using the mid and side modes.
Satin by U-he is the best tape emulation plugin I’ve used so far - it's incredibly program-dependent and offers a lot of versatile functionality and an amazing tone. By simply driving the input you can hit the processor in a way that greatly improves the sound of your master.
To start, try some of the mastering presets - most of which are a great introduction to the plugin.
A.O.M Invisible Limiter doesn’t have as transparent of a sound as the name suggests, but can instead be used to shape the ADSR of your signal. You can change the attack and release of your attenuation, as well as introduce various shapes, and mid-side processing.
Soft-knee, wet-dry, oversampling, and limiting modes add to the plugin's versatility.
The Oxford Inflator is a great plugin for increasing perceived loudness without introducing attenuation or significantly reducing your dynamic range. Simply increase the effect to increase the loudness of your signal, with the curve creating a warm sound at higher values or a more distorted one at lower.
When mastering, the Split Band option allows the processor to handle the full frequency spectrum more adequately.
The MM-1 houses the same algorithms used in the DS1 MK3, but without the complexity and somewhat convoluted design. The plugin lets you quickly and easily increase the loudness and impact of your master by simply increasing the amount dial and selecting a mastering style.
Wide switches the processing to mid and side, creating a great way to increase your stereo width as well.
Although the full mastering module is a great option, the Ozone Maximizer is one of the better processors you can use when mastering. The maximizer offers 9 different algorithms, all with a noticeably distinct sound - additionally, true peak, attenuation speed, and the linking of the channels can all be controlled.
Another great feature is the target loudness setting in the bottom left.
Elevate includes 4 processors in one, a 26-band limiter and EQ, a 26-band transient shaper, and a simple but effective spectral clipper. Combined these make it easy to increase the amplitude and impact of your master without introducing unwanted artifacts or noticeable attenuation.
Try using all 26-bands to make the limiting both unique and surprisingly transparent.
Similar to the Invisible limiter, Elephant is a great limiter with an emphasis on controlling the timbre and ADSR of your signal. AT first glance the processing is somewhat simplistic, but under the settings tab, you’ll find more customizable settings than any limiter currently on the market.
Start with the E-4 setting and experiment with the transient response to discover how powerful this plugin is.
When first trying this limiter out, I was incredibly surprised by how well it handled the signal, especially at aggressively high settings. Using the modern setting, with a very short release and blending in the XL saturator, I could achieve loudness without unwanted distortion, while retaining transients.
The tone control section let emphasize the bass at higher or treble at lower settings, and the straightforward controls made making an impressively loud master super simple.