Top 6 Dithering Plugins 2023 Not Only For Mastering

Top 6 Dithering Plugins Not Only For Mastering 2022 | integraudio.com

Today we’ll learn more about the dithering process and the best plugins available in 2022.

The multiple processes involved in audio production can sound out of this world to most people. However, most don’t realize how much effort can be put into recording a song or narration due to the different stages required to achieve an excellent final result.

Firstly, you capture the audio. The recommended way is to use decent microphones in a well-treated environment acoustically. After everything is recorded comes the mixing stage, where you can organize how each sound will be placed in the overall sound spectrum. Finally, the mastering process takes care of everything dealing with loudness, especially nowadays, where LUFS values are so important in different streaming platforms.

Of course, this is a sum of complex and lengthy work that may last for days or even months. Much more detail comes into each different process, but this text should be focused on the last of these, the mastering. Here is where you’ll have the chance to check if every volume is ok and is not overlapping other audio files, aside from considering the entire track.

A common practice in the mastering stage is dithering. In essence, this process deals with bit depth values, which define the overall quality of your audio. The problem is that sometimes your project contained in your DAW has a more considerable bit depth value than the media you’re trying to master, such as a CD. Dithering is the process that fixes this difference, converting it back to the value you’ll need to work with.

Below, you’ll find a helpful image to help you understand clearly, with the same analogy valid for audio.


Source

When you convert that 24-bit image into 8-bit without dither – a smaller bit depth value than the original – some sharping occurs that doesn’t provide a clear definition. When applying dither, this is fixed considerably. You can think of this “sharping” as literal noise in your audio track, translating that to audio terms. 

To wrap up, here’s a helpful table showing the most common bit depth values used in different media nowadays.

Media
Bit depth value
CD
16-bit
DVD
16, 20, or 24-bit
Blu-ray
16, 20, or 24-bit
iTunes master
24-bit
Most digital audio workstations
32-bit

This list seeks to bring you the best dithering plugins available in 2023, with some freebies and bonus options at the end. Let’s see more about them!

1. iZotope Maximizer (Part of the iZotope Ozone Bundle)

More Info & Price
One of the best mastering tools available nowadays.

iZotope always delivers excellent options when it comes to audio correction software. The intelligent workflow behind the iZotope RX Elements plugin showcases this; the same goes for the Ozone bundle. Furthermore, all products contain the same quality regarding algorithms, which can be tested thoroughly in almost any particular situation in audio production and is also present in Maximizer.

Top 6 Dithering Plugins Not Only For Mastering | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Magnify Soft Clip
      If you’re mastering, the volume in your track should be your top concern and priority. Aside from monitoring it properly, you’ll need some useful tools to assist you in delivering a consistent final result. Maximizer lets you add a loudness boost by setting the “Dry” and “Wet” mixers in the “Soft Control” processing.
    • Styles
      Standard settings and procedures may not work universally with all your projects and tracks during the mastering process. This is why Maximizer offers different “Intensity” styles, presented by “Light” (saturates the signal 3dB below threshold), “Medium” (same thing, but 9dB below threshold), and “Heavy” (saturates the signal 30dB below threshold).
    • Oversample
      When dealing with different bit rates, precision is everything. A slight difference in value may be crucial for our entire project to be ruined, which is why oversampling might help you. Maximizer offers 4x oversampling, and in other words, this means that the plugin should be able to prevent aliasing distortion.
    • Intelligence Release Control Limiter
      The Intelligence Release Control technology, shortened to “IRC,” was created to provide a clean limiting experience. This can be imperative when setting the overall loudness in your track, and gladly Maximizer brings some ready presets for you to use, including a “Low Latency” mode.
    • Learn mode
      When setting the appropriate volume threshold value, the appropriate LUFS measurement must be kept in mind. This is crucial to get your song accepted in each significant streaming platform service, and with Maximizer, you can automate that threshold according to any LUFS target you set.
    • Transient shape
      The transients are essential to define the quality of your track, musical or not. These elements consist of the overtones and what your final sound will be like, and Maximizer allows you to set the perfect setting for retaining a loud element, such as drums, even in louder volumes.

Compatibility:

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

Summary:

The products from iZotope are usually well-crafted enough to assist you in the most diverse ways of mixing and mastering, especially the latter. Maximizer does this job masterfully, as it’s part of the renowned Ozone bundle. As a result, you can easily set an appropriate loudness for your final project without sacrificing a pleasant timbre and the overall dynamic response.

2. Goodhertz Good Dither

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
This good-looking plugin promises to make dithering as easy as possible.

Mastering tends to take a long time to be fully comprehended and understood. Professionals that are used to the terminology and the tools used can already have a fluid workflow, but apprentices might have a hard time reaching that point. Luckily, Good Dither makes the job more accessible with a clean interface that can make dithering a simple subject.

Top 6 Dithering Plugins Not Only For Mastering | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Dither amount
      On the top right corner, a dedicated section controls the dither amount in your track. You can set between “Low” (a good choice for an audio file that already contains some noise), “Optimal” (balancing a good CPU performance that eliminates quantization distortion), and “High” (complete elimination of that same distortion but with high noise attached to it).
    • Auto blanking
      This good segment is responsible for auto-blanking control. This option disables the dither effect when the input has been silent for at least 500ms or more, thus, saving up some processing power and enabling it as soon as any signal is detected.
    • Noise shaping
      The noise shaping is an excellent addition to a dithering plugin, and Goodhertz thought well of that. You can set the most appropriate preset for a quick result that sounds natural and smooth simultaneously. Feel free to choose between “Optimal,” where the dither noise is optimized for each combination of bit depth and sample rate, “None,” where it’s flat, “Low,” with 4.5dB of noise reduction, “Medium,” with 6dB, and “High,” with 8dB.
    • Presets
      Counting on some factory presets, which are included in Good Dither, is always handy. The available options are “Default,” “CD Master,” “CD Master, Light Shaping,” “CD Master, Low Noise,” “CD Master, Flat Dither,” “24-bit Master,” and “24-bit, Flat Dither.”
    • Shortcuts
      Aside from presets, keyboard shortcuts are another feature that makes everyone’s life easier. You’ll find some useful commands below.
      Action
      Shortcut
      Enter new parameter value
      (Tap a control first) Enter, Return, or Tab
      Increment parameter value
      Up or Right arrow keys
      Decrement parameter value
      Down or Left arrow keys
      Jump to the following parameter
      Tab
      Jump to the previous parameter
      Shift + Tab or `
      Escape parameter focus and close open drawers
      Esc
      Tap tempo
      T (with a selected BPM control)

Compatibility:

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

Summary:

Goodhertz Good Dither makes your life easier when dithering, especially for the clean looks shown on its interface. It’s the best attraction about this plugin, which can stimulate any beginner or inexperienced producers to adventure into this process. The parameters are easy to control, and the overall response is excellent, with plenty of different sound profiles to attend to the most diverse situations.

3. PSP X-Dither (For Mastering)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
This option offers high-quality results appropriate for your mastering process.

Dealing with loudness can be challenging, and sometimes the best way to do it is by relying on vintage gear and renowned plugins. However, some companies still try to impress the customer with authentic sonorities that blend a bit of both world – and this is how PSP X-Dither came to be.

Top 6 Dithering Plugins Not Only For Mastering | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Hardware quality
      As with other PSP plugins, X-Dither delivers authentic and organic responses from the moment you start using it. The user interface was designed to resemble an analog unit. It also works similarly: for instance, you can monitor if there’s any audio signal coming into X-Dither via two dedicated green LEDs on the top left corner, just like in actual racks.
    • Truncation and Rounding
      The small “Dither” yellow LED tells you whether dithering is running, and you’ll find two red lights to the left. One of these is called “Truncation,” which chops off the signal beyond the last bit to provide an excellent comparison between samples, while the other – “Rounding”rounds the last bit. You can make these changes permanent by engaging the “Dither” button.
    • Noise shaping
      There are six available options for noise shaping in X-Dither. They are divided into three “Smooth” noise-shaping algorithms and three unique ones from the PSP Xenon Master Limiter plugin. In both groupings, “A” has the weakest noise shaping, while “C” has the strongest.
    • Dither shape
      In the lower-left corner, there are some options to determine how your dithering will act like. The “Low” noise shaper partially shifts the dither energy toward the lower frequency range, while the “High” option does the same in higher frequencies. Both can be used alternatively depending on your situation, enhancing specific frequency ranges or making it sound more natural than ever. Of course, if you don’t require this, you can always stick with the good old “Flat” position.
    • Dither level
      This section ensures your dithering level is correctly adjusted in X-Dither. The “Low” option offers a reduced noise level but with a noise modulation probably affecting your transients, while “High” keeps a high noise level with a more natural character. Usually, “Optimal” is the safest choice to make.

Compatibility:

This plugin runs on macOS 10.10 to 12.01 (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX plugin formats.

Summary:

Although it’s claimed to assist you in the most diverse mastering situations, PSP X-Dither may be slightly less than enough to do the job correctly. The transients sound weird depending on how your settings are adjusted, and it’s hard to get rid of that sonic aspect instantly. The options and controls seem enough for the task, but maybe other contenders can do the job more safely.

4. Waves L2 Ultramaximizer (Limiter with Dithering)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
This all-in-one bundle can help achieve the crystal-clear results you need.

Waves’ products never cease to impress, and the proof of that is how widely they’re used in music production. This time, L2 Ultramaximizer promises to be a reliable sound tool kit that encompasses a brick-wall limiter and dithering system in the same package, so your loudness monitoring can get a little simpler.

Top 6 Dithering Plugins Not Only For Mastering | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • ARC
      The “Auto Release Control” is one of the Waves technologies available inside the L2 Ultramximizer. This algorithm was developed to dynamically select the more appropriate limiter release value for your input signal, trying to mimic how a human ear would respond to louder volumes. This ensures the release time is as natural and fast as humanly possible.
    • Threshold
      This fader meter, located in the leftmost section of your user design interface, naturally sets the threshold value for your signal loudness. You can have different signal values for left and proper channels, yet this threshold will still affect both channels simultaneously.
    • IDR
      IDR, or Increased Digital Resolution, is another trademarked technology developed by Waves and the late Michael Gerzon that helps you achieve optimal results in the final stages of the dithering process. This noise-shaping dithering system offers much more precision in re-quantization, thus bringing the best bit rate quality to your project. There are two types available; one offers no nonlinear distortion (Type 1), and another brings a lower dither level (Type 2).
    • Out ceiling
      You can think of this setting as the “roof” of your track. Kind of like in a house, the roof or ceiling sets the height of your construction, and this option sets the tolerable point for your loudness to act upon. Moving the bar up and down sets this value and will define the “ceiling” for your overall loudness.
    • WaveSystem toolbar
      The black toolbar at the top of your user interface screen is characteristic of all Waves’ plugins. You can save, load, and store any preset of your choosing, aside from comparing settings and undoing or redoing actions. You can also resize your plugin to fit your computer screen better.

Compatibility:

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

Summary:

L2 Ultramaximizer is a complete sound toolkit, a combo that brings a decent brick-wall limiter alongside a dithering unit. These elements should always be together when mastering, housed on the same screen. In addition, the controls are straightforward, and you don’t see any distractions on your user interface screen, which helps make the process more fluid.

5. MAAT LINpro (For Mastering)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
You will be able to craft your sound with this sonic tool from the first interaction.

The main goal behind the LIN plugins is to ease the producer’s workflow and give space to the creative sound behind each producer’s mind. Thinking about that, MAAT LINpro brings a straightforward interface that provides a somewhat less arduous experience when it comes to dithering in the mastering process.

Top 6 Dithering Plugins Not Only For Mastering | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Dither types
      MAAT LINpro offers three different dithering types for your tracks and audio samples. You can choose between “Triangular Probability Density,” “Triangular Hi-Pass,” and “Weighted TPDF and VPD.”
    • VPD
      VPD, or Variable Probability Density, is a technology that allows you to switch between different dithering spectrums. You can think of this as a kind of “preset” in which the transients will be more solidly distributed, thus making your final rendering much more consistent.
    • Noise-shaping
      Located inside the small button on the lower left side, the noise-shaping tools are crucial for defining your sound and timbre. You can set the exact adjustment you need to make, offering continuous tilt in “Flat” or “No Tilt To Full” and set the frequency slope as you want.
    • Auto-blank
      Another vital control included in MAAT LINpro is the “Auto-blank” feature. This selection automatically mutes the dither plugin after 11ms of silence, thus preventing unnecessary digital noise from being added to your track’s sound spectrum.
    • Gain control
      This setting provides up to 6dB of dither amplitude in MAAT LINpro and pairs beautifully with the plugin’s functions. For instance, at 0dB, any dither noise is incremented at the same amplitude as in your current LSB (Output Bit Depth) value, and the maximum 6dB would be added to increase the overall amplitude.

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.8 and higher (32 and 64-bit ) and Windows 7 or higher (32 and 64-bit ). It runs in VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Summary:

This plugin is beneficial, providing precise results that don’t alternate too much. It may look simple to use at first, but don’t be fooled by it: complex settings should be studied carefully before being tweaked. The reason is that MATT LINpro was designed to be used by mastering professionals constantly dealing with similar software and hardware, so this may not be ideal for beginners or inexperienced producers.

6. D16 Group Decimort 2 (For Mixing)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

Used by David Guetta, Dj Michael Trance, and James Sanger, Decimort 2 is a hidden gem in the bitcrushing market.

Developed by D16 Group, Decimort 2 brings the unique characteristics of older bitcrushing hardware. The plugin features the fuzzy, full, gritty sound of the ’90s, and it offers what you need to recreate some iconic Hip-Hop hits. Furthermore, it rocks an old-school UI design.

Settings such as the optional Anti-Aliasing filters, Dithering, and Adjustable jitter of your samples are some of the unique abilities of this plugin. Let’s explore the key features of this plugin your workflow could potentially be missing.

Top 6 Dithering Plugins Not Only For Mastering | integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Adjustable Jittering
    Try using the adjustable jittering that creates slight random effect jumps in your sample. The plugin recreates the sound of a broken potentiometer in older hardware, where the applied effect isn’t constant.
  • Dithering
    After applying the jitter effect, you may find it too constant or loud on your samples. To configure that, you can use the controllable dithering. Dithering allows you to minimize harmonic distortion errors, making sure the sample comes out clean.
  • Two Anti-Aliasing Filters
    You may find that some of the sounds the plugin offers contain slight aliasing. To address this, the D16 Group added two optional anti-aliasing filters. The anti-aliasing filter gives you maximum control of the aliasing above and below your resampling frequency.
  • Analog Filters
    Choose between simple filters that perfectly recreate the analog sound of real-life hardware. Then, when the sample is resonating too much, easily tweak it with the resonance knob and have the option to fine-tune the cutoff for the applied filter.
  • No Harmonic Distortion
    As a recreation of real-life hardware, Decimort 2 features no internal aliasing. That means no distortion to your harmonics can occur unless you deliberately apply them.
D16 Group Decimort 2 Sound Examples

Compatibility:

Decimort 2 is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 10.7 or higher 64-bit. In addition, it comes in VST2/3, AU, and AAX formats.

Summary:

Decimort 2 offers a great “hardware-like” experience for producers, allowing you to recreate audio anomalies that occur in hardware. The jitter effect gives a unique touch to your sound, and the added dithering effect corrects any errors. The plugin is easy to use and offers plenty of helpful presets.

Free Dithering Plugin

KiloHearts Bitcrush (For Mixing)

More Info & Download
Multiple sonorities are included inside the same plugin housing.

The main goal of Bitcrush is to replicate the lo-fi aspect of some old recordings from a few decades ago. It takes inspiration from lower-quality samplers, which offer limited bit depth and sample rate values.

Top 6 Dithering Plugins Not Only For Mastering | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Bits
      This knob quantizes the amplitude of each sample of the audio file. A more distorted sound comes up by turning it to lower values but with a lower quality. This is ideal for recreating the sonority of vintage games or computers.
    • ADC Q
      One of two similar controls, the “ADC Q” knob, refers to the conversion quality from analog to digital. Again, the lower the value set here, the more dissonant aliasing will be in lower frequencies.
    • DAC Q
      Similar to the previous feature, the “DAC Q” knob sets the conversion quality from digital to analog. Opposite to its counterpart, the lower the value set, the more dissonant aliasing will be included in higher frequencies.
    • Rate display
      The most significant segment in your user interface screen is the rate display, located on top of everything. Here, you can down-sample the audio track to any value you’d like, with a minimal input of 200 Hz.

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.9 and higher (32 and 64-bit ) and Windows 7 or higher (32 and 64-bit ). It runs in VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Summary:

The only freebie on our list is a considerably helpful tool in your plugin arsenal. The specific aspect provided by a few controls and a clean interface can make dithering easier than it sounds, and that’s beneficial. Not only recommended to newcomers and beginners, Bitcrush also offers more than dithering per se, with a specific sonority in mind to be recreated seamlessly.

Bonuses:

1. Sonalksis Ultimate-D (Mastering)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
We blend the best digital and analog worlds into a single plugin.

Ultimate-D looks straightforward at first use, which can be a good signal. However, the main goal is to have great analog, and digital aspects blended simultaneously with meaningful and well-developed algorithms to achieve the perfect resolution. 

Top 6 Dithering Plugins Not Only For Mastering | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Intuitive interface
      The simplistic looks in Ultimate-D’s user interface screen are very welcoming to most professionals. The overall control distribution is housed as if in a vintage hardware studio rack unit, even with screws attached in the laterals. There are only four significant controls on this screen, which can help you focus on using your ears more than your eyes.
    • Superior algorithms
      Every algorithm in Ultimate-D was well-developed enough to make it sound as closely as possible to suitable dithering units of the past while still being relevant to modern audio editing. In addition, the dithering and noise-shaping algorithms were carefully thought of to provide the best results without taking too much of your CPU processing power while working on it.
    • Re-quantization
      Arguably the most used feature in dithering plugins, the re-quantization is how you fix the bit depth value difference between your project and the output media you want to master. You can expect to work with 08, 12, 16, 20, or 24-bits with up to 192kHz support included.
    • Application
      The blue knob on the far-left section of your user interface screen is called “Application” and offers three distinct positions: “Off,” “Tracking,” and “Mastering.” Besides deactivating it, you can make the plugin more relevant to a tracking or mastering process with a knob twist.
    • Character
      The only switch in Ultimate-D’s user interface screen sets the sound character that this unit will provide. You can choose between “Dynamic” and “Compressed,” with the former option favoring a dynamic and organic sound. At the same time, the latter brings a specific compression that evens the sound spectrum of your track.
    • Content
      The yellowed knob on the far-right section offers three “Content” settings: “Electronic,” “Acoustic,” and “Hybrid.” This was included to offer a quick and reliable way to fit your dithering in the overall aspect of your audio track, favoring both electronic sounds and acoustic performances.

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.9 and higher (32 and 64-bit ) and Windows 10 or higher (32 and 64-bit ). It runs in VST and AU plugin formats.

Summary:

Simple looks are always catchy when it comes to audio engineering software. You don’t need to make things more complex than they already are, and the most straightforward ways are often the most convincing in final results. Ultimate-D is like that, boasting a vintage-like user interface screen with few controls or switches. Instead, the subtle yet effective results are shown by tweaking these controls, with perceivable alterations in minor twists.

2. Stillwell Audio Psycho Dither

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
A simplistic approach that offers meaningful results nonetheless.

Since 2006, Stillwell Audio has provided good plugins to assist you in every significant audio production need. This time, Psycho Dither uses an adaptive algorithm to make your processed audio sound more natural than ever, allied with minimalistic looks.

Top 6 Dithering Plugins Not Only For Mastering | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Adaptive adjustment
      The small bar located on the lower left side of your user interface screen is entitled “Adaptive Adjustment,” which dithers the last two bits of your audio track to offer a white noise mask over that. This feature works by running two simultaneous adaptive adjustments simultaneously in audio playback, thus preserving the maximum dynamic range possible.
    • Dither color
      The small button next to “Adaptive Adjustment” is entitled “Dither,” and it can offer green or red colors. The former color adds more dither noise to your track, making it sound softer and more fit to an analog sound, while the latter color inserts minimum noise to the signal, offering a “harder” sonority.
    • Psycho Power
      One of the two included knob controls, “Psycho Power,” sets the appropriate order of the noise-shaping filter. The higher the value, the more effectively this algorithm will act upon the input noise while adding more energy to the output.
    • Target Bit Depth
      By flicking this knob, you can set the desired bit depth value for your output audio track. You can choose the most common values, such as 08, 12, 20, or 24-bit.

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.7 and higher (32 and 64-bit ) and Windows 7 or higher (32 and 64-bit ). It runs in VST, RTAS, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Summary:

As simple as it gets, Psycho Dither can effectively provide a good sonority in a few steps. The big monitoring screen takes much of the interface screen space, but it consistently reads how your signal reacts to the changes made inside the plugin. In addition, the selective choices prompted by few controls can instigate the producer to seek more settings tailored to their specific mastering situations, which can be practical and versatile simultaneously.

Conclusion

Dithering, like many processes in audio production, is complex and requires constant study and practice. The overall mastering stage is complicated enough, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to master it. No puns intended.

Our list sought to bring the best dithering plugins available in 2023, either for mastering uses or more creative ones. With different choices available, getting lost in many options that provide different usages is easy. Even so, we decided to bring a bit of everything so you can make up your mind.

Among the best choices, iZotope Maximizer and Goodhertz Good Dither stand out due to their iconic interfaces and good controls distributed along their interface design screens. In addition, the former offers a reassuring quality that only iZotope can provide in their software. In contrast, the latter brings a simple look that can be convincing and explored in multiple ways.

Focusing solely on mastering, the PSP X-Dither is an excellent option. It resembles a vintage studio unit, with most of its controls very responsive and its algorithms tailored to deal with almost any kind of audio track and signals.

With a bit more expanding nature, the KiloHearts Bitcrush is our only freebie choice. It also features an exclusive sonority, seeking to recreate the lower-quality samplers of past decades. Aside from its friendly price tag, it can also be interesting to have it nearby for fresh inspiration now and then.

Remember always to try out the software you intend to buy before doing so, exploring its functions as profoundly as possible.

See you next time!

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