The future of music

10 Best Mastering Plugins

December 29, 2023
best mastering plugins

If you’re looking for reliable mastering plugins that will enrich your music production process, you’ve come to the right place.

Today we review the best mastering plugins in the market right now.

We’ll tell you all about their main features and highlights so you can choose the right plugin for you.

Mastering is a crucial part of preparing your track for distribution, and that’s why getting a good mastering plugin is essential. 

Let’s dive in! 

1. iZotope Ozone 10 – Best mastering plugin

iZotope Ozone 10 - Best mastering plugin

When thinking about the best mastering plugins, iZotope’s Ozone 10 is the first thing that comes to mind.

This is one of the most popular mastering plugins for a good reason – it has powerful modules and an incredibly comprehensive mastering suite.

Some of the modules include modules for EQs, multiband compressors, exciters, spectral imagers, and limiters.

All of this will make your mastering process a whole lot easier as well as more exciting.

The Ozone 10 has an intuitive user interface, so it’s very easy to use, even if you’re a beginner.

Moreover, the Ozone 10 offers the Assistance view which analyzes your track and provides you with suggestions on how to make it better.

That said, this is a fantastic mastering plugin that will meet your needs regardless of your level of expertise. 

2. Waves Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain – Best for analog-style sound

Waves Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain - Best for analog-style sound

If you’re looking for a reliable mastering plugin with an analog-style sound, you should check out Waves Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain.

This is based on the same EMI chain used in all of Abbey Road’s mastering rooms, so you’ll get an iconic mastering plugin that won’t let you down.

Tone and Limited modules are second to none, and you can expect an incredible tone and top performance.

That said, Waves Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain is hands down one of the best mastering plugins you can find.

The only downside is the potential to have some minor GUI issues, but that doesn’t really affect its overall value.  

3. Softube Weiss DS1-MK3 – Best high-end mastering plugin

Softube Weiss DS1-MK3 - Best high-end mastering plugin

Softube has a long reputation for manufacturing quality audio equipment. 

And their Weiss DS1-MK3 might be pricey, but if you’re looking for a premium-level mastering plugin with a great reputation, it’s worthy of consideration.

The GUI is very detailed and clear,  and the brickwall limiter is amazing, allowing fluid tone shaping.

Also, the DS1-MK3 comes with the standard view of the original hardware, along with a new edition of Waveform view.

And there’s a frequency-specific dynamics shaping, a useful tool that allows you to compress specific frequencies.

All in all, Softube’s Weiss DS1-MK3 is a top-quality mastering plugin that will help you make your track the best it can possibly be.

4. IK Multimedia T-RackS 5 – Best for flexibility

IK Multimedia T-RackS 5 - Best for flexibility

IK Multimedia T-RackS 5 is another great mastering plugin you should check out.

First and foremost, it offers amazing options for metering. 

In mixing and mastering, meters can ultimately help you make better decisions.

Furthermore, the T-Rack S 5 offers individual mastering processors, including EQs, limiters, compressors, and clippers.

So, you can chop and change as you see fit, which will add more creativity and flexibility to your music-making process. 

There’s no doubt about it – this is a very flexible mastering plugin that will meet your expectations. 

5. Eventide Elevate Bundle – Best AI-powered plugin

Eventide Elevate Bundle - Best AI-powered plugin

Without a doubt, this is one of the top mastering plugins for engineers and producers.

Eventide Elevate Bundle is actually a suite of four mastering plugins.

They include EQ, multi-band limiting, saturation, and maximizing – so, it’s everything you need to master your songs in a proper way. 

Moreover, Elevate uses intelligent, adaptive technology that responds in real-time, so you can create the best-sounding master.

It also preserves or emphasizes fast transients to avoid squashing your mix and uses linear phase auditory filters to manipulate the audio in a way that is natural to the human inner ear.

6. Signum Audio BUTE Loudness Suite – Best for versatility

Signum Audio BUTE Loudness Suite - Best for versatility

Signum Audio BUTE Loudness Suite is another excellent suite of mastering plugins you should take into consideration.

One of the best things about this plugin is the History View, a handy tool that allows you to see your mix’s peaks and troughs over time.

And its convenient interface will let you know when you hit your target loudness.

Since you can select target loudness from an extended menu, you can prepare your track for music streaming sites like Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, and YouTube.

You can also make sure it’s ready for various formats for broadcast, including Netflix.

All in all, this is a great tool to have because it allows you to be ready for any kind of project. 

7. Brainworx bx_XL V2 – Best tools 

Brainworx bx_XL V2 - Best tools

Brainworx bx_XL V2 is another great choice for producers and engineers.

The mid-size limiter allows you to have separate control over different parts of the mix, which is always useful.

The Crossover Frequency slider enables you to choose where the mid-low section ends and the mid-low processing begins.

And fantastic metering tools allow you to audition your mid/side signals individually

On top of that, each channel has a saturation knob (XL), and that can only improve your final result.

All in all, if you want to make your music production process easier and more efficient, Brainworx bx_XL V2 is a safe choice. 

8. Rob Papen MasterMagic – Best affordable plugin

Rob Papen MasterMagic - Best affordable plugin

Rob Rapen MasterMagic isn’t an all-in-one mastering suite, but it offers great value for money.

You can apply changes to specific frequencies, and you can add a lot of shine to the highs.

The Air section is also thoughtfully designed.

With Rob Rapen MasterMagic, you can add fine details to your mix, and you can prepare your track for distribution in a professional way.

It’s a powerful mastering tool for sure, and it’s also reasonably priced.

So if you’re looking for an affordable mastering plugin that will meet your needs, you should consider Rob Rapen MasterMagic.

9. FabFilter Pro-L 2 – Best for professionals

FabFilter Pro-L 2 - Best for professionals

FabFilter Pro-L 2 is a quality true peak limiter plug-in. available in VST, VST3, AU, AAX, and AudioSuite formats for Windows and macOS.

It has a professional feature set – advanced algorithms, linear-phase oversampling, professional dithering and noise shaping and surround support (up to Dolby Atmos 7.1.2), and intelligent channel linking.

It’s also known for top-class metering and smart Parameter Interpolation for smooth parameter transitions.

There’s also a useful help file with interactive help hints, SSE optimization, and GPU-powered graphics acceleration.

10. Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor – Best well-rounded compressor

Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor - Best well-rounded compressor

If you like it at first glance, this impressive compressor will most certainly meet your expectations.

It stands out from the crowd because of its ability to treat signals with dual-stage compression.

It also has switchable output transformers for the sonic variety.

You can choose from Steel (adds additional harmonic distortion), Nickel (adds a top-end sparkle), or Iron (adds a little character to the mids).

The Shadow Hills has many amazing features that come straight from the hardware.

There’s even a Parallel Mix control, a Sidechain Filter, and an External Sidechain option.

All in all, the Shadow Hills is a well-rounded compressor with amazing control and tone.

What Are Mastering Plugins?

Generally, plugins refer to software additions that allow for the customization of computer programs, apps, and web browsers.

A plugin can enhance a program’s capabilities, without impacting that program’s code.

That said, producers use mastering plugins to apply additional compression, EQ, and other signal processors.

Mastering plugins are designed to add final touches to the mix, and that’s why they’re an essential part of every music production toolkit. 

How to Choose the Right Mastering Plugin

To be honest, modern DAWs (digital audio workstations) provide a lot of flexibility and tools to create quality masters.

So, if you have a good DAW, you don’t have to buy additional software.

However, top mastering plugins will allow you to add intricate details and final touches that will make your track sound the way you want to.

Now, depending on your needs, you can choose a specific plugin or an all-in-one suite.

In any case, you’ll get one of the following:

  • Compressors/Expanders – to adjust the dynamics of your mix
  • EQ – shapes the sound of the mix (by boosting the low end or cutting sharp frequencies) 
  • Harmonic Exciters (or saturation) – to add extra harmonics that can increase the depth of sound
  • Limiters/Maximizers – to prevent your mix from clipping when it is pushed too hard
Using a mastering plugin in the studio.

Good mastering plugins will allow you to create a master of your dreams.

But there are many things to think about when choosing a mastering plugin, and that can be a bit confusing for beginners.

If you’re just starting out, you should get a mastering plugin that is easy to handle.

It’s to have a clear GUI (graphical user interface), as this is an interface through which you’ll interact with electronic devices.

You should also look for a plugin with good metering.

Metering is any useful visual aid that can show you where you’re at in your mastering process and therefore make good decisions regarding frequency content, stereo spread, levels, and dynamic range.

Now, complete mastering suites are more detailed and therefore more expensive, and budget is another factor that will affect your final decision.

At the end of the day, you should get a plugin that aligns with your goals, budget, and preferences. 

Why Is Mastering Important?

Creating a track from scratch is not an easy task, and music production is a complex multi-stage process.

After you write a song (if you’re a songwriter), you need to arrange it and then record it.

And then comes the tricky (but also fun) part – mixing and mastering. 

Mixing involves combining multitrack recordings, balancing sounds, and using different tools like reverb and EQ to blend everything together.

Mixing will make your track coherent and fluid, and it will make it ready for the final step of post-production. 

Mastering is that final step that will allow you to add final touches and get it ready for the world to hear. 

Mastering includes enhancing the overall sound, optimizing the sound quality, and using mastering tools like equalization, compression, limiting, and stereo enhancement.

If you want to make an album, mastering will make your album coherent and consistent. 

In other words, mastering is necessary because it will fix your track or songs to the point that you feel proud.

And that’s how it should be – you should produce a track you’re proud of, and you need to be sure you’ve done everything you can to improve it.

That said, mastering plugins are essential, and choosing a good product will ultimately make you a better producer.

Best Mastering Plugins – Final Thoughts

We hope our reviews of the best mastering plugins helped you find what you were looking for.

But we also hope we helped you get things started with mastering.

After all, mastering is one of the most important parts of post-production, and learning how to do it well makes all the difference. 

You may also like: Best Online Mastering Services

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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