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Do you want your music to sound professional, but don’t have the budget for expensive plugins? Never fear! There are a number of great plugins that can give your music the shine it needs without breaking the bank. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the best affordable options available. So whether you’re just starting out or are looking for an affordable upgrade, read on for some recommendations that will help your music stand out from the crowd.

I’ve chosen a handful of plugins that I use a lot in my own studio when mixing music. I have no affiliation with these plugins and I don’t earn any commission.

Soundtoys MicroShift (Usually around £89)

This is a stereo-widenening almost chorus-like effect that just simply makes a lot of mixes sound better. This is my go to toy for making lead vocals sound thicker, lead guitars sound fatter and synths sound even mroe 80s! The trick I found is to use it subtly – This will be hard at first because you’ll want to use it on everything, but try to resist and you’ll be awarded with a better sound.

Wave Arts Tube Saturator (FREE)

This tube saturation plugin is excellent at emulating the warmth and fatness of real tube amplifiers. This is great on vocals, not to mention direct dry electric guitars and also adding character to drums. And, even better, it’s free. A great tool for when your mix is sounding a little dull.

Waves CLA-2A (Usually around £35)

This is the secret sauce to professional vocals. This emulated tube compressor is what makes vocal tracks sound radio-ready. It will add punch, presence, smooth aggression and air to your vocals – perfect.

iZotope Vinyl (FREE)

While this plugin appears to be just a bit of fun, used wisely it can no doubt add character and charm to stems or even a whole mix. With the lofi warble warping this can make keyboards sound really charming and nostalgic. And it’s free, so it’s well worth a spin.

Maag EQ2 (Usually FREE after signing up)

I mostly use this plugin to add crystal clear air to a track. The fact it goes up to 40khz (which to most human ears is inaudable!) means you can gently pull a tracks top end up gradually until you reach the heavens. When a track sounds dull, often this just does the trick.

Try not to buy 100s of plugins

When I started out I bought too many plugins, way more than I needed. I thought that a plugin I’d pay money for would be better than the free stock plugins that came with my DAW. And the truth is, that isn’t always the case. Stock EQ, stock reverb and stock compressors can do great things, and often taking the time to get to know these will mean you won’t waste money on plugins that do virtually the same thing. Nowadays I probably use around 10 go-to plugins for general mixing and a further 10 to bring extra spice to mix.


Audio Mastering Engineer based in Hertfordshire & Cambridgeshire supporting bands and artists get a great, professional sound from their tracks without breaking the bank.

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