Music production has a lot of stages including, composition, sound design, mixing, etc. Mastering is the final stage of music production where the music is prepared for distribution across different platforms. The sound elements are optimized in the playback to be compatible with all systems and media formats.
In this article, we will be discussing the top 10 mastering software you can use in your home studio and get a professional output.
Best Mastering Software for Home Studios
Although the software that is used for mixing can be used for mastering, they don’t particularly focus on mastering and don’t provide the best results. So, here are the top 10 digital audio workstations that focus only on mastering.
WaveLab is an ultimate mastering workstation that has a unique user interface with specialized tools for mastering. Anyone who is involved in music or audio can use this software easily to create the best professional audio output. Even journalists, podcast hosts, etc. can make use of this software due to its mastering tools.
The WaveLab is built on a 64-bit audio engine that supports high-quality audio with 32-bit and sample rates up to 384kHz. So, you can get high-quality output very easily. You can also edit the metadata in various formats including RIFF, ID3, BWAF, CART, iXML, and AXML.
There are new features in the software that makes this software stand out from others. The Wavelet Display is a new viewing mode that accurately displays your audio through pitch scaling. So, WaveLab Pro is a great choice for your home studio.
Sequoia is a holistic software that enables you to produce audio, broadcast it, and perform post-production, and gives you the best professional mastering tools. It works with an object-based approach where the audio is split into several objects which can be individually optimized. You can add effects, fades, etc. to these objects independently.
This software allows you to preview the audio in MP3/AAC format which helps you to get a glance at your final output after mastering. You can do adjustments to your audio to improve the listening experience as well. Along with it you also get POW-r Dither, DDP import/export, and spectral editing.
Spectral editing in Sequoia holds distinct features like switchable display and threshold editing. You can easily clear noises across the whole audio despite the time span. Overall, a must-have production software with the best mastering capabilities.
If you are particularly working with a large number of tracks, then this is the workstation you must choose. Similar to WaveLab and Sequoia, Pyramix also has great features for mastering but not for beginners. The software is best suited for professional sound engineers due to its steep learning curve.
As for the tools and features, you get professional grade metering and provision to add up to 384 tracks in a single session. You have 3D workflows suite for mastering which allows you to mix the audio natively for all kinds of speaker layouts no matter how complex they might be.
It offers ISRC code editing, CD/Super-Audio CD authoring, and similar audio publishing features in metadata. Pyramix also allows Direct Stream Digital format like the DSD256 which provides a sample rate of up to 112,896kHz. So, if you want professional-grade high-quality audio output, then Pyramix can be the best.
For those who are looking for a workstation like Pro Tools, then Soundblade can offer you a similar experience but for mastering your audio. The software offers you support for many top-quality plugins. It utilizes both Audio Unit and VST plugins to create the best sound you need.
The workstation includes its own mastering EQ plugin that features four bands of minimum phase shift equalizing and several other algorithms for noise shaping. It also includes a spectral repair tool, declicking, denoising, etc. With these tools, you can perform edits and repairs within the workstation.
The only drawback with Soundblade is that it allows only 16 tracks at a time and makes it difficult to use as a tracking workstation. This means that the tracks can be processed to outboard gear and then looped back into the workstation for engineers working in the hybrid workstation. So, overall, Soundblade can be a traditional software for mastering.
With an analog interface, the SawStudio may not look like the best mastering software. But it has one of the most advanced audio engines and can provide customizable workflow and maximum stability.
You can also customize your workstation view according to the number of tracks you are working on. This feature allows you to work comfortably and just have the necessary tools for mastering.
The audio engine is designed better and can support up to 96kHz of the high-resolution sample rate. So, you don’t have to worry about working with high-quality audio for mastering. The VST support enables you to install third-party plugins so that you can do all sorts of tweaking to your audio in an effective way.
Another advantage of this software is that you can start using the plugins without starting or stopping the playback so you don’t have to worry about playback stuttering.
A software that specializes in mastering special tools is Nuendo. This workstation has been in use for many years by several TV, videogame, and VR professionals. The programmers of the WaveLab studio have brought us this software, especially for mastering, and has many features of the WaveLab.
Nuendo supports the same 32-bit with a 384kHz sample rate. It enables the engineers to perform deep edits to the audio files and helps in working with surround mixes, 3D audio, and tone-shaping. Unfortunately, this software doesn’t support spectral editing. So, if you want something unique for your post-production, then Nuendo can offer the tools you expect.
With an interface, libraries, and production features like Cubase, this software can be a great mastering workstation that gives the best output in your music production. A must-try software for all engineers.
Studio One Pro
One of the most appreciated music production software that has the best mastering tools and features is this Studio One Pro. Developed by PreSonus, this workstation was very much appreciated for its efficient workflow and cost-effective price point.
Studio One Pro is a comprehensive workstation that encompasses all the features and tools required for tracking, mixing, and mastering. Yet it can also be used for mastering purposes alone. The success of this tool is due to the interface and layout similar to popular programs such as Pro Tools and Logic Pro.
The metadata is easily accessible for every track and the effects can also be accessed per track. This allows you to reach consistency across all the tracks in your project without any difficulty. Therefore, if you are looking for software that can switch between production and mastering, then Studio One Pro is the one you need.
Sound Forge Pro
Sound Forge Pro is very similar to Sequoia and most of the features are provided to meet similar requirements. Although Sound Forge is meant for recording and production workflows, it is quite good at mastering too.
The software offers a sample rate of 768kHz and it is one of the high-resolution sample rate providers in the market. When you are using outboard gear with a hybrid system, you can easily get high sample rates with better bit depth.
Sound Forge uses high-quality DSP plugins for effects and includes a coreFX-2 Point compressor for accurate and configurable control over dynamics. It also includes Wave Hammer 2.0 for setting different features on several parts of your tracks or mixes. The workstation already has a great mastering setup. But the inclusion of iZotope Ozone 8 features makes it a bit more futuristic.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on getting a mastering workstation, then Reaper is the choice you have to make. You get many high-quality tools that are similar to Studio One and have a very familiar interface too. For those who are looking to use a digital workstation for all their needs, this Reaper can do the deed.
For beginners, Reaper is very easy to start with production and tracking. It has native effects plugins that can be used for both tracks as well as mastering. Especially for mastering, you get ReaComp, ReaEQ, and ReaXcomp. These also support third-party plugins like the VST, VST3, AU, DX, and JS. The JSFX plugins can also be used with this and allow users to write their own plugins for Reaper.
Due to the several customization options and high stability, this software can be a great choice for your home studio.
Acon Digital Acoustica Premium
Finally, we have the Acoustica Premium which has a creative and unique user interface that can be a great program just for your mastering, restoration, and editing needs. It supports 32-bit audio at 394kHz and can work with stereo, 5.1, and 7.1 surround sound formats. It has tools to edit and fix clicks, crackles, noise, etc. and it has a spectral editor with multiple selection modes.
It has a multitrack editing mode that allows users to include crossfades, automation, and effects in each individual track. It also has a Transfer plugin that allows audio import from Pro Tools so that you can utilize them and get the best output.
So, if you are focused on getting just a workstation for only the mastering needs, then Acoustic Premium from Acon Digital has done it in the best way with its Pro tools integration and high-quality plugins.
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We have listed the best mastering software you can use for your home studio and that helps you to get the highest quality output. You can now go for music production without any doubt and you can simply utilize your home studio for professional mastering of your music or audio recordings.