When I first started getting serious about mastering, I realized that there were a lot of little questions I had, like:

What plugins should I use?

What order should I put them in?

When it came to mixing, I had lots of experience and felt comfortable knowing all the different ways I could mix a song.

But with mastering, it all seemed just foreign enough to keep me unsure of myself.

Of course, there are no “rules” or wrong answers really, but I didn’t even have a baseline to work from, a starting point.

Through a lot of trial and error, and help from people like Ian Shepherd who know much more about this than I do, I developed a simple workflow for my mastering sessions.

Here’s the basic plugin setup, in order:

  1. Gain
  2. EQ
  3. Compressor (usually multi-band)
  4. Limiter
  5. Metering

That’s it.

90% of the time that’s all I use.

(And it should be noted that I only use them when needed. Sometimes all you need is gain and a limiter. Sometimes you need more than one EQ.)

But this should give you a baseline for what plugins to use, and in what order.

By all means, experiment and try new things. This is where I usually start.

For more, check out the brand new video I posted in the VIP members area last week, where I dive deeper into this overview of my mastering process.

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Joe Gilder
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