With streaming and online broadcasting becoming more popular than ever these days, it’s important to have mixing and mastering tools that can help you maintain the standard for each particular platform. There is no other way to get quality assurance that your mixes will hold their own alongside other professional tracks when streamed.
To help you maintain these quality standards, you need a good metering plugin.
However, with hundreds of metering plugins on the market these days, it can be difficult to find one that fits your needs.
Luckily, we’ve done our research, so you don’t have to. Come dive in and check out some of the best metering plugins around!
Note: This article may contain affiliate links, meaning I would receive a commission - at no cost to you - for any products you purchase.
Why Use Metering Plugins?
Mixing and mastering engineers use metering plugins to make sure that they maintain quality standards set by different streaming and broadcasting platforms. It’s important to make sure that your track’s levels aren’t too quiet or too loud when you bounce them out.
With metering, you can get a more precise readout of the information of a track that you send through a quality metering plugin.
What Is A Metering Plugin?
A metering plugin is any plugin that analyzes audio you run through it and displays real-time information regarding that audio. Mastering engineers often use metering plugins to ensure their content is consistent, especially when working on an entire album.
Metering plugins will typically deliver several bits of information, including:
- True Peak - The highest or loudest point in your audio signal.
- RMS Level - The average amplitude over a period of time.
- LUFS - The same basic principle as RMS, though it considers the fact that humans hear different frequencies at different levels.
Some metering plugins will even give you information on dynamic range and stereo width.
How To Use A Metering Plugin
Metering plugins are tools that are meant for our eyes. They give us information on what we’re hearing to help us make mixing decisions. These kinds of plugins can be very helpful in home studio situations, especially if you are mixing in an environment with little to no acoustic treatment.
Mastering engineers will often use metering plugins to make sure their masters maintain quality standards for streaming and broadcasting, though they can be used in numerous facets to give you a more accurate idea of your track’s levels or balance.
Best Metering Plugin - iZotope Insight 2
iZotope Insight has long been considered one of the best metering plugins for mastering engineers and post-production engineers, thanks to the fact that it has a flexible user interface and delivers complete audio analysis.
Insight has everything you could need from a metering plugin covered. The interface is composed of several modules, which deliver specific types of metering. So, for example, if you only wanted to get a readout of the sound field and the loudness of your mix, you could take everything off of the interface except for the Sound Field module and the Loudness module.
The different types of metering include RMS, Peak, True Peak, Loudness Range, LUFS short-term, LUFS momentary, and LUFS integrated.
The ability to switch between a 3D waterfall view and 2D spectrograph view to get information on your stereo width and frequency balance is sublime. Plus, you can even listen from a different environment, such as a nightclub or car, to make sure that your track sounds right, no matter where it is being listened to.
You’ll find plenty of helpful presets to get you started and very reliable inter-plugin communication that is perfect for those who are already in the iZotope ecosystem.
Best Value Metering Plugin - Levels 2
Mastering the Mix is one of our favorite new plugin developers, as the company focuses much of its energy on the mastering world. You’ll find plenty of simple yet effective mastering tools in this developer’s toolbelt, one of which is Levels 2.
Levels has presets for all of the most popular listening mediums, including streaming, club, YouTube, and CD. No matter where people listen to your music, you can make sure that it sounds its best.
You get a wide variety of metering types with this plugin, including Peak, True Peak, Stereo Field, LUFS, dynamic range, loudness range, and more! However, what we truly love about this plugin is the Bass Space portion, which gives you information as to whether or not any of your channels are outputting unwanted low-frequency information.
Bass Space is great for cleaning up your low end to give your track clarity and punch, even if you work in a space that isn’t acoustically treated.
Overall, the design of Levels 2 is easy on the eyes, and the user interface is very slick and responsive. We guarantee you’ll feel right at home with this ultra-effective metering plugin.
Best Metering Plugin for Balance - Tonal Balance Control 2
Tonal Balance Control 2 from iZotope goes way beyond your typical metering plugin. This uniquely artificial intelligent plugin helps you balance your mix and overcome your listening environment. It’s one of our absolute favorite mixing tools for getting balanced mixes that translate in any environment.
Tonal Balance Control compares your audio to 12 target curves that represent popular music genres, or you can upload a reference track to balance your music against that. You can also get Tonal Balance Control to talk to iZotope’s Relay to make balance adjustments or have it talk to Neutron and Ozone to make EQ adjustments. Or you can manually adjust the levels and EQ of the instruments (my choice) to help get you in the frequency range.
I love that it includes a Crest Factor meter so you can instantly tell if your song is over or under-compressed.
The possibilities with this fantastic plugin are nearly endless!
It's no joke that I use Tonal Balance Control on every mix and master I do, to ensure that my mixes are in the right ball park. It has made me a much better mixer by helping me consistently create balanced mixes - and now what should go into them.
Best LUFS Meter Plugin - Decibel
Decibel is a fantastic all-in-one LUFS metering plugin that can be used on your desktop, tablet, or mobile device. The interface is incredibly sleek, and the metering capabilities seem nearly endless.
We love the fact that Decibel allows you to connect as many devices as you need in real-time, providing you with flexibility on how you want to read your metering. With dynamics modules, stereo width modules, and a variety of meters, you can get any reading that you need in a pinch!
Free LUFS Meter Plugin - Youlean Loudness Meter
Though Youlean is a free plugin, I often use it on my master bus to get real-time updates on my short-term, momentary, and integrated LUFS when I need it in a pinch. I also often use it to keep my True Peak Levels from getting out of control, especially if I have to cut a quick master from home and my listening environment isn’t the best.
The graph on Youlean is nothing innovative or awe-inspiring, though it’s very easy to read and gets the job done without ever feeling like a distraction.
Best Free VU Meter - MV Meter 2
If you’re in the market for an old-school yet ultra-reliable metering option, the MV Meter 2 is an absolute smash. I’ve become very comfortable with reading VU meters over the years, and this is one of the best plugins I’ve found to represent the true movement and bounce of an analog VU meter. This is another plugin I use on every mix, especially to help with gain staging.
MV Meter 2 not only emulates the behavior of classic analog VU and PPM meters, but it also delivers multiple measurement modes, including RMS, PEAK, EBU R128, PPM, and VU. With adjustable pre-gain, multi-channel metering, and five different GUI themes, this simple plugin provides more than you could ever hope for from a VU meter plugin.
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