When it comes to mixing and mastering, we have access to hundreds of amazing plugins from many companies. We collect our favorites from a variety of developers since there’s no be-all-end-all plugin maker. However, an interesting debate we’ve occasionally seen is FabFilter vs. iZotope.
Unless we’re comparing analog-modeled plugins from different companies, I generally caution against pitting developers against each other like that. It’s sort of a false equivalency, in that FabFilter and iZotope have different philosophies altogether. They both make incredible plugins, so it’s less of a ‘who’s the best?‘ thing and more of a ‘why not both?‘ thing.
Entertaining the FabFilter vs. iZotope debate, however, I think it makes sense to compare the former’s Total Bundle to the latter’s Music Production Suite.
FabFilter vs. iZotope
FabFilter released the FabFilter One synthesizer plugin back in 2004. The company started with the goal of producing virtual synths and effects — creative tools — before getting into mixing and mastering plugins. Their Pro-Q equalizer has since made waves as one of the finest EQs available; a no-nonsense workhorse that sounds great on everything. That’s sort of the motto behind all of FabFilter’s music production tools: easy-to-use workhorses.
iZotope is perhaps best known for their intelligent audio cleanup and restoration tools. They’re very much into machine learning and creating ‘the shortest path from sound to emotion.’ RX is their best-known plugin: an all-in-one audio repair kit for post-production, music, and content creation.
Though each company began on different roads, their paths have since converged. Both make incredible, professional-quality plugins for music production and more.
FabFilter Total Bundle
The Total Bundle gets you all 14 FabFilter plugins for $999. This includes the full range of EQ, reverb, compressor, multiband dynamics, limiter, de-esser, gate/expander, creative multiband distortion, delay, filter, and synthesizer plugins.
- Pro-R: high-end reverb
- Pro-L 2: true-peak limiter
- Pro-MB: multiband compression/expansion
- Pro-Q 3: high-quality equalizer
- Pro-C 2: compressor
- Pro-DS: intelligent de-esser
- Pro-G: gate/expander
- Saturn 2: multiband saturation
- Twin 2: synthesizer
- Timeless 2: tape delay
- Volcano 2: powerful filter
- One: simple synthesizer (FabFilter’s flagship plugin)
- Simplon: basic filter
- Micro: mini filter
As you can see, FabFilter offers plugins for every aspect of music production, from the creative to the technical.
The Pro range includes all the mixing/mastering tools you’d ever need. They’re all designed to be user-friendly, so you can get results with little tweaking. That being said, they’re also feature-rich for more demanding applications.
The Total Bundle is right around a $2000 value.
iZotope Music Production Suite 4
Music Production Suite 4 contains 11 plugins for $999. Some of these plugins are highly specialized tools, such as Nectar 3 for vocal production or Stutter Edit 2 for chopping up samples and making stutter effects.
- Ozone 9 Advanced: intelligent mastering plugin with EQ match
- Neutron 3 Advanced: intelligent mixing; can listen to your entire session and suggest levels to kickstart a mix
- Nectar 3 Plus: vocal-centric plugin for sweetening vocals and helping them sit in a mix
- RX 8 Standard: audio cleanup and restoration
- Neoverb: intelligent reverb
- Stutter Edit 2: creative stutter effect tool
- R4: lush reverbs with modulation
- VocalSynth 2: effects for vocals, including a vocoder and talkbox
- Insight 2: a metering plugin with a spectrogram
- NIMBUS: natural reverbs
- Tonal Balance Control 2: real-time frequency analyzer; view your mix’s overall curve and compare it to preset target curves
The bottom line is iZotope’s products lean heavily into machine learning and intelligent function for quick mixing and mastering results.
Purchased separately, the Music Production Suite is around a $3000 value.
- Related: Should You Use Intelligent EQs?
FabFilter vs. iZotope: Summary
The most important distinction between FabFilter and iZotope lies in each company’s core philosophy.
FabFilter strives to produce user-friendly workhorse plugins you can use all over your mix. The Pro range, for instance, covers a majority of mixing/mastering needs, including EQ, compression, limiting, multiband compression, and reverb. The Total Bundle is a fantastic all-around kit you can use on every one of your mixes.
iZotope, on the other hand, is paving the way for future audio production technology. The forward-thinking pioneers are revolutionizing machine learning and how we can use it to make better quality mixes and masters as efficiently as possible. That said, the bulk of the plugins in Music Production Suite 4 are extremely specialized. You won’t find a Swiss army compressor with iZotope, for example. Instead, you’ll have a variety of ‘robot’ mixing and mastering assistants.
In conclusion, I don’t believe there’s a valid FabFilter vs. iZotope debate in terms of one being the best. If you’re looking for a more all-around set of professional plugins, then FabFilter’s Total Bundle is an excellent choice. If you’re curious about intelligent plugins who can analyze your mix and improve it, iZotope is the way to go.
FabFilter vs. iZotope: Why not both?