Best Audio Plugins in 2022 (Reviews and Comparison)

  • James Parker
  • February 1, 2022

Making music has never been easier, and with the advances in technology, it’s never sounded better. There are a lot of plugins out there, and they can make your music sound like it came from a Hollywood sound studio. 

But which plugin should you use? The answer is simple: the best one! What does that mean though? 

Well, the best plugin should have a variety of presets to choose from and be able to create any type of sound you want. It also needs to be easy to understand and have a great interface that doesn’t take up too much screen space. Here are some of the best plugins available on the market today.

Why do our readers trust us? Because they know that we review products daily for them to help with their buying decisions. They value our honest and unbiased opinions and we really appreciate them putting their trust in us.

COMPARISON CHART

IMAGE PRODUCT
1. FabFilter Pro-Q 3
  • Extremely powerful plugin
  • Massive preset library
CHECK PRICE
2. Audio Ease Altiverb 7
  • Easy to adjust any control you need to
  • The plugin doesn’t tax your system resources too much
CHECK PRICE
3. Abbey Road RS124
  • Fantastic plugin that gives you that 1960s sound
  • Studio and Cutter Filters are really cool
CHECK PRICE
4. Waves CLA-76
  • The live performance effects are stellar
  • The bass is truly deep and satisfying
CHECK PRICE
5. IK Multimedia MixBox
  • Extremely interesting product that seems to handle anything you throw at it.
CHECK PRICE

1. FabFilter Pro-Q 3

Specification

PRICE$999
NUMBER OF BANDSUP TO 24
INTERFACEINTERACTIVE EQ DISPLAY
DB RANGESMASTERING: 3 DB AND 6 DB 
MIXING: 12 DB AND 30 DB
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTSWINDOWS
WINDOWS 10, 8, 7 OR VISTA
64-BIT OR 32-BIT
VST 2/3 HOST OR PRO TOOLS

MACOS
MACOS 10.10 OR HIGHER (64-BIT ONLY)
AU OR VST 2/3 HOST OR PRO TOOLS
INTEL OR APPLE SILICON PROCESSOR
PLUGIN FORMATSVST
VST3 
AUDIO UNITS 
AAX NATIVE 
AUDIOSUITE

You probably already know that FabFilter is a well-known name in the music industry, but did you know they also produce a fantastic audio plugin called Pro-Q? It’s one of the best plug-ins available, and if you’re looking for a wide variety of presets, effects, and clean sounds, Pro-Q will be able to provide you with that. 

What’s more, it also has a unique interface, but it takes time to get used to it.

WHAT WE LIKE

Because it can be used to create everything from vintage instruments, to big band sound, to ambient sound, FabFilter Pro-Q 3 can take your music to new heights.

They have a huge library of presets so you can create sounds exactly how you want.

The controls are easy to use and give you quick access to adjustments.

They have a 24/7 support team, which gives you an opportunity to solve any issues you have with the plugin.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

It has a lot of great features that you’ll be hard-pressed to find in other audio plug-ins. The problem is, some of those features can be a little intimidating and may limit you if you’re a new user. Here’s a brief list of the things we don’t like about the plugin:

  • It doesn’t have a mixing console.
  • Some users say they had difficulty creating their own mixdowns.
  • You can’t drag effects from the pan stage to the mixing stage.
  • You have to delete individual modules in order to get the audio out of a module.

One of the biggest critiques about the plugin is that you’ll find a lot of features but not a lot of control. On that note, FabFilter Pro-Q 3 has a lot of controls but is still a very big plugin.

PROS

  • Extremely powerful plugin
  • Massive preset library

CONS

  • The plugin is very complicated and the interface is confusing
  • The controls will take some time to get used to

2. Audio Ease Altiverb 7

Specification

PRICE$580 – $988
NUMBER OF BANDS25+
INTERFACEIMPULSE RESPONSE BROWSER
DB RANGES
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTSILOK USB KEY (2ND GENERATION OR NEWER)

WINDOWS 7 OR HIGHER

MAC OS X 10.11 (EL CAPITAN) OR UP
PLUGIN FORMATSWINDOWS:
AAX NATIVE, VST

MAC:
AAX NATIVE,
AUDIO UNIT, MAS, VST, 
RTAS

We’re going to start things off with the foundation of all well-made music, sound. The best plugins out there are able to get the job done in a way that’s easy for even the most inexperienced users.

Here’s why this plugin is the best in the game:

  • It can create endless styles of drums.
  • No matter how obscure your idea is, this plugin has the ability to make it happen.
  • This particular plugin makes music sound just like it was recorded on the radio.
  • Allows you to go as loud as you want.

WHAT WE LIKE

One of the biggest advantages of having a product like this is being able to adjust the EQ or chorus settings to create a good sounding track.

Doing so is a breeze, and the user can easily adjust the settings without having to open up the interface.

Another great feature of this plugin is the great speed it can create sound.

Since it’s supposed to be an “audio mixer” it can even do a lot of different effects.

It’s worth mentioning that this plugin is not the cheapest, but it is absolutely worth every penny. For only $998 you can create professional sounding music!

This plugin can have the option to create smooth music, or it can be very loud and screechy. Of all the plugins on this list, this is probably the best plugin to use for both acoustic and electronic sounds.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

The downsides are few, and all of them relate back to the fact that it doesn’t include every type of effect you could want. For instance, it doesn’t have what we call the “red rim” which gives it a more liquid-y or groovy-sounding effect, but it’s still very easy to find and use as well.

PROS

  • Easy to adjust any control you need to
  • The plugin doesn’t tax your system resources too much

CONS

  • Some effects you would expect simply are not there

3. Abbey Road RS124

Specification

PRICE$249.00
NUMBER OF BANDS6 MAIN BANDS
INTERFACEMIXER INTERFACE
DB RANGES–18 DBFS = +4 DBU (IN OR OUT)
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTSWINDOWS
WINDOWS 10, 8, 7 OR VISTA
64-BIT OR 32-BIT
VST 2/3 HOST OR PRO TOOLS

MACOS
MACOS 10.10 OR HIGHER (64-BIT ONLY)
AU OR VST 2/3 HOST OR PRO TOOLS
INTEL OR APPLE SILICON PROCESSOR
PLUGIN FORMATSAAX
AUDIOSUITE
AUDIO UNITS
SOUNDGRID
VST

This is one of the most popular audio plug-ins out there. Abbey Road has been used in many of the most popular movies, and it was originally created by a famous band called The Beatles. 

Abbey Road is a 48-bit audio plug-in that gives you a huge selection of sound effects and wub-wub sounds. In fact, it’s been used in tons of major motion pictures.

WHAT WE LIKE

The Abbey Road RS124 is our favorite multi-effect plug-in because it’s versatile, works well in a variety of situations and it’s easy to use. If you’re looking for a multi-effect plug-in, you won’t be disappointed with the RS124.

The RS124 comes with a total of eight different preset effects which include a reverb, delay, distortion, chorus, phaser, flanger, noise, limiter and a vibrato effect. The interface is fairly straightforward, and you can browse through the preset effects by using the preset button.

You can easily switch between effects with the up and down arrows. You can also tap on the main menu button to find different presets.

The sound quality of the RS124 is amazing, and it’s very unique. For an 8-voice compressor, the sound quality is still very good.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

If you want to go for a sound pack for a home studio, it might be a better choice, but to go for a standalone stereo kit, then the RS124 is probably not for you. It’s a huge collection of reverb and delays and a bunch of other useful plugins. 

You get 16 plugins in total and it’ll set you back only $59.99. This is a great price for a unique but powerful audio plugin, It’s also available in black instead of silver.

PROS

  • Fantastic plugin that gives you that 1960s sound
  • Studio and Cutter Filters are really cool

CONS

  • Can lag a bit when taxed to the limit

4. Waves CLA-76

Specification

PRICE$299.99
NUMBER OF BANDS16
INTERFACEMIXER INTERFACE
DB RANGES0 – 48 DB+
(IN OR OUT)
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTSWINDOWS 10 OR LATER
INTEL CORE I5 / AMD QUAD-CORE OR HIGHER, 8GB RAM MINIMUM

MACOS 10.14.6 OR LATER
INTEL CORE I5 OR HIGHER (M1 SUPPORT), 8GB RAM MINIMUM
PLUGIN FORMATSAAX
AUDIOSUITE
AUDIO UNITS
SOUNDGRID
VST

Waves is the leading provider of premium, professional audio plugins, and they’ve come up with a new plugin that is great for making great sounding electronic music. The Waves CLA-76 is a filter capable of making any type of sound, including deep bass and has a high pass filter. 

This plugin is great for many uses, but it’s best for giving tracks a huge and thumping bass sound, even without a subwoofer or a powered one. If you’re trying to make bass sounds using a plugin that doesn’t include one, this is it.

WHAT WE LIKE

With a sound that can be recreated in the most authentic way possible, the Waves CLA-76 is the best plugin on the market. So why exactly is this one the best one out there? 

It’s because it can be customized as well as recreate any type of sound you want. With over 35 effects, sounds and sounds designed specifically for making music, the Waves CLA-76 allows you to create whatever sound you want. If you want something a bit heavier or softer, the Waves CLA-76 can do it and sound incredible doing it.

It’s also a great plug-in for live performances. The automation sounds are great, and you can either take your own sounds and layers or use user-created ones. The waveform editor allows you to create any type of sound you want, and then create your own effects to complete your track.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

There’s very little to complain about with this plugin. It’s stable and does what it says it will.

PROS

  • The live performance effects are stellar
  • The bass is truly deep and satisfying

CONS

  • Some effects such as guitar could use improvement

5. IK Multimedia MixBox

Specification

PRICE$59.99
NUMBER OF BANDS6 MAIN BANDS
INTERFACEMIXER INTERFACE
DB RANGESRANGE (GR): 0 DB TO 30 DB RANGE: (IN OR OUT): -20 DB TO +3 DB
OUTPUT ATTENUATOR: -24 DB TO +24 DB
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTSWINDOWS 10 AND 11, 64-BIT
16 GB FREE DISK SPACE

MACOS 10.14.6 OR HIGHER (64-BIT ONLY)
INTEL CORE I5 / I7 / I9 / XEON / APPLE M1
16 GB FREE DISK SPACE
PLUGIN FORMATSAUDIO UNITS
VST

This is a great multi-effects plugin that will make you sound like you just stepped out of a recording studio. It has an awesome user interface that offers tons of cool presets and a cool visual walkthrough that shows how each plugin works. 

It features sub-modulation, various filters, plugins for bass, midi-sync, sample playback, etc. It offers 16 different virtual analog controllers to choose from to get different sounds from the individual plugins and even an equalizer. 

It also features a powerful user interface with plenty of filters and an amazing collection of sounds to make your music sound as good as the sound engineers do. You can get IK Multimedia MixBox here.

WHAT WE LIKE

You’ll be blown away with the quality and realism of this plugin. With some other plugin suites, you have to do all of the work yourself, leaving the interface to move slower and slower. The MixBox is different because it integrates so well with the actual hardware of your computer and gives you the ability to record, mix, edit, and even sync the audio all from one place. 

The two combined create an amazingly simple interface that actually makes you want to use it more. The MixBox is amazingly simple to use and only takes a minute to learn. Each preset can be applied with a simple click of the mouse.

It can create whatever type of sound you want, with a few clicks of the mouse. It has a built-in tracker to test and play different frequencies. Plus, it works well with hard and soft sounds.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

The development team behind the MixBox is not one of the best, to say the least. On our testing of the MixBox plugin, we found that a lot of sounds were produced using the built-in delays and reverbs. 

The lag that was present in the interface was also problematic for users. On top of this, some users found the features of the plugin to be quite limited. IK Multimedia has yet to solve this issue.

Overall, while the MixBox is a great product, it has a long way to go before it reaches the potential that it has to offer. There are better and cheaper plugins out there that can accomplish all of these features much easier.

PROS

  • Extremely interesting product that seems to handle anything you throw at it.

CONS

  • The plugin lags at times
  • Lots of potential, but for now we recommend you wait for an upgrade

Conclusion

Thanks so much for sticking with us to the end of this article about the best audio plugins. Any of these plugins will handle any musical task you need them to, whether standalone or combined. With software like this, anything is possible and we think all of them have a certain spot for music lovers and producers. We know you’ll enjoy these plugins.