From loudness meters to spectrum analyzers, from stereo tools to phase correlation meters, each of these plugins brings something unique to your audio post-production workflow. Whether you're mixing, mastering, or just trying to get your audio to sound the best it possibly can, these plugins are worth exploring. So, buckle up as we dive into the world of audio plugins.
Flux Stereo Tool
The Stereo Tool by Flux lives up to its name, offering an all-in-one solution for enhancing your music's stereo image. This plugin provides the ability to adjust the volume levels of each side to achieve balance, invert the polar phase, and manage the panning for the left and right channels both individually and globally. It also allows you to modify the stereo width of a track, making it an ideal tool for creating stereo imaging effects. However, it's recommended to exercise caution when going beyond 1.50db to avoid phase issues. This plugin is particularly beneficial when working with stereo busses for highly dynamic instruments such as guitars, drums, and keyboards, enabling precise control over stereo spread and panning. Its highly graphical interface provides instant feedback, aiding in preventing potential errors. Furthermore, it allows you to save and recall presets for each side, facilitating A/B comparisons or blending.
HOFA-Plugins 4U Goniometer & Korrelator
Having a modern goniometer is crucial for your audio workflow. If there's significant activity below the center line, it may result in unusual sounds when played in mono. Therefore, it's always recommended to perform a mono check when you observe a lot of movement in the lower half of the circle.
iZotope Ozone Imager 2
Conveniently broaden or constrict your sounds to ensure they blend seamlessly into any mix. It's the simplest method to expand a narrow-sounding synth or center your bass guitar. With the Stereoize feature, you can convert mono into stereo without the need for reverb or doubling. Utilize the newly introduced Stereoize II mode for delicate enhancement, or Stereoize I for a vibrant phasing effect. The inclusion of three distinct vectorscope meters helps to verify your stereo width and alignment of the left and right channels. Enlarge your plug-in window for a superior visualization of the processes at work!
Similar to the other plugins, you have the option to measure VU, RMS, or peak levels on stereo sources with this plugin. The graphical user interface gives a contemporary twist to the classic VU design, providing a familiar yet fresh user experience.
2BusControl is a universal monitor control and Balance/Correlation metering plugin that offers left/right and MONO/DIFF options for stereo bus masters. It provides five key monitoring modes along with highly intuitive and responsive metering for left/right balance and correlation. Post-metering solo is available at the touch of a button, and you can select between traditional left/right soloing (as phantom center) or the equally valuable MONO/DIFF(erence) or M/S (Mid/Side) rendering of the soloed signal. Mono mode lets you detect any cancellations in the phantom center and is crucial for assessing the relationship between the center and the edge with content that's been panned for separation. Moreover, you can interchange the stereo perspective by swapping the left and right channels. Each solo control is just a button away, simplifying the process of checking the position and amplitude for all elements of your mix.
The MAnalyzer is a spectrum analyzer complete with a spectrogram, which proves invaluable during your EQ processes or when identifying imbalances. This tool truly underlines the importance of visual mixing as it aids in detecting potential problems that might otherwise go unnoticed. The plugin enhances the mixing process by enabling the "areas" visualization, thereby helping you identify the most significant frequencies in a given instrument, objective, or music genre and providing an optimal curve for reference. A unique feature of MAnalyzer is its pre-filtering capability that allows you to design a desired spectrum shape using the shape editor. This feature is particularly beneficial when using reference tracks, as it facilitates achieving balance across your mixes, thereby simplifying the mastering process.
Rounding off our list is MLoudnessAnalyzer, which, as the name indicates, is a tool for analyzing loudness, adhering to ITU-R BS. 1770-1 and EBU 3341 specifications in Loudness Units relative to Full Scale (LUFS). This plugin is especially beneficial when mastering for streaming services, as it can automatically adjust your signal to match a predetermined target volume, distinguishing it from other free and paid loudness meters. Like other Melda Productions plugins, MLoudnessAnalyzer allows you to customize the view to show only what you need, avoiding unnecessary clutter from unneeded meters. Notably, the plugin offers a "batch auto-gain" feature, which enables you to find and process multiple audio files to conform to a specified target volume. This feature is invaluable when delivering multiple tracks simultaneously and requiring a consistent volume level across them.
PreSonus VU Meter
This simple, analog-style meter caters to both mono and stereo sources. It's a dual-purpose meter that displays a traditional analog VU as well as an LED peak meter at the center of the plugin. This provides a balanced solution to metering, combining the best of both worlds in one free plugin.
PSP VintageMeter is a direct and uncomplicated VU plugin. It allows you to monitor either VU (Volume Unit) or PPM (Program Peak Meter), offering you choice and flexibility in your audio monitoring process.
dpMeter is a highly accurate multi-channel digital audio meter that provides RMS, EBU R 128, Dialog gated, and TruePeak (intersample) measurement capabilities. It is the updated version of the widely acclaimed dpMeter4, with enhancements including the ability to resize the graphical user interface and manage presets.
TBProAudio mvMeter 2
MV Meter 2 stands out by imitating the functionality of traditional analog VU and PPM meters while offering a variety of measurement modes such as RMS, PEAK, EBU R128, PPM, and VU. This intuitive plugin is equipped with customizable pre-gain, multi-channel metering, and a selection of five different GUI themes. This combination of features makes it a highly versatile and useful VU meter plugin, surpassing the expectations of users.
Voxengo Correlometer, a multi-band phase correlation meter, is a remarkable tool for detecting issues that may not be audible to the human ear. One of the key factors distinguishing professional sound from amateur mixes is phase correlation problems, often leading to a mix that sounds flat, thin, or devoid of power and punch. What sets Voxengo Correlometer apart from your usual goniometer is its ability to not just identify a problem but also indicate its location, enabling rapid resolution. This plugin is particularly useful during the mastering stage as it pinpoints precisely when and where phase cancellations occur, thus aiding in their correction for a more refined master. On a broader scale, this plugin can significantly elevate your mixes from amateur to professional quality, as phase cancellation is one of the most commonly overlooked challenges faced by project studio engineers globally.
Voxengo's Span is a spectrum analyzer that could be a game-changer in your audio post-production process. Despite its ranking on this list, Span is an exceptional plugin that offers a variety of options like frequency soloing and M/S monitoring, making it a valuable free resource. Similar to the MAnalyzer plugin, Span lets you customize the analysis display according to the smoothness of the spectrum shape, averaging time, and frequency range. Furthermore, Span provides the unique feature of analyzing and visualizing M/S information concurrently, which is crucial in identifying excessive low-mid frequencies in the sides that can muddy your mix. An added advantage of this plugin is the ability to surf or sweep through frequencies by holding control + left click and adjusting the filter's bandwidth with your mouse's scroll wheel. This feature simplifies the task of identifying and resolving issues in your mix.
Youlean Loudness Meter
The Youlean Loudness Meter is a complimentary, comprehensive loudness meter designed to keep track of your audio signal's volume. An upgraded version of this plugin offers additional functionalities such as a dynamic range viewer, presets catered to various streaming platforms and broadcast settings, as well as personalization options. You can employ this plugin as an instantaneous loudness examiner during the final stages of your mixing or mastering process, allowing you to monitor whether your sound levels remain within the accepted limits or if tweaks are necessary to align your levels with professional standards.
Remember, mastering these plugins requires practice, patience, and a keen ear. But once you get the hang of it, you'll realize that these plugins can help you achieve that elusive professional sound you've been striving for. So, go ahead and start experimenting with these plugins, and remember, the only limit is your creativity. Happy mixing!