Top 20 Mixing VST Plugins For All Categories 2024

Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Let’đ take a look at the best mixing plugins for various categories in 2024.

The art of mixing is complex: it’s a delicate, introspective moment in which an audio track will promptly blend with others, defining a single sound character and providing the best sound quality for each instrument or voice track. 

It’s not so intuitive to do all this blending, so studying the craft before delivering serious and professional results.

But, arguably, the best way to be good at mixing is through numerous attempts, always with your ears open to hear every subtle detail about the soundscape of your next track. 

In the old days, this was mainly achieved by using analog equipment, such as large console desks and effects racks, but things got so much easier nowadays.

With the help of trustworthy plugins and their algorithms, you can get very close results to what genuine hardware would get, but with the easiness of loading software in your favorite DAW.

Below, you’ll find some great options of different plugins that might be helpful to your mixing session, so let’s get started:

Top 20 Paid Mixing Plugins For All Categories 

1. Brainworx bx_console AMEK 9099 (Channel Strip)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
A nice channel strip emulation that echoes the amazing sounds of a Neve console desk.

Rupert Neve has left a huge legacy in the music production world by crafting and building some of the arguably best console desks ever to be created. They’ve been widely used in professional recording studios for decades, in thousands of records and productions that cover many styles.

However, as these units can be difficult to acquire due to their price, Brainworx developed a nice plugin that brings the AMEK 9098i Master Console straight to your DAW.

Brainworx bx_console AMEK 9099 - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Clip function

The limiter section features a “Clip” option that adds a fast and smooth soft clipping to your signal, which inspired Brainworx to develop a new expander/gate with its sidechain filter. This allows for more custom uses than the original hardware, as it replicates and adds a feature common in console desks produced in later decades.

  • Sections

Like an authentic channel strip, AMEK 9099 is divided into seven distinct segments. The first one is the “Dynamics/Filter,” followed by the “Dynamics/Gate” and the “Compressor” sections.

After that, there’s a “Dynamics/Limiter” segment that leads to the “Dynamics/Global Options” before hitting up the “EQ” area. Lastly, the “Master Section” wraps it up, with constant meter monitoring applied to any sections used.

  • Top toolbar

The black toolbar at the top of the plugin’s interface helps you better adjust and control the general settings. For example, the “A/B/C/D” settings consist of four individual parameters stored in every preset.

This way, you can have different settings for your distinct instruments,  possibly even automating them via your DAW. Other normal functions, such as “Undo/Redo” and “Copy/Paste,” are also included.

  • Tolerance Modeling Technology

Brainworx patented this unique technology, and it’s one of the reasons why this plugin sounds so authentic. In essence, the “Tolerance Modeling Technology” simulates every channel’s electronic components variations in terms of sonority, thus replicating a faithful experience of working with the hardware units from Neve.

By the way, AMEK 9099 features 72 channels, and each will sound different from the rest.

  • Stereo width

You can quickly make your track sound fuller and wider with the “Stereo Width” knob control. This option won’t affect your instrument’s frequencies but will simultaneously enrich the stereo perception of the whole track.

And, if you switch back to mono, it won’t sound different. The simplicity behind this knob is great for achieving instant results in no time.

DOES THIS SOUND AS GOOD AS IT LOOKS??? - BRAINWORX AMEK 9099

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.11 to 12 (64-bit only) and Windows 8 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Related Readings:

Top 11 Plugins On Plugin Alliance 

Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins)

2. Waves Harmony (Harmonizer)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Creating vocal harmonies couldn’t be easier with this superb plugin.

Waves is renowned for its excellent plugins and audio software, with multiple variations and options for many situations. However, when it comes to the mixing process, every plugin that can enhance the sonic elements or ease the workflow is welcome, and Waves Harmony is exactly like that.

This nice vocal harmony generator boasts a simple and elegant interface with intuitive controls that are fun to mess with in the recording studio or the live stage.

Top 20 Mixing VST Plugins For All Categories 2024 - 2024 Update

Key Features:

  • Eight voices

Vocal Harmony features a well-crafted engine with eight distinct voices, allowing for anything from a simple doubled-melody to a complex and rich vocal arrangement for all eight voices. This is essential and works very smoothly, with an authentic sound character that resembles what real singers would present.

  • Pitch correction

As expected, this plugin can easily deal with pitch correction in almost no time. Either by the singer’s mistake or a particular preference, you can adjust and alter the pitch of any note freely, with relative indications on the screen. Feel free to correct any lines or just fix one wrong note as easily as possible.

  • Harmony generator

The masterful engine housed inside Vocal Harmony is suited not only for doubling a vocal but also for getting your creativity flowing. The harmony generator can create instant ideas based on existing musical scales that will provide even more authenticity to your phrases and musical ideas.

  • Formant shift

Vocal plugins like this tend to include a “formant” setting, in which you can emulate the gestures a human mouth makes when talking or singing.

Of course, there are other crucial aspects to pay attention to when providing a faithful sonic experience, but being able to shape how a singer’s mouth would react to a certain phrase gives a more realistic aspect to this emulation.

  • Built-in effects

You can always add post-effects to anything you create, although having the most important elements relative to voice harmony included in this package is very helpful. You can count on a dedicated “Delay” fader that also controls the effect’s feedback, and an additional “Filter” fader lets you easily sweep throughout your track’s frequencies.

  • MIDI controlled

One of the best aspects of virtual instruments or effects like Vocal Harmony is the possibility to connect a MIDI device to play anything you’d want. Waves included full MIDI compatibility to this plugin, which can be extremely useful to get your vocals done right with the assistance of a keyboard, for instance.

5 AMAZING Vocal Harmony Effects You Can Create Right Now

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.15.7, 11.6.5, and 12.4 (64-bit only) and Windows 10 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

The 7 Best Harmonizer Plugins  | Waves, Eventide, Melda…

3. Minimal Audio Rift 2 (Hybrid Multiband Distortion)

More Info & Price 
Be ready to achieve different saturation textures with easy and intuitive controls.

When talking about distortion and saturation, Minimal Audio’s Rift has been a huge name for some time now. Finally, the second version of this iconic plugin is here, bringing new cool features to an already nice software.

In essence, you can expect to have all your important tools to get a saturated signal housed in a single box, with clear sections and a few controls that do the job for you.

Minimal Audio Rift 2 - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Melodic feedback

Feedback is a nice effect, mostly present in rock music. Until this day, guitarists enjoy achieving this effect with loud volumes and heavy distorted tones, and this nice element can now be added to your track, depending solely on how you’ll include that.

You can expect Rift to tune the feedback effect to whatever notes you want, even building musical sequences from it.

  • Distortion types

There are 30 high-quality distortion types inside Rift, each with a distinct characteristic and sound profile. The best part about having this multitude of distortion types is that you blend them to your taste, allowing for unique and creative results.

  • Filters

If you want to tweak the sound of any effect further than intended, a filter option is always a nice solution. Minimal Audio offers 24 custom filter options that can blend distortion types more smoothly, shape a phaser sonority, or even mess with formants and vowels effects.

  • Two views

Rift offers two main modes to explore saturation: the “Play” view is more straightforward, containing presets and fewer controls to establish a fluid and lightweight experience with easy results coming from it, while the “Advanced” view brings all controls in your window for a precise configuration over each aspect of your sound.

  • Dark mode

The problem with most plugins is that we spend hours staring at them. This is not healthy at all, and our eyes are one of the first parts of our body to agree with that. Spending hours in a mixing session is more usual than what it should be, but Minimal Audio can help ease that a bit with the new dark mode included in version 2, retaining elegancy and friendly colors to your eyesight.

Hands on with Minimal Audio RIFT 2.0!

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.9 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 10 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 12 Physical Modeling Plugins (Instruments & Effects)

Top 11 Distortion Plugins (And 4 Top Free Plugins)

4. Slate Digital Metatune (Autotune FX)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

Or Buy Here (Support Integraudio)
This automatic tuner might be your new favorite plugin for multiple needs.

Automatic tuners, or auto-tuners, are nothing new. However, there are multiple options available in the market, and they all provide the same functionality, more or less, with the possibility to have an effect dedicated to a specific use.

Slate Digital thought of this and brought Metatune to deliver consistent and organic pitch-shifting to any track you may want to detune.

Slate Digital Metatune - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Main controls

The three main Metatune controls can be very helpful in nailing that particular sound you’re looking for. In detail, you have “Speed,” “Sustain,” and “Amount” controls that resemble a knob or disc located almost at the center of your screen. These intuitive adjustments are imperative to shape your track’s tuning better.

  • HeatMaps function

Have you ever wondered how you could quickly achieve a target pitch without any further musical knowledge? Well, the answer is the “HeatMaps” function included in Metatune, which will listen carefully to your input signal and analyze possible pitch alterations for you instantly.

  • Piano layout

The familiar display of the piano keys is helpful in many situations, even more, if you’re training your vocalswarm-up exercises would be more difficult to be done in other instruments, for example – and if you’re already used to how the piano feels and organizes the notes.

This is why Slate Digital opted to display the notes in a shape that highly resembles the piano keys but without the distinctive shape and color.

  • Note stabilizer

Sometimes, unwanted fluttering can be heard through tracks, especially vocal ones. The included “Note Stabilizer” tool brings an adjustment to your notes without the heavy digital aspect of pitch correction, boasting an organic feel and naturality throughout the entire audio track.

  • Speed knob

This control deals with how fast the pitch correction will work, with milliseconds measurements. You can check more about it in the table below.

Speed setting
Resulting effect
200ms to 20ms
Natural pitch correction that’s harder to be noticed
20ms to 0ms
That popular robotic vocal tuning effect
0ms to -3ms
A harder tuning effect than other plugins can offer, with stabilized characteristic
MetaTune: First Look

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.13, 10.14, 10.15, and 11 (64-bit only) and Windows 8 or 10 (64-bit only). It runs in VST, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

6 Best Autotune Plugins To Improve & Enhance Your Vocals

5. Wavesfactory Spectre (Enhancer)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

Spectre is a fine sound-shaping tool that blends an enhancer to a graphic EQ in the same window.

Enhancer plugins can often be viewed as unusual effects, but their unique character can help bring out the best elements in your track, independent of which instrument it is being used.

Be ready to evoke a specific enhancement in a determined area or alter the entire frequency range with as many as two clicks.

Wavesfactory Spectre - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Five bands

Although Spectre can resemble an equalizer, it works differently than one. In most EQs, you can either boost or cut a specific frequency range, while this plugin adds harmonic content that wasn’t there in the first place. To get this right, you can count with five bands in this parametric EQ, with a graphic display included to help you monitor everything more precisely.

  • Stereo modes

A few options allow for varied final imaging of your track. You can set it to “Mono” or “Stereo” signals, and also isolate the left or right channels, and even make a mid or side processing. Although this has nothing to do with the harmonic content added, it can help make a specific part or your entire track sound fuller and wider.

Saturation algorithms

Wavsfactory wanted this plugin to be more than what usual enhancers are, so there are ten different saturation algorithms included to help you achieve different soundscape colors in your production: “Solid,” “Tape,” “Tube,” “Warm Tube,” “Class B,” “Diode,” “Bit,” “Digital,” “Rectify,” “Half Rectify,” and an additional “Clean” channel that makes Spectre a parallel boosting EQ are the available options.

  • Oversampling modes

There are optimal 04x and 16x oversampling modes included in Spectre, and they’re there to offer an even more pristine quality to your audio track without aliasing, even when dealing with aggressive settings that can normally mess with the overall frequency spectrum.

  • Parametric bands

Spectre counts with five different parametric bands that only offer boosting in any frequency. They are “Low-Shelf,” “Peak 1,” “Peak 2,” “Peak 3,” and “High-Shelf” and work very similarly to how an EQ would.

Introduction to Spectre by Dan Worrall

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.7 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 7 Enhancer Plugins (For Bass, Drums, Vocals & Harmonics)

7 Best Exciter Plugins For Mixing & Mastering

6. Pitch Innovations Fluid Chords (Pitch Shifter)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

The main goal of Fluid Chords is very easy: it allows you to bend chords, from one to another, seamlessly.

This is a innovative tool to get instantly new, crazy musical ideas, setting a standard that hasn’t been covered in any similar effect. This experience gets even more fluid with the lightweight software design, stimulating anyone willing to reach new musical territories.

Pitch Innovations Fluid Chords - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Learn button

To start the fun, you must input some chords into Fluid Chords. First, you need to activate the “Learn” button on the top right corner of the plugin’s interface. Now, play any chord, and it will be stored within the eight small and colorful squares.

By pressing the C1, D1, E1, F1, G1, A1, B1, and C2 keys,  you can easily activate any learned chord within seconds by pressing a single respective key.

  • Chord slots

The eight colored slots are responsible for housing each chord you want to trigger inside Fluid Chords’ engine. If you play a C major chord and store it in the “C1” slot, pressing that key will activate that chord.

However, adding an F major into the next slot, “D1,” it will set the targeted bend from the previous square. For instance, if you play the “C1” key in this situation, it will resonate an C major chord, and sliding up the bend wheel in your controller will make the chord bend from C major to F major, as these were the two chords inserted in the squares.

  • Chord modes

Some chord modes are available to explore on your screen’s right side. The first one, “Fixed,” works as explained previously, with a fixed point bent up or down (the C major and F major example).

The next mode, called “Fluid,” allows you to choose the next target chord on the fly, without the need to input any other chord in a slot, by pressing the targeted note (from C1 to C2) while playing the chord at the same time.

Lastly, the “Real Time” mode allows you to perform fluid chord bending in real-time by playing any chord and holding down the sustain pedal. This sets up the primary chord, and from there, you can select any other chord combination you’d like.

  • General settings

There are some additional settings to be included in your progression. The “Show Transpose” switch can be freely turned on and off and displays the number equivalent to the steps transposed in any chord. The “Global Transpose” switch transposes every chord at once, while the “Show Help Tray” option puts some tips at the bottom of the interface to help you out.

Getting Started with Fluid Chords | Pitch Innovations

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.12 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 10 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST3 and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 6 Pitch Shifter VST Plugins (+ 3 Best FREE Plugins)

7. Baby Audio Crystalline (Algorithmic Reverb)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Crystalline explores the limits of the reverb effect in this futuristic package.

Baby Audio is a company that always reinvents itself, offering products that are not so commonly seen or functionalities that make its usage unique. The Crystalline plugin is another take on the classic reverb effect, with a modern approach to its sonority.

With the help of CPU processing power, you can now expand the reverb’s limits with awesome and lightweight software.

Baby Audio Crystalline - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Algorithmic reverb

A “perfect” reverb has been dreamt of since the 1960s when the hardware units would provide the most common known variations of this effect. Since then, producers and developers have tried their best to expand its capabilities, and now it’s all possible thanks to the vast computing power we have these days.

Crystalline is inspired by classic units but also explores new utilities that modern producers will love to incorporate into their tracks.

  • BPM-synced

With Crystalline, you can easily sync your effect to your track’s tempo. You can adjust the decay and attack times to match that of your DAW’s BPM, resulting in better mixing sessions and more natural-sounding reverberations. 

  • Reflections section

The “Reflections” section houses three controls: “Size,” “Sparkle,” and “Width.” The first allows you to tweak the room size accordingly, the second allows for more high frequencies to be heard in your track, while the latter enables you to twist the stereo imaging of your audio track seamlessly, with an “Extra Wide” possibility. 

  • Depth section

Containing the “Resolution,” “Modulation,” and “Shimmer” controls, this section sets the effect’s overall depth. The first button deals with the reverb response, which can start as “Basic” and go all the way to “Pristine” – while the basic setting can be somewhat dull, it’s friendlier in your CPU power consumption.

The second one sets any pitch changes within the effect’s algorithm, while the third and final button sets the reverb tail’s high frequencies to decay slower than the remaining frequencies in the spectrum, providing an “angelical” aspect to your sound.

  • Clean-up segment

“Damping” relates to a control that removes high or low-frequency content from the reverb reflections, and “Sides” is a high-pass filter that resets any stereo configuration from lower frequencies. Lastly, the “Gate” button brings the iconic 1980s gated reverb sonority with easy manipulation.

  • Shape section

Resembling an EQ, this section lets you shift the overall frequency balance of the effect towards a darker or brighter aspect (“Tone”) and apply a curve to address certain frequency areas that might be too resonant or too sharp (“Smoothing”), and change the reverb’s algorithm relating to sustain or attack in your audio signal (“Transients”).

Crystalline - Baby Audio - Official Tutorial

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.7 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, VST3, AAX and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 6 Reverb Plugins For Your Vocals 

Top 12 Reverb Plugins (And 5 Best FREE Plugins)

8. SSL X-Gate (Noise Gate)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Or Buy Here (Support Integraudio)

Solid State Logic is a renowned company, present in recording studios both in hardware units and plugins. Their mixing consoles are very famous and are the reason why plugins with this associated brand are equally good-sounding.

X-Gate is a modern gating plugin capable of attending studio and live needs likewise.

The main visualization graphic that fits most of your screen is a helpful measurement tool to set the perfect threshold value. It displays how the signal is being fed into the plugin, with precise measurements that can tell you the exact input values and overall loudness.

SSL X-Gate - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • FINE control

This unique control can be activated by holding the ⌘/Alt key while dragging any control. The result is that all interactions with numerical input values will detain a finer control, with increment and decrement buttons also added to the panel.

  • Thresholds

The “Open” and “Close” thresholds are marked by relative colors, green and red, respectively. The “Open” mode sets the signal level above which the gate opens, and the “Close” mode does the same but reversely. So, by comparing these two readings, you can precisely define the best threshold value for your track.

  • I/O graph

The other visual monitoring aid present is the I/O graph, which tells us the input signal value over the expected output signal. A cross represents the average instantaneous value, and it can be useful to visualize the “Duck” and “Exp” modes.

SSL X-Gate Plug-in: Precision gate processor

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.15, 11, and 12 (64-bit only) and Windows 10 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, VST3, AAX and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 10 Noise Gate VST Plugins (+ 6 FREE Free Tools)

9. FabFilter Timeless 3 (Flexible Delay)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
A great delay plugin that also offers an incredibly fluid workflow.

FabFilter is famous for their intuitive and friendly plugins that offer amazing sound results. However, one crucial aspect of its products is also included in Timeless 3: a graphic display of the frequency range in your track, with adjustable nodes and configurations for each bandwidth.

This isn’t just pretty to the eyes but also flexible and spontaneous to what we producers normally use to work with, delivering awesome results with minimal tweaking.

FabFilter Timeless 3 - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Filters

Six filters are included, original, creative high/low/band pass filters, and equalizer filters. They can be created and deleted in the main display, and the shape will form automatically, depending solely on where you click it.

  • Delay taps

You can create and load your tap patterns very easily with Timeless 3. All you need to do is double-click anywhere in the delay display, holding down the second click and dragging the tap to change the level and time factors. They can also be freely modulated to your taste.

  • Effects

The five additional effects can be very handy to add color and character to your delayed sound. You can use “Drive,” “Lo-Fi,” “Diffusion,” “Dynamics,” and “Pitch Shift” to tweak the overall sound the way you want to, with the additional possibility to modulate each parameter if wanted.

  • Filter routing

The filters included in Timeless 3 are placed after the delay by standard but before feedback is routed back to the input section. You can expand it into three different routings, “Serial” (applied one after another), “Parallel” (they all receive the same input), and “Per-channel” (odd filters, like 01, 03, and 05, are applied to the left channel and even filters, like 02, 04, and 06, into the right channel).

Introduction to FabFilter Timeless 3

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.12 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows Vista or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, VST3, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 12 Delay Plugins For Music Production 

10. Arturia Efx FRAGMENTS (Granulizer)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Divide, transform, and recreate any particular sound with the power of granular processing.

Efx FRAGMENTS promises to give you an inspiring musical journey based on the varied techniques of granular synthesis, making this specific theme more fun to learn and applicable in more audio production situations than ever.

Arturia Efx Fragments - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Grains

In essence, granular synthesis is based on dividing a piece of audio into tiny slices called “grains.” These grains can be rearranged and processed according to the producer’s taste, giving you new and unprecedented sounds. Efx FRAGMENTS allows you to do that, aside from adding effects and pitch-shifting the grains, for example.

  • Three modes

There are three main operating modes in Efx FRAGMENTS. The first is called “Classic Mode” and consists of the most flexible set of granular synthesis parameters, while the second, entitled “Texture Mode,” is optimized to create continuous textures and drones. Lastly, the “Rhythmic Mode” is optimized to use the grains as rhythmic patterns.

  • Presets

If you’re feeling out of creativity or just need a little push to start exploring, the presets might come in hand for you. There are over 60 of them included, including popular and common granular sound techniques backed by some of the most experienced producers.

  • Additional effects

You can spice up your samples with some handy effects. They are “Multi-filter,” “Distortion,” “Chorus,” “Compressor,” “Flanger,” “Delay,” “Pitch-shifting,” “Tape Echo,” and “Reverb.” 

Tutorials | Efx FRAGMENTS - Granular Processor

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.13 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 8.1 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST2, VST3, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 11 Granular Plugins For Future Sound Design

11. Arturia Dist OPAMP-21 (Preamp, Amp, Distortion & Saturation)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

Or Buy Here (Support Integraudio)
Everything related to clipping and saturation is included in this tool.

With a visual interface that highly resembles a distortion effects pedal, Dist OPAMP-21 brings the ultimate toolkit for anything related to saturation, distortion, or even the warm aspect of a preamplifier directly inside your favorite DAW, with straightforward parameters included.

Arturia Dist OPAMP-21 - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Drive knob

This dedicated control is ideal for setting the perfect amount of warm, tube-like saturation in your sound. Any subtle tweaks can add a voluptuous amount of clipping to your signal, but gladly the other controls can also help shape that parameter, very easily.

  • Modes

Just like in the genuine unit, four modes are meant to simulate a specific amp profile. The “Normal” mode offers a reasonable amount of gain, while hotter options like “Lead” and “Modern” might best suit more audacious needs. There’s even a dedicated mode with lower frequencies, entitled “Bass.”

  • Dry/wet control

The “Dry/Wet” knob instantly blends dry and wet signals. All the way to the left isolates the dry signal, and the other way around isolates the wet signal. Blending this parameter can lead to a fuller, wider sound that doesn’t solely rely on the plugin’s algorithm to resonate, maintaining a versatile aspect even in cleaner or more distorted signals.

  • Pre-drive section

This is an addition that’s not included in the original unit. In essence, this section contains low and high-cut filters that can help “prepare” your signal more precisely before delivering it to the software’s algorithms. This way, any signal coming into the plugin will be somewhat tamed a bit before adding saturation into the mix.

  • Post-drive section

Different from the earlier section, the “Post-drive” segment features an equalizer that can set the perfect values after the saturation has been added to the signal. Even more than the “Pre-drive” section, this is where you can get a plausible final overview of your signal with varied alterations to be made to your taste.

Tutorials | Dist OPAMP-21 - Overview

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.13 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 8.1 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST2, VST3, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 9 Preamp Plugins (For Vocals, Guitars & More!) + Free Preamps

12. Empirical Labs Mike-E Comp By Softube (Analog Compressor, Saturator, Preamp)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Or Buy Here (Support Integraudio)

Plugins that contain different effects and uses inside a single window are awesome and can be the perfect tool for most production styles.

It’s nice to have all you’ll need in a single window, which can lead to significantly less CPU power consumption.

Empirical Labs Mike-E Comp was created in collaboration with Dave Derr to simulate the versatility behind the ELI distressor and provide meaningful colorations to your track.

Empirical Labs Mike-E Comp By Softube - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Preamp

The “Preamp” section offers up to 18dB of gain boost, and it can be used to gain stage your track with the authentic character of a hardware unit. You can even disable the preamp distortion with the “Clean” option, while the “Bad!” indicator will force clipping whenever possible.

  • CompSat

One of the main sections of the plugin is called “CompSat,” and is arguably the heart of Mike-E. It works the same way as a distressor, but with additions like a longer attack time and additional emphasis circuit.

Of course, the “Drive” knob will add any distortion values promptly, with the nearby LEDs indicating the amount of saturation added to your signal.

  • Emphasis

The “Emphasis” parameter is divided between three modes: “HF” emphasizes the high frequencies in the saturation circuit, “HF2” does the same but in the entire CompSat circuit, and LF enhances the lower frequencies in the compressor circuit.

Switching between these profiles can make the plugin sound warmer and “creamier,” displaying a nice tape-like tone.

  • Extended features

As with other Softube plugins, Empirical Labs Mike-E Comp also offers extended features. These can bring nice parameters to complement the already included ones, expanding its functionality and making the overall response of this effect to be much more modern and precise, just like plugins are expected to.

Empirical Labs Mike-E Comp Walkthrough – Softube

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.13 to 12 (64-bit only) and Windows 10 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, VST3, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 12 Saturation Plugins (Best Mixing & Mastering Tools)

13. Baby Audio Smooth Operator (Intelligent Signal Balancer /Resonance Supressor)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

Top 20 Mixing VST Plugins For All Categories 2024 - 2024 Update

Baby Audio Smooth Operator is a smart sound balancer since it can reduce boom and harshness in mixes and instruments.

Initially, Smooth Operator appears to be a competitor to dynamic resonance suppression plugins like Soothe by Oeksound. While dynamic resonance suppression is one of Smooth Operator’s capabilities, the application’s focus is not on improving audio quality but on sculpting sounds in novel ways.

Key Features:

  • Interface

Smooth Operator is a curved interface with extra options and buttons scattered around the edge, and it comes in three different color schemes. The key curve control is the threshold, which is adjusted by raising or lowering the Middle Node.

Two more Outer Nodes on each side give you four to tweak the curve’s shape to perfection.
Also, you can adjust the threshold’s sensitivity to other frequencies by introducing offsets from the main threshold point.

  • Algorithm

Contrary to popular belief, Smooth Operator is not a multi-band compressor or a dynamic equalizer but rather an FFT-based algorithm that uses band-splitting to engage in a game of spectral whack-a-mole. The concentration slider regulates the degree to which each band’s reduction is decoupled from the others, with settings ranging from perfect harmony to a spiky, wavy look.

The ideal degree of smoothness is typically achieved in the middle, hence the name of this plugin. Though it may be tempting to pour Smooth Operator all over your mix or instrument, remember that just a touch of its sonic brush can improve things without sounding overcooked.

  • All-Around Smoothness

Smooth Operator is ideal before or after more conventional dynamics processing since it may easily increase perceived volume without approaching the peak level.

You can shape low mids and cymbals concurrently on a drum mix or sibilance and mic proximity effects in a vocal; the cell technique provides a very flexible de-ess tool that can operate at numerous places across the spectrum. 

  • Focus Slider

At high Focus settings, any attenuation applied is centered on small resonant peaks; at low Focus values, the same peaks will induce broadband gain reduction. This is analogous to what the Sharpness slider accomplishes in Soothe. Five points on the EQ curve represent the remaining members of the control set.

The two white nodes behave like bands on a parametric EQ, with a frequency center, a gain or “offset” value, and a bandwidth that may be adjusted using the mouse scroll wheel. There is no wiggle room in the frequency range for the outer green bands; all you can do is offer an offset.

This Smooth Operator Reverb Trick Will Change Your Life | Baby Audio

Compatibility:

The OS requirements for this plugin are Windows 7 or higher for PC and macOS 10.9 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/RTAS/AU/AAX formats and supports 32 and 64 bit systems.

14. DE-555 Advanced De-Esser Native v7 (De-Esser)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Another elegant-looking software that also provides incredible functionality.

De-essers are interesting effects to use. Usually, producers tend to have them ready to reduce sibilance or other hissing sounds, mostly made by our voices. The thing about DE-555 by McDSP is that it delivers that same result but with more options to monitor the final sounds better.

In addition, the simple design interface can even make it more friendly to use, possibly inspiring more producers to add a consistent solution to hissing elements in any voice track.

DE555 Advanced De-esser Native v7 - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Key filter

The dedicated “Key Filter” section is responsible for isolating sibilant events of any kind that may trigger the de-esser. The “Freq” knob sets the specific frequency range to act upon, while the “Focus” knob further shapes the de-essing events on the go.

The two “Filter Type” buttons enable high pass and band pass filtering modes, with the “Listen” button used to monitor the output section of this segment.

  • De-esser

The other section features more specific controls to set your de-esser. You can set the “Range,” or amount of de-essing (up to 36dB), the “strength” of the effect (via the “Ratio” knob), and the precise recover time from the de-essing event (“Release” knob).

  • HF only

This small button located in the “De-esser” segment is responsible for applying the de-esser effect only at higher frequencies, above the key filter frequency. This is extremely useful because sibilance usually has higher frequencies involved, and you can have the effect of being triggered automatically via this tiny switch.

  • Response plots

The graphic at the bottom of the screen shows the dynamic plot upon which the de-esser acts. For instance, with the “HF only” switch activated, this section will show where the effect reduces the high frequencies. You can also instantly check the “In” and “Out” values.

DE555 Advanced De-Esser - Product Overview

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.13 to 12 (64-bit only) and Windows 10 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in  VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 7 De-Esser Plugins  For Better Vocals (And 4 FREE Plugins)

6 Best Hardware De-Essers Available

15. SSL Native X-Phase (Phase Alignment)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Or Buy Here (Support Integraudio)

X-Phase acts very similarly to an all-pass filter that manually adjusts the phase in your track.

It’s extremely useful to time or phase align the signals, like in a situation where the recorded track used multiple microphones, for instance. The controls and the overall interface can be useful to adjust, with helpful visual aids to guide you manually.

SSL Native X-Phase - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Q knob

A dedicated knob entitled “Q” is responsible for setting the rate of phase change across the spectrum. In other words, it’s the knob that will set the exact frequency value in which the plugin will act.

The “Second Order” switch located near this knob inverts the filter, and it’s a quick way to check how your phase is settled in your track’s frequency spectrum.

  • Delay

The big section on the interface’s top is dedicated to setting the proper delay effect. The big knob sets the desired delay value, with close-by circles that indicate how it’s acting upon your signal. The “Units” switch shows different units available to measure the effect’s intensity.

  • Stereo version

Three buttons at the center of the screen can isolate both right and left channels to monitor what’s happening on each side of the stereo spectrum. The “Right” and “Left” buttons are self-explanatory, being used to activate or deactivate the respective stereo side.

  • Metering

The two meters on the far left side of your screen are extremely useful to see what’s going on in gain staging. Of course, the dedicated “Gain” knob sets the perfect value for that parameter, with the “Peak” and “RMS” meters showing you the exact level at any given moment, both in the input and output stages.

SSL X-Phase Review - Best Phase Align Tool?

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.12 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST2, VST3, AAX and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 7 Phase Alignment Plugins To Fix Your Bass & Drums

16. SSL Fusion Stereo Image (Stereo Width/Analyzer)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
A simple yet very effective tool to set the perfect stereo image you may need.

Any product from SSL is guaranteed to attend to the most exigent needs of every audio professional, either in hardware or software format. This time, SSL presents the Fusion Stereo Image plugin, capable of delivering intense analog coloration tools to set the perfect stereo image in your instrument or master track.

SSL Fusion Stereo Image - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Input

Everything starts through the “Input” section. Here, you can not only monitor the precise values for mid and side signals but also set the precise gain level in this section (“Input Trim”) and bypass the effect altogether via the yellowish “IN” button.

  • Vectorscope

The center window reflects how your sound is reacting to the stereo space. The relative controls located underneath are the main values for the Fusion Stereo Image plugin to act, with “Shuffle,” “Space,” and “Width” knobs that, in essence, dictate if your signal will become wider or narrower.

  • Output

The final section of this effect deals with the output signal value. The “Output Trim” knob is very similar to the previously mentioned “Input Trim” control, except that it deals with the output value instead of the input. The “Solo Side” button allows you to listen to the stereo image of the signal only, all with the help of useful output meters.

  • A/B switching

The unnoticeable “A” and “B” switches in the lower left corner allow you to toggle between two presets, individually or simultaneously. It can be a handy way to instantly analyze two separate parameter settings with “Undo” options.

SSL Fusion Stereo Image Analog Vs Plugin 😱

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.15, 11, and 12 (64-bit only) and Windows 10 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, VST3, AAX and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 10 Stereo Imaging Plugins (Best Old & Modern Picks)

17. Arturia Chorus DIMENSION-D (Chorus)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

As always, Arturia is great when it comes to recreating an iconic sound.

They do that with virtual instruments and effects likewise. This time, they decided to recreate Roland’s iconic Dimension C chorus effect.

This iconic effect was included in many of their equally iconic synthesizers and even got to be recreated in a BOSS pedal format. So now, you can have all nuances of this swirling effect inside your DAW.

Arturia Chorus DIMENSION-D - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Dimension mode

One characteristic elements of this particular chorus was the few buttons in the main interface. Here, you have five – from zero to “4”chorus preset parameters. Each mode, except for zero, has a particular configuration and sound characteristic, and they all sound good nonetheless.

  • Oscillator shape

Similar to the Dimension’s parameters, you can switch between different oscillator shapes. There’s “Default,” “Sine,” “Ramp,” and two variations of waveforms. They all correspond to the modulation LFO options available, leading to interesting results that are not normally achieved with this kind of effect.

  • Dynamic color

This configuration changes the original behavior of the compressor and expander stages of the unit. There are four positions: “LF SAT 2,” “LF SAT 1,” “Default,” and “Smooth.”

The first two have shorter time constants, bringing a slightly more saturated aspect to the final sound, whereas the latter two offer smoother and more traditional settings.

  • Width control

The sole “Width” knob below the “Output Level” meter controls the wideness of the stereo field in the effect. With the knob fully turned to the right, the processed signal stereo field is significantly wider than the original and will bring a mono-oriented sonority in the opposite direction.

Tutorials - Chorus DIMENSION-D | ARTURIA

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.13 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 8.1 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST2, VST3, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 6 Chorus VST Plugins  For Musicians (And 3 FREE Plugins)

18. Eventide Instant Flanger Mk II (Flanger)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
This is a faithful recreation of an iconic effect by the same company that created it.

Since the 1980s, Eventide has been a serious contender regarding highly-crafted effects. They tend to display enormous dedication when developing each effect, as seen with their Clockworks Instant Flanger rack.

Many artists benefited from their effects catalog, and now you can add one of them to your trustworthy plugins list with a faithful recreation of this flanger rack unit.

Eventide Instant Flanger Mk II - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Depth knob

Acting as a “Mix” control would, the “Depth” knob alternates between the dry and wet signals effortlessly. All the way to the left, there will be only the delayed signal present, and the opposite direction will present an equal mix of the input signal with the delayed signal.

  • Stereo richness

The original unit had two knobs dedicated to the output values, the “Main” and “Aux” controls. The first deals with the output signal of two devices running in series, while the latter is the output from a single device. This means that the “Main” signal is almost twice that of the “Aux” output, possibily sending either to the right or left channel.

  • Mod sources

An LFO controls most flanger units, but that’s not the case here.

Instant Flanger Mk II allows you to choose between four different modulations sources: “Manual,” which controls the effect manually, “Oscillator,” which enables the classic LFO source, “Envelope Follower,” which lets the level of the input signal control the flanging, and “Remote,” which designates the flanger control via MIDI.

  • Expansion panel

The lower section is responsible for setting the perfect amount of gain into your flanger effect, synchronizing the LFO to your DAW’s tempo, enabling the MIDI CC1 to control the effect, and adding a high-pass filter to the input signal, and much more. These additional settings can significantly expand the abilities contained in this plugin.

Eventide Instant Flanger Mk II Authentic Emulation of the Original Studio Hardware

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.9 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 8 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST2, VST3, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 6 Flanger Plugins (And 5 Best FREE Flanger Emulators)

19. Audiority Tube Modulator (Tremolo, Vibrato, Chorus)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Tube Modulator gathers three nice effects in a single package.

Effects are nice and can constantly add color, character, and a new life to a particular instrument or the entire track. Obviously, it depends on the track and the effects involved, but usually, they complement more than alter the sound character.

This is why an effects unit can be a good bundle to get: you can have consistent, relative effects in the same housing, usually blending nicely into one another. This is how the Audiority Tube Modulator works, in essence.

Audiority Tube Modulator - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Effects included

There are seven distinct effects to be explored in Tube Modulator: via a dedicated knob, you can switch from effects easily, choosing from options such as “Tube Trem,” “Harmonic Trem,” “Vibrato,” “Chorus Vibe,” “Harmonic Vibe,” “’68 Vibe,” and “’68 Chorus Vibe.”

  • Toolbar

The toolbar located at the top of the screen offers some additional features to the effects. The “HQ” switch enables oversampling, which reduces aliasing, while the “Randomize” and “Reset” buttons explore through random presets and restore the values to factory settings if needed.

The preset selection is also here, with different settings available to freely tweak and save.

  • Common parameters

Independently of what effect or preset is active, some controls are common to any form and will alter your sound accordingly. They are “LFO,” which sets the modulation source, “Rate,” which alters the modulation speed, and “Amount,” which sets the depth of the selected effect.

  • Position modes

A single knob controls all three position modes available. Each can be used in a separate effect. They consist of “Panner,” an automatic panning tool that changes the tube preamp input gain, “Leslie,” a function that enables the swirling effect of a rotary speaker, and “Wow Flutter,” a wide stereo modulator.

  • Link switch

This special switch can expand the plugin’s functionalities in a heartbeat. Basically, if activated, the “Link” switch connects the LFO rate with the “Amount” of both channels, so each value affects the other automatically.

Audiority Tube Modulator: Guitar Quick Demo

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.8 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, VST3, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

The 7 Best Vibrato VST Plugins

20. FabFilter Pro-Q 3 (All-Round EQ)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Arguably the most popular equalizer software in the market nowadays.

The intuitive workflow, easiness to use, and awesome results deriving from the subtlest tweaks are trademark elements of the Pro-Q 3 plugin.

In addition, it’s intended to be very fluid to operate, which can also make your mix sessions more fluid as well.

FabFilter Pro-Q 3 - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Interactive display

The most prominent feature of Pro-Q 3 is the interactive display, which takes center place on your screen. Here, you can easily monitor what’s happening in every bandwidth, aside from selecting them with a single mouse click.

The useful indication of the frequencies in your track versus the alterations you make is contrasted by a very bright color in these changes, which makes the visual aid imperative to the plugin’s functionality.

  • Band selecting controls

The controls below the EQ display are intended to easily adjust the currently selected bands’ parameters. Most of them work with your mouse buttons – for instance, the “Q” setting can be adjusted via the mouse wheel.

  • Spectrum analyzer

Activating the “Analyzer” button enables real-time spectrum analysis for the pre-EQ, external, and post-EQ signals, with customizable settings. You can also access the “EQ Match” mode through the same panel, which lets you combine the spectrum of a reference signal.

  • Piano display

Using the “Piano Display” setting can help you toggle between the normal frequency scale and the piano keyboard display. This is important because it lets you easily quantize the band frequencies but associate them with common piano keys. They range from A0 (27.5 Hz) to C8 (4186.01 Hz).

  • Dolby Atmos supported

FabFilter decided to include a high-quality setting imperative to immersive audio formats, such as the Dolby Atmos. This not only proves that this plugin is very serious about its capabilities but also that it can be very adaptive to whatever multi-channel formats you might be using.

Fabfilter Pro-Q 3 EQ Tutorial - Everything You Need to Know

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.12 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows Vista or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, VST3, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 10 Plugins For Mixing Drums (And 3 Best Free Plugins)

Top 10 FabFilter Plugins For Mixing & Mastering 

Bonuses:

1. AudioThing Fog Convolver 2 (Convolution Reverb)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

Convolution reverbs are modern and recent if compared to this effect’s history.

The best thing about this class of effects is that impulse responses are involved in the spatial setting of your effect, thus recreating more faithfully how a reverberation would occur in a determined ambient.

AudioThing Fog Convolver 2 - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • IR selection

The “IR 1” and “IR 2” buttons on the upper left corner allow for a selection of which impulse response is currently being edited, with the possibility of quickly bypassing any of the two.

The small “Link” button (the little chain) links the parameters for both inputs, and the “Lock” button locks all parameters so that only the IR is loaded from a preset. 

  • Graphic EQ

The included equalizer can be activated or deactivated at any time. You can count with five bands and the possibility to control each of them with your mouse click while the mouse wheel changes the “Q” factor of that band. Double-clicking each band resets it to the default value.

  • Routing section

The small segment in the far-right area of the screen is responsible for setting the appropriate routing of the effect. You can change between five different routing modes“Single,” “Serial,” “Parallel,” “Parallel Mix,” and “True Stereo.” You can also set the “Balance,” “Mix,” and “Output” of each IR.

  • General parameters

The grey knobs are responsible for controlling nine general parameters. They are “Pre Delay,” “Gain,” “Pitch,” “Start,” “End” (sets the start or end point cropping the IR), “Fade In,” “Fade Out,” “Curve,” “Balance,” “Mix,” and “Output.”

  • Parameter lock

If you need to keep certain parameters from changing values, you can use the “Parameter Lock” option to force them to be inalterable. If locked, the parameter won’t be updated by any changes, which can be set for all parameters or just an individual one.

Fog Convolver 2.0 - Creative Convolution Reverb - AudioThing

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.9 to 12 (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST2, VST3, AAX, CLAP, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

The 10 Best Convolution Reverb Plugins 

2. Klevgrand Fosfat (Transient Designer)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Fosfat’s goal is to enrich your percussive sounds with a dynamic analysis of your signal, later adding textures that will enhance their sound quality.

It can be compared to an EQ in that it shapes the sound meticulously and comprehends all subtle variations in terms of dynamic values. So be ready to add missing frequencies and sparkles into a recorded track or sample.

Klevgrand Fosfat - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Sections

There are five main sections in Fosfat: one denominated “Trigger,” another called “Oscillator,” other dedicated to “Noises,” an “Output” module, and a “Presets” selection. They provide all necessary functions for the plugin to shine through the input drum tracks you may want to color.

  • Trigger

This section deals with the settings for the trigger signal, which will directly affect the oscillator and “Noises” sections. With the help of a frequency spectrum analyzer and a band-pass filter, you can select which frequencies will trigger the next sections. This is very useful if you want to correct or add color to a specific frequency range.

  • Noise

You can further shape your sound with the “Noise” section. There are common envelope and filter controls, plus a gain knob and a stereo setting that alters the stereo image of your track.

This section differs from the rest because you can add more parameters already tweaked in the latter two segments – “Trigger” and “Oscillator” – and come up with new musical ideas on the go.

  • Presets

Presets are a helpful and easy way to achieve instant, good-quality results without much effort. There are specific categories for “Kick” and “Snare,” for instance, and you can additionally create and add presets of your own in your library.

Fosfat – Transient Fertilizer

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.10 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

Top 10 Transient Shaper Plugins (VST, AU, AAX)

3. SoundToys PhaseMistress (Analog Phaser)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

Or Buy Here (Support Integraudio)
This brilliant plugin recreates a very important effect from the 1970s in a colorful way.

Effects like chorus and flanger are often used and abused due to their unique nature. However, thanks to the swirling vibe they present, they evoke a particular feel and are included in multiple different genres and styles.

The same can be said about phasers: all amazing tones generated can be a nice increment to a chord progression or a particular riff, with an intrinsic dynamic response.

This was the main inspiration behind PhaseMistress, besides the fact that it was also inspired by iconic units like the Electro-Harmonix Small Stone and MXR Phase 90 guitar pedals. 

SoundToys PhaseMistress - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Styles

There are multiple sound profiles you can choose from within the “Style” selection. Feel free to navigate between different circuits and tones, each with a particular character to be displayed. And, of course, the parameters can be fully manipulated to best attend to your needs with the help of the “Style Edit” control.

  • Frequency knob

The “Frequency” knob is responsible for determining the frequencies upon which the phaser effect will act, almost like a ‘standard-setting.’ This is the best way to capture and reproduce a particular swirling effect, with responsiveness and detail in every nuance.

  • Resonance

“Resonance” is what enhances the phase shift effect, introducing resonance peaks that correlates to each notch filter present. It reproduces an enhanced harmonic profile in the input signal, specific to every notch. Setting it at higher values will make the harmonics fall into some notches that are purposely exaggerated, providing an intense phase effect.

  • Mod

Setting the perfect amount of modulation in your signal is the duty of the “Mod” knob, which can sweep the frequencies very easily. If you twist the knob up, the overall modulation will increase and also determines how far the frequency will be swept. The results depend solely on the value set at the “Frequency” knob.

PhaseMistress - Navigating Sounds, Stereo Movement & Spatial Tricks

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.10 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in standalone mode and VST2, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

4. FabFilter Volcano 3 (Creative Filter)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Inspired by vintage units, this modern recreation is the next step in filtering effects.

Filters are awesome and provide a very cool effect to play around with. Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, many musicians have been influenced and loved this effect, from Stevie Wonder to John Frusciante.

The Volcano plugins from FabFilter always brought this vintage vibe to the software, but with clever and modern features that make it irresistible to use.

FabFilter Volcano 3 - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Analog filters

Volcano 3 includes four vintage-inspired filters with flexible routing and many shapes to explore. Some, including the shelf and non-linear bell filters, are modern takes on vintage parameters but with added functionality that enhances the versatility of this software.

The filters offer equally different parameters if compared to one another, just like authentic vintage filters.

  • Drive per filter

Including a dedicated driver section that correlates to specific filters is a new addition to version 3, which can adjust the internal filter saturation and provide much more variations in sound texture and smoothness.

  • Interactive display

As it’s regular with other FabFilter plugins, Volcano 3 also heavily depends on the interactive display to offer a fluid effect. Intuitive movements, such as drag and drop clicks, are the primary way to adjust and set any values related to the effect’s parameters, and this can be imperative for beginner producers or musicians that just want a straight good-sounding effect to use.

  • Routing mode

You can easily set your preferred routing mode and determine whether the effect will run in stereo, per channel, or mid/side mode. Each mode offers different variations not only in tone but also in the filter notches present in each setting.

  • Filter styles

If you need variety when it comes to the filter styles included in this plugin, then you’ll be satisfied. There are 11 options to choose from, like “Classic,” “Smooth,” “Hard,” “Hollow,” “Gentle,” and more.

Introduction to FabFilter Volcano 3

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.12 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows Vista or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, VST3, and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

The 8 Best Filter Plugins For Precise Cuts & Boosts (+ 5 Free Filters)

Bonus 2: Mixing Bundle:

SSL Native Essentials Bundle (Channel Strip + Bus Compressor)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

As discussed previously, SSL is one of the world’s most influential audio production companies, with an impressive curriculum of great hardware and software options.

The Essentials Bundle combines two great effects into one window: the SSL Channel Strip 2 and the SSL Bus Compressor 2.

SSL Native Essentials Bundle - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

SSL Native Essentials Bundle - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

SSL Native Essentials Bundle - Top 20 Mixing Plugins For All Categories | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Channel Strip 2

The SSL Channel Strip 2 emulates the iconic SSL 9000K SuperAnalogue mixing console, containing the classic four-band parametric EQ, compressor, filter, and a gate/expander configuration.

There’s also an included possibility to switch between the E-series and G-series sound profiles at will, with great flexibility.

  • Bus Compressor 2

This is the digital recreation of the legendary bus compressor present in so many iconic recordings captured throughout the decades. One of its most sought-after aspects is the easiness in which the mixes are blended with this bus compressor, making it almost unanimously reverenced.

Fearless Gear Review: SSL Native Essentials Bundle

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.15, 11, and 12 (64-bit only) and Windows 10 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, VST3, AAX and AU plugin formats.

Related Reading:

12 Best Plugin Bundles For Musicians (Paid & Free)

Top 14 SSL Plugins (Best Effects By Solid State Logic)

Conclusion

Mixing is often referred to as an art rather than an exact science. It varies from professional to professional, equipment to equipment, and sound to sound. Mixing a cinematic score and an album is also very different, yet both processes are similar in multiple ways.

To mix is to hear everything blending nicely and gladly, we live in a period in which multiple options are available. Of course, you can buy all the gear necessary and start producing, but this is not a reality for most professionals.

Not only the cost to acquire such equipment is elevated, but also the maintenance costs and constant care are imperative to make these units last longer.

This list attempted to gather some cool tools that will help you evolve your mixing skills. Of course, not all of them are hardware recreations, like the excellent SSL Essentials Bundle and the Brainworx bx_console AMEK 9099 plugins, but they are gorgeous to work with.

Another awesome rendition is Empirical Labs Mike-E Comp By Softube, by the way.

Other options focus on a particular effect, like Baby Audio Crystalline and FabFilter Volcano 3. They offer an amazing response, no matter which instrument is inserted there.

Other modern production tools, such as auto-tuners, also display the same sound quality and responsiveness that will make your track stand out, as seen in Slate Digital Metatune.

As always, testing the demos before committing to buying any software out there is imperative.

Feel free to not only tweak around the knobs but also include them into your existing productions, so you’ll know how they behave in a real work situation.

See you next time!

Mixing Related Topics:

Top 12 Websites/Services For Mixing Your Music 

Top 19 Books On Mixing Music (EQing, Compression & More)

Top 12 Plugins For Mixing Guitar (Acoustic, Electric & Bass)

Top 14 EQ Plugins For MIXING (AND 14 FREE Plugins)

Top 11 Waves Plugins For Mixing Vocals 

20 Best FREE Mixing Plugins For Musicians (Various Types)

Algorithmic vs Convolution Reverb: Mixing With Each (Tips & Advice)

Best Plugins For Mixing Vocals: 11 Picks For Clean Voice 

Top 10 Plugins For Mixing Drums (And 3 Best Free Plugins)

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