We pick ten of our favourite compressor plugins, from affordable all-rounders through to top quality analogue hardware emulations.

ELYSIA MPRESSOR, Compressor Plug In

Alongside EQs, compressors are one of the two key processing tools when mixing tracks. The problem is, that’s about where the similarity ends. Whereas EQs tend to be fairly straightforward, with quite small differences from one model to the next, compressors are subtle, nuanced and occasionally radically different to each other.

A lot of that stems from the fact that even the way you use the compressor affects the end results: some are best for altering the transients of individual hits; others are best for processing entire mixes. Some are best for almost imperceptibly smoothing out dynamic variations in a recording; others are best used as in-your-face effects.

compressors are subtle, nuanced and occasionally radically different to each other.

One compressor could sound fantastic on kick drums but terrible on vocals. Another might work on any signal but only sound good when used for light compression. Some are clean and neutral, some colour the sound as soon as you run a signal through them, regardless of the compression itself.

Here we present ten of our favourite compressor plugins, including options for all of those scenarios and more. Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list. We’ve had to omit a few old favourites and new contenders to cut the selection down to 10, but we’ve tried to represent a broad cross-section of options, from affordable favourites to great all-rounders and emulations of classic hardware.

As always in Ten Of The Best, the plugins on our list are presented in ascending order of price.

 

12th July, 2015

Comments

  • Big fan of the UAD stuff, just want to point out that paying $299 for any of their classic plugins be it the La-2a, 1176 or the Pultec EQ’s is over doing it.

    UAD has frequent sales and promotions the biggest are around the Holidays and in June for the 1/2 year sale. The compressors will go as low as $99 and if you pair that with other coupons you can snag them very inexpensively. Another way to go would be buying a custom bundle. Like when you order say a Satellite or Apollo, spend another $300 and you can get 3 plugins of any value.

    At first glance you may think the UAD stuff is a lot of dough. And it is if you’re going to get the latest right when it comes out. But if you watch sales and buy custom plugin bundles you can really save. There’s really no reason to pay full price for the classic compressors. They are great tho and I def like the Silver La2a

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  • great article! surprised DMG’s Compassion is not on this list. it’s pretty much my go to compressor for everything. oh, and no mentions of Waves’ compressors… that’s kinda strange.

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  • Eric – we always list products at full retail price, but you make a great point. A lot of these plugins can be had for much less at sale time, including the Universal Audio emulations.

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  • what no rocket

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  • No [insert product name]? And no [insert product name]!?
    The hell with you people! 😛

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  • But what about [insert product name]?

    In all seriousness, thats a great roundup.

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  • Fabfilter bundles are in sale until August 1st, in case someone’s interested. No I don’t work for Fabfilter 🙂
    I’ve been eyeing the mixing bundle for some time, I’m very tempted.

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  • Slate Digital’s Virtual Mix Rack is amazing. The 1176 emulation adds nice grit and sustain. Also, the new opto compressor from BrainWorx is so punchy, sounds killer in parallel.

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  • Great list, I would also have to add any of the Native Instruments Compressors such as the Vari Comp and the Solid Bus Comp not to mention the Vintage Series VC 2A, VC 76, VC 160 as well.

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  • Elysia comps are geat! The alpha compressor can save you good money in the mastering department.

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  • Can’t see how you missed compressors like: Acustica Audio Murano and Titanium for example or MJUC, then what about Boz Audio, Slate Digital?

    IMO most important compressors were excluded from this article

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  • Thank you for the article, but…what about Waves? Quite a glaring omission!

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  • The thing with the UAD stuff is that you need the DSP accelerator. I don’t have a spare £1000 lying around…

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  • I agree with Ralphonz on this one. As good as they may sound you left out the fact that UAD plug-ins won’t work without the hardware which raises the bar to 1.000 $ plus.

    And hey, what about waves? You don’t have to be fan of their vast product range but a Roundup without at least one of their plug-ins seems a bit strange… Actually I don’t like a lot of their emulations either but there are some true gems…

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  • +1 for slate … The Neve type compressor really does something

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  • I dig waves ssl stuff.

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  • No Klanghelm MJUC ?! This comp is a steal !

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  • Klanghelm MJUC. Excellent. For the price nothing to compare on the market.

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