Top 5 Mastering Plugins in 2020!

by Oracle Blog
Top 5 Mastering Plugins in 2020!


Written By: Eric “Realistic” Michael

Mastering is the final stage of the music making process before we upload it to the world to hear. We always recommend getting things to sound right during the recording process & in your mix first before mastering. It’s also good practice to get to know your DAWs stock plugins before investing in expensive mastering plugins; however, the more you get into mastering, you’re eventually going to need to invest in some more powerful tools, so here are our recommendations!

SSL Bus Compressor

5) SSL Bus Compressor

There are lots of options when it comes to bus compressors on your master channel & we even switch between a few ourselves for different songs, but if we had to only choose one, we’re going with the SSL Bus Compressor! This compressor has become iconic & is known for its “glued” sound. The SSL comp does an amazing job with creating a cohesive sound while maintaining clarity. It also does a great job with making your track hit hard!

One of our favorite features this plugin has to offer is the SC filter. This allows you to set a frequency range in the low end that the compressor won’t react to. This is a great way to avoid the low end triggering the compressor & causing a “pumping” feeling. There’re a few different companies that sell this plugin. Our favorite is the one from Universal Audio, but if you don’t have the UA hardware, you can still find it on the SSL site. WAVES audio also sells it & it’s pretty solid; however, they recently switched over their plugins to needing yearly update plans, so just be prepared that you may need to repurchase this plugin once a year if you buy it from WAVES.


4) FabFilter Pro-MB

The middle of our list is filled with FabFilter plugins & to start off we’re going with the multi-band compressor they offer. Multi-band compressors are a must for lots of professional mastering engineers & this brand is hands down our favorite! Like all FabFilter plugins the design is elegant & smooth. One of our favorite features is - unlike traditional multiband compressors that spilt bands over the entire spectrum with crossovers - Pro-MB allows you to place bands anywhere on the spectrum independently of each other. This lets you be more precise & only compressor the frequency range that needs it. Pro-MB is filled with a bunch of other excellent features such as M/S compression, side-chain compression, & the ability to solo out frequency ranges.

Pro-MB is powerful & will instantly become your go-to for multi-compression! This plugin is also great to have for mixing as well. 

FabFilter Pro-L 2

3) FabFilter Pro-L 2

Any mastering chain is going to need a limiter at some point & there’s no better limiter currently on the market than the one FabFilter makes. The interface is great looking & easy to use. This limiter sounds loud & crystal clear with lots of style options to find the right tone for the song you’re mastering. One of our favorite features is the LUFS meter that’s built in. LUFS have become the standard unit to measure how loud a song should be for streaming, so it’s very handy to have this meter built right into the plugin that’s going to make the song louder. The True Peak Limiting function is designed to help avoid clipping & Pro-L2 also has the ability to apply oversampling up to 32x on your overall track.

If you’re in the market for a new limiter, this one will not disappoint & it will be the only limiter you will ever need! 


2) FabFilter Pro-Q 3

Finishing off our run of FabFilter plugins on this list is their renowned EQ. Probably the most individually powerful EQ for both mixing & mastering, this plugin can do everything you would ever want an EQ to do. It’s mixing abilities are tremendous, but it also does an amazing job for mastering. The clean elegant design is easy on the eyes & has a beautiful spectrum analyzer built in.

This EQ allows you to have up to 24 EQ bands & each of them can have a different role. You can set any band to be stereo, mid, side, left, or right. When mastering a stereo file for a client, your overall control of the mix is limited, but having these options baked right into your EQ does give you a lot more control with correcting issues the stereo mix may have. Pro-Q 3 also has a dynamic EQ inside of it & any band can be turned into a dynamic EQ instantly.

This EQ is easily our favorite EQ in our collection & has been for a long time!


1) iZotope Ozone 9 Advanced

If you’re heavy into the audio world, then there should be no surprise that Ozone 9 topped our list this year. Ozone 9 is literally everything you will ever need to master all inside of a great looking interface! Ozone is well known for its “mastering assistant” that basically does all the mastering for you; however, we recommend skipping that function & setting up your own mastering chain inside of it & tweaking the individual parameters yourself. You’ll get much better results & higher quality this way.

Ozone 9 has EQ, compressor, limiter, imager, & exciter modules inside of it & this plugin allows you to stack these in any order you want. The Exciter itself is one of the best on the market. It allows you to apply saturation & distortion to different bands (setup like a multi-band compressor.) The Exciter also has an M/S function which is great for controlling the mid & sides differently. The Imager Ozone 9 has is great too. It also is a multi-band setup & you can change the stereo image on different bands.

One of the newer features of Ozone 9 is it is “Low End Focus” module. This new module allows you to shape & control the low end in a much cleaner & sharper way than most EQs can. If you have an older version of Ozone, the “Low End Focus” module alone is enough to upgrade.

Another new module added to Ozone 9 is the “Master Rebalance”. Basically, if you have a stereo mix that you’re mastering, this module will allow you to change the volume of the drums, bass, or vocals separately. This can come in handy when you’re mastering for someone else & you need to make certain changes to some of the volumes in the mix. It’s also handy when you’re mixing a song & the beat is not tracked out. 

If you’re only able to grab one plugin for your mastering chain, this is the one to go for. You will literally have everything you need all inside of one plugin!

If the overall price is a bit much, offers this plugin as a rent-to-own option. They let you cancel & start back up at any time & there’s no interest. You also own the plugin after all the payments are complete!



Realistic is a Music Producer and Engineer located in the Twin Cities. He has been producing music for Hip-Hop & Pop music since 2004. In 2017 he graduated with an AAS in Music Production & Engineering. Real is the chief mixing engineer for where mixes all loops & sounds on the site & also provides mixing & mastering services on the site to artists & producers.




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