Videos Plugin Boutique  

In this video, producer Tim Cant runs through 5 of the most popular, some might say best, Mastering Plugins / Software (VST/AU) money can buy.

Top Five Plugins are, all with free trials...

5. Barricade 4 (ToneBoosters).

4. Magic AB 2 (Sample Magic).

3. Weiss MM-1 (Softube).

2. Elevate Mastering Bundle (Eventide).

1. Ozone 8 (iZotope).

5. Barricade 4 (ToneBoosters).

Compressor and peak limiter is an especially transparent model that takes care of a signal's highest peaks with an easy set of controls. Barricade gives you both compression and limiting stages, meaning that you can tailor it to your specific dynamics application, and with channel linking, auto gain and auto release, dither, and comprehensive loudness metering. If you're looking for a less clinical compression style, it's also got input modelling modes to add some character to the sound. At only €30, Barricade 4 is a serious contender for daily compression and limiting jobs, and is a great way for anyone who's not faint-hearted to get started with mixing through a limiter.

4. Magic AB 2 (Sample Magic).

One crucial part of the mastering process is to compare the track you're working on to some current releases. In order to keep things competitive, you could mess around with your OS's file browser, but Magic AB 2 is a far better solution that works right inside your DAW. With Magic AB, you can load up to nine reference tracks straight into the plugin and flick between these and your own track, comparing the lot in terms of level, loudness and dynamic range. You can also use Magic AB to check your track in mono to see how your mix will perform in clubs or on smaller speakers.

3. Weiss MM-1 (Softube).

If you're after a simple-to-use mastering limiter but tons of added character, here's a good piece of ad-Weiss, Softube's take on the Weiss MM-1 digital mastering hardware is fully endorsed, and uses the same algorithms in plugin form. Weiss MM-1 gives you five flavours of limiting: Transparent, Loud, Punch, Wide and De-ess, and then gives you access to Amount, Mix and Limiter Gain controls to round things out the way you want them, safe in the knowledge that your audio signal is going through algorithms respected by mastering engineers the world over.

2. Elevate Mastering Bundle (Eventide).

Eventide units are studio fixtures throughout studios everywhere, and their recent research has seen them take mastering off into a new direction: using artificial intelligence, and modelling the hearing response of the human ear. With all that, the four plugins in this bundle - Elevate, EQuivocate, Saturate and Punctuate - are fairly complex in terms of operation, but for anyone demanding surgical mastering tools, they're the perfect choice. For example, Punctuate can nail transients by changing how different frequency bands of a sound's attack come across, and EQuivocate's bands match how the human ear works, providing a very finely tuned way to sculpt the frequency spectrum.

1. Ozone 8 (iZotope).

Once again popping a perfect package into our Number One slot, it's iZotope, with the infamous Ozone mastering suite. With its modular set of precise tools, Ozone has you building a chain of mastering effects to perfectly suit your audio material. The modules are the Spectral Shaper, Maximizer, Imager, EQ and Dynamic EQ, Exciter, Dynamics, and Vintage Compressor, Tape and EQ, and they're all available as individual plugins for Advanced version users. As well as the basic modules, there's also Ozone's Master Assistant, which helps you reach a starting point for a track and identify what action might be needed, there's the Tonal Balance Control, which lets you reference your track to professional standards... there's intelligent track segmentation, space for 10 reference tracks, and loads, loads more. Ozone 8 is also available in Standard and Elements versions, with less functionality and not as many modules, but a lower price.