Saturday, November 8, 2014

My Favourite 5 Vst Plugins for Mastering (with free and Paid Vst plugins)

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're completing the overview started with the article "My 10 favourite plugins for Mixing", taking a look to my favourite 5 plugins, free and paid, for mastering.
Why this time 5 instead of 10? Because even though the track can be processed in many ways for mastering, as many as for mixing, I personally prefer to arrive to the mastering phase with an already perfect mix, in order to reduce the processing in this phase to the minimum.

So here's the top 5 Vst plugins that are essential in my opinion in every mastering chain.

1) Compressor: I usually use a broadband compressor instead of a multiband one, because I've noticed that sometimes multiband compressors can ruin the complex castle of cards that is a balanced mix. Among the paid ones, my favourite ones are the Slate FG-X, and the Black 1176 module of T-Racks,  while among the free ones I suggest to try Variety of Sound Density, which is really good, Reacomp from the Reaper plugins suite, and the DiscoDsp Nightshine, which is the reproduction of an Alesis 3630 hardware module.

2) Equalizer: In this section I'm going to repeat what I've always said in the Mixing version of this article: my favourite paid equalizer is FabFilter pro Q 2, which features also a very useful frequency analyzer, and among the free ones, one of the most reliable of all is ReaEq.

3) Harmonic Exciter: Here too, I suggest the same plugins that I use for mixing, confirming once again that often you can mix and master with really few processors, there is no need to load 200 different Vsts in the same project: Harmonic Exciter for its capacity of choosing the frequency area, among the free ones (or you can also try the interesting Antress Audio Modern Exciter), and Izotope Ozone among the paid ones, because it's probably the absolute best for the task.

4) Limiter: On this side I like to keep it simple and traditional: the classic Waves L2 is a standard choice for many professional studios, while among the free ones, there is an insteresting clone of the Waves L1 called Yohng W1, that is definitely worth a try.

5) Metering Tool: I actually use metering tools and frequency analyzers on every step, from mixing to mastering, and even though there is often a frequency analyzer and a metering tool bundled on most of the Daws, I sometimes stick to those 2 freeware ones:
TT Metering tool to keep an eye on the general loudness, and Blue Cat FreqAnalyst to see if there is still some frequency left to tame.

Let me know what do you think about this list and which are your 5 favourite mastering plugins!

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