All-in-one mastering chain plugins can be the easiest and fastest way to get good sounding masters without much knowledge.
In a nutshell, here are the best mastering chain plugins in 2023:
Even though mastering your tracks by yourself can be scary, nowadays it’s easier than ever before. Technology is moving forward, and the music industry has benefited a lot from that. Several developers have designed plugins that can help you master your tracks in a single VST. However, if you want to get a high-quality song, it is always advised to pay a professional. Mastering engineers have specially treated rooms, high-end monitors, analog equipment, and most importantly, a vast knowledge in the area that allows them to get the best results.
These plugins can be an excellent alternative for quick masters, inexperienced producers, or users looking for a compact solution. For that reason, We’ve picked the top six mastering plugins so you can master your tracks without being a mastering engineer.
Best Mastering Chain Plugins: 6 Picks For Loud Masters 2023
1. United Plugins MasterMind NEW*
United Plugins MasterMind is a professional audio mastering tool that enhances and optimizes audio tracks for various formats and playback systems.
It features various tools and processors, including EQ, compression, limiting, and stereo enhancement, as well as a variety of preset options and a user-friendly interface. It has six sections: Input, Match, Stereo Width, Optimize, EQ, and Limiter. It has presets for Mastering for CD, streaming, vinyl, Podcast, YouTube, and more.
- Stereo Enhancement
MasterMind includes a stereo enhancement tool that allows you to widen or narrow the stereo field of their tracks. That helps greatly in the mastering process and individual instruments while processing them.
The plugin includes various compression options, including a peak compressor, an RMS compressor, and a multiband compressor. This allows you to control the dynamic range of your tracks and achieve a more consistent and polished sound. Lastly, there’s also a saturation knob in the compressor section, by which you can add harmonics and control its effect.
- Preset Options
The plugin offers a variety of preset options, including options for different genres and playback systems. This allows you to quickly achieve a professional sound without having to adjust each individual setting manually.
MasterMind offers a variety of EQ options, including a parametric EQ, a shelving EQ, and a high-pass/low-pass filter. In addition, it also has a knob for adding a Tube EQ tone to your sounds. This allows you to fine-tune the frequency balance of your tracks and achieve a more polished sound.
The plugin can be used with the most popular DAWs, including Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Ableton Live, and FL Studio. It is available in multiple formats, including VST, VST3, AU, and AAX, which allows it to be used on both Windows and Mac systems.
MasterMind lets you match the EQ curve of your song with your reference track by using the Match EQ section and also lets you control the extent of it by using the knob under it. Secondly, the Optimize knob is a special feature that lets you quickly optimize your audio tracks for different playback systems and formats.
2. Brainworx bx_masterdesk PRO NEW*
The Brainworx bx_masterdesk PRO is a quantum leap in audio processing technology.
It boasts an array of capabilities, such as THD Harmonics and the Brainworx Tolerance Modeling Technology, for in-depth sound precision. A sleek M/S Processing feature ensures comprehensive stereo field control, whereas the integrated Resonance Filter facilitates unwanted frequency elimination.
It resonates with seasoned professionals and less experienced users, thanks to its ergonomic design promoting ease of use, so this impressive tool subtly transforms your audio mixes, making it invaluable in achieving that desirable, professional-grade sound.
The compressor has been fine-tuned with a variable ratio control, a feature that empowers you with the flexibility to dictate the degree of dynamic reduction applied to the mix. This advanced control leads to a more refined and personalized compression effect. In addition, it now incorporates a unique “GLUE” feature.
This attribute imparts an analog-like compression that cohesively melds the individual elements of the mix together, creating harmonious sound ready for the final mastering stages. Also, the compressor offers a CLIPPER option, enhancing your ability to manage transients and prevent digital clipping.
Simultaneously, the limiter has also been amplified with advanced features. You can now adjust release times and linking options, offering greater control over how quickly the limiter recovers and how the left and right channels interact.
This enables the preservation of transients and stereo imaging, which is crucial for maintaining the mix’s dynamic and spatial integrity. Moreover, the limiter presents a switchable modern/classic mode, allowing one to choose between a contemporary, transparent limiting and a vintage, more coloration-inducing style.
- Stereo Enhancement Tool
In mastering, having control over your mix’s stereo width is essential. The stereo enhancement tool in bx_masterdesk PRO provides a tangible way to tweak the stereo image of your mix. It can widen your mix for a great, immersive experience or narrow it for a more focused, intimate sound. This feature helps you deliver the best listening experience on headphones, speakers, or broadcast mediums.
- Tolerance Modeling Technology (TMT)
TMT is one of the standout features of bx_masterdesk PRO; it emulates the subtle tonal variations and non-linearities found in analog gear, infusing a sense of warmth and character that digital systems often lack to your tracks. It adds an extra layer of depth and richness, making your masters feel more organic and less “digital.”
- M/S Processing
The M/S processing tool in bx_masterdesk PRO offers a unique way to manipulate the stereo image of your mix. It separates the mix’s mono (mid) and stereo (side) elements, allowing you to adjust their balance independently. This enables a level of control that is impossible with traditional stereo pan tools, helping to create a more three-dimensional sound image.
- User Interface
This feature enhances the plugin’s overall usability. The updated graphical user interface (GUI) offers a clear, intuitive layout that makes mastering more accessible. The undo/redo function is a significant time-saver, allowing quick corrections or comparisons between settings. The preset management tool lets you swiftly store and recall your preferred settings, streamlining your workflow.
Brainworx bx_masterdesk PRO is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.12 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST, AU, and AAX formats.
The Brainworx bx_masterdesk PRO combines an impressive collection of top-tier mastering tools, each contributing to creating a premium, radio-ready master. With its impressive blend of comprehensive features, intuitive design, and quality sound, it stands out as one of the best mastering and master chain plugins these days.
Whether an audio professional seeking a one-stop solution for fast, high-quality mastering or a home studio enthusiast aiming to give your mixes a professional sheen, bx_masterdesk PRO can fit your needs.
3. Waves Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain
The Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain is a plugin that The Beatles fans will love. It was inspired by the mastering console you will find at the Abbey Roads Studios.
Waves designed this modular vintage channel strip to emulate the sound of the legendary console EMI TG12410. The Abbey Road TG mastering chain is a plugin that can be useful to master your tracks in a single VST. Using this plugin will add a lot of character and richness to your song, one of the main features of this VST is the sound coloration it provides. This channel strip will consist of five individual modules that give you complete control over your track. When purchasing, you will get six versions of the same plugin: mono and stereo version, a live low latency mono and stereo version, and a mono and stereo meter to monitor peaks, RMS, and LUFS.
Even though this is a mastering plugin, You can also use it for mixing. Its modules will work well on buses, master tracks, or individual tracks. Mixing is an art; that’s why there are no rules as long as it sounds good.
- Limiter and stereo widening
These are two of the best assets you will find in this plugin. A complete limiter/compressor will allow you to push your signal to get the loudness desired without saturating your track. On the other hand, you will find a red “spreader” knob in the output module that will allow you to open your stereo field without having phase issues.
- Processing modes
You can process the signal in three modes: stereo, dual mono, and m/s. That being said, this VST will let you filter, eq, or compress differently for the left and right channel or each of the mono outputs. Also, in the output module, you can choose among stereo/Mono/L/R/M/S monitoring modes.
- Two compression modes
The compression module allows you to use two different compression modes: original and modern. Each one of them will give you a different flavor and result. The modern circuit is a transparent style of compression that will allow you to push the signal forward to gain more decibels. In contrast, the original setting gives you a vintage and aggressive type of compression/limiting.
You can bypass and interchange the five modules you please to modify the signal flow. Also, you can adjust the ratio and recovery for compression or Q shape when equalizing; keep in mind that other plugins may have fixed values for these instead.
Character & Sound:
This is a vintage-sounding channel strip that adds a lot of character and color to the sound. The Abbey Road mastering chain is ideal for genres like rock or metal. You will get a great sounding tool that might help you get a mastered track with the sound of analog studio equipment. All of the five modules work together, so bypassing them will not affect the character.
This plugin requires Windows 10 64 bits or macOS 10.13.6 or higher 64 bit. You can find it on VST, VST3 AU, or AAX.
With the Abbey Road TG mastering chain, you will get five modules to manipulate your sound and get a great sounding master. Its color and character make it unique if that’s what you’re looking for. This plugin may not be the best option for novices because the style and modules can confuse inexperienced users. If you are looking for a great-sounding analog mastering chain with a lot of coloration, this is the right option for you.
4. T-Racks One By IK Multimedia
Powerful and easy-to-use solution for masters.
The T-Racks One processor was designed as a complete solution to create a quick master or shape your groups or individual tracks in the mix. It is straightforward and effective to use. It features compression, harmonic drive, stereo enhancer, EQ bands, and limiting that will allow you to get high-quality results quickly.
The Push, Volume, and Width knobs are handy tools that allow you to enhance your stereo field and increase the loudness of your song without worrying about compression parameters or phase issues. Be careful when turning up these knobs because you can quickly saturate or over-compress your track if you overuse them.
- Easy to use:
The labeling of the knobs, interface, and presets provides a lot of help for users who aren’t too familiar with these techniques. On the other side, it’s a great plugin for professional engineers as well to get quick and great results.
- Three-band equalizer:
The equalizing module on this plugin is located on the left side of the interphase and features three knobs that work as bass, mids, and treble. The body knob will add low frequencies, focus mids, and air will boost or cut the treble. These three bands can be helpful for inexperienced users because the frequencies and Q are already predefined; also, the labeling IK Multimedia uses for the knobs is self-explanatory.
- Simple compression.
You will not find the regular knobs such as ratio, attack, or makeup gain in this plugin. Instead, you will get a bass punch knob for extra tightness in the fundamental frequencies, analog to add harmonic distortion and transients to shape your signal and eliminate harsh peaks.
- Two magic knobs
The central knobs you will find in the T-racks one are Volume and Push. The former will allow you to increase the gain of your track to get a louder master. In contrast, Push will work as a natural-sounding compression knob that will affect the overall signal.
Character & Sound:
T-rack One should not be your first option if you are looking for a colored analog-modeled plugin. This plugin will add some character to your track, especially if you turn up the analog harmonic exciter knob. It will perform alright for both electronic and analog genres.
T-racks One is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9.5 or later. It comes in Standalone, VST2, VST3, AAX Native, and AU for 32 and 64 bits.
The One module is the best option if you are looking for a quick and easy master. It can be an excellent option for your first contact with the mastering world and a great tool if you want to get high-quality results in a short time. The knobs are labeled in a self-explanatory way which can be helpful if you’re not very familiar with the more technical terms. By using this plugin, you will sacrifice customizability over effectiveness and simplicity.
5. Slate Digital FG-X
Louder Masters without losing dynamics or punch.
The Slate Digital FG-X can be the final step for a loud and modern master. This plugin does not allow you to tweak equalization but instead focuses on dynamics and limitations. It features three modules: FG –Comp a compressor, FG-levels a limiter and transient shaper, and FG meters a stereo RMS meter. This plugin provides everything you need to push your signal forward and get a punchy, detailed, and dynamic track. For this plugin, you should look for an external LUFS meter because the meter comes in RMS.
We recommend this plugin for both experienced and inexperienced users. Slate Digital is a very well-known developer that always offers top-notch plugins at a reasonable monthly membership. You will have to choose to go for a more transparent and loud sound or a more colored and analog sound. Feel free to experiment with this plugin and combine it with other compressors or analog modeled equalizers to get your desired master.
- Intelligent transient preservation
The level module offers a transparent limiter that will let you get a louder master protecting the transients to avoid clipping or over-compressed masters. The ITP fader will create a custom saturation curve in your heavy peaks to preserve the dynamics. The algorithm was designed to identify the frequencies that need to be affected or kept to get the loudest possible track but with punch and dynamics.
- Dynamic perception
The dynamic perception knob adds perceived dynamics to your track. Usually, when limiting a track, many dynamics can be lost because the limiter cuts the peaks and raises the valleys. However, this knob will simulate dynamics and help you retain or even add a little more dynamic perception of your song.
- Transparent compression
The FG-comp module is a very transparent Opto and VCA compressor that will only affect the dynamics of your track without adding coloration or harmonic distortion. It features an algorithm that maintains the quality of your track without saturating. Transparent compression can be useful if you are mastering electronic genres or if you use it to capture the transients after using a colored compressor.
Character & Sound:
Mastersuite is a very modern-sounding plugin that will be ideal for both instrumental and electronic music. It has a very transparent circuit that will work great if you use it after your favorite analog-modeled compressor or channel strip. However, sometimes you will find mixes that already have enough harmonic saturation; in that case, a transparent plugin like the FG-X can be your go-to.
The FG-X comes in a bundle available for Windows 8 or 10 or above 64 bits or macOS 10.12, 10.13, 10.14. It comes in AU, VST2, VST3, or AAX 64-bit host.
If you want to get a punchy and loud master, this is the right plugin for you. It can work great on beats or EDM. However, suppose you want to use it on instrumental music. In that case, we suggest adding an analog modeled compressor to your chain to add harmonic distortion to the sound. The algorithms and circuits this plugin provides will allow you to push your signal forward without sacrificing the transients or dynamic perception.
6. Initial Audio Mastersuite
Initial Audio Mastersiuite is one of the cheapest options on this list as a complete mastering plugin.
However, when purchasing, you will get an excellent value for a low price. This plugin will allow you to adjust the loudness and equalize and enhance the stereo field of your track with independent knobs. This plugin is ideal for mastering beats or electronic music. You will not get coloration or warmth inside this plugin, but you can use the THD knob and analog button to enrich your sound.
- LUFS intelligent screen
This plugin features a screen in the top middle part of the interface that allows you to monitor the loudness of your track with the industry-standard measurement system LUFS. This screen will benefit users because the numbers displayed will turn green once the track reaches a specifically accepted loudness. On the flip side, it will turn red if it’s too loud.
- Stereo image
Besides compression and EQ, this plugin also provides a stereo image module that will allow you to enhance or tighten your stereo field with a mono and stereo knob. The first one will allow you to low-cut the frequencies you want to remain mono. In contrast, the stereo knob works as a spreader that will open the stereo perception of the mid and high frequencies.
Mastersuite uses an intelligent algorithm to ensure maximum loudness with minimal distortion. You can control the loudness of your song with the big loudness knob placed above the EQ section. The loudness and peaks can be controlled with the soften and comp mix knob to have a cleaner limitation with a louder volume.
Character & Sound:
This plugin is ideal for mastering EDM or beats. It doesn’t add the coloration or character desired when mastering instrumental genres. However, it can work for quick masters, demos, or just pumping up the signal to get a louder song. Even though it provides a transparent sound, you will get some harmonic distortion by turning up the THD knob that can be handy depending on your track.
Initial Audio Mastersuite is available for Windows Vista and above 32 and 64 bit and OSX 10.7 or above 64 bit. It is VST and AU compatible but does not work on Protools.
The Mastersuite is a similar plugin to T-Racks One and it’s an excellent alternative for mastering if you have zero experience as well. Its three-band equalizer will help you balance your track, whereas the loudness knob allows you to get the industry-standard volume. This is a considerable option if you look at the price and sound. However, we suggest you try using more advanced all-in-one or individual mastering plugins once you understand how to use this plugin.
Brainworx bx_masterdesk True Peak
If you need to do fast mastering, Brainworx’s bx_masterdesk True Peak plugin has everything necessary to do it.
If you’re the guy who likes to have just one plugin packed with everything you need, then this product is for you. On the other hand, bx_masterdesk True Peak is also suitable for beginners who want to practice developing their mastering skills. The fact is that thanks to this software you won’t miss important steps.
All in all, this is an all-in-one plugin that will help provide mastering from start to finish. You can adjust the volume and tone and add compression and harmonic distortion. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to experiment with different flavors of sound. Let’s take a closer look at this.
- Set The Volume
The first necessary tool here is the Volume knob. With it, you can adjust the volume and the Dynamic Range. The latter is indicated by the indicator at the top of the window. Go into the green zone to get a sufficient level.
- Adjust The Foundation
Almost every knob here is numbered. That way, you can easily follow the sequence of operations. Thus, the second control is the Foundation, a tilt EQ that will help you add lows and take away highs, or vice versa.
- Choose The Tone
Remarkably, you can dive even deeper into frequency spectrum tuning. It is the Tone section with controls like on a guitar amplifier. In particular, these are Bass, Mid, Treble, and Presence.
- Gain Reduction
Another important section of the plugin is called Gain Reduction. As you understand, you can glue everything together thanks to compression. In addition, you will have a De-Esser knob, thanks to which you can remove the annoying high frequencies.
- Resonance Filters
A great feature of this software is also the presence of the Resonance Filters section. They help you remove resonances in the lower and higher frequencies. By the way, you will be able to monitor this thanks to the Auto Solo function in the form of a separate button.
- Play With A Several Flavors
On top of all that, you get to play with the flavor of the sound. A button to toggle between Analog and Digital modes will be responsible for this. Each has four TNT Compressor Channels, which also affect the sound.
- Add Distortion
And, of course, another knob will be responsible for adding harmonic distortion. It is the THD control, which is located in the upper right part of the window. Thanks to it, you can make the sound a little fatter and more expressive.
Brainworx bx_masterdesk True Peak is available for Windows 8 or higher and macOS 10.11 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
The bx_masterdesk True Peak plugin from Brainworx is a great plugin that allows you to master from start to finish. You can use it for a quick demo mastering or dial the whole thing to get a more polished sound. It has everything you need, including saturation, tonal adjustment, compressor, and more.
W.A. Production King 2
Built as an all-in-one mastering tool, W.A.’s The King 2 stands as a unique yet straightforward take on multiband compression.
If you are not a fan of having so much flexibility that the plugin looks like a science-fiction prop, then you’re in for a treat. The King 2 is a great-sounding and great-looking plugin, covering all the basics of mastering with a fraction of the number of parameters you’d otherwise have. How exactly did they do it? Well, the plugin has an EQ, a multiband compressor, and a limiter built-in. Each of them has preset setups and a few select parameters for you to tweak. Together, they work to provide instantaneous results when you are mastering your mix.
The King 2 has a Magic EQ knob that dials in the mix of the EQ. It has three selectable presets, mainly aimed at cleaning up the sound. You can pick each, listen to how it colors your mix and decide on the best choice. Or, with the Magic EQ knob set to zero, the EQ can be completely disabled as well.
- Multiband Compression
The majority of the parameters you will find on this plugin are for the multiband compressor. It has an upward (expander) compression and a downward compression knob, which are ratio parameters. There is a knob that lets you adjust the attack/release time. All three of the knobs affect all the bands. And finally, there is a mix knob for the multiband compression as well.
- Five Bands
The King 2 has five bands for multiband compression. Each band has a threshold and a makeup gain. To maintain its goal of remaining simple, you cannot select the crossover frequency for the bands.
The King 2 has a built-in limiter, which catches any peaks that go above 0 dB. The ceiling cannot be adjusted, and it’s worth noting that the limiter isn’t a True Peak limiter.
- Convenient Interface
We have saved the best feature of this plugin for last: the user interface. While seemingly limited in terms of flexibility, W.A. built this plugin for convenience and ease of use. The fewer parameters don’t distract you from your creative zone, and getting great-sounding results becomes as easy as pushing a knob, literally. For people who are just starting or who wish to listen to a mastered version of their mix without having to spend a long time, this plugin is well worth considering.
The King 2 is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.7 or higher, both 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST, AU, and AAX formats.
We would recommend this plugin if you are a beginner or if you already have a multiband compressor and you are just looking for something to give you quicker results. It doesn’t really shine when it comes to surgical manipulation of sound, but it does work great as a fast, general mastering tool.
Easy mastering without breaking the bank.
The Rich mastering plugin is a straightforward and easy-to-use mastering plugin that will allow you to process dynamics, increase loudness, control stereo width, and even add analog saturation with minimum effort. This plugin can work in expert and simple mode. The expert mode provides you knobs for all of the six individual parameters located on the left side of the interface. In contrast, the simple mode gives you buttons to turn on and off for predefined functions.
This plugin’s developers will allow you to choose how much you want to pay for the plugin, and 10% of the price you choose will go to charity. That way, you can get a good plugin but also contribute to a good cause.
- Quick results
If you decide to use this plugin in simple mode, you will get a good sounding master in a short time. It has knobs like de-mud or un-box that will attenuate specific frequencies to make your master sound better. Additionally, you can use the big boost knob to get a combination of compression, tonal shaping, and saturation. The parameters it features will give you good results in a short time.
- Progressive tone correction
The Rich plugin has a proprietary tone correction technology that shapes the equalization of your track and fixes some common eq mistakes. Using the bass, presence, and shine knobs will allow you to equalize specific frequencies in order to shape your track to make it sound more pleasing.
- Stereo Imaging
With this plugin, you will get a stereo image knob that allows you to enhance the stereo perception of your track; below that, you will find a button labeled check mono that will enable you to monitor the mono channel only. Also, you will find a mono bass knob on the left side of the interphase to keep your low frequencies in mono.
Character & Sound:
The main feature of this plugin it’s the functionality. It has musical equalization curves and a transparent compression mode. You may get some harmonic distortion if you turn up the boost knob; however, be careful because you may get an over-limited track if you push it a lot. You will not get the high-quality result you may find with other plugins in this list, but still, you can get some good sounding masters, especially if you dig into the expert mode.
Rich Mastering processor is available for Mac OS X 10.12 or later, Windows 7 or later 64 bits. You can find the plugin in VST, AU, and AAX format.
Rich Mastering processor is a cheap and easy solution for a good-sounding master or mix. This plugin will give you good results only by pressing buttons and turning up the boost knob. Nevertheless, if you want more versatility, you can use the expert mode to have more detailed parameters and overall control over your song. We suggest you use this plugin for really quick masters by itself or combined with compression or EQ mastering modules in order to get a better result.
All-in-one mastering plugins can be an excellent method for getting started in the mastering world, even though you will always get a better result if you go to a mastering engineer or use dedicated plugins for each mastering stage.
We recommend Abbey Road FG mastering chain for users who want complete control over the master and a vintage sound. And bx_masterdesk PRO by Brainworx for an easy-to-use plugin with analog sound.
FG-X by Slate digital will be your go-to if you are looking for a transparent yet punchy master. Additionally, you will also have access to many high-quality mixing and mastering plugins if you purchase the Slate membership. Finally, suppose you want to make your tracks sound good with the minimum effort. In that case, Mastersuite by Initial audio or Rich mastering plugin can be the best option for you.
Mastering Related Readings:
Rafael Medina is a Music producer, mixing engineer, and bassist. He plays the bass with his band Outburst and produces local artists in his home studio. Rafael is currently graduating with a Music degree at Algoma University.