Whether you’re a bedroom producer or a professional engineer, mixing and mastering is a vital final step that transforms raw recordings into amazing-sounding tracks. Getting these stages right is essential to create the sound that you have envisioned in your mind. There are powerful new digital audio workstations (DAWs) and effects plugins that mix and master tracks true to your creative vision. Read on for our picks of the ten mixing and mastering tools.
Pro Tools by AVID
Pro Tools by AVID has a comprehensive toolset that meets the demands of the most complex audio projects. Its flexibility allows it to handle any genre and output format.
It has over 120 plugins to fine-tune your track and get the classic sound of an analog console. You can automate almost all tasks during mixing to get the best possible mix. It is capable of producing immersive mixes due to its Dolby Atmos capabilities. You can mix and master your track as you have envisioned it using this versatile DAW.
Ableton Live 12 has several new features that enhance its mixing and mastering capacity. The updated Mixer now has a more accurate and higher-resolution visualization, making precise mixing decisions easier.
The Mixer can also now be used in Arrangement View. It allows mixing workflows across both Session and Arrangement Views. The new effect, Roar, also provides mastering-grade saturation and distortion that can add anything from subtle warmth to dramatic sound degradation.
It offers extensive sound shaping potential with three saturation stages that you can configure in series, parallel, or mid/side and multiband modes. The effect also includes a feedback generator and modulation matrix for further creativity.
Live 12 introduces a new modulation behavior to adjust parameters even after assigning an LFO or other modulation source. It facilitates faster workflows and continuous real-time tweaking of sounds.
FL Studio 21
FL Studio 21 includes integrated audio clip envelopes and gain controls for faster and more precise mixing. The envelope tool gives you visual control over volume automation on audio clips. Meanwhile, the integrated gain controls allow for clip volume adjustments directly in the playlist. These tools streamline workflows and facilitate tighter, professional-grade mixing.
It comes bundled with exclusive access to FL Cloud and AI-powered mastering features. FL Cloud's mastering tool applies genre-specific presets to match tracks to the ideal dynamic and tonal balance. It also optimizes loudness for major streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. You can get radio-ready masters without hiring expensive outside mastering engineers.
The Logic Pro is a professional-grade digital audio workstation that transforms your Mac into a fully featured recording studio. It provides powerful creative tools for composition, editing, mixing, and exporting tracks.
It includes many features, such as Flex Time for manipulating audio timing, a robust sampler and synth plugin library, and Live Loops for freeform loop-based songwriting. Logic also features integrated Dolby Atmos mixing and exporting immersive spatial audio, making it an end-to-end solution for crafting professional surround mixes.
The Mastering Assistant plugin auto-applies EQ, compression, and limits tailored to your track's genre. You can have your mix ready for streaming platforms quickly and efficiently. The new Beat Breaker and Sample Alchemy plugins provide creative ways to manipulate, mix, and transform audio clips.
Cubase Pro comes bundled with a suite of tools for polishing mixes and preparing release-ready masters. The DAW provides multiband dynamics processing via plugins like Multiband Compressor and Squasher for mixing. They allow compression to be applied independently across user-definable frequency bands. Stereo imaging can also be adjusted per band using the Imager plugin. Quadrafuzz provides multiband saturation for subtle tonal shaping.
For mastering, Cubase includes Brickwall limiting, EQ matching to reference tracks with CurveEQ, and loudness metering. The bundled plugins also enable multiband mastering chains that apply dynamic range compression, stereo width adjustments, and harmonic enhancement with precision across specific frequency ranges.
Reaper by Cockos is a versatile DAW that mixes and masters professional-sounding tracks. Simply add a stereo file of your mixed track and let the stock plugins master it to get the desired sound.
The stock plugins are a convenient way to master your tracks quickly and professionally. You can use the Saturation plugin to add warmth to your track. Perform any corrective EQ using the ReaEQ plugins to give shape to your sound. You can add reverb to your track if you like. The final step is to use the Master Limiter plugin to compress your sound to a suitable level without clipping or distorting.
Studio One by PreSonus
It is a popular DAW that stands out for its mixing and mastering capabilities. You can enjoy drag-and-drop effects chains, unlimited tracks, and advanced automation options that ease your workflow. Studio One’s Inspector pane provides a powerful productivity boost for rapid mix tweaking. The latest version can create Dolby Atmos masters for immersive records. You can also use ARA-enabled plugins in real time at any mastering stage.
SOUND FORGE By Magix
It has a wide range of sophisticated plugins, Steinberg SpectraLayers Pro 10 and Melodyne essential, for creative mixes. The Wave Hammer 2.0 mastering plugin and the added Ozone 8 elements plugin are perfect tools to streamline your workflow while mastering your track. This versatile DAW also supports a range of VST3 plugins that enhance its capacity.
Waveform Pro by Tracktion has an excellent modular mixing environment that supports multiple screens. It has a host of inbuilt FX, such as EQ, dynamic, and reverb, that can create a great-sounding mix. Once ready, you can process the mix using the inbuilt Master Mix Plugin. This plugin is designed for stereo-bus EQ and dynamics processing. Waveform Pro creates simple workflows for easy music mixing and mastering.
Bitwig Studio 5.1
Bitwig Studio 5.1 It features four filters and six waveshapers for vivid sounds. The two audio FX containers will bring color and movement to any track. You can unlock a wealth of analog techniques using the oscillator. More powerful voice stacking and a better workflow help you achieve superior mixes.
Multilayer editing allows sound processing tweaks at individual clip levels while retaining the overall arrangement simplicity. It supports many presets and Fx that will streamline your workflow while mixing. It has a powerful mastering plugin, Quik Master, that creates well-balanced masters.
These versatile DAWs are great for mixing and mastering your track without switching between different software and plugins. It is also far more economical than taking it to a professional studio. Mixing and mastering your tracks gives you greater control over the sound.