Best Mixing & Mastering VSTs on Plugin Alliance
Discover some of the best mixing and mastering plug-ins from Plugin Alliance that can elevate your sound and make your audio production process easier.
The power of plug-ins has revolutionized the way we shape and refine audio. With so many mixing plug-ins and mastering plug-ins to choose from, identifying the best mixing and mastering plug-ins for your productions can be difficult. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the most powerful and effective plug-ins from Plugin Alliance that will help you get a professional sound, whether you're a seasoned audio engineer or an aspiring music producer.
Plugin Alliance sells over 180 plug-ins, FX, and apps from over 40 brands. Many of these products are carefully crafted hardware emulations with added plug-in features that the most die-hard audio engineers swear by. We’ll be taking a look at some of Plugin Alliance’s most powerful plug-ins, all of which are on sale now for a limited time during Summer of Sound.
Best Plugin Alliance mixing plug-ins
The bread and butter of a mixing engineer’s toolkit include EQs, compressors, and saturators. EQs allow you to manipulate the tonal balance of sounds. Compressors let you control the dynamic range of audio. Finally, saturators deliver the ability to add subtle distortion and compression to your music, often smoothing out harsh high-frequency content in the process. Let’s dive into Plugin Alliance’s best mixing plug-ins.
1. Lindell Audio PEX-500
The Lindell Audio PEX-500 is a Pultec-style EQ known for providing punchy low-end and top-end that’s silky smooth. This EQ is intended for shaping the tone of vocals, drums, guitars, gritty synths, and other instruments.
Its bands interact with one another in a way that’s musical, which is one of its defining characteristics. For example, adding a boost at 4 kHz using the high band can affect frequency content outside of the band’s range. Due to the design of this mixing plug-in, you can push it quite hard while avoiding muddiness and distortion. Don’t be afraid to twist the PEX-500’s knobs aggressively.
There’s a low-end mixing trick associated with the PEX-500 that’s quite popular. By turning up the low band’s BOOST and ATTEN knob, you can seemingly boost and cut the same frequency range. In reality, the processing applied manifests as a low-shelf boost with a scoop above its center frequency. The result is beefy low-end that feels tight and focused.
2. Lindell Audio 69 Series
The Lindell Audio 69 Series is a channel strip plug-in that emulates a Helios Type 69 console. It features a preamp with adjustable total harmonic distortion (THD), two Helios-style EQs combined, an F760 Compressor/Limiter, and an expander/gate. “Warm,” “rich,” and “punchy” perfectly describe the tones you can expect from the 69 Series.
Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, the Who, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, and Bob Marley are famously known for creating records using Helios Type 69 consoles. If you produce rock—or modern pop/electronic productions that require vintage warmth—the Lindell Audio 69 Series provides a solution.
Add an instance of the 69 Series to each one of your buses. Doing so effectively turns your DAW into an analog mixing console. Enable the UNITY switch and turn up the GAIN knob to add pleasing saturation across the board. Then, dial in your EQ and compression settings to taste.
You can also take your analog sound a step further by clicking the ALL button in the TMT section; this adds small electronic component variations to each instance of the plug-in. The results are comparable to running all your buses through a different channel on a Helios Type 69 console.
Best Plugin Alliance effects plug-ins
Effects like reverb and delay are technically mixing tools, but they sometimes cross into sound design territory. As a result, they’ve been listed separately, along with a comprehensive multi-effects plug-in from a Plugin Alliance. The following effects plug-ins are unique in their design but simple to operate.
1. Unfiltered Audio TAILS
Unfiltered Audio’s TAILS is one of the most creative and clean-sounding reverbs on the market. It automatically ducks the level of reverb tails and switches to an empty buffer when triggered, allowing you to soak audio content in reverb without washing out your source material. One of the byproducts of this process is that harsh transients are omitted from reverb tails, resulting in deliciously smooth results.
There are four REVERB MODE algorithms, including RENOUN, DEEP, SPATIAL, and SHIMMER. Based on the mode you’ve selected, some of the plug-in’s parameters will change. For example, swapping from DEEP to SPATIAL mode will convert the TONE knob into a FEEDBACK knob. One of the more unique features is the SAMPLE RATE knob that allows you to degrade the sample rate and drastically alter the timbre of the reverb.
TAILS works well as a basic spatial effects tool to provide your mix with a cohesive sense of space, and a creative effects tool, to drastically reshape the character of sounds. You can toggle the DUCKING feature on and off, depending on your needs. There’s also a built-in EQ that you can use to sculpt the tone of your reverb and MIDI functionality that lets you rhythmically mute the buffer.
Brainworx’s bx_delay 2500 provides all the features you’d expect from a modern delay plug-in, such as time knobs, feedback knobs, pan knobs, and filter controls. Although, its processing abilities go further with transient shaping options, a Ducking module, a Modulation module, a Distortion module, and mid-side controls.
While the bx_delay 2500 provides plenty of features, it’s simple to operate. The GUI is sleek, modern, and organized in a way that makes sense. If you’re looking for a dedicated multi-purpose delay, the bx_delay 2500 is it. Add it to an aux track, turn the Mix value to 100% Wet, and save it as part of your DAW’s default session template.
Unfiltered Audio’s TRIAD is a multi-band version of BYOME, Unfiltered Audio’s modular effects plug-in. TRIAD plug-in allows you to build custom modular effects chains and apply them to its low, mid, and high bands. There are over 40 modular effects with customizable parameters, so the processing options are endless.
Modular effects are sorted into the following categories: delays, distortions, dynamics, filters, granular, mixing, modulation, and reverbs. Overdrive, limit, and widen the stereo image of high-frequency content while comb filtering, and granulating your midrange.
TRIAD’s modulation section is robust, allowing you to modulate effects using analyzers, controllers, envelopes, LFOs, modifiers, random sources, and sequencers. Applying modulators to effects can be achieved by clicking and dragging to link parameters together. The plug-in operates in 3-band, 2-band, 3-band parallel, 2-band parallel, mid-side, and left-right modes, so the depths of TRIAD’s processing power are unmatched.
Best Plugin Alliance mastering plug-ins
The nuanced nature of mastering music makes it a challenge for many musicians and producers. Thankfully, Plugin Alliance offers an assortment of mastering plug-ins that simplify the process. The following plug-ins provide unique master bus processing options, precise metering, and a streamlined workflow.
1. ProAudioDSP DSM V3
Broadband compressors rely on a single band to apply compression. Whether the bottom end or top end of a sound breaches the compressor’s threshold level, the same amount of compression is applied to the entire sound.
Multi-band compressors attempt to overcome this limitation by dividing the audible frequency range into multiple bands. A basic multi-band compressor may provide a low-band, mid-band, and high-band that allow you to apply a different amount of compression to each band.
ProAudioDSP’s DSM V3 plug-in takes multiband compression and expansion to an entirely different level. It’s a multi-band compressor/expander with far more bands than a typical multi-band compressor/expander. The DSM V3 generates a custom compression curve based on the frequency response of your song or a separate reference track. The curve is used to adjust the threshold level of its many bands. When you use the song you’re processing to generate a compression curve, you end up with a natural-sounding uniform style of compression.
Undoubtedly, the most unique strength of the DSM V3 is that it allows you to drive your music into a compression curve generated based on the frequency response of another song. The result is that your music adopts the frequency response of the other track. There are additional controls that let you fine-tune the processing applied, but the ability to quickly match the profile of a reference track makes the DSM V3 an invaluable mastering plug-in.
ADPTR AUDIO’s SCULPT is another interesting mastering plug-in. It allows you to apply upward compression (COMP UP) and downward compression (COMP DOWN), shape the tone of audio material (TONE), and manipulate transients (TRANSIENT). These four modules running in parallel make SCULPT a tone-shaping beast when applied to individual buses and your master track.
The compressor modules include sidechain EQ controls that allow you to modify the frequency range triggering each compressor. When you click on the TONE module, you gain access to tonal balance controls. Finally, the TRANSIENT EMPHASIS module lets you enhance or attenuate the onset of sounds in a way that’s frequency dependent. For example, you can emphasize low-end transient material while simultaneously rounding out high-end transients.
Another one of SCULPT’s unique features is its Envelope Detection Algorithm (EDA). Most compressors that provide ultra-fast attack and release settings, like an 1176, are prone to distortion. EDA allows SCULPT to operate free of distortion, even when using extremely fast attack and release settings. As a result, SCULPT can provide an unbelievably transparent form of compression.
If you’re looking for the analog-style equivalent of iZotope’s Ozone, you need to test Brainworx’s bx_masterdesk PRO. It’s a mastering suite plug-in that provides a workflow simple enough for beginners and enough processing power for professional mastering engineers.
Simply adjusting the VOLUME, FOUNDATION, and TONE knobs—in this order—will result in a usable master. These controls are also numbered, so it’s abundantly clear which settings to reach for first. Additional features include a glue compressor, saturator, de-esser, resonance filters, an EQ, M/S controls, TMT options, high-pass and low-pass filters, a true peak limiter, and various modern mastering meters.
The internal signal flow of the bx_masterdesk PRO was carefully crafted based on the workflow of top-level mastering engineers. Musicians and DIY audio engineers will fall in love with this plug-in immediately; its ability to turn everything it touches into polished gold is priceless. On the other hand, the bx_masterdesk PRO will help pro engineers speed up their workflow while still delivering lush, rich, and impactful masters to clients.
ADPTR AUDIO’s Streamliner plug-in helps you prepare your masters for distribution through a suite of mastering meters and its codec auditioning tool. Want to hear how your music will sound after it’s been transcoded to Spotify’s premium playback format (OGG VORBIS 320 kbps)? What about how it will sound on Spotify when played back on a mobile device (OGG VORBIS 96 kbps)?
Streamliner takes the guesswork out of how your music will sound when uploaded to different streaming platforms. Choose a streaming service, select a playback tier, and click the “CODEC ON” button to hear how your music will sound.
The built-in true peak meter lets you visualize the effect that different codecs have on your track’s peak levels. Lower-quality codecs can result in increased peak levels, meaning you need to provide your track with more headroom to prevent clipping from occurring during the transcoding process.
Generally, 3 decibels of headroom will often allow you to avoid clipping when you upload your music to major streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, YouTube, Deezer, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp. However, every song is unique, so Streamliner provides different target-level options based on the genre of your music. You can also load custom reference songs and toggle between your track and the reference using the AB button.
Demo all of Plugin Alliance’s products for 30 days
We hope this comprehensive guide has given you a head start in achieving better audio in your productions. From versatile EQs, powerful compressors, immersive reverbs, and dynamic mastering tools, Plugin Alliance has you covered with some of the most iconic analog emulations out there.
You can demo all the plug-ins mentioned throughout this plug-in roundup for 30 days free! Get started by visiting Plugin Alliance’s website and downloading the MEGA Bundle demo. This product bundle includes over 180 plug-ins, FX, and apps from over 40 brands.
And if you're interested in a particular plug-in, make sure to check out the Summer of Sound deals happening now.