Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins 2023 (And 3 Best Free Plugins)

Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 2 Best Free Plugins) | Integraudio.com

Gather round for the top 7 channel strip plugins of 2023! We’ll explore faithful emulations and innovative technologies, as well as free plugins and a bonus surprise.

Channel Strip plugins help in-the-box mix engineers give a cohesive sound to recordings that may come from several sources. And while some recreate the sound and experience of tweaking the knobs of famous consoles, others peek into the future of recording and mixing.

In a nutshell, here are the best channel strip plugins in 2023:

1. Waves SSL EV2 Channel 

2. Brainworx bx_console AMEK 9099

3. UAD Century Tube Channel Strip

4. PSP InfiniStrip

5. Waves Omni Channel

6. iZotope Neutron 3 Elements

7. TBProAudio CS-5501

Why do I Need Channel Strip Plugins? Are They Worth It?

You need Channel Strip plugins to simulate how you would process audio on an analog desk while recording. They’re worth it because they offer several processors such as gate/expander, compressor, EQ, de-esser, etc., reducing the need for more plugins later. In short, they help you give a cohesive, pre-mixed feel to your track.

After you achieve a great sound with a channel strip plugin, you can print your multitracks and start the mixing process. Channel Strips can also be used in bus tracks or even for mastering. Some plugins have a distinct sound that can add incredible flavor to your productions.

Now that we know the importance of a good Channel Strip plugin to your in-the-box workflow, let’s dig in! 

1. Waves SSL EV2 Channel 

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

Wave’s Solid State Logic EV2 Channel Strip plug-in is an updated digital rendition of the classic SSL 4000E and 4000G console channel strip. Channel strips that played a fundamental role in capturing music history.

The SSL consoles have been used to record and mix an impressive catalog of hits since the early 80s. For example, it’s partly because of an SSL console that we have that hard-hitting and heart-stopping drum fill by Phil Collins in In The Air Tonight

And Wave’s have recreated that analog magic offered by the 4000 series channel strips with their EV2 channel strip plug-in. It offers everything you’d expect from a channel strip plug-in and a few extra features that made the 4000 series so desirable.

Key Features:

  • Optional Input & Output THD
    The input section of the plug-in includes a Line and Mic level gain control with up to 20 dB and 50 dB gain, respectively. However, the harmonic distortion increases as the line level’s gain increases. You have an optional analog button that dictates whether harmonic distortion will be added to the signal to emulate the sound of the original analog mixing console.
  • Dynamics Controls
    The channel strip includes dynamic processors. You’ll have access to a compressor/limiter and an expander/gate. The compressor’s make-up gain is automatically applied based on the ratio and threshold settings, so you won’t be able to adjust it manually. In addition, the attack control doesn’t have a dedicated control; you will be able to use a fast attack button for an attack time of 1 ms or automatic sensing.
  • Four-Band Equalizer
    The SSL 4000 E channel strip possessed two EQ types: a brown and a black knob EQ. The brown knob EQ was the original EQ/filter and offered an expansive and edgier tone making it great for drums and bass. The black knob EQ, introduced in the 80s, provided a precise and transparent sound, making it great for vocals and acoustic instruments. You can switch between the two types depending on your desired response.

Compatibility:

The plugin is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.15 or higher. It comes in VST, VST 3, AU, and AAX formats.

Summary:

If you want to add a piece of music history to your collection, then Wave’s SSL EV2 plug-in is for you. It offers that unique analog character while still retaining the ability to provide the clinical precision digital is known for.

Related Reading:

20 Best Waves Plugins For Mixing, Mastering & Producing

2. Brainworx bx_console AMEK 9099

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

The AMEK 9099 is a fantastic mixer based on the highly versatile Amek 9098i. With a limiter, equalizer, noise gate, and exciting GUI, the Channel Strip by Brainworx will create many vintage vibes for any production.

Achieve complete control of the mixing process with an incredibly versatile console emulator; bx_console AMEK 9099 will deliver all the controls needed for any production at your fingertips. AMEK 9099, apart from offering handy and intuitive knobs, also shines any signal with musicality. With massive lows, you can push the mixing plugin for pleasant, smooth changes in the signal.

Brainworx bx_console AMEK 9099 - Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins) | Integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Filters
    The plugin has six controls regarding its filters. HPF On and LPF On work intuitively on enabling the low and high-pass filters. HPF x 3 is a modern feature in the plugin that shifts the high-pass filter’s band by a factor of three. An LPF / 3 feature will turn the low-pass filter’s band by a factor of 1 / 3. The HPF works on the 20 Hz – 900 Hz range and an 18 dB slope value. The LPF will present the same dB slope value of the HPF but operate in the 1.5 kHz – 30 kHz range.
  • Dynamics
    AMEK 9099 has a gate, limiter, and a compression section. The most exciting feature in the gate segment is the gate invert, which will enable you to hear the signal parts that the gate would attenuate. Apart from the standard gate controls, the plugin also has a Gate HPF and LPF interaction, activating additional filters on the gate and controlling the cutoff frequency. The Ambiance is an exciting feature in the compression segment that will output the difference between the compressed and input signals.
  • EQ
    The plugin features four bands to fill the HF, HMF, LMF, and LF ranges. An HF Sheen function is fascinating for broadening the curve from the steep and widening the HF shelf. Both LMF and HMF can switch from Peak to Notch filtering. An exciting LF control is the LF Glow, which works the same way as the HF Sheen, but focuses on the lower range.
  • Master
    In a mastering segment of the plugin, you will have access to many exciting parameters. V gain is a virtual gain function that adds noise to the signal. A phase control will invert the signal’s polarity. You can also select between seventy-two different channels in the Console Channel Numbers. An exciting fact is that each channel has a unique character. You can also modify the spatial texture with the featured controls in Stereo Mode.
bx_console AMEK 9099 | New from brainworx/Plugin Alliance

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higherboth 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3AU, and AAX formats.

Summary:

Brainworx bx_console AMEK 9099 is a complete console emulator that will provide any mix with full dynamics, EQ, and mastering controls. It has parameters for noise gates, compressors, limiters, and many EQ functions.

With an outstanding mastering performance, the plugin also has a role in stereo width and texture by allowing you to operate specific controls related to spatial functionality accurately.

Related Reading:

Top 11 Plugins On Plugin Alliance 

3. UAD Century Tube Channel Strip

More Info & Price

Century Tube Channel Strip - Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins) | Integraudio.com

UA’s Century Tube Channel Strip is an amazing-sounding all-in-one preamp, EQ, and compressor.

The plugin’s warmth comes from the tube emulation in the circuitry. The preamp will saturate without clipping, while the optical compressor will gently tame the peaks. Moreover, this plugin takes advantage of Unison, UAD’s software-hardware integration technology. That means that when using a Universal Audio interface to record, the software will modify the interface’s circuitry.

Key Features:

  • Preamp
    You can choose between two input levels, Low and High, to define how loud the signal reaches the preamp. At higher levels, the preamp will add incredible tube saturation to the sound.
  • Equalizer
    The broad sweepable mid-range lets you focus on any frequency you might want to cut or boost, while the low and high shelves allow you to add body and sizzle to the track.
  • Opto Compressor
    This plugin’s great Opto compressor is a one-knob solution to tame peaks and lift the details. The tube-inspired sound is smooth and soft, so the compression never sounds squashed.
  • Pad
    If you’re recording with a UA interface and using this plugin via Unison integration, you can lower the microphone’s input gain before it hits the preamp. By using the Pad switch, you’ll reduce the input volume by about 20dB.
UA Century Tube Channel Strip Plugin Review

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for Windows 10 and macOS 10.13 and higher, but you need a UAD DSP Accelerator or UA Audio Interface to run it in your DAW.

Summary:

Overall, this is a fantastic plugin to use when recording, especially vocals and guitars. It spices up the sound in a very colorful way, enhancing the source’s emotional character. Additionally, you can use it during the mixing stage to add personality to otherwise dull digital sounds.

If you’re into the Universal Audio ecosystem, you’ll love the Century Tube Channel Strip.

Related Reading:

Top 14 UAD Plugins For Mixing, Mastering & Production

4. PSP Audioware InfiniStrip

More Info & Price 

PSP InfiniStrip - Brainworx bx_console AMEK 9099 - Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins) | Integraudio.com

PSP Audioware’s InifiniStrip offers endless combinations from its 22 processors.

The plugin allows you to add up to seven simultaneous processors and a total of two inserts. Rack up the preamps, expanders, filters, EQs, compressors, limiters, etc., in an order that will benefit your production. Furthermore, you can choose between the various types of processors and change them without changing your settings.

That helps when you’re just looking for a different tone rather than different settings.

Key Features:

  • Five Preamps
    The plugin offers five types of preamps, each with distinct coloration. Gain solely raises the volume. Pre60s makes instruments sound more organic, while Pre70s enlarges drums and bass without losing transients. Pre80s adds exaggerated transients and ADC 90s applies subtle clipping.
  • Three Filters
    Here, you can choose between three types of filters: a basic one with HP and LP options. A more complex option with HP, LP, and parametric Mid control. And finally, a Side-Chain filter.
  • Dynamic modules
    Choose if you need a Gate, Expander, or Ducker for your track.
  • Three Compressors
    The plugin offers Opto, great for vocals, FET, perfect for drums and guitars, and VCA, which is used chiefly for bus compression.
  • Three EQs
    You get these options: a flexible four-band EQ called ChannelQ; a redesign of the PSP PreQursor with three types of bell shapes; and the PSP RetroQ, which is based on old-school EQs.
  • Limiter Modules
    The plugin offers three types of limiters, Opto, VCA, BrickWall, and a Saturator module. Additionally, you get a Master unit with basic stereo field controls.
  • Special Modules
     There are three special units here: De-esser, De-hummer, and ReactivEQ. While the first two are self-explanatory, the last is a dynamic equalizer.
The NEW PSP InfiniStrip!

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for Windows 7 and newer and macOS 10.8 and higher in VST and AU formats.

Summary:

The InifiniStrip is a reasonably new plugin that might need a UI tweak, but which sounds excellent nevertheless. The never-ending sonic combinations are enhanced by comparing the types of processors while keeping the same settings. Overall, the plugin offers tremendous workflow gains and is an excellent addition to any producer’s collection.

Related Reading:

Top 9 PSP Audioware Plugins For Music Production 

5. Waves Omni Channel

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

The Scheps Omni Channel offers analog-modeled processing and coloration in a straightforward workflow.

Instead of emulating a single desk or hardware, the Omni Channel gathers the best from different sounding equipment. The blending of flavors is cohesive, even though there are circuit emulations from several famous hardware processors built into this plugin. Furthermore, the experience is enhanced by adding the insert slot, which nods to the analog desk days.

Key Features:

  • Control-Click
    Great for finding offending or root frequencies, this plugin’s hidden shortcut lets you solo the bandwidth knobs to help you focus on the sound you’re looking for. Whether in the EQ or de-esser, when you control-click the bandwidth knob, you’ll hear only the frequencies it’s affecting.
  • Saturation
    The preamp section gives you three saturation types: Odd, Even, and Heavy. The first two are source-dependent. The third option is a bit crusher that adds a hard drive to the sound.
  • Thump
    This subtle effect adds a gentle bump to the low-end. You can choose between adding 2 or 4 dB of gain. Even at four dB, the result is not very prominent initially, but it becomes more apparent as you use the other modules.
  • DS2
    This module contains two de-essers that span the entire frequency range. Both let you choose from 4 different EQ curves.
  • Insert
    You can load any Waves plugin into the module and affect the signal with the others. Alternatively, you can also double any of the existent modules in the plugin.
Andrew Scheps' In-Depth Mixing Tips for Scheps Omni Channel

Compatibility:

This plugin works on macOS 10.13 and up and Windows 10 in VST3, AAX, and AU formats.

Summary:

From Pultec EQ curves to Fairchild and LA-2A limiting styles, the Scheps Omni Channel is a fantastic Frankenstein. The workflow is effortless, and you can hear the plugin’s characteristic tone with every knob movement. It is incredible for producers looking for a distinctive analog feel.

6. iZotope Neutron 3 Elements

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

iZotope Neutron 3 Elements - Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins) | Integraudio.com

Neutron 3 Elements, by iZotope, is the entry product of the Neutron 3 line, but it packs enough solutions to heighten your tracks significantly.

The plugin is a four-in-one solution for mixing. It offers a Compressor, an EQ, a Transient Shaper, and an Exciter. Additionally, you can split the audio into three bands and use all processing except the EQ in each band independently. But the plugin’s differential comes from its Track Assistant, which listens to your audio and creates a preset that fits.

Key Features:

  • EQ Learn
    The plugin chooses the EQ points it thinks are best for the signal and creates a custom curve that benefits the audio. This plugin lets you add up to 12 EQ points.
  • Exciter
    Use it to add harmonic distortion to your track. Blend the Warm, Tube, Tape, and Retro harmonic profiles to achieve the sound you’re looking for.
  • Transient Shaper
    You get three contour shapes: Sharp, Medium, and Smooth. In addition, you can design the transients differently for each band when in multi-band mode.
  • Track Assistant
    Select the instrument category and one of three mix styles. Then, pick the intensity of the processing you want to apply. In up to ten seconds, the Assistant will give you a custom-made preset.
How to Master IZotope Neutron 3 Elements

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.11 and up and 64-bit Windows 7 and up in VST, AU, and AAX formats.

Summary:

This amazing iZotope plugin provides an intelligent solution for mixing that no other on this list can compete with. Even with two more powerful versions of Neutron 3 available, Elements is an excellent addition to your collection. It makes mixing easier for both beginning and experienced engineers.

Related Reading:

Top 10 Izotope Plugins & Products (Paid & Free)

7. TBProAudio CS-5501

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

TBProAudio CS-5501 - Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins) | Integraudio.com

TBProAudio’s CS-5501 is a featured-packed plugin with a smooth sound.

The plugin offers two 7-band equalizers, two expanders/noise gates, two compressors, two de-essers, two limiters, and a saturation engine. This doubles collection can be set independently and routed to the user’s liking on the right-hand side menu.

That ensures thorough processing that can be useful for anything from single instruments to the master channel, with up to 4 times of oversampling.

Key Features:

  • EQ
    This is a very soft-sounding EQ with fully parametric controls.
  • Compressor
    The plugin offers VCA, FET, and Opto compression, all with side-chain functions and a blend knob to create a parallel compression effect.
  • Dynamics
    The expander/gate and de-esser are perfect for vocal processing. The double de-esser also helps with acoustic guitars and drums.
  • Saturation
    This module emulates several types of tubes, and you can add both odd and even harmonics to the sound simultaneously.
  • Routing
    Here, you can click the empty slots and choose which processing you want to place and their order. Additionally, you can mute or solo single processors.
TBProAudio CS 5501 on vocal

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for Windows 7 and newer and macOS 10.11 and newer in VST, AAX, and AU formats.

Summary:

TBProAudio’s CS-5501 never sounds aggressive, for as much as you crank it. The plugin’s sound is beautifully balanced, which makes it useful for all kinds of music. Moreover, the workflow is superb, and the ability to route all the processors in whatever order you choose makes it a flexible tool. You don’t have to think twice about adding this one to your collection.

The 3 Best Channel Strip Plugins 2023

1. Analog Obsession CHANNEV

More Info & Download

Analog Obsession CHANNEV - Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins) | Integraudio.com

CHANNEV can add many pleasant textures with its Mic Preamp, De-Esser, Line-Amp, Four-Band Equalizer, Compressor, Tape-Saturation, and Limiter. In addition to that, the plugin is entirely free.

Featuring all the controls needed to shape any mix with precise values and solid results, CHANNEV delivers high-quality performances in many areas of the frequency spectrum.

Besides having exciting opportunities in dynamics, EQ, and other modulation processes, CHANNEV offers light oversampling, standing at a friendly level towards the CPU power.

Key Features:

  • Controls
    CHANNEV offers complete control with its standard channel strip modulations. The plugin will give you control over the Mic Preamp, Virtual Gain, PAD, Phaser, and Pre-EQ. CHANNEV also allows the higher frequency control by offering a de-esser with two options, Bell and Soft. The EQ features four bands that are modestly customizable and go through a post and pre-filter. A limiter, compressor, and a saturator are also exciting segments in the main panel.
  • Friendly
    Apart from having a brilliant design and a vintage analog style, the plugin also behaves modestly towards the device’s processing power. As a sound designer, I had a massive blast using CHANNEV, since I could apply it to a signal and didn’t need any more plugins on the FX chain. Its EQ is so potent that it quickly added rich color to the boosted frequencies, allowing me to create a particularly strong low-end and distort it. For assisting the CPU, the plugin also applies a 2x light oversample.
CHANNEV 1.0 by Analog Obsession - (FREE! Neve Inspired Channel Strip)

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higherboth 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3 and AU formats.

Summary:

The recently released CHANNEV, by famous Analog Obsession, is another excellent addition to the manufacturer’s high-quality series of free plugins. This perfect channel strip offers all controls needed for a brilliant modulation in any audio without compromising CPU power.

Its interactive main panel is straightforward and optimal to a fast and organized mix. My experience with CHANNEV is highly positive; the plugin allows for powerful sound sculpting without any additional plugin, which is extremely attractive for many sound designers.

2. Analog Obsession LOADED

More Info & Download

Analog Obsession LOADED - Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins) | Integraudio.com

Analog Obsession’s LOADED is not a very versatile plugin, but it delivers great sound nevertheless.

Some of the parameters can be a little limiting if you’re looking for absolute control over the processing. With that said, much of the charm of analog is compromising to your unit’s limitations. In that case, the plugin does a great job at delivering a faithful analog experience.

Key Features:

  • Preamp
    This module is extensive, giving you a polarity switch, several level compensators, and a high pass filter.
  • De-esser
    You get a high shelf to apply soft or hard de-essing. Although the crossover points are not specified, you can change the range of the band to attend to different input signals.
  • Gate
    Although it has no ratio control, you can use the gate as an expander by adjusting the Mix knob.
  • EQ
    Like most consoles, you get low and high shelves at 100 and 10.000 Hz, respectively. Additionally, you get two mid-range controls with sweepable frequencies and up to 15dB of cut and boost.
  • Compressor
    This simple compressor is actually very versatile. With the Fast Attack option and the Auto Release function, it becomes useful for most musical genres.
Mixing (Plugin) | Analog Obsession LOADED

Compatibility:

The plugin is available in VST and AU formats for 64-bit computers running Windows and macOS.

Summary:

Sonically-wise, the plugin doesn’t add much of a significant tone to the sound. Even so, unlike most plugins on this list, with LOADED, you’re always EQing into the compression. Not only does that create a smoother effect, but it’s also a great mastering technique. Analog Obsession makes loads of great free plugins, and this one is also worth your time.

3. 1208 Audio Plugins 1208 SCS

More Info & Download

1208 Audio Plugins 1208 SCS - Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins) | Integraudio.com

The 1208 SCS, by 1208 Audio Plugins, is a straightforward plugin that offers a modular signal path.

With its versatile compressor and detailed parametric EQ, you can easily use this plugin on individual tracks and the master chain. Additionally, the saturation button brings in some extra flavor that makes it wonderful for vocals and synths.

Key Features:

  • The Patch Bay
    You can easily configure your signal flow by changing inputs and outputs on the patch bay. The plugin makes it simple to bypass the filters or make different sequences for the left and right channels, for example.
  • Shelf or Bell
    You can choose low and high shelves or bells for different effects.
  • H.Pass
    This feature allows you to roll off the lower frequencies, so they don’t engage the compressor. It will not cut the bottom of your track, only bypass it from the compressor.
Best Free Channel Strip Plugins

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for Windows as a VST.

Summary:

Unfortunately, you need to pay to enable the oversample and filter features, but still, this is a plugin worthy of a download. Go crazy trying out different patch bay configurations; perhaps you’ll find a unique sound that only this plugin can produce.

Other Great Channel Strips:

SSL Guitarstrip 

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

Or Buy Here (Support Integraudio)

The SSL Guitarstrip plugin is a software effect developed by Solid State Logic (SSL) that emulates the sound of a guitar amplifier and effects pedal setup.

It includes a preamp section, as well as a variety of effects such as distortion, overdrive, and delay. The plugin is designed to be used with electric guitar, bass, and recording software. It is popular among guitarists and producers for its ability to add warmth, character, and vintage tone to guitar tracks.

Key Features:

  • Distortion and overdrive
    The plugin includes a variety of distortion and overdrive effects that can add warmth, edge, and grit to the guitar sound. In addition, you can adjust the gain, tone, and character of the input signal in the preamp section.
  • Effects
    The plugin includes modulation effects such as chorus, flanger, and phaser, which can add movement and depth to the guitar sound. In addition, it includes a delay effect that can be used to add space and dimension to the guitar sound. Lastly, there’s also a parametric EQ that can be used to fine-tune the frequency balance of the guitar sound.
  • Easy to use
    The plugin’s user interface is designed to be intuitive and easy to use, allowing you to quickly and easily adjust the various parameters of the plugin.
  • Models
    The SSL Guitarstrip plugin is available in different models, each with its features and capabilities. For example, the SSL G Series is known for its warmth, clarity, and punch and includes a preamp, EQ, and compressor, as well as a variety of effects such as distortion, overdrive, and delay.
    Secondly, the SSL E Series Channel Strip is known for its aggressive and punchy sound. Similarly, the SSL 4000 E Series Channel Strip has its own unique characteristics. 
  • Dynamic processing
    The plugin includes a compressor section that allows you to control the dynamic range of the input signal. This is useful for shaping the guitar’s sound and making it sit well in the mix. The compressor section allows you to adjust parameters such as threshold, ratio, attack, release, and gain.

Compatibility:

The plugin has the following system requirements: it runs on Windows and Mac operating systems, requires a 64-bit host DAW, and supports VST, VST3, AU, and AAX plugin formats. It requires a minimum of 4GB of RAM and 4GB of free hard drive space

Summary:

The SSL Guitarstrip plugin is a powerful tool for shaping the sound of electric guitar and bass. It includes a preamp section, a variety of effects such as distortion, overdrive, and delay, and a compressor section. It is available in different models, each based on the classic SSL consoles, and it’s considered a must-have among guitarists and producers for its ability to add a versatile range of tones, characteristics, and textures to guitar tracks. 

Lindell Audio 50 Series

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

Lindell Audio 50 Series - Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins) | Integraudio.com

The Lindell Audio 50 Series emulates classic API consoles, delivering a powerful, punchy tone.

If you’re familiar with API equipment, you know they sound as tight as it gets. This plugin is no different, delivering the utmost transient and frequency precision.

The plugin’s sound shines through when you place it on the track, but it’s the variety of options within it that make it so unique.

Key Features:

  • TMT
    This technology developed by Brainworx provides an accurate representation of 32 different console channels. That means you can have up to 16 stereo instances of this plugin in your session, and they will all sound slightly different.
  • THD
    Use this to control the amount of harmonic distortion from the circuits. The middle position represents the emulation’s natural behavior.
  • Two Compressors
    The plugin offers an enhanced version of the classic VCA compressor API 2500. Additionally, the developers added a FET compressor based on the API 525.
  • Three EQs
    Here’s another list of sought-after EQs. You’ll get the semi-parametric 3-band 50A EQ, four-band 50B EQ, and the graphic 60 EQ.
  • Lindell 80 Buss
    This condensed version gives you a preamp and the master fader with TMT technology. It’s helpful if you’re looking for the plugin’s tone rather than processing.
Lindell Audio - 50 Series Channel & Buss - Eryck Bry Demo | Plugin Alliance

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for Windows 7 and newer and macOS 10.9 and higher in AAX, AU, and VST formats.

Summary:

The 50 Series is one of the best channel strip emulations on the market right now. If you’re bonkers about analog consoles, you’ll end up adding the Lindell Audio 50 Series to your collection at some point. This robust emulation makes any instrument sound more organic by delivering the warmth and punch of the original API gear.

SSL Native Vocalstrip 2 

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

Or Buy Here (Support Integraudio)

Vocalstrip 2 is a plugin dedicated to vocal recordings, helping you add power and clarity effortlessly.

Once you’re done recording vocals, the next step is to mix them so that they sound as balanced and nuanced as your music production. Unfortunately, that often involves a lot of processing, from adding EQs, compressors, de-essers, saturation, etc. These work together to turn your raw vocals into balanced tracks, ready for further processing.

And that’s why Vocalstrip 2 exists. It provides everything you’d need to transform your vocal recordings. Go from flawed dynamics, mic plosives, and muddy character to the pristine, professional-quality sound that reacts perfectly and expectedly to other effects. Let’s check out the key features this plugin has to offer:

SSL Native Vocalstrip 2 - Top 11 Plugins For Mixing Vocals (With 4 Best Free Tools) | Integraudio.com

Key Features:

  • Compander
    As the name suggests, the Compander section features both a compressor and an expander. You can adjust the threshold of each using the dedicated parameters: Threshold and EXP Threshold. Turn either of them to 0 dB to disable it. Furthermore, the two effects share attack and release controls. Similarly, it features a ratio control and a Drive button that enables harmonic distortion paired to the makeup gain parameter. Also, you can switch to a soft knee mode.
    The display above this module shows the compressor’s behavior. And the graph on the right shows the difference between the input and output signal. Furthermore, a gain reduction meter shows both the compressor (red) and the expander (green) gain reduction.
  • Clean Up
    Vocal recordings often have unwanted noise from the vocalist: sibilance and mic pop. Vocalstrip 2 features a de-esser and a de-plosive module that help you rectify the issues effectively. First, De-esser features a threshold knob and a frequency knob. You can also click on the Listen button to verify the frequency you want to process.
    Similarly, the De-ploser module provides a threshold, frequency knob, and a Listen button. The difference is this module focuses on low frequencies, where plosives occur. You can also automate its threshold to avoid processing where you don’t want it.
  • Equalizer
    The plugin employs a nifty three-band EQ with one high-pass, one notch, and one peak filter. The high-pass is has a slight boost around its cutoff frequency, giving the vocals a thicker sound—next, the notch filter functions between 200 Hz and 10 kHz with up to 12 dB boost. And finally, the high-band peak filter operates between 1 kHz to 20 kHz and lets you make up to 12 dB of boost/cut.

Compatibility:

SSL Native Vocalstrip 2 is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.12 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.

Summary:

Vocalstrip 2 helps you make the vocal mixing process fast and effective. Furthermore, SSL’s distinct saturation and processing characters help make your vocals stand out. The plugin features four effect modules, each with a graph at the top.

Moreover, you can change the order of these modules at the base of the user interface. And a collection of presets helps you get started without spending time learning the plugin, although you will have to customize the presets to fit your vocals.

Acustica Audio Magenta 5

More Info & Price

Acustica Audio Magenta 5 - Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins) | Integraudio.com

The Magenta 5 Channel Strip is a great mastering plugin since it’s an emulation of the Manley Massive Passive.

But since it’s a channel strip plugin, you also get a preamp section and a compressor. The GUI is confusing at first, but once you understand it, it gets simpler. Magenta 5 offers great tonal accuracy, perfect for the digital domain, but without losing its analog roots.

Key Features:

  • Seven Preamps
    Between mono and stereo emulations, you also get different-sounding versions from multiple hardware sources. A is from a tube EQ, B is from an all-tube circuit, while C is from a limiter. Finally, D, DMIC, and DFLT come from mic preamp designs.
  • Four Compressors
    The plugin offers four kinds of compressors between Vari-Mu and Opto designs, each with its distinctive flavor.
  • Zero Latency Version
    Perfect for real-time processing and recording
    , the Magenta 5 Channel Strip offers a ZL version, but it’s very CPU-heavy.
Acustica Audio - Magenta 5 - Mix Demos

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for macOS 10.12 and higher and Windows 7 and newer as a VST, AU, and AAX plugin.

Summary:

Overall the plugin sounds very subtle but accurate. Magenta 5 does a great job of recreating the imperfections of analog hardware, adding as much color to your mix as you may need. For its sonic detail alone, it’s a great addition to your collection.

Brainworx bx_console Focusrite SC

More Info & Price (Trial Available)

Brainworx bx_console Focusrite SC - Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins) | Integraudio.com

The bx_console Focusrite SC, by Brainworx, is a complete recreation of the rare Focusrite console designed by Rupert Neve.

Only ten units of this console were made until Focusrite shut down the production. Now, thanks to TMT technology, you can have 72 channels, which means an entire console, in your studio. You get faithful recreations of the original gate, compressor, de-esser, EQ, and filters, with the addition of a THD control.

Key Features:

  • Neve-Designed EQ
    The console gives you a parametric four-band EQ designed by the master himself. You get bell controls for the mid frequencies and shelves for the highs and lows. You can bypass any band by pressing the Band In button.
  • Two Filter Sections
    Just like the original console, this plugin lets you add filters to both the EQ and dynamic sections. The first will roll off frequencies from the top and bottom of the spectrum. The second will focus the compressor on the range you determine.
  • Multiplier Controls
    You can change the frequency range of both filter sections and the mid-range EQs by engaging the x10, x3, and/or /3 buttons.
  • V-Gain
    This is an added feature. By increasing the value, you’ll add more simulated analog noise.
  • Stereo Mode
    This affects the TMT engine. By selecting Analog, you’ll use two different channel emulations, one for each side of the stereo field. However, if you choose Digital, you’ll use one emulation for both sides.
bx_console Focusrite - Walkthrough

Compatibility:

This plugin is available for Windows 7 and higher and macOS 10.9 and newer in AAX, AU, and VST formats.

Summary:

One of the most transparent consoles ever designed has finally received the faithful emulation it deserved. The price is a little hefty – but worth it when you think of the quality it can add to your mixes. No doubt, the bx_console Focusrite SC will become your go-to channel strip plugin once you add it to your collection.

Conclusion

Today’s list was full of amazing all-in-one solutions for mixing and mastering, but the greatest strength of any channel strip plugin comes during recording. Sometimes it’s just impracticable, but try it out next time you’re about to make a recording. The best analog emulations on our list deliver the closest thing to the emotion of tracking through the real consoles.

When you record with real-time processing, not only does it sound better from the get-go. The artist also gets better feedback from their own execution and puts more effort into making a better performance.

And speaking of the best, you should consider getting the Waves Omni Channel and the Lindell Audio 50 Series for your toolbox. Both are amazing-sounding plugins with incredible recreations of their analog counterparts.

The Waves plugin is looser with its references, which generates an innovative plugin. On the other hand, the Lindell is as true to the original classic as possible, being the best API plugin on the market.

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