In this article, we will look at some of the best plugins to boost the Perceived Loudness of a mix.
These plugins offer a mixing engineer an easy and fast way of increasing the loudness of music mix to make any complete mix sound professional.
Within seconds of putting these plugins on your master bus, you can get started with the process of increasing perceived loudness.
However, you may hurt or ruin the mix in the process. A typical example is clipping and distorting audio mixes.
Therefore, I recommend going through my article on how to increase the perceived loudness of a mix without clipping or distortion.
This guide is packed with enough tips and techniques to make the process seamless and quick, helping you to save time and energy learning all by yourself.
For the sake of this article, let us review the best plugins for increasing the loudness of an audio mix.
Best plugins to boost Perceived Loudness of a mix
Here are top seven plugins that I would recommend anyone anytime to increase the Perceived Loudness of a mix.
1) FabFilter Pro-L
FabFilter Pro-L is one of the best limiter plugins for mastering and increasing the perceived mix loudness. I love how this plugin is compatible with the most popular DAWs and music styles.
It offers numerous features and limiting styles from which you can easily tweak the final master settings. It may take some time to master this limiter, but it can change your mastering game once you have insights about this plugin.
Moreover, you can tweak the limiter styles to change the tone, attack, punch, and release of the limiter to change how it reacts to audio. This feature is vital when mixing projects of different genres, as the same limiting style can ruin the clarity of a mix.
On the other hand, the presets provide a wide variety of limiting styles and offer a good starting point to start the limiting process and increase the mix loudness.
2) Waves L3-LL Multimaximizer
Waves L3-LL Multimaximiser is a multiband limiter plugin. With this intelligent limiter, you can easily adjust the amount of limiting happening across the mix frequencies. It lets the limiter to function efficiently and according to the energies in a mix.
Hence, the limiter will focus more on that frequency area if you have a high-energy low-end. Same holds true if the cases were reversed.
I love how this plugin is highly transparent and does not generate any harmonic distortion, even when running on thick and heavy mixes.
When mastering and increasing a mix’s loudness levels, pay close attention to the band region of the plugin. This will help you to fine-tune further and adjust the final master of your mix.
3) Sonnox Oxford Inflator
The Sonnox Oxford Inflator has been on the market for years and is incredibly easy to use. Unlike FabFilter Pro-L or Waves Multi-Maximiser, you won’t find many options or a frequency curve on this plugin.
And this is something that makes it one of my go-to plugins when I want to enjoy the mixing/mastering process without having to worry about tons of settings or variety.
Most importantly, this mastering plugin comes with a simple design. Each time you hover over any faders or buttons, it shows you the utility of that particular element in the plugin. This has been a game-changer since you can download this plugin and start messing up with it.
The effect and curve faders are the main elements of this plugin. Firstly, the effect faders add harmonics, excitement, and expansion to the mix. Next, the curve fader accentuates the lower frequencies and brings them to life. You can make fantastic masters with just these two faders.
You can also boost the perceived loudness of the audio mix by toying around with the input and output faders.
4) TDR Kotelnikov GE
TDR Kotelnikov comes in both free and paid versions. The free version of Kotelnikov is excellent. However, the paid plugin includes helpful and unique features for the mastering process.
The Kotelnikov compressor comes with standard features and control that you may find on other compressors, such as ratio, threshold, attack, decay, etc. It contains two release knobs. Peak release controls short and transient peaks, whereas RMS release is used for sustained and extended peaks.
These two release knobs, along with the peak crest, will allow you to control the flavor and character of the final master. On top of that, it will also dictate how much you can boost or increase the perceived loudness of the audio mix.
The Low-Frequency Relax on the left panel of the compressor adjusts the amount of compression applied to the frequencies you select.
These are some of the features of Kotelnikov that I thought were worth mentioning. However, do feel free to try the free version yourself and make a decision out of it.
5) SSL Native Bus Compressor 2
Another great compressor to increase the loudness of your mix is the SSL mastering compressor. In the actual SSL analog hardware gear, you can find this compressor at the end of the signal chain.
This compressor gained wide popularity in the late 80s. Since then, the compressor has been on numerous tracks, all thanks to its gluing effects and analog character.
Even in modern mixing and mastering, this compressor has gained widespread popularity.
Furthermore, IN-THE-BOX-MIXING has made several plugin manufacturers like Waves, Cytomic, and the SSL itself create a plugin emulation of the SSL compressor.
The SSL compressor is simple and easy to use. It acts like a regular compressor, but its sound has a lot of analog character and depth.
Here is one of my article that will guide you on how to setup and use a glue compressor like an SSL mastering compressor.
6) iZotope Ozone Maximizer
Izotope’s ozone maximizer is a brick-wall limiter plugin with fantastic release control. After comparing this mastering compressor with other plugins, it generates the least amount of distortion and, for the most part, sounds exceptionally clean and transparent.
The IRC modes in the limiter make it reasonably easy to achieve peak loudness without distortion. Remember, you can also choose different options within the IRC modes to bring subtle or no clipping.
However, choose the transient option in the IRC mode for maximum Perceived Loudness.
Also, the stereo independence feature is quite helpful in some mixing scenarios where you want to keep the left channel of the audio independent from the right channel.
100% stereo independence means no sound from one channel will go into the other. I suggest using this feature for creative effects only.
7) UAD Neve 33609C bus compressor
Like the SSL bus compressor, Neve 33609 mastering compressor is known for its unique analog character and diode compression of the 1970s.
The Neve compressor is known for its analog and warm distortion that can inject life into a lifeless mix. This compressor was initially designed as a bus compressor to add a glue effect to a mix. It is a handy feature to increase the perceived loudness without adding any significant or unusual clipping effect.
Read more about UAD Neve compressor here.
These were some of my top-rated mastering plugins that you can use to boost or increase perceived loudness in a mix.
These plugins are tried and tested and have repeatedly proven themselves the things they are capable of.
In the beginning, I would suggest sticking with one or two mastering limiter/compressor plugins to know how master compression works.