Best Plugins for Mixing Metal: A 2024 Rundown

Last Updated on May 12, 2024 by IDS Team

We’ve already done an article on some of the best VSTs for metal, mostly focussing on amp sims and distortion. But what about the subtler parts of creating a tract – the production and mixing? If you want the best plugins for mixing metal, it can be frustrating to scroll through lists of the best reverbs, comps, and EQ, only to find they are too generic. That’s why in this list we break down some of the best plugins specifically for mixing metal, and why they are worthy of a try. 

Not all of these were necessarily designed specifically with metal in mind. But they all have qualities that can help you get more from your metal mixing and production, whether that’s a focus on atmosphere, suitably fast attack, or similar. So, read on for the best plugins for metal vocals and some great idea of what you’ll need for a killer heavy metal music mix, and more . 

Best Multi-Instrument Compressor – Joel Wanasek Bus Glue 

The Joel Wanasek bus glue series is, true to its name, a great series of compressors that looks at how artists might use compression in the mix. Many producers feel a top heavy metal music mix shouldn’t have too much comp. By focusing on where mixing helps different instruments fit together, means that metal musicians who still want their instruments to sound powerful and real don’t have to compromise this for a tight mix. 

best plugins for mixing metal

The series was created with Joel Wanasek in tandem with Joey Sturgis of Joey Sturgis Tones, who in his career has also founded Drumforge and worked with bands such as Asking Alexandria, Bless The Fall, and We Came as Romans. You know there are going to be some tight and intense sounds here, especially for metalcore and alternative metal production! This is honestly one of the best plugins for mixing metal if you favor a more alternative, pop metal sound, but it can be great for any subgenre. It’s also good if you’re still figuring out how to find the best eq settings for metal as it can help balance your track and glue it together even if you’re still learning this. 

Price: 89 USD for the individual instrument Bus Glue VSTs. Ranging from 500 to 600 USD for the bundles. Find it here. Windows VST2, VST3, AAX, and OS VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU 

Best Overall Reverb – Eventide Blackhole 

Eventide Blackhole is a creative reverb that focuses on the atmosphere, making it one of the best plugins for mixing metal if you want your tracks to stand out. For those new to mixing, it may seem like every second reverb is a vintage emulation or spring reverb, which makes modern and inventive plugins like this even more special. 

Blackhole is iconic as it’s able to create spaces that don’t exist in reality. One thing that may put off some metal producers is its soft attack. However, if you use it correctly, this is great for upping the levels of eeriness on your tracks, creating massive soundscapes that are especially useful if you are working in post-metal, fusion genres, or any other time you need something atmospheric, chilling or spooky. Perfect for adding some spice in terms of nontraditional metal sounds, making your instruments sound bigger, or even emphasizing the quiet moments of your tracks, it’s versatile and exciting. This way, it can make any heavy metal music mix more interesting and add the je ne sais quoi you may not get from just technically proficient mixing alone.

Furthermore, artist presets include settings for producers Flood and Alan Moulder of Nine Inch Nails fame, as well as Vernon Reid of Hard Rock legends Living Color. 

Price: 199 USD. Find it here. MacOS 10.9 and higher (VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU), Windows 8 and higher (AAX, VST2, and VST3) 

Best Comp For Metal Vocals – Waves DBX 160 

It can be easy to over-compress when mixing metal, and too much compression can make your sound less raw and more manufactured. However, an aggressive compression with a fast attack can make your vocals punchier and add more power to your guitars if you use it sparingly. The Waves DBX 160 excels at this and is a powerful and modern compressor that has just the right qualities. Not only is it one of the best plugins for metal vocals, we think it’s also one of the best plugins for mixing metal if you want your tracks to be tighter. . 

In fact, it’s one of the best compressors for drums and bass, ensuring they don’t sound muddy/ For thick, punchy, powerful and crystal clear drums – especially in a metal track where they are at risk of getting lost in the mix – this can’t be beat. It’s intuitive an though one of the pricier plugins on this list, is worth it as it’s one you’ll likely use time and again. 

Price: 149 USD Find it here. MacOS 10.15 Catalina and higher, Windows, 10 64-bit and higher. You can also find a three times cheaper alternative from the very established Universal Audio brand by clicking here.

Best Overall Metal Comp – Soundtoys Devil-Loc Deluxe

On the subject of compression in metal, we can’t leave out the Soundtoys Devil Loc Deluxe. This plugin is actually one of the few on here based on a vintage plugin, the Shure Level Loc, which became renowned for creating massive drums and sounds with tons of tone and character. This could be one of the best plugins for metal vocals, especially growling or screaming, but it’s great for all instruments. 

The Devil Loc and later the Devil Loc Deluxe are the answer to this powerful and groundbreaking sound whenever you need a touch of added darkness. It’s not often that plugins for mixing focus on sonic aesthetics like this, making it one of the best plugins for mixing metal simply because it’s the only one out there doing this. It’s ideal for a heavy metal music mix in any genre just because it focuses so well on dark and powerful tone specifically. 

 In fact, the devil loc deluxe has a ‘darkness’ knob that allows you to control the tone. If atmosphere is what you’re after, this plugin gives you unprecedented creative control within compression alone. It’s also ideal for drums, making them bigger, and more intense. This is especially important if you’re struggling to achieve this with metal guitar eq alone. Drums, compared to guitars, can often get buried. However, this plugin can ensure they get heard in your track.

Price: 99 USD Find it here. AAX/AU/VST2/VST3, Windows 7 or later, Mac iOS 10.12 or later

Best Reverb For Metal Drums – Tsar 1

The Tsar 1 is one of the crispest and most precise reverbs on this list, adding smooth, slick space emulation, echoes, impulse responses, and soundscapes to your tracks. Yet the Tsar 1 is actually none of these, instead, it stands out because it is a reverb algorithm that is unprecedentedly versatile. 

As a result, it makes this space for being able to powerfully and accurately adapt to the need of producers of a variety of genres, accounting for the levels of diversity within metal sounds and subgenres. It’s one of the best plugins for mixing metal if you tend to hop between style, work with progressive metal or fusion, or are in multiple different bands or projects. 

Price: 75 EUR/ 80 USD Find it here. AU/VST/VST3/AAX compatible. Windows 10 and higher/MacOS 12 (Monterey) or higher. 

Best FREE Reverb for Metal Producers: Oril River

Meanwhile, the Oril River Reverb is a FREE Reverb that goes granular. With it, you are able to accurately control the early reflections with 12 different options as well as craft and sculpt the reverb tail with 5 different options. 

If you are precise and OCD about wanting to get the sound just right to drag out or emphasize a particular part of your instrumentals or vocals, this is the reverb for you. 

Plus, with so much control over the start and ends of the reverb and how it will blend into the rest of your track, this is a brilliant plugin for gluing your mix together. Therefore, if you’re crafting a metal track as a bedroom producer and want to ensure things sound natural and accurate, it’s a powerful tool to have in your arsenal. 

Price: FREE Find it here. MacOS 10.8 or higher, Windows 7 or higher. VST/VST3. 

Best Package Option: Neural DSP Archetype Series Reverbs 

Outside of the Tsar 1 and Oril River, we have to mention the Neural DSP series of plugins for their reverbs alone. Bear in mind that these are not standalone reverbs. However, the Neural DSP archetype series models sets of sounds based on your favorite guitarists such as Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, or one of the greatest recent guitar legends, Australia’s Plini, who has his own Archetype series with Neural DSP. 

The reverbs in this series may not be available for download separately, but they all have a 14-day free trial available on the Neural DSP website. It’s a case in point that pretty much anything from neural DSP can make for a better heavy metal music mix, but we think these deserve a mention as reverb alone. 

They are not just some of the best plugins for mixing metal, they may well be the gateway drug to the whole new world that Neural DSP offers. Meaning, if you want to try them out, there’s nothing stopping you – and they are a really good way to decide whether you want the rest of the archetype series as well. 

Price: Variable. Find them here.  MacOS 11 or higher, Windows 10 or higher. 

Best Honorable Mention: Atmospheres and Deep Water From Zak Sound. 

For all genres of metal, vocals are one of the most iconic and distinctive parts and often involve extreme and otherworldly sounds. 

Thus, we have to award an honorable mention to Atmospheres and Deep Water, both from Zak Sound. These plugins are cutting-edge and innovative and do exactly what you would expect based on the names. Creating lush layers of atmosphere, both these plugins are ideal if you’re working in any genre of metal where you want to create strange, intense, or atmospheric sounds. In fact, if we wanted to do a list of the best plugins for metal guitar alone, we might include this for the clean or quiet moments, ideal for many prog bands or acts like A Perfect Circle. 

Whilst not specifically focussed on metal, we feel the niche they fill – creating sounds beyond the ordinary – mean these both deserve an honorable mention. In fact you could say they’re not necessarily the best plugins for mixing metal but instead are there to help you properly produce and sculpt your sound. 

Price: FREE for Atmospheres, 31 USD for Deep Waters. Find them here. Windows 7 and higher (VST) or MacOS 10.11 or higher (VST3/AU) compatibility.  


In a world of countless lists of the ‘best’ plugins for mixing anything, genre specificity is often left out. There are very few ranges made specifically for metal, so we’ve focussed on plugins that have qualities that give you an edge in making a great heavy metal music mix and are powerful, modern, and innovative to boot. 

If you love features on metal, we actually have some of our absolute all time favorite metal VSTs here. We’ve also done a whole rundown on what popular and affordable mics have the best qualities for metal here, so check it out. And, if you love software reviews, we have a whole section here