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10 BEST Free / Affordable Mastering VST Effects

Best 10 VST Effect Plug-ins

It has never been easier to enter the field of audio production because now we are living in a digital age.

Producers no longer have to drop tens of thousands of dollars on pricey soundboards and studio spaces.

The modern producer can literally walk around with a powerful mixing studio in their backpack!

Debates have been going on for years about the sonic quality of audio plugins compared to their analog counterparts.

For the most part, the consensus is blatantly clear that analog gear sounds and feels better than digital plugins.

However, this is slowly beginning to change… Plugin developers have been stepping up their game in recent years.

Many industry pros have used plug-ins on Grammy award-winning records, and certain plugins have even become industry standard tools.

These pieces of software are powerful, efficient, and financially feasible!

This isn’t to say that all plugins are cheap… some plugins cost just as much as analog gear.

So, what is the new producer to do? Will entering the audio world obliterate your wallet?

Not at all!

There are plenty of affordable or even good free VST plugins for the producer to get started with.

Your music, your mix, and your wallet will thank you when you incorporate some of these plugins into your arsenal.

We threw together a list of 10 best mixing effect plugins you can purchase for under $50. A few of these are even free!

If you’re skeptical, download a demo of the software and see for yourself what these puppies can do! Enjoy, and happy mixing!

Slate Digital Revival Plug-in

Slate Digital Revival

Price: Free

Steven Slate is a modern designer and innovator in the plugin world. He’s also an audio guru who builds his plugins on musical functionality.

The Revival is a brilliantly simple plugin that handles sonic enhancement in the upper and lower frequency spectrums. Featured on Revival’s interface is a “Thickness” knob and “Shimmer” knob. Simply adjust the knob to taste on individual tracks or your master bus.

You may end up calling the Revival a “better machine.” It’s that good, and it’s free to download.

More Details: Revival

Waves CLA-3A Compressor

Waves CLA-3A Compressor Limiter

Price: $49

The CLA-3A is Waves’ take on the Teletronix LA-3A compressor. It’s a fully modeled, zero latency plugin that captures the famous optical compression effects of the classic compressor. Use it on bass to add depth, vocals to add character and girth, and snare to add pop.

It’s a fantastic compressor that you’ll find on almost every insert in your DAW after you start using it.

More Details: Waves CLA-3A

bx_cleansweep Mastering VST

bx_cleansweep

Price: Free

Brainworx is known for its utility-focused design. Every part of their plugin design is intentional – there is no fluff. Every design choice has a purpose, and every plugin works well.

The Cleansweep is a neat little hi and lo-pass filter. It’s simple, clean, and perfect for adding to every insert in your chain. Cleaning up your mixes has never been easier.

More Details: bx_cleansweep

Goodhertz Lossy VST Effect Plugin

Goodhertz Lossy

Price: $49

Goodhertz is a lesser known plugin company – which is a shame. The fine people at Goodhertz understand that plugins should be articulate and intuitive.

The Lossy plugin is a creative tool for the audio eccentric. Goodhertz describes the function of Lossy as “artifacts of heavily compressed audio in a highly-tweakable realtime plugin.”

If you want to go beyond bitcrushing and enter into the underwater, cellphone screaming, crushed mp3 sounding world of audio design, Lossy is your friend!

More Details: Lossy

Izotope Ozone Imager

iZotope Ozone Imager

Price: free

It’s remarkable that Izotope is offering this plugin for free. The Ozone imager is born from the Ozone 8 mastering software.

If you want control over how wide or narrow your mix is, the Ozone Imager has you covered. Blow up your stereo field by adding this plugin to individual channels, or give your master a sonic boost. Good stereo imagers should make their way into every audio engineer’s tool set.

More Details: iZotope Imager

Voxengo Warmifier VST Plugin

Voxengo Warmifier

Price: Free

Warmifier by Voxengo was designed for processing the audio signal in a very similar way as a tube/valve equipment. Using this plug-in you can add some nice warm effect to your tracks.

This plugin is compatible with Windows and Mac OS X and is one of my favorite mixing effect plugins when it comes to adding a subtle “sparkle” to my mixes.

More Details: Warmifier

C4 multiband compressor VST

Waves C4 Multiband Compressor

Price: $29

Every engineer needs a multiband compressor, and the C4 multiband comp from Waves is a great place to start. Limit, compress, and EQ all in one plugin. For $29, the C4 is a steal.

More Details: C4 Multiband Compressor

Soundtoys Devil-Loc

Soundtoys Devil-Loc

Price: $10 (on sale)

Soundtoys offers incredible plugins for the producer and creative. The Devil-loc is a part of their “mini” series (smaller versions of some full featured plugins they offer).

These little plugs are fantastic. They are usually priced at around $80, and even at that price point, they are worth every penny.

The Devil-Loc is a compressor/audio obliteration tool. On drums, it’s a compression marvel, and on vocals, it’s a warm fuzzy hug. Stay on the lookout for sales on Soundtoys plugs. You won’t regret it.

More Details: Devil-Loc

Izotope vinyl effect plugin

iZotope Vinyl

Price: Free

Izotope’s vinyl plugin is a vinyl simulator, letting you add virtual dust, EQ, and mechanical noise to your creations. You’ll find that its “year” function acts as a very neat EQ, and the “wear” fader adds faded grime to whatever it comes in contact with. Checking this out is worth a shot.

More Details: Vinyl

Midside Matrix VST Effect Plug-in

Goodhertz Midside Matrix

Price: Free

Here’s another stereo imaging plugin (you can never have enough). The Goodhertz mid/side processor is remarkable. They offer this little mid/side tool for free, letting you comfortably add depth and monitor your mix.

Every Goodhertz plugin is worth a look. The Midside Matrix will change the way you interact with the stereo field.

More Details: Midside Matrix

I hope you have already selected some useful plugins from our list to use in your productions. Do not forget to give a share to the article, surely your friends will appreciate the gesture.

About The Author

Nadav Biran is the co-founder of HBT Magazine, he worked with world class DJs such as The Chainsmokers, Vicetone, Cazzete, Hellberg, MAKJ, VINAI, Deniz Koyu, Laidback Luke, to name a few. His latest project is Catz Audio – a pro audio magazine.