Mastering is a very crucial stage in music production. That's why it is the last step in music production. It gives a clear picture of what your song will sound like when it is complete.
Your final master determines whether your song will be a commercial or not. With a good master, your song can easily sneak into top worldwide charts like the billboards.
A quality master is key. That's why you must get it right.
And to get it right, you need the best mastering software in the game. Something that meets the industry standard in terms of performance and quality.
But choosing a mastering software is a confusing process.
Not to worry.
In this short guide, we'll discuss the best 10 mastering software. And we will recommend our top 3 picks.
Avid Pro Tools – Best for beginners
If you're looking for industry-standard mixing and mastering software, get Avid Pro Tools.
Avid Pro Tools is compatible with Mac and windows. This mastering software comes with numerous stock plugins that you can use to start mastering if you don't have third-party plugins. These Include compressors, equalizers, delays, and reverbs.
Pro Tools First is available for free. It's a good fit for beginners.
But it doesn't come with certain components. For example, the number of audio tracks, midi tracks, aux, instrument, and inputs.
Pro Tools Ultimate is available for $799 a year and it's great for professionals who work with large files.
Their user interface is friendly and easy to use. You can drag and drop files on the playlist.
Pro Tools supports third-party plugins mixing and mastering plugins. You can connect Pro Tools with workstations and outboard gear to get the best out of your system.
PreSonus Studio One Pro – Best for pros
Another outstanding mastering DAW is Studio One by PreSonus. Studio One 5 is famous and it stands out from the other mastering Daws because it has a user-friendly and intuitive interface.
Unlike Pro Tools which are quite expensive, Studio one 5 is rather cheap. Studio One 5 Professional is available for $399.95.
This DAW allows you to import files by dragging and dropping.
The best feature about Studio One 5 is its stock plugins. It comes with enough stock plugins you need to master music.
In fact, you don't need third-party plugins to master music in this software. But you can get them as well.
Their effects are easy to access and their interface is intuitive and user-friendly.
Studio One 5 is compatible with external soundboards and outboard gear. It's compatible with Windows and Mac.
Think of Acoustica Mixcraft as the GarageBand version of Windows. It's not available for macOS users. There are two versions of this amazing DAW. The recording studio and the pro version. The starting price is $99.
Acoustica Mixcraft has an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. Mixcraft 9 comes with numerous effects, stock plugins, and tracks.
The mastering workflow in this DAW is similar to the ones mentioned above. Mixcraft supports third-party plugins.
Although Acoustica Mixcraft is not as famous as the other DAWs, that doesn't mean that it is not worth it. This software offers value for money in terms of mastering.
Ableton Live – Outstanding automation and modulation capabilities
It would be unfair if we failed to mention the impact Ableton Live has had in the live performance industry.
Ableton is not only a great software for beat making and mixing music, but it's also an outstanding mastering DAW.
It comes with numerous effects. My favorites are eq 8 and their compressor. But you need more third-party plugins if you want to achieve professional mastering. Ableton Live supports third-party plugins.
This DAW is beginner-friendly and easy to use. To import your files for mastering, drag and drop them on the arrangements view window.
Ableton allows you to create hundreds of mixer tracks. Another great thing is their outstanding automation and modulation capabilities. And the mixing and mastering workflow is amazing.
This DAW is compatible with both Windows and Mac. Ableton is available in intro, standard, and suite. The starting price is $99.
FL Studio – Best for electronic producers
FL Studio is the software of the new generation. It's the new kid on the block and is famous among electronic producers.
This DAW has taken the production world by storm because it is easy to learn, beginner-friendly, and has an intuitive interface.
Read Also: 20+ Best Free Ableton Live Themes and Skins
The workflow in this DAW is amazing and it offers many mixer tracks.
The Automation in Fl Studio is great but not as amazing as Ableton's. FL Studio is compatible with macOS and Windows.
Regarding pricing, currently, FL Studio 20 is available for $299. This comes with free lifetime updates and extra inbuilt plugins.
Fl Studio offers value for money compared to expensive DAWS like Pro Tools. It supports third-party plugins.
Steinberg Cubase is another great mastering software.
You can say it's the mother of DAWs because most of the DAWs you see today took their design from Cubase. It has been in the game for over 30 years.
Their last version is Cubase 11. This Daw comes with numerous stock plugins and effects for mastering and it accepts third-party plugins.
Cubase has an intuitive interface and it's easy to use. It's industry standard.
When it comes to automation, Steinberg Cubase is at par with Ableton. Drawing Automation in Cubase is a walk in the park and it's accurate. The mastering workflow in Cubase is also amazingly easy.
There are three versions namely Cubase Elements, Artists and Pro. The starting price for Cubase software is $121 per feature.
The system requirements to run Cubase are not outrageous. Cubase is compatible with macOS and Windows.
Reaper – Cheapest mastering DAW
Reaper is the cheapest cross-platform DAW available today. The starting price for the standard version is $60 only.
This DAW gives you value for money.
Reaper is compatible with both macOS and Windows and its system requirements are not outrageous. All you need for storage is 13 MBs for Windows and 20 MBs for Mac.
The only underwhelming thing about Reaper is that it comes with a few stock plugins and effects. Therefore, invest in third-party plugins to achieve professional mastering. It supports third-party plugins.
Similar to other DAWs, it is customizable and has an intuitive and easy-to-use user interface.
Logic Pro X – Only for macOS users
Another great Daw that offers value for money is Apple Logic Pro. Logic Pro is available for $200. This DAW beats others at this price range.
The only downside is that it's only available for macOS users.
Logic Pro is amazing because it comes with numerous inbuilt effects and plugins that will take your mastering and production to the next level.
This DAW allows you to draw automation. It's easy to use and it has an intuitive user interface that makes toggling between windows and loading the mixer easy.
You can import files for mastering by dragging and dropping them into DAW. Logic is compatible with outboard gear and soundboards.
Bitwig Studio is a great fit for producers who like to explore in order to reach their full creative potential.
This DAW is available at a starting price of $99. This gives you access to the standard version but you can access the 16 track version for free.
Bitwig Studio is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux.
This DAW comes with amazing stocks plugins but also accepts third-party plugins.
Bitwig has been compared with Ableton Live many times. It has an intuitive interface and it's easy to use.
The automation and mastering workflow in Bitwig is also a walk in the park. Bitwig is well known for its modulation and Bitwig 4.0 touch screen ability.
If you're a fan of using racks while mastering, this is the DAW for you. You can use Reason rack as a plugin in your favorite DAW.
For example, you can load it in Ableton and use its effects and plugins to create, mix and master music just like the Grammy award-winning producer Ill Factor likes to use it.
But you can use it as DAW as well.
There are three versions of Reason. The intro, standard, and suite. Reasons starting price is $60. It's compatible with Mac and Windows.
This DAW has an intuitive, attractive interface that's easy to use.
Your quest for the best mastering DAW should end here. Because these are the 10 best mastering DAWS in the game today.
They are a good fit for you whether you're a beginner, a professional in the mastering industry, a Windows or Apple user.
Here are our top three picks.
- Avid Pro Tools. It's the industry standard mastering DAW and it has an intuitive interface.
- Steinberg Cubase. Cubase gives you value for money and it comes with numerous stock plugins to kickstart your career.
- PreSonus Studio One Pro. Offers value for money. Come with numerous stock plugins and is user friendly.
I hope you found this article helpful. Let us know which of these DAWs you are going to try first.