What are the best channel strip plugins? This ICON Picks roundup features ten popular channel strip plugins that offer versatile features and excellent sound quality.
What Are Channel Strip Plugins?
Channel strip plugins combine a variety of mixing effects within a single interface. These versatile plugins are extremely useful mixing and analysis tools.
Many channel strip plugins emulate actual channels on iconic analog mixing consoles. There are also modular channel strip plugins that provide essential mixing effects and modern features not available on classic channel strips.
Channel strip plugins also speed up your mixing workflow. The ability to perform quick adjustments in one place makes mixing fast and intuitive. Channel strip plugins are also more affordable and less CPU intensive. Instead of buying several individual effects, you can buy one plugin that includes multiple effects.
This guide lists ten popular channel strip plugins that offer versatile features and excellent sound quality.
1. Slate Digital | Virtual Mix Rack
Create custom channel strips with analog modeled plugins from Slate Digital’s Virtual Mix Rack 2.0. Choose from a range of vintage modeled EQs, compressors, enhancers, filters, preamps, mixing consoles, and more. All faithful emulations of iconic hardware processors!
You can also mix efficiently by having your entire processing chain in one convenient window. Load up to eight modules at once into VMR. The drag and drop modules make it easy to build and save your channel strips. You can also switch between eight customizable channel strip configurations using VMR’s Dream Strips. In addition, the modules are highly CPU efficient, which means you’ll have more processing power during mixdown.
2. Soundtoys | Soundtoys 5 Effect Rack
Soundtoys 5 brings together the company’s entire range of audio effects into one powerful collection. It includes all 21 Soundtoys plugins. Choose from a variety of analog inspired delay units, EQs, compressors, saturators, filters, modulation effects, and more.
The Soundtoys Effect Rack is also the centerpiece of Soundtoys 5. It turns this collection of plugins into a creative multi-effects system. Easily create and recall custom configurations using some of the music industry’s most revered plugins.
3. iZotope | Neutron 3
iZotope Neutron 3 is a modern channel strip plugin with innovative mixing and analysis tools. It includes eight drag and drop modules. Mix with an intelligent Equalizer, two multiband Compressors, a multiband Exciter, a multiband Transient Shaper, a Gate, a True Peak Limiter, and more.
Neutron 3 also has innovative technology not available on other channel strips. Get to an optimal starting point in your mixes with the Track Assistant. Use the Tonal Balance Control to analyze and optimize your mix. Identify frequency collisions across tracks with the Masking Meter. There’s a ton more this versatile plugin can do that no other plugin can!
4. Waves | Scheps Omni Channel
Waves partnered with Grammy-winning mixer Andrew Scheps (Adele, Jay Z, Metallica) to design this channel strip. The Scheps Omni Channel features five drag and drop modules you can use in any order. Scheps helped design the modules based on years of go-to processor combinations. The result gives you a diverse selection of classic hardware emulations and innovative modules with modern features.
Moreover, the Scheps Omni Channel offers a variety of analog-style saturators, compressors, EQs, a de-esser, gate, and more. You can also load an extra Waves plugin anywhere in the channel strip.
5. Brainworx | bx_console Series
The bx_console series includes emulations of three legendary analog mixing consoles. Each channel strip plugin offers authentic analog modeling with additional modern features. The three models include:
Brainworx bx_console SSL 4000 G – Captures the legendary sound of the British Solid State Logic 4000 G series console. It also includes modern features not found on the original console.
Brainworx bx_console SSL 4000 E – Captures the legendary sound of the British Solid State Logic 4000 E series console. It also includes modern features not found on the original console.
Brainworx bx_console N – A faithful emulation of the rare and coveted Neve VXS console. It also includes modern features not found on the original console.
6. Softube | Summit Audio Grand Channel
The Grand Channel combines analog emulations of the Summit Audio EQF-100 Full Range Equalizer and the TLA-100A Compressor. You get a warm and smooth tone sculpting equalizer and a rich sounding compressor.
This versatile channel strip will cover a large part of your mixing needs. It’s simple design also makes it easy to dial in. You can even reverse the order of effects with a single switch. The plugin also includes parallel compression, saturation, and low-cut filtering.
7. McDSP | 6060 Ultimate Module Collection
The 6060 Ultimate Module Collection contains more processing tools than any module-based plugin. It includes over 30 modules for EQ, compression, saturation, distortion, specialized filtering, dynamic range expansion, gating, and more. Custom modules include bass optimized biasing to maximize the low end, transformer-based tone shaping circuits for high-end shine, tape simulation, de-essing, and more. This bad boy has it all! Additional modules are also already in the works.
8. Universal Audio | API Vision Channel Strip
API’s Vision Console is a legendary analog mixing console introduced in 2003. UA’s faithful emulation captures the same tone, punch, and personality as the classic API desks that have tracked the biggest records of the past 40-plus years.
Transform your DAW into a high-end analog console. The API Vision Channel Strip plugin brings a modern workflow to the classic API sound. It’s complete with five API modules – the 212L Preamp, 215L Cut Filters, 550L EQ, 225L Compressor/Limiter, and the 235L Gate/Expander. It also features UA’s Unison Technology for Apollo to capture the sound and behavior of sought-after tube and solid-state designs.
9. iZotope | Nectar 3
Nectar 3 brings a sophisticated set of tools designed for vocal production. Address every part of your vocal chain and get professional-sounding vocals with minimal effort.
Nectar 3 also ushers in a new era of mixing vocals. It features seven drag and drop effect modules, automatic preset detection settings, modern workflows, inter-plugin communication, beautiful visualizations, and more.
In addition, Nectar 3 includes Melodyne 4 essential and iZotope RX Breath Control. Use Melodyne 4 to perform surgical pitch corrective work. And RX Breath Control to detect and suppress breaths in vocal recordings.
10. Universal Audio | Neve 88RS Channel Strip
Introduced in 2001, the Neve 88 Series is another renowned analog mixing console. Neve’s premier analog console is famous for its depth, airiness, and clarity.
Create a modern Neve analog console in your DAW. UA’s emulation of this modern masterpiece comes complete with its famous mic/line preamp, cut filters, dynamics, four-band EQ, and post-fader output amplifier. It also features UA’s Unison Technology for Apollo to capture the sound and behavior of sought-after tube and solid-state designs.