Mixing plays a crucial role in the music production process.
It’s the stage where all your musical ideas, tracks, and recordings come together to form a cohesive and polished final product.
The right mixing VST plugins can make all the difference in the world, and the wrong ones can completely ruin everything.
Luckily, you’ve come to the right place to learn which plugins will help make you a legend.
Within this article, you will:
- Discover the 16 best mixing plugins in the game ✓
- Explore unique features, capabilities, and processes ✓
- Master powerful tools for elevated mixes ✓
- Gain professional tips and expert advice to mix like a pro ✓
- Unlock advanced mixing techniques ✓
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting out, these mixing VST plugins will help you elevate your production game to the next level.
So, let’s dive into this captivating list and explore the 16 best mixing plugins for revolutionizing your mixing experience, and making your tracks sound better than ever before!
Table of Contents
- #1. Sound Doctor by Unison Audio: Best Overall Mixing Plugin
- #2. FabFilter Pro Bundle: Best All-in-One Solution
- #3. Waves H-Series Bundle: Best Mixing Plugin for Drums
- #4. Slate Digital’s All Access Pass: Best Mixing Plugin for Versatility
- #5. iZotope Neutron 4: Best Mixing Plugin for Precision
- #6. MEGA Bundle XXL by Plugin Alliance: Best Value Mixing Plugin Bundle
- #7. Soundtoys 5 Bundle: Best Mixing Plugin for Sound Design
- #8. FX Collection 3 by Arturia: Best Mixing Plugin for Vintage Emulation
- #9. FabFilter Saturn 2: Best Mixing Plugin for Creative Effects
- #10. iZotope Nectar 3 Plus: Best Plugin For Mixing Vocals
- #11. Waves Scheps Omni Channel: Best Mixing Plugin for Customizable Workflow
- #12. D16 Group Repeater: Best Mixing Plugin for Delays
- #13. iZotope Ozone 10: Best Mastering Plugin
- #14. Softube’s FET Compressor Mk II: Best Emulation Plugin
- #15. MJUC jr. by Klanghelm: Best Free Mixing Plugin
- #16. Ableton’s The Glue: Best Stock Plugin
- 15 Tips & Techniques For Mixing Like a Pro
- 1. Use Reference Tracks
- 2. Automate Your Mix
- 3. Experiment With Mid-Side Processing
- 4. Use Parallel Compression
- 5. Harness the Power of Saturation
- 6. Get Surgical With EQ
- 7. Don’t Over-Process
- 8. Utilize Sidechain Compression
- 9. Experiment With Stereo Widening
- 10. Keep an Eye on Phase Issues
- 11. Be Mindful of Headroom & Gain-Staging
- 12. Use High-Pass Filtering Wisely
- 13. Create a Sense of Depth with Reverb and Delay
- 14. Monitor at Different Levels
- 15. Take Regular Breaks
- Best Mixing Plugins: Final Thoughts
#1. Sound Doctor by Unison Audio: Best Overall Mixing Plugin
Sound Doctor by Unison Audio is the all-in-one mixing plugin that every music producer dreams of.
Designed to simplify your workflow while delivering professional results, Sound Doctor offers an array of innovative features that cater to every aspect of the mixing process.
Whether you’re refining vocals, shaping drums, tweaking the frequency spectrum of your tracks, or polishing your final mix, Sound Doctor has got you covered.
What sets Sound Doctor apart from other mixing plugins is its intuitive interface and comprehensive toolset.
With an array of EQs, compressors, saturation modules, and spatial effects, Sound Doctor provides the versatility you need to tackle any mix.
The plugin’s unique algorithms ensure that your tracks maintain their character while sounding clean, polished, and professional.
One of the standout features of Sound Doctor is its ability to adapt to your specific needs.
With customizable signal chains, you can effortlessly tweak the processing order to suit your mixing style, allowing for endless creative possibilities.
Plus, the plugin’s visual feedback offers an easy-to-understand representation of your audio, helping you make informed decisions when you’re mixing music.
It allows you to see the gain reduction applied to your input signal in real time, which is super beneficial.
This powerful all-in-one solution not only streamlines your workflow but also guarantees a captivating, professional sound that will leave your listeners in awe.
- Comprehensive toolset including EQs, compressors, saturation modules, and spatial effects
- Intuitive interface for a seamless mixing experience
- Customizable signal chains for endless creative possibilities
- Visual feedback for informed mixing decisions
- All-in-one solution for a polished, professional sound
#2. FabFilter Pro Bundle: Best All-in-One Solution
The FabFilter Pro Bundle is an essential collection of professional mixing and mastering plugins that should be in every music producer’s arsenal.
This incredible bundle offers a comprehensive set of tools designed to help you achieve a polished, professional sound with ease.
One of the standout plugins in the FabFilter Pro Bundle is the Pro-Q 3.
You can read all about Pro-Q 3 in our comprehensive article that contains the best EQ plugins of 2023.
This is a high-quality EQ plugin that offers up to 24 parametric bands, linear phase oversampling, and an intelligent auto-gain function.
The Pro-Q 3 also includes mid/side processing capabilities, allowing you to sculpt the stereo image and frequency spectrum of your mix with surgical precision.
Another powerful plugin in the FabFilter Pro bundle is the Pro-C 2, a versatile compressor that offers a wide range of compression styles, program-dependent attack, and release times.
Plus an innovative lookahead function for ultra-transparent peak limiting.
The Pro-C 2 is perfect for everything from gentle leveling to aggressive gain reduction and is a must-have tool for achieving a tight, punchy mix.
The FabFilter Pro Bundle also includes the Pro-R, an advanced reverb plugin that offers a unique, musical approach to reverb processing.
With its innovative “Space” control, the Pro-R allows you to intuitively shape the decay and character of your reverb.
It provides a lush and immersive sound that never feels artificial or over-processed.
Basically, this FabFilter Pro Bundle covers everything you can think of.
- An elaborate collection of professional mixing and mastering plugins
- Pro-Q 3 EQ with up to 24 parametric bands, linear phase oversampling, and mid/side processing
- Pro-C 2 Compressor with versatile compression styles and program-dependent attack/release times
- Pro-R reverb with innovative “Space” control for shaping decay and character
#3. Waves H-Series Bundle: Best Mixing Plugin for Drums
The Waves H-Series Bundle is a collection of three legendary processing plugins that have been used on countless hit records and film scores.
These versatile and high-quality plugins offer a wide range of possibilities for enhancing your music production skills and achieving a professional sound.
The H-Delay is a powerful and flexible delay plugin that offers a wide range of delay styles, from vintage tape echo to modern digital delay.
With its extensive set of controls, including tempo sync, modulation, and feedback filtering, the H-Delay allows you to create everything from subtle, organic textures to complex, rhythmic patterns.
The H-Comp is a hybrid compressor plugin that combines the best of both analog and digital compression, offering a unique approach to Dynamics shaping.
With its variable release times, parallel compression, and innovative “Punch” control, the H-Comp delivers smooth and musical compression.
It enhances the character of your tracks while maintaining their natural dynamics.
Finally, the H-Reverb is a state-of-the-art reverb plugin that offers advanced algorithms and precise controls for shaping the ambiance and space of your mix.
With its unique “ER/Tail” balance control, the H-Reverb allows you to fine-tune the balance between the early reflections and reverb tail.
This provides you with a natural and immersive sense of space that never feels overdone.
- Collection of legendary processing plugins used on countless hit records and film scores
- H-Delay offers a wide range of delay styles and an extensive set of controls
- H-Comp combines the best of analog and digital compression for unique dynamics shaping
- H-Reverb provides advanced algorithms and precise controls for shaping ambiance and space
#4. Slate Digital’s All Access Pass: Best Mixing Plugin for Versatility
Slate Digital’s All Access Pass is an incredible subscription-based plugin bundle that offers a comprehensive collection of mixing and mastering tools.
As well as a range of high-quality virtual instruments.
This all-in-one solution provides everything you need to achieve a polished, professional sound, making it the ultimate producer’s playground.
One of the standout plugins in the All Access Pass is the Virtual Mix Rack, which is a modular channel strip plugin.
Such plugins allow you to create custom signal chains using a wide variety of classic and modern processing modules.
With its intuitive drag-and-drop interface, the Virtual Mix Rack makes it easy to experiment with different combinations of EQ, compression, saturation, and more.
Another powerful tool that Slate Digital included is the Virtual Tape Machines, a meticulously modeled plugin that captures the warmth, depth, and character of analog tape.
With its authentic tape saturation and non-linearities, the Virtual Tape Machines can add a touch of analog magic to your digital recordings.
It enhances them with a rich and organic sound that’s often missing from modern productions.
The All Access Pass also includes the Kilohearts Bundle.
This is a collection of cutting-edge, modular effects plugins that can be used individually or combined in Slate Digital’s unique “Snapin” format.
With their lightweight design and intuitive interface, the Kilohearts plugins offer a fresh and modern approach to effects processing, providing endless creative possibilities for your mixes.
- A vast collection of mixing, mastering, and virtual instrument plugins
- Virtual Mix Rack for creating custom signal chains with a wide variety of processing modules
- Virtual Tape Machines for adding warmth, depth, and character to digital recordings
- Kilohearts Bundle with cutting-edge, modular effects plugins and unique “Snapin” format
#5. iZotope Neutron 4: Best Mixing Plugin for Precision
iZotope Neutron 4 is a groundbreaking mixing plugin that combines advanced audio processing with innovative machine-learning technology to help you achieve a balanced and professional mix.
With its intelligent features and powerful processing modules, Neutron 4 can revolutionize your mixing workflow and help you make better mixing decisions.
Speaking of intelligent features, if you’d like to know the best AI music generator of 2023, look no further.
One of the key features of Neutron 4 is its Mix Assistant.
This analyzes your mixes and suggests an optimal starting point for each track’s level and EQ settings (crazy, right?).
It can save you hours of tedious trial and error and help you achieve a balanced mix more quickly and easily than ever before.
In addition to the Mix Assistant, Neutron 4 also includes a suite of powerful processing modules.
This includes “Sculptor,” which uses spectral shaping technology to help you enhance or reduce specific tonal characteristics.
Sculptor can be particularly useful for fixing issues with muddy or harsh frequencies, allowing you to achieve a more balanced and professional sound.
Another standout feature of Neutron 4 is its advanced sidechain functionality, which allows you to create precise sidechain effects using the plugin’s built-in EQ, compressor, and gate modules.
This can be especially useful for creating tight and punchy mixes with a strong sense of groove and rhythm.
- Advanced mixing plugin with intelligent Mix Assistant for optimal level and EQ settings
- A suite of powerful processing modules, including Sculptor for spectral shaping
- Advanced sidechain functionality with built-in EQ, compressor, and gate modules
- Machine learning algorithms for faster and more accurate mixing decisions
#6. MEGA Bundle XXL by Plugin Alliance: Best Value Mixing Plugin Bundle
The MEGA Bundle XXL by Plugin Alliance is a massive collection of over 110 high-quality plugins (and 7,000 samples) for both the mixing process and the mastering process.
It offers an unparalleled selection of tools for enhancing your production skills.
With this incredible bundle, you’ll have access to a wide array of plugins from some of the most respected developers in the industry, such as Brainworx, SPL, and Elysia.
One of the standout plugins in the MEGA Bundle XXL is the bx_console N, a meticulously modeled emulation of the legendary Neve VXS analog console.
This channel strip plugin offers a rich and warm sound that can add depth and character to your mix 一 while its precise EQ and dynamics sections allow you to shape your tracks with surgical precision.
Another powerful plugin in the MEGA Bundle XXL is the elysia alpha compressor, a versatile mastering compressor that offers a unique combination of transparency and musicality.
If you’d like to know the best compressor plugins of 2023, we’ve got you covered.
With its innovative feed-forward and feedback compression modes, the alpha compressor can provide anything from subtle leveling to aggressive gain reduction.
This makes it an essential tool for mastering engineers.
The MEGA Bundle XXL also includes the SPL Transient Designer Plus.
This is a powerful transient shaping plugin that allows you to enhance or reduce the attack and sustain characteristics of your audio material.
Whether you’re adding punch to drums, tightening up guitar tracks, or bringing out the detail in vocal performances, this plugin is perfect.
If you’re wondering “what are transients,” then wonder no more, as we’ve divulged it all.
- Massive collection of over 110 high-quality mixing and mastering plugins
- Plugins from respected developers such as Brainworx and SPL
- Elysia alpha compressor for versatile and transparent mastering compression
- SPL Transient Designer Plus for powerful transient shaping
#7. Soundtoys 5 Bundle: Best Mixing Plugin for Sound Design
The Soundtoys 5 Bundle is an essential collection of creative effects plugins that can transform your production process and inspire new ideas.
With a wide range of unique and innovative tools, the Soundtoys 5 Bundle offers endless possibilities for sonic experimentation and sound design.
One of the standout plugins in the Soundtoys 5 Bundle is the Decapitator, an analog saturation modeler that can add warmth, character, and aggression to your tracks.
With its five selectable saturation algorithms, the Decapitator can emulate everything from vintage tube saturation to modern digital distortion, providing a versatile range of tonal colors.
Another powerful plugin in the Soundtoys 5 Bundle is EchoBoy, a comprehensive delay plugin that offers a wide range of classic and modern delay styles.
With its extensive set of controls, including rhythm sync, modulation, and feedback shaping, EchoBoy can create everything from subtle slapback echoes to lush, swirling soundscapes.
The Soundtoys 5 Bundle also includes the Crystallizer.
This is a unique granular echo synthesizer that can create shimmering, ethereal textures and otherworldly soundscapes.
By blending granular synthesis with delay and pitch shifting, Crystallizer offers a fresh and innovative approach to sound design.
It’s perfect for ambient music, film scoring, and sound design projects.
Speaking of pitch-shifting, if you’re curious about the best FREE pitch shifter plugins that will blow your mind, look no further.
- An essential collection of creative effects plugins for sonic experimentation & sound design
- Decapitator for versatile analog saturation and distortion
- EchoBoy for a comprehensive range of classic and modern delay styles
- Crystallizer, which blends granular synthesis with delay and pitch-shifting for shimmering, ethereal textures and otherworldly soundscapes
#8. FX Collection 3 by Arturia: Best Mixing Plugin for Vintage Emulation
FX Collection 3 by Arturia is an outstanding suite of high-quality mixing plugins, tailored specifically to meet the demands of modern production and mixing.
This collection offers an extensive range of plugins, including classic emulations of legendary hardware and innovative creative tools.
They’re all designed to enhance your mixing process and deliver exceptional sonic performance.
FX Collection 3 now includes 26 titles, including saturation, granular, mix bus, modulation, compression, delay, reverb, preamps, and filters (like low-pass filters).
Each plugin in the collection is designed with a focus on providing the best possible mixing experience and making sure that you have the right tools at your disposal for shaping your tracks.
Arturia’s commitment to quality and authenticity shines through in the FX Collection 3.
They have meticulously modeled the characteristics and nuances of classic hardware to bring their warmth and character to your mixes.
Additionally, the collection offers innovative and cutting-edge effects, allowing you to push the boundaries of your music and create unique sonic textures.
With the FX Collection 3, you’ll have access to a vast selection of mixing tools that cater to every aspect of your mixing process 一 ensuring that your tracks always sound polished and professional.
- A comprehensive suite of high-quality mixing plugins
- Classic emulations of legendary hardware for authentic sound
- Wide range of plugins for all mixing needs, including preamps, compressors, EQs, and more
- Innovative creative tools for unique sonic textures and effects
#9. FabFilter Saturn 2: Best Mixing Plugin for Creative Effects
FabFilter Saturn 2 is a powerful and versatile distortion and saturation plugin that can add warmth, character, and excitement to your music production.
With its intuitive interface, wide range of processing modes, and advanced modulation capabilities, Saturn 2 offers an unparalleled level of control and creativity.
At the heart of Saturn 2 is its advanced multi-band processing engine.
This allows you to apply different types of distortion and saturation to up to six frequency bands independently.
The precise level of control enables you to shape the harmonic content and frequency spectrum of your tracks in subtle or extreme ways.
You can create anything from warm tube saturation to aggressive bit-crushing effects.
One of the standout features of Saturn 2 is its extensive library of distortion and saturation algorithms.
It includes everything from vintage tape and tube emulations to modern digital distortion and creative FX.
This diverse range of processing modes allows you to find the perfect sound for your mix ─ whether you’re looking to add subtle warmth to a vocal track or create an explosive, in-your-face synth lead.
In addition to its powerful processing engine, Saturn 2 also includes an advanced modulation system that can be used to add movement and dynamics to your tracks.
With its drag-and-drop modulation matrix, you can easily create complex modulation routings using LFOs, envelope followers, and MIDI sources, breathing life and energy into your mix.
- Advanced multi-band processing engine for precise control over distortion and saturation
- Wide range of processing modes, including vintage tape and tube emulations, modern digital distortion, and creative FX
- Extensive library of distortion and saturation algorithms for finding the perfect sound
- Advanced modulation system with drag-and-drop modulation matrix for adding movement and dynamics to your tracks
#10. iZotope Nectar 3 Plus: Best Plugin For Mixing Vocals
iZotope Nectar 3 Plus takes mixing vocals to new heights, offering a comprehensive set of tools specifically designed for vocal production and processing.
Building on the success of iZotope’s acclaimed Nectar 3, the Plus version introduces new features and enhancements that make it an essential vocal plugin for achieving professional and captivating vocals.
Speaking of vocals, if you’re looking for the top Vocal Effects VST of 2023, look no further.
Nectar 3 Plus also features a range of modules.
This includes pitch correction, dynamic EQ, compression, de-esser, saturation, and reverb, all carefully crafted to help you sculpt the perfect vocal sound.
The advanced pitch correction module allows you to correct any intonation issues with surgical precision, ensuring your vocals always sound pitch-perfect and in tune with the rest of your mix.
One of the standout features of Nectar 3 Plus is its Vocal Assistant, an intelligent tool that listens to your vocal track and suggests a custom processing chain tailored to your specific needs.
This not only saves you time but also provides a solid starting point for further tweaking and refining your vocal sound.
Nectar 3 Plus also introduces the Dynamic “Unmasking” feature.
This allows you to automatically adjust EQ settings to ensure that your vocals cut through the mix without clashing with other elements.
It’s one of the main reasons we’ve crowned it one of the best mixing plugins around.
- A comprehensive suite of vocal production tools
- Advanced pitch correction module for precise tuning
- Vocal Assistant for intelligent processing suggestions
- Dynamic Unmasking feature to help vocals cut through the mix
#11. Waves Scheps Omni Channel: Best Mixing Plugin for Customizable Workflow
The Waves Scheps Omni Channel is a versatile and powerful channel strip plugin, designed in collaboration with acclaimed mixing engineer Andrew Scheps.
It offers a complete mixing toolkit in a single, intuitive interface, making it an essential addition to any music producer’s arsenal.
Scheps Omni Channel features a range of high-quality processing modules, including a preamp, EQ, compressor, de-esser, and more.
Each module has been meticulously designed to provide exceptional sound quality and flexibility, allowing you to shape the tone and dynamics of your tracks with ease.
One standout feature of the Scheps Omni Channel is its modular design, which allows you to reorder the processing modules to suit your workflow and creative preferences.
This flexibility, combined with the plugin’s impressive selection of drum presets (and an array of other presets) designed by Andrew Scheps himself.
Therefore, you’ll always have a solid starting point for crafting your ideal mix.
The Scheps Omni Channel also includes a unique feature called the “Focus” mode.
This mode allows you to zero in on specific frequency ranges within your tracks, making it easier to identify and resolve any problematic areas.
- Versatile and powerful channel strip plugin
- Collaboration with acclaimed mixing engineer Andrew Scheps
- Modular design for customizable processing order
- “Focus” mode for precise frequency range targeting
- High-quality processing modules, including preamp, EQ, compressor, and more
#12. D16 Group Repeater: Best Mixing Plugin for Delays
D16 Group’s Repeater is a versatile and feature-packed delay plugin that offers a wide range of possibilities for enhancing your mixes.
With its intuitive interface and extensive set of controls, Repeater is a must-have plugin for music producers looking to add depth, space, and character to their tracks.
Repeater boasts an impressive selection of 23 delay models, which is why we’ve crowned it one of the best mixing plugins of 2023.
Each model is meticulously crafted to emulate the unique characteristics and nuances of classic hardware units.
This extensive range of options ensures that you’ll always have the perfect delay effect at your fingertips, even if it’s just a touch.
Whether you’re looking for a warm analog echo or a pristine digital delay, Repeater’s got you covered.
One of the standout features of D16 Group’s Repeater is its powerful modulation section, which allows you to shape the character and movement of your delays with ease.
With its fantastic modulation sources, including LFOs and envelope followers, you can create everything from subtle, organic textures to wild, psychedelic soundscapes.
- Versatile and feature-packed delay plugin
- 23 meticulously crafted delay models
- Powerful modulation section for shaping delay character and movement
- Intuitive interface and extensive set of controls
#13. iZotope Ozone 10: Best Mastering Plugin
iZotope Ozone 10 is a comprehensive and powerful mastering plugin that offers a complete set of tools for achieving a polished, professional sound.
With its advanced algorithms and intelligent processing capabilities, Ozone 10 is an indispensable tool for finalizing your mixes and preparing them for distribution.
Ozone 10 features a range of high-quality modules, including an equalizer, dynamics processor, exciter, and maximizer.
They’re all designed to help you sculpt the tonal balance and dynamics of your tracks with precision and control.
The plugin also includes a powerful spectral shaper, which allows you to target specific frequency ranges for dynamic processing, ensuring a transparent and unobtrusive effect.
One of the standout features of iZotope Ozone 10 is its Master Assistant 一 an intelligent tool that analyzes your mix and suggests a custom processing chain tailored to your specific needs.
This not only saves you time but also provides a solid starting point for further tweaking and refining your master.
If you’d like to become an audio mastering expert or find out the best mastering plugins in the game, we’ve got you covered.
- Comprehensive and powerful mastering plugin
- Advanced algorithms for precision and control
- High-quality modules for sculpting tonal balance and dynamics
- Master Assistant for intelligent processing suggestions
#14. Softube’s FET Compressor Mk II: Best Emulation Plugin
Softube’s FET Compressor Mk II is a super flexible plugin that brings the iconic sound and versatility of the classic FET compressor to the digital realm.
Modeled after the revered hardware unit, the MK II offers the unmistakable character and punchy response that has made FET compressors a staple in music production and mixing.
This is why we’ve named it one of the best mixing plugins of 2023.
The original analog unit is legendary for being extremely transparent while increasing the perceived loudness with more precision than most.
It excels at adding presence and energy to your tracks, whether you’re working with drums, an acoustic guitar, or mixing vocals.
The MK II’s fast attack and adjustable release times make it an excellent choice for taming transient-heavy material while maintaining the musicality and excitement of the original performance.
One of the standout features of the FET Compressor Mk II is its ability to switch between three different compression modes:
- All Buttons In
- The subtle Low Ratio mode
Each unique mode offers a distinct compression character 一 ranging from gentle, transparent leveling to the aggressive, hard-hitting compression that FET compressors are famous for.
In addition to its core compression capabilities, the FET Compressor Mk II also includes a sidechain high-pass filter.
This allows you to prevent low-frequency content from triggering the compression.
Plus, this useful feature ensures that the plugin stays focused on the elements you want to control, delivering a clean, well-balanced mix that preserves the low-end impact.
- Modeled after the classic FET compressor for a punchy, energetic sound
- Three distinct compression modes for a versatile range of characters
- Fast attack and adjustable release times for transient control
- Sidechain high-pass filter for precise compression targeting
- Maintains the musicality and excitement of the original performance
#15. MJUC jr. by Klanghelm: Best Free Mixing Plugin
MJUC jr. is a secret weapon compressor plugin that delivers smooth and musical compression, perfect for adding character and warmth to your mixes.
Based on the highly acclaimed Klanghelm MJUC, the MJUC jr. offers a simplified interface and a streamlined set of controls.
This makes it an ideal choice if you’re looking for a quick and effective compression solution.
The MJUC jr. features cool features, such as a unique “variable-mu” design.
This emulates the behavior of classic tube compressors, providing a warm and natural compression effect.
With its adjustable attack and release times, as well as a mix control for parallel compression, the MJUC jr. offers a range of possibilities for shaping the dynamics of your tracks.
As well as adding depth and character to your mixes.
One of the standout features of the Klanghelm MJUC jr. is its ability to deliver smooth and transparent compression without introducing unwanted artifacts or pumping effects.
This makes it an excellent pick for a wide range of mixing applications, from subtle leveling to more aggressive dynamic control, which is why we named it one of the best mixing plugins around.
It helps you create unique music with ease and precision.
- Versatile and easy-to-use compressor plugin
- Unique “variable-mu” design for warm and natural compression
- Adjustable attack and release times for flexible dynamic shaping
- Mix control for parallel compression
- Smooth and transparent compression effect
#16. Ableton’s The Glue: Best Stock Plugin
Ableton’s The Glue is a hidden gem within the world of stock plugins.
It confirms the fact that you don’t always need expensive third-party tools to achieve a professional sound.
This versatile bus compressor is inspired by classic analog consoles and is designed to “glue” your mix together by adding punch, warmth, and cohesion.
The Glue excels in adding weight and presence to your drums, tightening up your mix bus, and enhancing the overall balance of your tracks.
With its transparent compression and program-dependent attack and release times, this stock plugin delivers a musical and natural sound that can rival even high-end compressors.
One of the key features of The Glue is its flexibility, catering to a wide array of compression styles.
Whether you’re after subtle, gentle compression to smooth out your mix or aggressive, heavy-handed processing for a punchy, in-your-face sound, The Glue has got you covered.
Its range knob allows for precise control over the amount of compression applied, giving you the freedom to dial in the perfect sound for your mix.
The Glue also includes a mix knob for easy parallel compression ー enabling you to blend the compressed and uncompressed signals for greater dynamic control.
This stock plugin may come bundled with Ableton, but its powerful features and exceptional sound quality make it a formidable contender in the world of the best mixing plugins.
If the other best mixing plugins could talk, they would agree that this free option is certainly on point.
- Inspired by classic analog console compressors for a warm, musical sound
- Versatile compression styles, from subtle smoothing to aggressive punch
- Transparent compression with program-dependent attack and release times
- Mix knob for easy parallel compression and greater dynamic control
15 Tips & Techniques For Mixing Like a Pro
Now that you’re aware of the best mixing plugins, let’s explore some tips and techniques to enhance your mixes like an absolute pro.
1. Use Reference Tracks
When messing around with the best mixing plugins, it’s essential to have a point of comparison to ensure your mix sounds professional and polished.
Choose a well-mixed reference track in the same genre (for example, hip-hop subgenres) as your production and compare it to your mix periodically.
This will help you make better decisions regarding EQ, compression, and overall balance.
2. Automate Your Mix
To create more dynamic and engaging mixes, use automation to control parameters like volume, panning, and effects throughout the track.
For example, you can automate a vocal reverb send to increase during a chorus for a more immersive and dramatic effect.
3. Experiment With Mid-Side Processing
Mid-side processing allows you to separately control the mono (mid) and stereo (side) content of a track.
This technique can help you enhance the stereo image and create more depth in your mix.
For example, you can apply a high-pass filter featured in one of the best mixing plugins to the side channel to clean up any low-end mud and make your mix sound wider and more spacious.
4. Use Parallel Compression
Parallel compression involves blending a heavily compressed version of a track with the original, uncompressed version.
This technique can add weight and sustain to drums, vocals, or any other element in your mix without losing transient details and dynamic range.
Try blending the dry and wet signals at low values (like 10% wet) with extreme compression for a more aggressive variation.
5. Harness the Power of Saturation
Add subtle saturation to your tracks with one of the best mixing plugins we’ve covered.
This can create extra warmth, character, and cohesion.
Try applying tape or tube saturation on individual tracks or your mix bus to enhance harmonics and glue your mix together.
6. Get Surgical With EQ
When dealing with problematic frequencies or resonances, use a surgical EQ with a narrow Q to precisely target and remove the issue.
This approach can help you maintain the natural sound of the track while addressing specific problems.
7. Don’t Over-Process
It’s easy to get carried away with the best mixing plugins, effects, and free VST instruments but sometimes less is more.
Focus on the essential elements and prioritize your processing to maintain a natural and balanced mix.
8. Utilize Sidechain Compression
Sidechain compression can create space and clarity in your mix by reducing the volume of one track when another is playing.
For example, sidechain compressing a bass track with a kick drum as the trigger can help the kick cut through the mix and avoid low-end clashes.
9. Experiment With Stereo Widening
To create a more immersive mix, experiment with stereo-widening techniques to enhance the stereo field.
You can use the best mixing plugins that offer mid-side EQ, stereo imaging tools, or even simple panning adjustments to create a sense of depth and space within your mix.
10. Keep an Eye on Phase Issues
When layering sounds or blending multiple microphones, phase issues can cause frequency cancellations and negatively impact the overall sound quality.
Make sure to check for phase issues by flipping the polarity of tracks or using phase alignment plugins.
11. Be Mindful of Headroom & Gain-Staging
Proper gain staging ensures that your audio signal is at the optimal level throughout the mixing process.
Keep an eye on your meters and maintain sufficient headroom to avoid clipping and distortion.
Adjust the gain of your individual tracks to ensure they are not too loud or too quiet, and use faders for fine-tuning the balance.
The best mixing plugins mentioned above can definitely help you with this process.
12. Use High-Pass Filtering Wisely
High-pass filtering can be a powerful tool for cleaning up low-end mud and tightening up your mix.
However, overuse can result in a thin or weak sound.
Apply high-pass filters judiciously, targeting only the elements that genuinely need it and leaving some natural low-end content in your mix.
13. Create a Sense of Depth with Reverb and Delay
Reverb and delay are essential tools for creating a sense of depth and space in your mix.
Use different types and settings of reverb and delay to place elements in the front or back of the mix, creating a three-dimensional soundstage.
Be mindful not to overdo it, as excessive reverb and delay can result in a washed-out or muddy mix.
14. Monitor at Different Levels
Listening to your mix at various volume levels can reveal different aspects of your mix.
Lower levels can highlight issues with balance and frequency content, while louder levels can expose potential distortion or harshness.
15. Take Regular Breaks
Mixing with the best mixing plugins for extended periods can cause ear fatigue, which may lead to poor mixing decisions.
Make sure to take regular breaks and come back to your mix with fresh ears for a more objective perspective.
Here are 25 mixing mistakes that can completely ruin your mix.
Best Mixing Plugins: Final Thoughts
In the ever-evolving world of production, having the best mixing plugins can make all the difference in the quality and impact of your tracks.
This comprehensive list of the best mixing plugins of 2023 will arm you with the tools you need to create professional-sounding mixes that stand out from the crowd.
So, don’t forget to save it for later!
From versatile EQs and compressors to creative effects and specialized processors, the best mixing plugins will help you unlock your full potential as a music producer and enhance your mixing skills.
Combine these VST plugins with the expert mixing tips and techniques provided.
This way, you’ll be well on your way to achieving the polished, captivating mixes that your music deserves.
Until next time…
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