Cytomic The Glue (or Ableton Glue Compressor)
$99 (or free in Ableton Standard and Suite)
Some kind of VCA-style bus compressor is pretty much a must-have no matter what type of music you make. Most VCA-style options owe at least some debt to the SSL bus compressor. Originally developed as part of the British company’s wildly popular (and wildly expensive) recording consoles, the SSL became a default choice on the mix for countless rock and pop records, then spawned a range of clones and emulations. We certainly wouldn’t blame you for choosing an ultra-authentic software emulation such as SSL’s own Duende Native Bus Compressor or Universal Audio’s SSL G Series Bus Compressor, but for a more affordable option, we’d recommend checking out Cytomic’s The Glue.
The SSL compressor’s main strength is its ability to apply relatively subtle compression to a stereo mix, and helping to ‘glue’ together the individual components of the mix, creating something cohesive and greater than the sum of its parts (hence the name of Cytomic’s plugin). The Glue isn’t an officially licensed SSL emulation, but it’s clear what inspired it – in Cytomic’s words, it’s “based on the classic 80s British big console buss compressor”. Officially licensed or not, The Glue is an outstanding mix bus compressor (and equally capable on sub-mixes such as the drum bus or sampled loops).
Officially licensed or not, The Glue is an outstanding mix bus compressor
If you’re using Ableton Live (and let’s face it, a large proportion of dance producers are), there’s an even greater incentive to use The Glue: you already have a version built into your DAW. Ableton’s Glue Compressor, introduced in version 9, uses the same compression algorithms as The Glue, but with an interface tweaked to fit neatly into Live.