Master Your Production With Free Software
It`s time for another great textual gift in the series of searching for the “best free software” for you Hip Hop heads. After combing the entire global web to pick “Best Free VST Plugins For Hip Hop Music Production” and “Top Best Free Vocal Plugins”, we really made sure you are covered right for your open studio time operations. Next in line is “Free Mastering Software”, to make your end product a top-notch piece of work.
Now, in the episode three (if you do not count our great “Fl Studio 12” review), “Hip Hop Savvy” brings you “Best Free Audio Mastering Software” to polish your mixes and give them that final glow. Here are top leading free plugins for music mastering.
phneTool Up Your Skills
Even though mastering is still widely accepted as an easier process against his not so identical brother mixing, it must be highly noted otherwise. The art of mastering is a whole new science on itself and includes a complete possession of enormous amount of knowledge and skill.
But the use of similar or even exactly the same VST or hardware plugin, we can see how this can be confusing at the first touch. Especially for people just starting to get into the whole deal with it. Mastering is very fragile business too, so like mixing, it should be brought to attention with the same amount of seriousness. So, without further introduction, here are some of the best free tools for your radio ready track projects.
Stereo expansion is one of the key chain branches that is of such a necessity if you want a bold and wide audio image. It brings richness to your beats and individual instrumental tracks, so when even an amateur listens, he can fully enjoy it. Creating space and dimension, stereo expanders, if of course used in the right way, bring your song to life more than you can ever imagine.
The width is crucial when chasing that top, pro-level goal. Now, there is not much of a free software available out here, but you maybe only need one to do the job. Therefore, here are good free choices for you.
Alex Hilton A1 Stereo Control
From Alex Hilton comes this great VST software called “A1 Stereo Control”. Bass is usually the most tricky part to handle when widening the space. It can easily get lost from the center. But this baby here has safe bass processing that keeps all the bass signal below the level of user settings. “Phase flip” to check in with your phasing, “mid/side” monitoring “expert” and “easy mode” and more great options, just what your money free wallet needed.
Watch the video review below and learn your way in:
Bass Line 1.5
Bassline from “Tone Projects” is another great tool for mixing and mastering both. But, as mastering is our main problem here, here`s how Bassline 1.5 serves the role. With specialty when mastering for vinyl records, Bassline software plugin allows you to seamlessly center the bass so that you don`t overload the bottom space.
Keep all the effects in motion without giving your low end any trouble by inserting this VST at the end of your master chain. Unfortunately no video review accessible at the moment, but I`m sure one free VST plugin in your software library won`t be a problem.
Tone 2 “Acoustic X”
Even though it`s on evaluation copy only, this plugin is very useful to have in your possession, so testing is a must. I personally own it and can`t really fully rely on it on mastering as it can sooo easily turn your mastering into a disaster. But there`s no fault in trying it out. And you can always stick to mastering the free ones. Here`s a good review on Acoustic X to further pick your brain on final decision.
Here`s a video demo and download link below:
Free Saturation And Distortion Software
More signal processing is needed to give our final version of project a neat look. With saturation and distortion software, your music production gets that fullness in motion. Even with 21st Century gear, a sound of an old equipment still beats the competition in sweet taste.
Mildly distorted and tenderly saturated waveform preserves that catchy vintage tape recording sound. And that`s what most recordings these days use to keep our hunger active. The cable hums and doubled signals isn`t a mistake. It`s an everyday necessity. Here are couple of good free saturation and distortion software VSTs.
This subtle saturator helps both in mixing and mastering stage. And you can also use it as a distortion processor. It`s one of the most popular free software plugins out there and it had shown to be pretty well in action. Watch the video below:
KVR Audio Cyanide
Cyanide is a cool distortion software processor at free charge from “KVR Audio”. Main features include:
- graphical wave shaper
- Pre/Post LP/HP filter
- 16x Oversampling option
- Output preview
- Wet/Dry mix
And here`s a demo visual for your end pick:
And the download link.
Other Distortion And Saturation Plugin Sources
There`s a lot more of free software available on the well known sites, but I cannot make a secure guarantee for any of them. There is pretty much big number of them, not really standing out particularly. And there`s just too much time needed for them all to be tested, but if interested in browsing freely, you must visit this site here.
And also check out this helpful video offering “5 Best Free Distortion Plugins” :
Although I can`t say with complete certainty they are all compatible for audio mastering chain.
Same goes for this “Top 5 Free Saturation Plugins” here:
Waveshaping Mastering Universe
For warming up your final mixdown cut, this next group of free audio mastering software waveshapes its way in. Most of the waveshaping plugins are also useful for their distortion or saturation character. Like the Cyanide mentioned above. So it won`t be added again. But other gret software plugin buddies include:
LVC Audio ClipShifter 2
ClipShifter 2 is a waveshaping audio plugin that gives that warmness to your overall mix. Clipping distortion goes from hard, brickwall to soft saturation. Specially useful with Urban music production, ClipShifter offers some pretty nice features.
From clipping to dynamic control here are main features:
- ontrols for Clip Shape (hard to soft) and harmonics (even- and odd-order), so you can be in control of the sound
- Low CPU usage for running multiple instances on multiple tracks
- Standard LVC-Audio metering, including VU-style, PPM-style, and loudness meters to easily monitor input and output levels
- Scalable waveform history view with click-and-drag editing of threshold controls to easily change and set clipping levels based on the incoming signal
- 3-band crossover (paid feature) control utilizing 4th order LR filters for flat crossover response
- Independent frequency clipping (paid feature) to target the right frequencies for processing and selectable EQ gain controls that can be used pre- or post-processing
- Mid/Side processing option (paid feature)
- Oversampling with Double Processing (paid feature) at 2X, 4X, and 8X the incoming sample rate for reducing aliasing
- New (version 2.3.0) undo/redo history, A/B comparison, and cross-platform preset management with import/export ability
The introduction video:
And the download link of course.
The Rest Of Waveshaping
This cool You Tube video will take you through some more best free VST plugin software thank can fast kill your time of search. Watch it below:
Blend And Curve With The Right EQ
One other frequent mistake most beginner-producers make is using any EQ on mastering chain or using the same EQ for mixing and mastering. And an EQ matter is this whole unique world on its self. With such a deep science behind every EQ category, it is more than a crucial thing to master this area well.
In mastering, EQ give a soft touch the entire mix, sweetening the entire track or accenting specific instrumental areas. Here are some of the best free EQ software for aiding in Hip Hop production:
- Baxter EQ – Transparent mastering and mix buss shelving EQ
- Voxengo Marver GEQ – Linear phase EQ
And here`s a great video from one of the best online teachers, Graham Cochrane and his “Recording Revolution” tutorial brand. He`s showing exactly what to do when mastering with EQs. Watch here:
That Sweet Sound Of Compression
Finally we come to producers most wanted and liked VST plugins. Most used audio mastering software and the ultimate stage of finalizing your sonic art craft. Add that last punch and glue your mix together to capitalize that harmonic sound bite.
As always, you should be very careful with these and pick only the ones of the same type as presented here. Not every compressor can be used for mastering. Some of you know this as the back of their hand. But for a complete beginner, this is a must to remember. Here are best free compressor plugins for mastering audio.
G Multi From GVST
Already mentioned in previous series article, G Multi as its name says, is a multi-band compressor. With A/B mix control and 3 configurable frequency bands brings a decent amount of wave polishing. Grab it here.
This little feedback compressor and a limiter with sidechain input in MONO mode, comes pretty handy. Sidechain also has an LSF (low shelf filter) for additional user taste settings. Get it here.
Multi-tasked processor, the RedAmption works as a very versatile analog compressor. It rich palette of features include:
- Switchable gain reduction/ input output meter.
- Feed forward/ backward blend knob.
- Feed forward feed backward / sidechain blend knob.
- Tilt EQ knob to alter tone of envelope follower signal.
- Threshold knob. 0…-24dBfs
- Ratio knob. 1: 1.1…20
- Attack knob. Time 0.1…100 ms
- Release knob. Time 0.04…4 sec
- Stereo, individual left right, mid or side processing buttons.
- Four saturation mode buttons.
- Dry/ wet blend knob.
- Makeup gain knob.
- Off/On switch.
- Ctrl + left mouse click to default knobs.
- Shift + left mouse click and drag to get precise knob movement.
Get it here.
“jsAudio” gives this light-weighted virtual gadget software at free disposal. The name says it all. It`s a compressor, but also a wave shaper, meaning it can switch between soft-knee compression and waveshaping. And with analog-like attack, it`s a pretty fine tool to have.
Here`s the download link.
Stereo Bus Compressor
As mentioned and strictly advised, when you read a “bus compressor”, that`s your cue to master. This stereo bus compressor by XStudioToolz is free of charge helpful plugin software that is one of the many based on the hardware analog ones. This is your must have “super glue” sonic adhesive. Make those instruments sound as one without loosing any clarity.
Here are the main 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.
- Professional GUI Design.
- Very low CPU usage.
- Hints & Tips
Download link is here.
Guys from “Melda Production” give away “MCompressor”. This appealing little thing is loaded with cool features. From various dynamic shapes of compression, to hard, linear and smooth knee compression and side-chain band passing feature MCompressor does a lot for you. More properties include smart randomization, automatic gain compensation is just the tip of an iceberg here.
Get it now! Download link.
MaxSynths – DSP 3 BUS Compressor
This, dynamic processor works great on your master bus. Main role or task is to increase the overall loudness of a track without creating any distortion. Its main features are:
- Intelligent Dynamic Processor (IDP
- Four different automatic dynamic processor models
- Transparent increment of the perceived volume level
- High precision input/output VU-meter
- Easy to operate
- Low CPU usagge
And here`s the download link.
Seal The Deal With Great Free Limiting Buttons
Last chapter talks about that finish line, last step audio processing. The limiters. Won`t get into deeper explanation of these special types of compressor plugins, as many of you reading this are expected to have at least some basic knowledge on it. And because we are already over 2000 words, so for your last master chain tip, here are best free limiter plugins for audio mastering:
- Supported Sample rates: 2kHz – 384kHz
- Latency, 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
- 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
- Configurable control input
- Automatic output gain make up
- Controllable release characteristic
- Optional soft clip
- Tag based preset browser
- MIDI-learn functionality throughout
- 64bit internal processing
- Free for registered D16 users
- Look Ahead: detection of peaks are made before sound playing, this result a very little delay has no importance in the mastering process. This feature detects all peaks in time to can be limited.
- Attack attenuation envelope. This feature make continuous sound and very close to the original line.
- Release attenuation envelope. This feature improves continuous line of the sound.
- Stereo link combines attenuation with stereo balance.
- Left and right attenuation with memory storing
- Simplifying release curve
- Increasing release time 3 times (see notes below)
- Altering softening circuit filter
- Adjustable threshold and ceiling (-24dB … 0dB)
- 3 modes to control the sound: smooth, normal and loud
- Compensated latency of 4ms
- Support sample rates of 11.025kHz and above
- Ideal for mastering, or as bus limiter for drums
Useful Videos On Free Limiter Plugins
And as a bonus for our readers, here are couple of useful You Tube video tips on mastering your projects with free software and using free limiters:
Don`t Have Time To Master On Your Own?
Try This Great Online Mastering Services,
Offering Some Envious Quality Result
These few online services can really be of help if you do understand your mixing and you`ve done a pretty good job at finalizing the mixdown for mastering. They are not perfect of course and depend on the type of track, but for a quick fix and a low monthly fee tag, they could be just the thing for your low budget, or beginner mastering knowledge. Try them out and hear for your self:
Boosted Up Enough?
Free Mastering Software
We reached the end of another hopefully very helpful guide article in the series of posts about Hip Hop Music Production. And once again wishing all self-taught artists out there many luck in their future projects, let this be your one step closer patch to the next big radio hit. Jump in those producer suits and make some dope stories to jam to 24/7.
Use your natural talents and boost your knowledge up with best free audio mastering software currently available. “Hip Hop Savvy” stays being the best Urban Community serving nothing but high quality content. So I hope at the end all of you great artists are. Simply, content.