Introduction – The Best Mixing Plugins

I tend to review a lot of mixing plugins every year, but I would say only about 20 to 30 percent show up on my mixing and mastering sessions after the review. So today, I want to discuss the ten plugins that get the job done in my DAW daily. So without further ado, here are the best mixing plugins ever that you can use to take your music production to the next level.  (In my humble opinion)

FabFilter Pro-Q3 the Best Mixing Plugin Ever

FabFilter Pro-Q3 the Best Mixing Plugin Ever

1. The Essential EQ: FabFilter Pro Q3

FabFilter Pro Q3 stands as one of the very best in the realm of equalization. Its intuitive interface and powerful features make it a staple in my mixing process. The plugin offers everything from basic EQ adjustments to complex dynamic processing, making it incredibly versatile for any mixing scenario.

Key Features:

  • Dynamic EQ: This feature allows for selective frequency compression or expansion, which is invaluable for tackling problematic frequencies without affecting the overall tonal balance.
  • High-Quality Filters: The Pro Q3 boasts a range of filter types, each with adjustable slopes, ensuring precise control over the frequency spectrum as well as mid-side functionality.
  • Spectrum Analyzer: A real-time analyzer provides visual feedback, making identifying and addressing frequency issues easier.

Why It’s a Game-Changer: The Pro Q3’s ability to seamlessly blend technical precision with ease of use makes it an essential tool. Whether you’re looking to make subtle adjustments or drastic changes, this EQ handles it all with finesse.

2. The Versatile Compressor: FET Compressor Mark II by Softube

Compression is a critical tool in achieving a punchy, cohesive mix. The FET Compressor Mark II by Softube has become my go-to, thanks to its flexibility and sonic character. It’s an emulation of the classic 1176 compressor, known for its fast attack and release times, which is ideal for adding punch and presence to drums and vocals.

Unique Features:

  • British Mode: A nod to the classic ‘all-buttons-in’ setting on the original 1176, offering aggressive compression characteristics.
  • Variable Ratios: Unlike traditional compressors, it provides in-between ratios for more nuanced compression settings.
  • Drive and Transformer Controls: These add harmonic richness, enhancing the overall tone.

In Practice: Whether I’m working on aggressive rock vocals or delicate acoustic guitars, the FET Compressor Mark I delivers. Its ability to add energy and character while maintaining the natural dynamics of the performance is why it’s a mainstay in my plugin arsenal.

3. Frequency Perfection: Soothe 2

Harshness and resonance can be the bane of any mix, and Soothe 2 is my solution. This dynamic resonance suppressor is adept at taming harsh high frequencies and smoothing out uneven tonal balance.

Why It’s Essential:

  • Selective Frequency Targeting: Soothe 2 intelligently identifies and attenuates problematic frequencies.
  • Versatility: It’s equally effective on individual tracks and bus processing, making it a time-saving tool in both mixing and mastering.

Real-World Application: I’ve used Soothe 2 on everything from sibilant vocal tracks to piercing cymbals. It’s a lifesaver when you’re working with recordings that have inherent harshness or when you need to balance the frequency range in a mix.

Waves Vocal Preset

4. The All-in-One: God Particle by Jason Joshua

In the world of bus processing, the God Particle by Jason Joshua stands out as a multifaceted tool. It’s not just a compressor or an EQ; it’s an all-in-one solution for adding depth, warmth, and clarity to your mixes.

Key Aspects:

  • Multiband Compression: It allows for targeted dynamic control over different frequency bands.
  • Saturation and Width Controls: These features contribute to a fuller, more polished sound.
  • Intuitive Gain Staging: The plugin provides visual feedback to ensure optimal input and output levels.

Why I Recommend It: The God Particle excels in its simplicity and effectiveness. It’s a go-to for achieving a great sound quickly, especially useful when you’re looking to streamline your workflow.

Ozone 11 an Amazing Limiter with AI features built in

5. Mastering Simplified: Ozone 11

iZotope Ozone 11 is a comprehensive mastering suite that I find indispensable. Its array of modules, from EQ to maximizer, offers everything needed to take a mix from good to great.(Check out my full review here)

Standout Features:

  • Maximizer: Its transparent sound and versatile limiting options make it perfect for achieving competitive loudness without sacrificing dynamics.
  • Dynamic EQ and Exciter: These modules provide detailed control over the tonal balance and harmonic content of a mix.

In My Experience: Ozone 11 is a powerhouse for mastering. Whether I’m working on a dense electronic track or a dynamic acoustic piece, it provides the tools to ensure the final product is polished and radio-ready.

6. Reverb Redefined: FabFilter Pro R2

Good reverb plugins are essential in any mixer’s toolkit, and the FabFilter Pro R2 has become my favorite. Its flexibility and sound quality make it ideal for a wide range of applications.

Why It’s Superior:

  • Customizable Parameters: From decay time to brightness, every aspect of the reverb can be tailored to fit the mix.
  • Realistic Spaces: Whether you need a small room, plate reverb, or a large hall, Pro R2 convincingly emulates various environments.

Practical Use: I often use Pro R2 on vocals and drums to add depth and space without muddying the mix. Its ability to sculpt the reverb to sit perfectly in the mix is why it’s a top choice for me.

7. Vocal Magic: CLA Vocals by Waves

When it comes to vocal processing, CLA Vocals by Waves is a plugin that I find incredibly useful. Despite some mixed opinions in the industry, its versatility and ease of use make it a valuable tool in my arsenal.( See my 10 Favorite Waves Plugins)

Key Features:

  • All-in-One Processing: It offers EQ, compression, reverb, and delay, all tailored for vocal tracks.
  • Stereo Imaging: This feature helps to place the vocals perfectly within the stereo field.

My Perspective: CLA Vocals is a time-saving tool, especially when you’re working on a tight deadline. It provides a quick way to get a polished vocal sound with minimal fuss.

8. Multiband Mastery: FabFilter Pro-MB

Multiband compression can be a complex process, but FabFilter Pro-MB makes it accessible and effective. It’s my go-to for dynamic control over specific frequency ranges.

Why It’s a Must-Have:

  • Flexible Band Controls: You can easily set up bands where needed and adjust their thresholds, attack, and release times.
  • Transparent Sound: Pro-MB manages dynamics without introducing unwanted artifacts.

Application: I use Pro-MB on everything from taming the low end of a bass guitar to controlling the mid-range of a synth pad. Its precision and clarity are unmatched.

Softube Core Mixing Suite

Softube Core Mixing Suite

9. The Ultimate Channel Strip: Softube Console 1 Core Mix Suite

The Softube Console 1 Core Mix Suite is a comprehensive channel strip that has revolutionized my mixing workflow. It combines EQ, compression, and saturation in one intuitive package.

What Sets It Apart:

  • Analog Emulation: The plugin accurately emulates the sound of classic analog gear.
  • Workflow Efficiency: With all essential controls at your fingertips, it speeds up the mixing process.

My Usage: I find the Console 1 indispensable for quickly shaping the tone and dynamics of individual tracks. Its analog warmth and character are a significant part of my signature sound.

10. Precision Metering: Decibel by Process Audio

In the final stages of mixing and mastering, accurate metering is crucial. Decibel by Process Audio has become an essential tool in my setup for its detailed and accurate visual feedback.

Why It’s Indispensable:

  • LUFS Metering: Essential for ensuring your mix meets industry loudness standards.
  • Frequency Analyzer: Helps identify and address any frequency spectrum imbalances.
  • Stereo Imaging Tools: These provide a visual representation of the stereo spread, ensuring a well-balanced mix.

In Practice: I rely on Decibel for final checks in mastering. Whether it’s confirming the loudness for streaming platforms or ensuring the stereo image is perfectly balanced, Decibel gives me the confidence that my mixes are polished and professional.

Conclusion of the Best Mixing Plugins

That does it for my top 10 best mixing plugins. I’d love to hear about your experiences with these plugins or any others that you find indispensable in your mixing and mastering work. Share your thoughts and insights in the comments below, and let’s continue to learn and grow together in this ever-evolving field of audio engineering.