The “must-have” plugins for your mastering

To start with mastering, a bundle of "PRO" plugins including the necessary must be installed within your sequencer. You will need several tools for all mastering steps. In this article I will present you the must-have plugins for mastering. I personally use Izotop Ozone 5 which proposes a complete bundle.

The equalizer

Actually, your sequencer proposes basic native EQ parametrics, for example in FL studio you have 3 different native EQs. One in the mixer and 2 plugins (one simple and one graphic). The equalizers most often used in mastering are so-called parametric equalizers.

Three settings are available for each frequency band: the center frequency, the bandwidth called Q and of course the gain or reduction expressed in dB. Additional tuning is provided for low and high frequencies: curve type (high pass, low pass, bell, sloping).

Some seek to reproduce the mode of operation of hardware machines but if the sound approaches, the machines are still superior in terms of ergonomics and processing power.

The EQ is mostly used for the mixing part of your mastering. You will use it to clear all frequencies to make it sound professional

The compressor

Compressors can change the dynamics of a sound. They are not usually necessary but you can use them to rebalance the dynamics of some mixes. Most of the time you can control the envelope of the compression (attack/delay, sustain, hold, release…) and the frequencies to apply it. 

Basic settings include treshold, compression ratio, attack speed, release speed, and compressor behavior called knee. The set is always accompanied by a gain function in volume.

Limiting plugins for mastering

The limiters are compressors with a huge ration (from a ratio of 20.1, 40.1 to 99999: 1) but the other settings are still available: attack, release, treshold, hard and soft knee. They have been simplified to get the "Maximizers".

The stereo wideners

Main purposes is to assign a specific place to each element in the stereo field so that it is not hindered or partially hidden by another element in the same field. Imagine it as a band on stage. It would not occur to you to place some musicians behind each other. This will make your sound much more clear and powerful. 

The reverb

It is an essential effect for our brain to be human to make it easier to place the instruments in space. But we often forget that as with any sound we mix, we can also apply all possible treatments. Do not forget to apply a "low cut" filter before your reverb effect to reduce the unwanted effects of low frequencies that can resonate on certain sounds. The reverb becomes more natural and easy to place in the mix. Some reverb can generate serious harmonics by itself, and in this case it may be interesting to apply a second filter after the reverb effect.

As I said to start this article, I’m using Izotope Ozone 5 because it provides all necessary features for the mastering from the EQ to the stereo widener and post EQ. The Maximizer is very powerful and “do the job” for your automatically! That is just wonderful. You can start by selecting a preset depending on your music stytle. You can download this free Ozone 5 courses:

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