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Best Soft-Clipper Plugins for Mixing and Mastering

Best Soft-Clipper Plugins for Mixing and Mastering

Clipping, in its essence, is a form of waveform modification used to limit signal peaks at a certain threshold. When a signal exceeds this threshold, the peaks are “clipped” off, creating a distinct effect that can range from subtle warmth to aggressive distortion, depending on how it’s applied.

Clipping is often misunderstood as a negative effect, primarily associated with digital audio overload and unwanted distortion. However, when used creatively, especially with clipper VST plugins, it can enhance the sonic characteristics of your mix. Clippers can add presence, increase perceived loudness, and even add a punchy character to drums and other percussive elements.

During mixing, clippers can be very useful on individual tracks or buses. For example, applying a clipper to a drum bus can help tame transient spikes while making the drums sound more powerful and cohesive. This is particularly effective in genres like rock or hip-hop, where punchy, dominant drums are desired. Another common use is on bass tracks to solidify the low end by controlling peaks while maintaining a thick, full-bodied sound.

Also read: How To Use a Soft Clipper in Audio Mixing (9 Useful Steps)

In mastering, clippers are used more subtly compared to mixing. A clipper can be placed just before the final limiter to shave off only the very peaks of a mix, reducing the workload of the limiter and potentially allowing for a higher overall loudness without introducing audible distortion. This technique helps in achieving a clean, commercially viable sound level while retaining more dynamic range than limiting alone might allow.

Imporntat! It’s crucial to use clippers with a light touch in mastering. Even a small amount of clipping can significantly affect the dynamics of your entire mix.

Other Useful Tips: Automation can be a powerful tool with clippers, particularly when dealing with dynamic tracks that only need clipping during certain sections. Always monitor the effect of clipping in your signal chain. Listening at different volume levels and on various playback systems can help you gauge whether the clipping is improving the mix or causing unwanted artifacts.

Find below a list of some of the most used and best soft clipper plugins by producers and sound engineers, including me. These soft-clipper plugins provide a broad range of options for managing dynamics and enhancing the tonal balance of your mixes.

1. T-Racks Clipper by IK Multimedia

T-Racks Clipper by IK Multimedia

Part of the T-RackS mastering suite, this clipper is known for its versatility and high-quality sound. It is designed to handle everything from subtle transient taming to aggressive peak limiting.

Main Features:

  • Multiple clipping modes, including a clean soft clip and a more aggressive hard clip.
  • Smooth and transparent operation, ensuring minimal artifacts.
  • Easy-to-use interface, ideal for quick adjustments during mastering.
  • Stereo and mono compatibility, suitable for track and bus processing.

Buy/Download Link: T-Racks Clipper by IK Multimedia

2. bx_clipper by Plugin Alliance

bx_clipper by Plugin Alliance

bx_clipper is an advanced clipping tool that offers fine control over how peaks are shaped and treated, allowing for creative and technical clipping applications.

Main Features:

  • Anti-aliasing technology to reduce the introduction of harsh digital artifacts.
  • M/S processing capability, enabling independent treatment of mid and side signals.
  • Adjustable gain and clipper shape controls for tailored sound dynamics.
  • Low latency, making it suitable for live performance setups.

Buy/Download Link: bx_clipper by Plugin Alliance

3. Clipper by Softube

Clipper VST Plugin by Softube

This plugin is renowned for its straightforward operation and the ability to add punch and volume to your tracks without compromising the sound quality.

Main Features:

  • Three different clipping styles to fit various musical genres and source materials.
  • Gain and Drive knobs for easy dynamic shaping.
  • Analog modeled components, providing a warm and cohesive sound.
  • Compatibility with a wide range of DAWs and systems.

Buy/Download Link: Clipper by Softube

4. Big Clipper 2 by Boz Digital Labs

Big Clipper 2 VST Plugin by Boz Digital Labs

Big Clipper 2 blends clipping and limiting in a unique way to offer both dynamic control and harmonic enhancement, making it a versatile tool for mastering and mixing.

Main Features:

  • Blend control to mix between clipping and limiting for precise dynamic management.
  • Adjustable slope settings to change how the clipper reacts to signal peaks.
  • Independent control of attack and release times to fine-tune the response.
  • Oversampling for high-resolution audio processing.

Buy/Download Link: Big Clipper 2 by Boz Digital Labs

5. DualClip by Plugin Boutique

DualClip by Plugin Boutique

DualClip is a specialized clipping tool that offers two-stage clipping, allowing for intricate shaping of audio transients and peaks.

Main Features:

  • Two clipping stages with independent control over each stage.
  • Option to operate in stereo or mid-side modes for spatial processing.
  • Drive and output controls to manage the intensity and output of the clipping effect.
  • Simple user interface for quick learning and application.

Buy/Download Link: DualClip by Plugin Boutique

6. FL Studio’s Fruity Soft Clipper by Image-Line

FL Studio Fruity Soft Clipper

This is my favorite plugin when working on a project in FL Studio (one of my favorite programs ever since I started as a music producer many years ago). FL Studio’s Soft Clipper is known for its effectiveness in taming peaks, and is fast, easy to use, and efficient.

Main Features:

  • Straightforward controls with Threshold and Post-Gain for quick adjustments.
  • Ideal for adding punch to percussive elements without causing harsh clipping.
  • Low CPU usage, perfect for complex projects with many tracks.
  • Seamlessly integrates with FL Studio, offering a fluid workflow.

These soft-clipper plugins provide a broad range of options for managing dynamics and enhancing the tonal balance of your mixes. Different clippers offer various features, such as multi-band capabilities, mid/side processing, or even emulations of analog hardware. Choose one that aligns with the needs of your project.

Whether you’re working on a delicate acoustic set or a robust electronic track, these tools can help you achieve the perfect sound without the risk of digital distortion.

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