If you are cruising the plugin market looking for the best spectrum analyzer, then this article has got you covered up. Firstly, you have to understand what exactly you need a spectrum analyzer for. Almost all spectrum analyzers function in the same way.
In a nutshell, here are the best spectrum analyzer plugins (free & paid) in 2022:
Spectrum analyzers are tools that provide a user with detailed information about the sounds by dividing the frequency spectrum to show the range of frequencies. The horizontal (x) axis corresponds to the frequency, and the vertical (y) axis corresponds to the amplitude of the frequencies.
The frequencies displayed on a spectrum analyzer are normally from 20Hz to 20kHz, which is the range that can be heard by a human ear.
What Is The Purpose Of The Spectrum analyzer?
Spectrum analyzers are very useful to check the overall frequency balance of the mix or when comparing certain parts of a mix. This makes it especially useful when mixing using lower-quality monitors or in a non-treated (acoustically) room which can lead to an accidentally unbalanced mix.
What is the difference between a Signal Analyzer And Spectrum analyzer?
Both signal and spectrum analyzers have the same function. The only difference is that signal analyzers have digital signal processing (DSP) in order for it to solve functions like fast Fourier Transform (FFT). Signal analyzers can also have very high bandwidths.
What Is The Difference Between an Oscilloscope and a Spectrum Analyzer?
Oscilloscopes are normally used to find the time delay between two signals. On the other hand, spectrum analyzers are used to display and edit the frequency properties of a signal.
The difference between an oscilloscope and a spectrum analyzer is that the graph displayed in an oscilloscope is a graph of the signal against time. In contrast, the displayed graph in a spectrum analyzer is of the signal against frequency.
The figure above shows an example of an output waveform in an oscilloscope, showing a square wave in a time domain.
The figure above shows an example of an output waveform of a spectrum analyzer showing a graph of amplitude (in dB) against frequency (Hz).
What Is Reference Level In Spectrum analyzer?
The reference level is the maximum level of amplitude that can be displayed. For example, if we have the highest peak in volume of our signal at 20 dB and we set the reference level at 15 dB, then half of the waveform of that peak will be cut off.
The 6 Best Spectrum Analyzer VST Plugins 2022
1. Voxengo SPAN
Voxengo SPAN is one of the most popular and widely used spectrum analysis plugins that you can find. It is a FREE plugin that manages to compete shoulder to shoulder with industry giants.
SPAN has an extremely flexible system that allows you to set up spectrum analyzer preferences. You can specify the Fourier block size in samples, set the percentage for the FFT window overlap, and specify the spectrum’s visual slope. In addition to that, Voxengo SPAN supports multi-channel display in both real-time and all-time maximums.
- Voxengo SPAN has a real-time FFT spectrum analyzer
- Phase correlation meter that enables you to detect phase cancellations
- Colorful interface with interchangeable colors
- You can listen to a specific frequency through a bandpass filter
- K-level metering to prevent extreme loudness
- Notes can be viewed as semitones and cents, which is not a common feature among many other paid spectrum analyzers
- GUI is scalable, and you can zoom in into the spectrum to view specific ranges in detail
Voxengo has also released an extended version of the SPAN, and it’s called SPAN Plus. On top of the features mentioned, SPAN Plus has many additional features like spectrum export into a PNG image, static spectrums display, and real-time spectrum import/export for comparisons between two tracks.
Voxengo SPAN and SPAN Plus require Windows XP or higher for PC and macOS 10.11 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/AU/AAX formats and supports both 32 and 64 bit systems for Windows but only 64-bits for macOS.
Overall, Voxengo SPAN comes as a surprise to you due to its incredibly high quality and because it’s a free tool which is very rare. This makes the Voxengo SPAN a viral spectrum analyzer plugin that is used in many professional studios by engineers. We have seen very little to no flaws in this plugin, and we highly recommend that you check it out and judge for yourself.
2. iZotope Insight 2
Much like most of the plugins developed by iZotope, Insight 2 is another standout spectrum analyzer plugin that provides you with all the tools required to have an in-depth vision of the track frequency range.
iZotope Insight 2 is an upgrade to the original iZotope Insight spectrum analyzer. Insight is made up of 5 modules that can all be opened in one resizable window. These 5 modules are:
- Spectrogram – this displays the frequency and amplitude distribution for the signal as a function of time.
- Sound Field – this displays the sound signal position, and you can choose between mono, stereo, and surround viewing modes. Mono/stereo mode is a Vectorscope. Vectorscope has three further analysis modes i.e., Polar sample, which shows each sample separately as dots, Polar level, which displays the average levels of the samples; and Lissajous Vectorscope, which displays a plot of the samples on an oscilloscope. Surround mode is a Surround sound view.
- Spectrum Analyzer – displays a graph of frequency against amplitude. You can zoom in over an area of interest by using the mouse wheel or by dragging a box over the area. Different spectrum types like Full and 1/3 Octave or Critical bands can be selected for a better understanding of the graph.
- Level Meters – this consists of a Balance Meter and a Correlation meter. The Balance Meter sums up the left and right channels and displays their stereo location. The correlation Meter is responsible for detecting phase cancellation as it shows the similarity level between two channels.
- Loudness History Graph – this shows a graph of short-term, Momentary Max, and Integrated loudness levels against time. Target level violations appear in red, and the graph itself can be exported in multiple formats like image, CSV, etc. for later inspection.
Insight 2 provides the same functions as the original functions with the addition of a few extra features for better controllability and efficiency. These new features are listed below.
- Intelligibility meter which tells you which frequencies are being overshadowed by the rest of the mix
- iZotope Relay which allows you to route tracks to iZotope Insight 2 for instant inspection
- Insight 2 supports multi-channel audio
- Resizable windows
- Resizable meters
iZotope Insight 2 requires Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.9.5 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats and only supports 64-bit systems.
iZotope Insight 2 is considered an industry-standard spectrum analyzer by many producers and engineers. It is less expensive than the original Insight plugin but is still a relatively expensive spectrum analyzer plugin.
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3. Schulz Audio Spectrum 2
Schulz Audio Spectrum 2 is a highly versatile and easy-to-use multi-channel spectrum analyzer that offers you a ton of interesting features and capabilities.
Spectrum 2 hopes to aid you in finding clashing frequencies and editing them for a cleaner mix. This is a multi-channel plugin which means that it can display frequencies from multiple channels at the same time. The plugin also implements a “Zero Routing” technology which allows the signals to overlap each other when displaying more than one channel.
- Schulz Audio Spectrum 2 is lightweight and designed to have smooth graphics
- Zero routing technology to overlap frequencies when viewing multiple channels
- You can choose colors for each of the displayed spectrums to allow for clearer viewing
- Instances or a range of frequencies can be renamed
- You get 2 displaying mode options -- spectrogram and spectrograph
- Adjustable Block/Window size ranging from 2k to 16k
- Adjustable refresh rate ranging from 40ms to 200ms
- You can view frequencies in Hz or as musical notes
Schulz Audio Spectrum 2 requires Windows Vista or higher for PC and OS X 10.7 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats and supports both 32 and 64 bit systems.
Overall, the Spectrum 2 by Schulz Audio is another exciting spectrum analyzer plugin. Its most interesting feature is that it allows you to analyze multiple tracks for a single effect which is added to the master channel and is applied to all channels. Its smooth graphics, CPU-friendly design, as well as lower price makes it a desirable spectrum analyzer for many producers and engineers.
4. MeldaProduction MMultiAnalyzer
MeldaProduction is well-known for its high-quality, high-value plugins that offer professional tools for a reasonable price. The MMultiAnalyzer continues to maintain the company’s reputation and is one of the best spectrum analyzers you can get.
MMultiAnalyzer is a spectacular multi-track analyzer that enables you to view frequency collisions on a colorful sonogram for you to easily regulate audio inconsistency and frequency collisions.
- Advanced edit mode which enables in-depth manipulation with controls including reharmonization, normalization, and super-resolution
- MMultiAnalyzer has one of the most advanced interfaces on the market. The interface’s color scheme can be changed. It is resizable and is GPU accelerated, which ensures smooth performances
- The visualization engine offered in this plugin is distinctive and has classic meters and time graphs
- Automatic Gain Compensation (AGC) feature which helps maintain the track’s overall output volume
- MMultiAnalyzer comes equipped with a safety limiter to prevent harsh transients from causing damage to the ear
- This plugin has 4 multi parameters for multiple channel spectrum display, with each parameter offering a different viewing mode like overlapped, side-by-side, etc
- Highly versatile modulators for better control
- After purchase, you will get free-for-life updates
MMultiAnalyzer is compatible with Windows Vista or higher for PC and OS X 10.7 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats and supports both 32 and 64 bit systems.
The MMultiAnalyzer by MeldaProduction is a highly recommended spectrum analyzer plugin and for obvious reasons. Its colorful display, as well as in-depth functionality, allows for easier and more efficient frequency display and control. In addition to that, it comes at a fairly reasonable price, just like most of MeldaProduction’s plugins.
5. Sugar Audio Oscarizor 2D/3D Multi-Channel Spectrum Analyzer (Free/Paid)
Another company that introduces a spectrum analyzer plugin to the market is Oscarizor .
The plugin itself is no different than others mentioned on this list in terms of workflow. However, this plugin is one of the few plugins that allow you to display a frequency spectrum in 3D. In addition to that, the 2D/3D Multi-Channel Spectrum Analyzer packs an incredible set of features that we will discuss.
- You can choose to view the spectrum in either 2D or 3D formats, which is a rare feature among spectrum analyzers
- DAW host synchronization is useful for you to compare waveforms exactly
- This plugin makes use of side-chaining and send/receive channels to display parallel waveforms and to allow for spectrum comparisons
- This plugin has an impressive instrument tuner that automatically sets the block size for the FFT spectrum
- You can view up to 10 channels at the same time
- The user interface is totally resizable to fit all screens and DAW displays
- You can zoom in using the mouse wheel to view specific frequency ranges
- The spectrum itself can be freely rotated in 360 degrees in all axes
- 3 view modes, i.e., mixed mono, stereo, and M/S
- The 2D/3D Multi-Channel Spectrum Analyzer has a big library of factory presets and a presets manager to load and save presets quickly
Oscarizor 2D/3D Multi-Channel Spectrum Analyzer is compatible with Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.7 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats and supports only 64-bit systems. This plugin has a limited free version that does not have a 3D view, multichannel display, FFT customization, and some more controls.
Much like the MMultiAnalyzer by MeldaProducation, the Oscarizor 2D/3D Multi-Channel Spectrum Analyzer is a spectacular spectrum analyzer plugin with many unique features that make it a standout among the rest of the spectrum analyzer plugins found in the market. Furthermore, the fact that it comes at a relatively more affordable price, as well as a free version, makes it available for a wider range of users.
6. NuGen Visualizer
NuGen may not be a household name in the plugin market. However, it has been gaining a little bit of traction over recent years due to their consistently high-quality products.
The NuGen Visualizer is as capable as some of the more well-known spectrum plugins. It provides you with powerful tools and features to analyze the audio frequency and improve the workflow. Moreover, NuGen Visualizer enables you to recreate optimum mix settings and reduce frequency-repeated errors.
- NuGen Visualizer has a single-screen interface for you to view the audio frequency spectrum. This interface is resizable, which makes it flexible to use with multiple screens and DAWs. Additionally, you can customize the display for different viewing modes, all with the click of a button
- Impressive comparison mode that allows you to display frequency spectrums from two separate audio channels in different ways for comparison. You can choose to view the audio tracks either overlapping each other, in a differential display, or side by side
- NuGen Visualizer has several level meters like RMS, Peak, K12, and many more
- Provides you with 9 different analysis tools for the frequency spectrum. These tools include a spectrogram, a stereo spectrogram, FFT Spectrum analysis, stereo spectrum analysis, stereoscope, vectorscope, stereo bias meter, stats, and parameter module, and a correlation meter
NuGen Visualizer is compatible with Windows XP or higher for PC and OS X 10.6 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/AU/AAX formats and supports both 32 and 64 bit systems.
Overall, the Visualizer tool by NuGen is an incredibly powerful tool with an attractive, controllable interface that can handle a wide range of audio-related duties. It comes at a relatively higher price when compared to plugins of its caliber, but its versatility and features justify its price point.
FabFilter Pro-Q 3
Despite being designed specifically as an equalizer tool, Fabfilter Pro-Q3 has one of the most powerful spectrum analyzers.
This plugin is by far one of the most popular EQs and spectrum analyzers in the market. You have so much control over the spectrum as it is designed to be an equalizer first. However, this plugin manages to display the frequency spectrum in a way that is so similar to the dedicated spectrum analyzer plugins mentioned in this article.
The spectrum analyzer in the Pro-Q3 is customizable and offers multiple viewing modes.
- The pre and post buttons that are seen on the top left corner in the image above are used to show the audio spectrum before and after applying EQ
- To view the overall spectrum, you can switch on the external spectrum from the button as shown above
- Freeze button at the bottom left of the panel shown above. This causes the spectrum to build up a maximum over a period of time by stopping it from falling or moving out
- Fabfilter Pro-Q3 supports for huge vertical range (up to 120 dB), which can be set manually for better viewing
- A resolution setting to control the precision of the spectrum analyzer
Fabfilter Pro-Q3 is compatible with Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.8 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats and supports both 32/64 bit systems for PC and only 64-bits for Mac.
Fabfilter Pro-Q3 is a vital EQ for any producer and engineer. Its in-depth control over sound makes this plugin an irreplaceable one when it comes to the equalizer market. Its ability to display the frequency spectrum in a detailed and controllable way has earned it an honorable mention in this article.
It obviously comes at a higher price, but the fact that it is more than an EQ really justifies that.
What Is The Best Software Spectrum Analyzer?
If you are cruising the plugin market looking for the best spectrum analyzer, then this article has got you covered up. Firstly, you have to understand what exactly you need a spectrum analyzer for. Almost all spectrum analyzers function in the same way. Plugins mentioned on this list differ only in terms of additional features as well as price.
Oftentimes, you may find yourself not needing the extra “cool” features that many of these plugins offer. Thankfully, most of these plugins have a free trial for you to try them out and figure out what you need. If you ask us, we highly recommend getting the Voxengo SPAN since this plugin offers what every other spectrum analyzer offers, and it is totally FREE.
Top 5 Audio Metering Plugins 2022 (LUFS, RMS, LRA, True Peak)
In this article, we review five of the best audio metering and analyzing plugins available today and list four excellent free ones.
In the present world of streaming and online broadcasting, mixing and mastering your audio to the standard maintained by specific platforms is essential for quality assurance. Metering plugins are the tools that help you ensure the specs of your music match the specified criteria.
What Do A Metering Plugins Do?
A metering plugin analyzes any audio you feed into it and provides various kinds of information about it. Streaming platforms use this information to assure consistency of their content. So, with a metering plugin, we can make sure our masters are compliant with our intended platform’s standard.
Let us have a look at some of the information provided by such plugins:
- True Peak
True Peak is the highest point an audio signal reaches on an analog system. In contrast, the regular peak meters we see in our DAWs calculate the same thing on a digital system. This is important because if your True Peak is higher than 0dB, it could cause clipping on analog amplifiers/players.
- RMS (Root Mean Square) Level
RMS is the average amplitude level over a certain period of time. Generally, this period of time is 300 milliseconds. However, some plugins let you adjust the time window as well.
- LUFS (Loudness Units Full Scale)
LUFS is the same as RMS, except this unit considers human ear perception. To simplify, our ears do not hear all the frequencies at the same level. So, for example, if you listened to a 60Hz sinewave and an 800Hz at 30dB amplitude, you would perceive the 60Hz sinewave as quieter than the 800Hz.
- Stereo Width
This analysis shows how wide the stereo field of your audio is. For example, audio with a thin line at the middle of such an analyzer is mono audio, whereas a moving, spaghetti-like visualization signifies stereo.
There are two kinds of ranges: Dynamic Range and Loudness Range. Both measure the range between the loudest and the quietest parts of your audio. However, Dynamic Range does so using peak metering (fast), while Loudness Range uses Loudness Unit (slow). Thus, dynamic Range is useful for measuring how compressed elements such as drums, vocals, etc., are in your song. And Loudness Range shows, as an example, how different the loudness of your verse and chorus section is.
- Frequency Spectrum
A frequency spectrum displays how loud each frequency is in your audio in real-time. You can analyze a reference song using a spectrum analyzer and EQ your song’s master until it somewhat matches your reference spectrum to get a similar sound. Another similar kind of analyzer is a sonograph/spectrograph. This analyzer displays the loudness of each frequency in a 2D or 3D graph over time.
There are many kinds of metering plugins available nowadays — some focus on being easy to use, while others focus on being comprehensive enough to satisfy even the most seasoned experts. So, we have done the research for you and come up with a list of five truly note-worthy paid metering plugins in the market.
Top 5 Audio Metering Plugins 2022 (LUFS, RMS, LRA, True Peak)
1. Mastering The Mix LEVELS (Versatile All-In-One Solution)
As possibly the most straightforward-looking metering plugin available, Levels manages to become a welcome choice for both beginners and professionals alike.
The philosophy of Mastering The Mix Levels is simplicity. Instead of showing you everything it can on one page, it offers a certain kind of visualization per page. So, the information provided becomes easy to digest.
It has all the tools you could need to ensure your track fits the criteria of various music platforms such as Spotify, YouTube, or Apple Music. As we can see in the picture below, there are six kinds of meters in this plugin.
A few of the pages have filters inside them to help you dissect your audio material even further. We also liked the main input filter at the top of the plugin. It can turn the sound mono or playback only the Mid/Side or just the Left/Right channel. This feature is beneficial for ensuring your track doesn’t have any phasing issues.
More experienced producers will be happy to know that the settings page lets you adjust the meter warning thresholds and the activation status of True Peak metering. Similarly, Mastering The Mix has provided various presets for beginners that help master your song to a specific platform’s standard.
Next, let’s have a look at each of the pages in the plugin:
“Peak” – Standard Peak Meter:
The Peak page shows the True Peak by default. You can also deactivate it by toggling it off on the settings page.
“LUFS” – LUFS Metering:
This page shows the LUFS short-term and the LUFS integrated. Clicking on the numeral values initiates them. We would have loved to see an optional LUFS momentary as well. However, it isn’t available.
“Bass Space” – Low-End Analyzer:
The Bass Space page is interesting. You can analyze the bass content of your track using this metering. It asks you to mute the bass drum and the bass to see how bassy the rest of the instruments are together. This implies you should use Levels on the master channel of your mixing project. Theoretically, it should help you keep the bass tight and clash-free.
“Dynamic Range” – Oscilloscope:
This page shows the relation between the loudest part of your music and the quietest. The lesser the number, the more your music sounds squashed and compressed. So, you can set a certain threshold (manually or with a preset) to warn you when the range goes lower than the set value.
“Stereo Field” – Width Visualizer:
This page shows how wide or mono your music is. An optional filter lets you analyze only a specific range of frequencies.
“LRA” – Loudness Range:
Sometimes confused with dynamic range, the loudness range also analyzes the relation between the loudest and the quietest parts of your song. However, this is done over a longer time scale using the Loudness Unit (LU). As with dynamic range, a higher value is desirable.
- Comprehensive Metering
With six kinds of metering, Levels is comprehensive for most use cases. However, it does lack a few basic features like a frequency spectrum or a LUFS-M meter. Despite the shortcomings, however, the straightforward nature of the plugin is a significant factor to consider for people who prefer simplistic workflow.
- Easy-to-use GUI
For the most part, Levels has almost no learning curve. Each plugin page is quite self-explanatory, and it also has an optional tooltip feature that gives you some helpful information for the first few times of using the plugin. However, on the side now, You cannot resize the GUI of this plugin.
- Helpful Presets
The presets available in the plugin are intended for commercial release. So, if you are looking to get your next song ready for Spotify, then this plugin is useful.
This plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.10 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3 and AAX formats.
As much as we love the plugin’s simplicity, we must say the lack of resizable GUI and certain meters does drag its value down somewhat. However, if you are a beginner and enjoy having presets, helpful tooltips, and a simple UI, we would highly recommend it.
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2. BUTE Loudness Analyser 2 Stereo (Loudness Analysis)
The BUTE Loudness Analyser 2 displays comprehensive loudness readings on both meters and a graph in a sleek, modern user interface.
Along with the graph and meters display, this plugin also has a compact mode where you still get a comprehensive numeral reading, making it highly screen space and CPU-saving. In addition, the graph keeps logs of your entire timeline. So, you can quickly go back to the middle of your song and have it reread the loudness.
This feature gives you accurate LUFS-Integrated and Loudness Range of the entire song without redoing the whole project.
You can set the meters to read either LUFS or True Peak. And it can also display absolute scale readings as well. The graph shows True Peak, LUFS-S, LUFS-M, and RMS. Each can be enabled or disabled as required.
- Complete Loudness Metering
From True Peak and adjustable RMS to every kind of LUFS metering needed, the BUTE Loudness Analyser 2 offers a truly extensive loudness measurement solution. Similarly, the history logging feature only adds even more value to this plugin.
- Flexible GUI
Along with its fully resizable GUI and compact mode, you can zoom freely over the graph view to get as precise as you need. For example, by zooming out completely, you can see which area could be significantly louder or quieter. And, since the playback cursor inside the plugins and your DAW are synced, finding the problematic area becomes even easier. Another thing worth noting is that it displays all the numeral readings where your mouse cursor is placed over the graph.
- Stereo and Surround Support
The BUTE also has a version supporting up to Dolby Atmos 7.1.2 surround sound for sound designers and mixing engineers working on games or films.
In a metering plugin, presets are used to ensure that your audio specs match the standards of a specific platform. The presets included in this plugin are primarily geared towards broadcasting and film/game audio for balancing dialogs, SFX, and score. There are only a couple of presets specifically for streaming platforms. However, you do get three empty “User” slots for creating your own presets too.
The plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
The GUI of this plugin is one of the best we’ve seen around. It focuses entirely on loudness analysis and nothing else. It may be relatively on the pricier side, but Signum Audio offers a 50% discount for students. However, if you are looking for an overall metering plugin with stereo imaging, loudness metering, and frequency spectrum analysis, this may not be the plugin for you.
3. IK Multimedia T-Racks 5 Metering (Complete Audio Analysis)
Originally included with their T-Racks processing rack exclusively, Metering is IK Multimedia’s one-stop solution for complete audio analysis.
This suite of audio metering tools has two loudness measurement sections, a stereo imaging section, a frequency spectrum, and a spectrogram, making it one of the most valued plugins on our list. Each section is resizable and has settings to fit your needs better. The sections aren’t detachable or removable, though, which would be our biggest wish for a future update.
The loudness metering section on the left has LUFS integrated, short-term, and momentary metering along with RMS, Peak, and Dynamic Range metering. You can set any of the LUFS units to display in the meter or numerically. Similarly, you can also set the peak meter to use True Peak. The RMS window size cannot be changed, however.
The frequency spectrum has settings to change the filter resolution, channel mode, range, and release value. The spectrogram also has a similar set of settings.
- Comprehensive Metering
There is almost nothing you couldn’t analyze with this plugin. From loudness analysis to frequency and stereo width analysis, the T-Racks Metering is a complete suite of tools you would need to get broadcast-quality audio out of your masters.
- Excellent GUI
The user interface of this plugin is fully resizable, and you can also resize each section inside the plugin to an extent. The stereo imaging section also has multiple display styles to suit your taste. Similarly, the frequency spectrum supports displaying peak values for the selected length of time.
The loudness metering section has many presets designed to assist in mastering music targeting a particular genre or streaming platform. This could be of significant value to a beginner or an intermediate music producer.
- T-Racks Standalone Support
If you prefer to master your tracks exclusively using IK Multimedia plugins, you can use Metering inside the T-Racks 5 standalone experience as well.
T-Racks Metering is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher, both 64-bits. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
With so many tools and options available, you couldn’t possibly go wrong with this plugin. It would have been even better if it supported surround audio as well, though. However, if you only master stereo songs, we highly recommend you give this one an honest try.
4. iZotope Insight 2 (Advanced Metering)
A highly regarded brand among post-production engineers, iZotope’s Insight 2 provides complete audio analysis, flexible GUI, and more.
Whether you are a music producer mastering a new song for Spotify or an engineer working on a blockbuster film, Insight has you covered. Its interface has “modules,” each with a specific kind of metering. So, you could have only the Loudness module and the Sound Field module on your plugin page, or you could even view just one of the modules on full screen.
For measuring the loudness of your audio, you have the Loudness module and the Levels module. They have LUFS short-term, integrated, and momentary, Loudness Range, True Peak, Peak, and RMS metering.
There is a stereo width measurement module called Sound Field, which has adjustments to match your needs. And as for frequency analysis, you have a Spectrum and a Spectrogram module. The Spectrogram module in this plugin can display both traditional 2D spectrograph and 3D waterfall view. Both the modules have settings to customize them, zooming and pausing features.
For post-production engineers/sound designers, iZotope has an Intelligibility module, which measures the clarity of your dialogs from the rest of your mix. It even has listening environment emulations to ensure your audio is intelligible for every audience.
- Comprehensive Metering
iZotope Insight 2 is one of the fully complete suites of metering plugins you could find. It has been used for mastering music and podcasts for streaming platforms to mixing audio for theaters and broadcasts.
- Customizable GUI
The user interface of Insight is nothing short of awe-inspiring. The plugin itself is fully resizable. Furthermore, each module can be enabled or disabled, expanded to full screen, and resized inside the plugin. Various settings per module can also help you customize the displays to your liking.
- Inter-Plugin Communication
iZotope’s interconnected plugin ecosystem allows Insight to connect with their utility plugin Relay to help you analyze your audio even further. The Intelligibility module uses this feature. Relay also has basic features such as a high pass filter, gain, pad, etc.
The Loudness module has many presets for targeting various broadcasting standards and streaming platforms.
- Surround Support
This plugin also supports Dolby Atmos 7.1.2 surround sound. So, it is an excellent option for mixing game and film audio.
Insight 2 is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.11.6 or higher. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX (64-bit), RTAS (32-bit) formats.
Insight 2 is an indispensable tool for anyone who requires high flexibility and advanced analysis. However, the price is difficult to justify for an average hobbyist. Nevertheless, we would recommend giving it a try and seeing if it is worth the high cost for your workflow.
5. Waves WLM Plus Loudness Meter (Loudness Metering With Limiter)
Hailing from one of the long-standing names in plugin development, WLM Plus is an analyzer plugin focused on loudness measurement.
The Waves WLM Plus has all three kinds of LUFS, True Peak, and Loudness Range metering. What it does differently is that along with the True Peak readouts, it also has a True Peak limiter built into the plugin. So, matching your master’s loudness to a standard won’t even require you to switch between two plugins.
There is both gain and input trim to help you with the mastering process.
We also liked its warning and logging system, which records any clippings or under-threshold readings in your audio. However, since it doesn’t have a graphical view, there is no way to tell where the issue occurred.
- Input Filters
There is an input low-pass and a high-pass filter for analyzing a set range of frequencies. Similarly, you can also choose to measure a specific channel of your audio.
Waves offer an in-built true peak limiter to help you with your mastering process. However, this may or may not be valuable as you could already have a favorite limiter for mastering. However, for mixing dialogs and so on, where you don’t typically introduce a huge amount of limiting, this may come in handy.
The plugin has many presets for platforms like YouTube, Spotify, etc. The warning feature works great for making sure your audio is proper.
- Surround Support
The WLM Plus supports mono, stereo, 5.0, and 5.1 surround sound. So if you often find yourself working on low-budget indie projects, this could be of use.
This plugin is available for Windows 10 64-bit and macOS 10.13.6 or higher. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
Note that certain DAWs do not work with WLM Plus’ surround features, despite having surround support. So, make sure you check before you purchase.
The WLM Plus is an excellent loudness metering plugin with an integrated limiter. With Waves Shell v12, you can have a resizable GUI as well. However, the price of this plugin without a sale is outrageous. With sales happening at Waves almost every day, though, the discounted price is undoubtedly worth the features.
The 4 Best FREE Audio Metering Plugins 2022
1. YOULEAN LOUDNESS METER 2
With such an excellent interface and detailed metering, it is a wonder how the Youlean Loudness Meter 2 is a free plugin.
This plugin is a complete loudness metering tool. It has all three kinds of LUFS (and Max values), various loudness ranges, and True Peak measurement. With the zoomable graph view, you can analyze precise details of your audio.
The plugin also keeps logs of the generated graph, so you can go back in your project’s timeline and overdub the graph view to see the updated levels.
- Modern GUI
The GUI of Youlean Loudness Meter 2 is highly commendable. It is fully resizable and scalable. And if you don’t like having the graph view taking up your space, you can switch to a “mini-view” mode, which removes the graph. In addition, there are two skins available for the plugin: light and dark.
- Comprehensive Loudness Metering
You couldn’t possibly find a better loudness meter for free. Many people agree that it is even better than some of the paid ones available, as it has LUFS-S/I/M, Dynamic Range, Loudness Range, and Peak Loudness Ratio measurements.
- Surround Support
It supports mono, stereo, and 5.1 surround audio as well, making it an excellent choice for engineers working on film/games.
It has several presets for major streaming platforms, broadcast standards, etc. You could even make your own presets for quick reference. The graph view makes it easy to discover any issues in your audio.
The Youlean Loudness Meter 2 is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit or 64-bit and macOS 10.9 or higher 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
We would say that this plugin deserves a spot in your plugin library at all times. The incredible amount of features and convenience it offers for free is nothing short of amazing. And if you need even more features, consider purchasing the Pro version.
2. Voxengo SPAN
Voxengo SPAN is probably the most famous spectrum analyzer plugin available today.
SPAN offers detailed frequency analysis, stereo correlation, adjustable LUFS/K, RMS, and True Peak metering in a gorgeous user interface. Also, you can customize the frequency spectrum to different FFT resolutions and window times.
You can also have a secondary analyzer display real-time maximum or all-time maximum values. Both the primary and secondary analyzer can be smoothed out for easier viewing as well. SPAN also supports multiple channels, so you could have various spectrums overlayed on top of each other, separated by color themes.
- Excellent GUI
SPAN has multiple color themes and a fully resizable GUI. It also has an option to disable the meters and statistics. The spectrum can be zoomed in and out using the scroll bar edges.
The spectrum can be set to have a certain FFT size, slope, and time. You could even change the color of the spectrum to your taste. “Modes” let you use preset settings for various uses such as mastering.
With multiple channel support, you could create a send from various tracks and analyze each track with a new spectrum, all in one plugin instance. This is brilliant for checking if certain instruments are clashing with others. Similarly, you could also use it for surround sound channels in a single track.
- Mid/Side Analysis
You can have the spectrum only to analyze the mid or side channel. This is handy for analyzing which frequencies of your audio could use a boost in stereo width and vice versa.
SPAN is available for Windows XP and higher and macOS 10.11 and higher. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
You will find SPAN to be an essential plugin once you start discovering its capabilities. Other than frequency analysis, you could use its correlation meter to see if your track has any phasing issues as well. The other statistics it offers are further icing on the cake.
3. TBProAudio dpMeter5
The dpMeter 5 is an astonishingly capable loudness metering tool, particularly geared towards film/game audio.
What keeps dpMeter 5 different from the rest of the flock is its fully customizable RMS analyzer, LUFS-I/M/S, and Dolby Dialog Gated LUFS measurement. Dialog Gating uses code from Dolby itself to only analyze the loudness of the audio when dialogs are present. This ensures the consistency of volume based on dialog levels.
For music producers, dpMeter 5 also offers excellent features. No other loudness measurement plugin provides as comprehensive an RMS reading as this one does. So, if you are used to the classic, you needn’t give it up.
Another thing worth considering is that it has an input gain. So, you could adjust the gain until it matches your reference level without ever leaving the plugin.
- Comprehensive Loudness Metering
The dpMeter 5 offers in-depth metering for both LUFS and RMS, with several weighting filters. Its measurement also stays in sync with your DAW’s playback, so the LUFS Integrated readout updates accordingly.
- Convenient GUI
The look of the user interface is simplistic, and it is also fully resizable. There aren’t any deep-dive menus to discover in this plugin, so it should pose no difficulty in getting up to speed.
- Automation Out
It can write automation for LUFS and RMS readings straight into your DAW. By flipping this automation, you would have an efficient gain rider for free.
The plugin has several presets for various streaming platforms and broadcast standards. And with its built-in gain, you could easily match your audio to the reference.
TBProAudio dpMeter 5 is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit or 64-bit and macOS 10.11 or higher 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
For a free plugin, it does offer quite a lot of features. It could be of particular interest as a gain-rider or for analyzing film/game audio. And if you enjoy having comprehensive RMS reading, all the more reason to give it a try.
4. iZotope Imager 2 (Stereo Width Analysis)
One of the most sought-after free plugins on the internet, iZotope Imager 2, is both a stereo width analyzer and a stereo enhancement plugin.
The analyzer section of this plugin is essentially the Sound Field module of the iZotope Insight 2 plugin. There are three kinds of analyzing views.
The two faders on the right side are the enhancers. The Width fader controls how wide your audio is, where 50% is the dry input. And similarly, the Stereoize fader controls how deep your enhancement effect is by introducing latency between your audio’s left and right channels.
- Simple GUI
The user interface of this plugin is fully resizable. And the multiple modes for imaging analysis make it handy regardless of which kind of imaging you’re used to previously.
- Stereo Enhancement
There are two stereo enhancement modes in this plugin. Stereorize I adds a phasing effect to your audio, whereas Stereorize II mode adds only subtle enhancements. They help make a mono sound seem wider and fatter.
This plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.11.6 or higher, both at 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Often, your tracks seem dull and congested. Imager 2 can help you adjust the stereo width of individual tracks to create a balanced stereo space. You could also use it for getting fatter-sounding synth pads or leads. However, you will need to make a free iZotope account and install the Product Portal software to get this plugin.
If you are okay with the extra install, we highly recommend giving this plugin a try.
Even with the best studio monitors or headphones, you would still need audio analyzing plugins to ensure your audio is problem-free. These plugins also help you predict how various streaming platforms analyze their content. So, you can prepare for any potential change they may make to your audio.
And with free plugins offering almost as much functionality as paid ones nowadays, truly anyone could get broadcast-ready masters. We hope this article has helped you decide which one you are going to get for your studio.
Other Plugin Roundups:
Reverb & Delay Plugins:
Amps & Preamps:
Audio Restoration, Calibration & Utility:
Processing & Sound Design:
Started as a rapper and songwriter back in 2015 then quickly and gradually developed his skills to become a beatmaker, music producer, sound designer and an audio engineer.