During a time when vinyl was the dominant format, mastering engineers were known for their seemingly superhuman ability to work technical wonders. Vinyl presented a host of difficult challenges in terms of album length, level, song selection, and bass/treble balance that made it hard to find an optimal combination. Additionally, mastering engineers had to make sure that the individual tracks on an album blended well together and that the song order was sequenced in just the right way.
Analyzing tracks for any potential issues and knowing how to resolve those problems needs someone with a high-caliber listening ability and abundant experience, which is why it’s the go-to option for mission-critical projects to enlist a professional mastering engineer. Nevertheless, developing one’s own expertise in mastering is beneficial and should be encouraged among musicians.
Every mastering engineer starts somewhere, so honing your skills and gaining experience should be a no-brainer. I highly recommend musicians to try their hand at mastering – it will help you become more acquainted with the problems that mastering engineers confront.
In this blog post we will explore 5 must-have music mastering plugins that are essential for achieving the best results in your recording projects.
Home studio users looking for an all-in-one mastering solution will be pleased with iZotope Ozone Standard. Since its introduction in 2001, this top seller has been providing users with the tools to sculpt and shape their mixes using EQ and compression, as well as processors to adjust frequency balance, micro-dynamics, low/high frequencies and stereo width. You can also correct individual instrument levels within a stereo file and optimize your master’s frequency response, plus add character and grit with vintage-inspired modules. Ozone offers its renowned Maximizer, delta monitoring, and codec preview alongside its AI-assisted processing for creating a custom sound at the click of a button.
Oxford Dynamics is a powerful and versatile dynamics processor that can add warmth, punch, and character to any audio track or mix. It features a classic analog-style compression algorithm designed to bring out the best in any audio signal. With its simple user interface, Oxford Dynamics makes it easy to dial in the perfect sound for your music. It also includes a range of controls such as threshold and ratio as well as advanced features like sidechain capabilities and dimensional stereo imaging. Whether you’re looking to add depth and clarity to vocals, tighten up drums, or create rich textures on synths, Oxford Dynamics is the perfect tool.
The Waves SSL 4000 Collection is a suite of professional mixing and mastering tools from Waves, based on the legendary SSL 4000 series console. This collection offers users a powerful array of tools to shape, refine, and master their audio projects with unprecedented precision. It includes 5 plugins: a mixer, compressor, EQ, limiter, and exciter- each designed to help you achieve the perfect balance and dynamics for your track. The G-Master Buss Compressor provides classic VCA compression with various emulation modes to choose from while the Limiter allows for an easy workflow by combining lookahead with adjustable time constants for punchy results. The EQ has 4 bands plus high pass/low pass filters that are fully adjustable for maximum accuracy. The Exciter can be used subtly on individual tracks or more aggressively across entire mixes adding warmth and sparkle without affecting dynamic range. With its intuitive interface, comprehensive feature sets and pro-level sound quality Waves SSL 4000 Collection gives users total control over their mixes – helping them dial in great sounding results faster than ever!
The FabFilter Mastering Bundle
The FabFilter Mastering Bundle is an essential collection of tools for audio professionals. It includes four plugins – the Pro-Q 3 equalizer, Pro-L 2 limiter, Pro-C 2 compressor, and Pro-MB multiband compressor – that are designed to take your mixes to the next level. Using the familiar interface, users can easily adjust gain levels, frequency ranges, attack and release times, ratio settings and more. The Pro-Q 3 offers powerful EQ options with an intuitive dynamic spectrum view while the Pro-L 2 provides transparent peak limiting at up to 32x oversampling. The Pro-C 2 offers smooth compression with a lookahead sensor plus external sidechaining capabilities while the Pro-MB provides precise multi-band control over your mix.
The Slate Digital FG-X
The Slate Digital FG-X is a professional mastering plugin that offers powerful sound shaping capabilities. Its advanced algorithms allow users to quickly and accurately shape their audio, providing dynamic processing, precise EQ control and much more. The plugin comes with nine band EQ controls, adjustable frequency ranges, dynamic saturation curve and low pass filters. It also features several high-quality brick wall limiters for boosting the overall level of your mix without sacrificing clarity or punch. In addition to its high-end features, the FG-X also provides an array of presets from some of the top engineers in the industry as well as a comprehensive user manual with detailed instructions on how to get the most out of your mixes. With its simple and intuitive interface and impressive sound quality, the Slate Digital FG-X is an essential tool for any producer’s arsenal!
Finding a balance between “glued together” and “dynamic” is intricate work. An excessive amount of compression will make your mix sound lackluster while insufficient compression may cause it to sound incoherent. The FG Level Maximizer and the FG Comp Compressor, part of Slate Digital’s FG-X system, tackle this difficulty via their “Intelligent Transient Preservation” technology – which applies years of research on saturation curves to protect your track’s dynamic range and punchiness without overcompressing. By anticipating your audio’s response according to upcoming transients, FG-X gives you an outcome that is tailored specifically for you with maximum transparency.
No matter the project or genre, mastering is a crucial step in producing professional-quality sound. With the right mastering plug-ins and tools at your disposal, you can achieve perfect mixes that stand out from the rest.
The iZotop Ozone is a great all-in-one mastering solution at an affordable price, The Oxford Dynamics plugin gives you sidechain capabilities and dimensional stereo imaging for added depth and clarity to vocals while Waves SSL 4000 Collection offers powerful mixing and mastering tools with its suite of 5 plugins. FabFilter Mastering Bundle provides users with 4 essential plugins for precise control over their audio projects while Slate Digital FG-X ensures dynamic processing without sacrificing punch or clarity.
We here at Mello Studio would love to help you master your next hit! Use our online form to get your music tracks professionally mastered today.