Best 15 Free Mastering VST Plugins that Sound Great!

Good mastering plugins can be hard to come by, and they can definitely be expensive!

This is why I created this list of the best free mastering plugins which should help you get your mixes to a new level while not spending anything!

Table of Contents

  1. Youlean Loudness Meter 2 (Windows/Mac)
  2. mvMeter 2 by TBProAudio (Windows/Mac)
  3. SPAN by Voxengo (Windows/Mac)
  4. LoudMax by Thomas Mundt (Windows/Mac)
  5. Limiter №6 by Vladg Sound (Windows/Mac)
  6. Voxengo Marvel GEQ (Windows/Mac)
  7. Stereo Tool v3 by Flux (Windows/Mac)
  8. IVGI by Klanghelm (Windows/Mac)
  9. Ferric TDS By Variety of Sounds (Windows)
  10. A1Stereo Control by Alex Hilton (Windows/Mac)
  11. Baxter EQ by Variety of Sounds (Windows)
  12. ClipShifter 2 by LVC Audio (Windows/Mac)
  13. Bitter Sweet V3 by Flux (Windows/Mac)
  14. Stereo Buss by Minimal System Group (Windows)
  15. Wider by Polyverse Music (Windows/Mac)

Youlean Loudness Meter 2

Available for Windows/Mac

One critical aspect of proper mastering, and also mixing, is being able to monitor properly.

Youlean Loudness Meter 2 is a free loudness metering plugin that features four metering modes; LUFS, LRA, DR and true peak.

It’s one of the most accurate loudness metering plugins out there, even when compared to other premium ones, and a lot of producers use it…

Which is a clear testament to its overall quality.

Even though you can get it for free, it does have a Pro version which comes with additional features.

This is an essential tool for any producer, especially if budget is an issue, since it will help you determine the proper amount of loudness without sacrificing quality or dynamics.

The great thing is that it’s also a very visual plugin…

You can not only hear, but see what is going on… and this is always a plus!

Not only this, but it includes loads of presets so you can make sure to sound great on all the streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube, etc.

You can download it here.

Related: Are you looking for free reverb plugins? Here’s a list of 14 of them!

mvMeter 2 by TBProAudio

Available for Windows/Mac

This is a simple and easy to use plugin which is better than some of its premium counterparts.

It is a multivariable meter including RMS, EBUR128, VU and PPM measurement.

Additionally, it has multi-channel metering…

This means that you can see what’s happening on the stereo, left, right, mid, or side channels.

You can even choose between five different themes, if you don’t like the look of a particular one…

The mvMeter2, compared to the previous version, comes with a couple upgrades which are:

  • single and dual meter display
  • adjustable reference level for all meter modes
  • adjustable meter delay
  • preset management

You can download it here.

Related: If you’re looking for a free DAW, then here’s an article for you on that exact topic.

SPAN by Voxengo

Available for Windows/Mac

SPAN is a free spectrum analyzer plugin which is absolutely essential for mastering if you want your mixes to end up sounding loud but not crushed.

It has a fairly simple Interface which, in my opinion, doesn’t really look that great… but it’s still customizable to some extent.

However, it’s very accurate and useful, plus it’s compatible with almost any DAW available right now.

It comes loaded with features such as being able to route multiple tracks into SPAN and then comparing their frequency content.

Applications

  • Fast Fourier transform spectrum analyzer
  • Stereo, mid-side, surround spectrum analyzer
  • Stereo correlation meter
  • EBU R128, K-system meter
  • RMS, true peak level and clipping detector

You can download it here.

LoudMax by Thomas Mundt

Available for Windows/Mac

LoudMax is a Loudness Maximizer Plugin with a clean and transparent sound.

It is designed to retain the original character of the music as much as possible even at high compression levels.

It’s a very simple yet powerful tool.

It has two sliders which are: Threshold and output.

LoudMax is a plugin which I’d recommend to beginners since its simplicity will better help you understand how to properly use a limiter.

But, even though it’s extremely simple, it’s still a great plugin!

Features

  • True Peak Limiting (Further information for ISP below)
  • Supported Samplerates: 2kHz – 384kHz
  • Latency: 1.25ms (+ 6 samples with ISP)
  • Look-Ahead and Attack Time: 1.25ms
  • Release Time: Automatic – depending on the input signal
  • No audible distortion
  • Possible overdrive: 740dB
  • Very low CPU usage

You can download it here.

Limiter №6 by Vladg Sound

Available for Windows/Mac

Remember I said that LoudMax is a very simple plugin with just two controls?…

Well, Limiter №6 is far more complex and also versatile…

This is why I wouldn’t recommend it to absolute beginners.

It offers more control than LoudMax, meaning that it allows you to do more detailed tweaking, but it’s a bit harder to use.

It has five modules which include: RMS compressor, peak limiter, high-frequency limiter, clipper, true peak limiter.

Even some premium plugins don’t come with such features included…

So, definitely give it a try!

Features

  • 5 modules: RMS compressor, peak limiter, high-frequency limiter, clipper, true peak limiter
  • high-quality signal processing to use for mastering purposes
  • brickwall and soft limiting with different timing settings
  • M/S and multiband modes
  • optional 4x oversampling
  • true inter-sample peaks (ISP) limiting
  • analog-style indication
  • 2 different GUIs

You can download it here.

Voxengo Marvel GEQ

Available for Windows/Mac

Voxengo is a very well-known company that creates excellent free plugins…

And Marvel GEQ is no exception.

Having a good EQ is essential for any mixing and mastering engineer.

This is a linear-phase 16-band graphic equalizer which you should definitely give a try.

It comes with an “undo/redo” function which can be quite helpful.

Marvel GEQ offers extensive internal channel routing capabilities, and supports mid/side channel processing.

Supporting mid/side channels is a fantastic feature since it allows you to treat the information in the center in a different way than the information on the sides.

Marvel GEQ allows audio engineers and musicians to apply quick EQ shape adjustments, both to audio tracks and full mixes. 

Applications

  • Track graphic equalizer
  • Voice streaming equalizer plugin
  • Mastering graphic equalizer
  • Stereo, mid-side, 5.1 surround equalizer
  • Transparent graphic equalizer

You can download it here.

Related: Looking for free compression plugins? Then here’s a list I wrote just about that topic.

Stereo Tool v3 by Flux

Available for Windows/Mac

StereoTool is a free plugin that offers precise control of input gain and individual pan for left and right channels.

It also comes with an accurate visual feedback, reflecting the content with;

A vector scope, PPM meters for inputs/outputs, phase correlation meter permanently monitoring the signal and individual left and right polarity reversal.

In some cases, mixes require some balancing of the information between the channels, and if your mix has some balance or phase issues, then StereoTool can be quite helpful.

Features

  • Input Gain controls for adjusting the level for left and right channels before processing
  • Phase inversion of the incoming signal on left and right channels
  • Individual panning control for left and right channels
  • Vector Scope Display providing accurate visual feedback reflecting the signal stereo image content graphically.

You can download it here.

IVGI by Klanghelm

Available for Windows/Mac

I love Klanghelm. I use a couple of their compressors and they all work great!

So, it’s no surprise that this saturation and distortion plugin is also excellent!

Adding a bit of saturation to your final mix can completely change the way it sounds, and in a good way!

One of the issues in todays music industry is that we all record using digital gear, which is fantastic in its own way…

But some of those older sounds that we love came from the imperfections of recording with tape and analog gear.

This is why adding a bit of warmth, using a saturation plugin, can do wonders!

Not only can IVGI add warmth, but it can also be used to completely distort tracks, and it also lets you alter the frequency dependency of the saturation with the RESPONSE control.

You can download it here.

Ferric TDS By Variety of Sounds

Available for Windows only

Ferric is a tape dynamic simulator which was inspired by the dynamic shaping capabilities of some high-end reel-to-reel tape recorders.

It simulates three of the most distinctive sonic effects of these devices:

  • Dynamics: gently shaping the overall dynamic response.
  • Saturation: adding extra harmonic-related content.
  • Limiting: controlling peak performance.

Since most people don’t have access to vintage tape machines, they would need some sort of plugin to achieve the same effect…

And this is where Ferric TDS comes in!

It simulates dynamics for shaping the overall dynamic response, adds extra harmonics and saturation effects, and controls outgoing peaks.

You can download it here.

A1Stereo Control by Alex Hilton

Available for Windows/Mac

Often times you’d want to give your mixes a wider and expansive sound…

This is where A1Stereo Control comes in.

One issue can arise which is “widening the bass end”, since the bass should always be in the center.

This plugin comes with the “Safe Bass” algorithm which centers everything below a user-configurable value.

This gives your tracks the solidity and definition you want while preserving maximum transparency and sharpness.

Simply turn on “Safe Bass” and adjust the frequency if needed and that’s it… It’s really that simple.

You can download it here.

Baxter EQ by Variety of Sounds

Available for Windows only

Like I mentioned earlier, EQ is an absolutely critical element of the mastering process…

And it is used for very gentle accentuation of specific frequencies which affect the whole mix.

BaxterEQ was designed to be used for this specific purpose which is why is has a full dual channel layout as well as mid/side encoding support, and per-channel level for easy A/B matching.

Features

  • low ripple and distortion filter implementations
  • 64bit floating point internal processing
  • oversampled for superior impulse response
  • natural and accurate bass response
  • authentic analog style HF curve rendering
  • smoothest shelving operation

You can download it here.

ClipShifter 2 by LVC Audio

Available for Windows/Mac

ClipShifter is a wave-shaping audio plugin that functions like a clipping-style limiter. 

It provides enough user controls to be useful in all mixing stages: from distorting basses and drums, to maximizing mix buses and warming-up overall mixes.

The distortion can be altered from a hard, brickwall-style clipping, to softer saturation with compression.

ClipShifter can be used in static or dynamic mode.

Also, there is an independent left/right or mid/side control.

Most of the features of this plugin are free, but if you want to access all of them, you’ll need to purchase the premium one…

Or you can purchase Clipped-Max which is an updated version of the software, plus it includes a key for ClipShifter as well.

Features

  • Clipping style limiter
  • Controls for Clip Shape (hard to soft) and harmonics
  • Low CPU usage
  • Standard LVC-Audio metering, including VU-style, PPM-style, and loudness meters to easily monitor input and output levels
  • Scalable waveform history view

You can download it here.

Bitter Sweet V3 by Flux

Available for Windows/Mac

Flux is a well-known and respected company that created high-quality plugins…

Bitter Sweet is basically their free version of a sweetening plugin.

At its core, this is a tone and transient shaper plugin which with just one turn of a knob can reduce/magnify the transients, making the sound sweet or bitter.

By turning the knob to the sweet side, you get a very smoot transient which brings a silky tonal character with it.

On the other hand, turning it to Bitter, you get a much more accentuated and aggressive tonal characteristic.

Since this plugin is so easy to use, I’d say that even someone who is a complete beginner should download it!

Features

  • Up to 8 channels Input/Output
  • Output Gain
  • Controls the Output Gain at the end of the processing (-/+ 12 dB).
  • Link to Output Gain – Compensates the Output Gain depending on the Transient Amount in order to achieve unity gain.

You can download it here.

Stereo Buss by Minimal System Group

Available for Windows only

This is a free compression plugin specifically designed for Master Bus compression.

Compression helps glue all the tracks together to create that sense of congruency in the mix, and while this is certainly doable with most compression plugins…

Stereo Buss does it better!

Basically, if you’re looking to add some finishing touches to your mixes, then Stereo Buss might be the compression plugin you need!

Tip: Try introducing the Stereo Buss Compressor early in the mixing process.

This all depends on how you like to mix, but it often times helps with gluing the tracks together faster…

And this means faster mixes!

Features

  • Analogue Modelled Buss Compressor.
  • The XStudioToolz stereo Buss Compressor can be used on the Master Buss and also on sub-groups (Drum Groups etc).
  • Great visual feedback.
  • Great sound.
  • Presets.
  • Professional GUI Design.
  • Very low CPU usage.

You can download it here.

Wider by Polyverse Music

Available for Windows/Mac

This is a simple free plugin that widens your stereo signal…

The added benefit of Wider is that it does this without causing phase issues when you listen to the mix in mono because any widened signal will always remain in phase.

It’s extremely easy to use because you can only control one parameter; the width.

And that’s it!

It creates a much wider stereo feel and it doesn’t mess with the phase at all!

Excellent plugin that I absolutely recommend!

You can download it here.

Conclusion

I hope I was able to provide the information you needed here.

I believe that all of the plugins on this list are absolutely amazing considering that they are free!

Wider is fantastic, and I also love Youlean Loudness Meter and mvMeter 2.

Give them a try and see how you like them!

Have a great day!

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