Analyzer Plugins for Mixing and Mastering

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black and green audio mixer

Cover Photo by James Kovin

While the majority of our posts have primarily focused on music theory (particularly harmony), today we’re shifting our focus to mixing. More specifically, we’ll be examining the use of audio analyzer plugins, which are powerful tools that enhance the quality and precision of your audio production. This post isn’t an in-depth review of these plugins but rather a simple introduction to some of the plugins that we have found to be quite useful and have always wanted to share with our readers. We hope this article can provide some assistance in the already challenging task of mixing!


Brief Introduction

Making music is all about what we hear. But can you rely solely on your sense of hearing when creating music? We doubt it, especially when you’re working alone. Your ears can become fatigued after long hours of wearing headphones or listening to loud music, leading to a loss of objectivity in your listening and judgment. This is where analyzer plugins come in. Think of these analyzer plugins as your helpers in the final stages of mixing or mastering your music. They provide you with a precise analysis of the audio you’re hearing, free from the constraints of untreated room acoustics or tired ears.

“Your ears can become fatigued after long hours of wearing headphones or listening to loud music, leading to a loss of objectivity in your listening and judgment. “

There are several analyzer plugins available, both free and paid. But today, we’ll take a closer look at just three of our favorites. These plugins are all very intuitive and user-friendly that even individuals with limited acoustic knowledge can begin using them with just a little practice.

Please note: We’ve included iZotope’s Tonal Balance Control 2, which may not fit the traditional definition of an ‘audio analyzer.’ However, we’ve chosen to include it in our list because it’s straightforward to use and provides significant assistance in achieving the correct mix balance.

In case you’re interested, we’ve compiled a list of free mixing plugins for 2023.


MMultiAnalyzer by Melda Production

MMultiAnalyzer is a unique multi-track spectrum, loudness, and stereo analyzer and sonogram. It’s designed to reveal problems and frequency collisions in your audio material quickly, easily, and with astonishing accuracy. You just need to put an instance on each track you are interested in, and the instances automatically find each other and exchange their respective analyses.

HIGHLIGHTS
One of the most common mixing challenges that novice mixers encounter is a muddy mix. Unless you’re an experienced engineer, it can be hard to figure out which instruments and frequencies are causing this problem. That’s where Melda Production’s MMultiAnalyzer comes in handy. It provides visual tools that make it easier to see and identify where these frequency problems are happening, helping you fix them more effectively.


In the below screenshot, the plugin is inserted at group busses (such as Piano, Synths, Beats, Guitars, etc.). When the music is played, the plugin will highlight where the clashes are occurring (shown as a thick red color at the bottom of the image) and simultaneously display the frequency range that each group bus is covering.

MMultiAnalyzerTo the left side of the picture, you’ll notice color-coded labels for group channels, such as Pn, Vox, Beats, Synths, etc.. The plugin will highlight areas where clashes occur between these group buses (shown as a thick red color at the bottom of the image).


One of the key strengths of MMultiAnalyzer is its ability to analyze multiple tracks simultaneously. This feature allows you to look into your material in ways not previously possible, such as multi-track sonogram, collision detector, loudness comparison, and stereo analyzer. It also has unique features like normalization, super-resolution, and deharmonization that make your audio easily understandable. This makes it an invaluable tool for anyone involved in audio production or engineering.

You can assign a color code to each group bus, and the plugin will visually represent the dominant frequency range for each bus.

Voxengo SPAN Plus – FFT Spectrum Analyzer

Voxengo SPAN Plus is a real-time “fast Fourier transform” audio spectrum analyzer plugin for professional music and audio production applications. It’s an extended version of the freeware SPAN plugin. It provides several additional features such as PNG file export, real-time spectrum import/export for multi-track spectrum comparisons, static spectrums display, and a “wide” display mode.

One of the key strengths of Voxengo SPAN Plus is its very flexible “mode” system which you can use to setup your spectrum analyzer preferences. You may specify Fourier block size in samples, FFT window overlap percentage, spectrum’s visual slope. Besides that, you can choose to display secondary spectrum of a desired type (e.g., real-time maximum, all-time maximum). Spectrum can be smoothed out visually for an easier examination. It supports multi-channel analysis and can be set to display spectrums from two different channels or channel groups at the same time. This makes it a powerful tool for anyone involved in audio production or engineering.

HIGHLIGHTS
If we were to choose our favorite feature of Voxengo SPAN Plus, it would be its mid-side EQ monitor capability. This feature allows you to separately adjust the mid (sum) and side (difference) components of a stereo signal which can be particularly useful if you want to improve the stereo image or simply monitor how different areas of frequencies are spread between center (mid) and sides.


Here’s a great video that explains using Mid-Side EQing with Voxengo SPAN Plus. Watch from 14:17:

iZotope Tonal Balance Control 2

As we mentioned earlier in the post, iZotope’s Tonal Balance Control 2 doesn’t fully align with our definition of an ‘audio analyzer’ due to its limited functionality and features. In fact, if you’re looking for a more comprehensive analyzer software, we highly recommend considering iZotope’s Insight 2, as it is a brilliant and full-fledged audio analyzer. Nevertheless, we’re still including Tonal Balance Control 2 because of its effectiveness in helping achieve the right balance in your final audio without a hassle!

In this instance, our final track appears to have excessive energy in the High-Mid area, while it lacks some in the Low-Mids. We’ve set our reference genre from the preset, but we strongly recommend importing a few individual audio tracks that you wish to use as reference tracks.

HIGHLIGHTS

iZotope’s Tonal Balance Control 2 can be used for both the mixing and mastering phases. It examines your audio and presents a visual representation of the frequency distribution within the audio. In short, this plugin provides an easy way to assess which part of the frequency spectrum (such as low, low-mid, etc.) might be too weak or too pronounced in your audio. How does it make such judgments? iZotope claims that they’ve employed machine learning to analyze thousands of critically acclaimed tracks from various genres, allowing them to confidently recommend suitable adjustments for your music. Even if your music doesn’t neatly fit into a predefined genre (which we believe is often the case for our blog readers), you also have the option to upload your own track or album as a reference point.

One of the key strengths of Tonal Balance Control 2 is its ability to clearly view the tonal balance of your audio and compare against target curves representing popular music genres. It also allows you to load an audio file to create a custom reference curve. This feature enables you to fix your mix in one window, talk to compatible iZotope plug-ins like Relay, and adjust your tracks without leaving Tonal Balance Control 2. This makes it a powerful tool for achieving good tonal balance in mixing and mastering. You can also use Tonal Balance Control 2 in your mix session and adjust gain and EQ for Nectar, Neutron, and other compatible iZotope plug-ins.

That pretty much sums up our post. We’ve only introduced a few plugins, but trust us, these are plugins that have garnered the trust of many and are the ones we found to be very user-friendly and effective (with fewer errors). We’re also including a post where we share a great list of audio analyzer plugins. If you’re interested, please take a look here. Happy music making!