This great‑sounding processor does more than make your music loud — but does it do enough?
At first glance, Musik Hack’s debut plug‑in Master Plan appears to be all about loudness: the biggest control is labelled Loud, and cranking it can certainly make things very loud. But that’s only part of the story, because Master Plan also includes a host of useful simple, intuitive facilities to shape and refine the sound you feed into this limiter. The company suggest, in fact, that it offers enough control that you should consider throwing out whatever else you have on the stereo bus — I’d describe it more as a sort of stripped‑down mastering chain, with a selection of well‑judged tools!
Master Plan is available for Mac and Windows and supports AAX, AU and VST3 hosts. Twelve‑month and perpetual licences are available, and authorisation to your computer is a simple online process; you don’t seem to need to be online thereafter for it to function.
When it comes to my own mastering efforts, I tend to prefer using separate and fairly traditional processors. So, with its fixed signal flow and streamlined control set, Master Plan offers a very different approach than I’m used to, and it’s fair to say that I approached this review with a little trepidation. But my apprehension turned out to be ill‑founded. You can make things very loud with this plug‑in, but as long as you use it with the requisite care and a discerning ear, you can do a lot to balance and sweeten things. The only real downside is that the minimal control set means there are quite a few things it can’t do. Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised and genuinely impressed.
By default, the GUI was pretty small on my 16‑inch M1 MacBook Pro’s screen (it may be less so on lower‑DPI monitors) and at that size the off‑white text on a black background wasn’t the easiest to read. But it’s resizable, with five fixed settings ranging from XS to XL, and when set to XL it occupied about a quarter of my screen and was easy to read. You can also switch to a white background instead of the default black, which further improves legibility in my view. While we’re on the GUI, many controls have a coloured ‘glow’ whose colour is cycled by default, apparently just for visual entertainment rather than to indicate something. Not being a ‘spinner hubcaps’ sort of person, I was pleased to see that this feature could be turned off in the settings window, and a static colour of virtual LEDs specified.
It’s incredibly easy to get started, but you should first listen, as the default settings aren’t completely transparent. Before you do anything, there’s a gentle thickening and a presence boost (the latter probably as much due to harmonic distortion as EQ). Then, pick a preset, set Out (the output ceiling) to...