DSP has come quite a long way, and audio processors keep getting better. Myriads of VST and AU plugins are being released everyday, making it a hard task to sort out the best and truly effective ones to acquire in order to get desired results. That is the reason we are bringing you a list of the top 10 best compressor VST plugins 2018 . These compressors are the tested and trusted products that will always deliver when it comes to impeccable dynamics processing with nice vibes and flavors. Here we go!
Pro C 2 by Fabfilter
Fabfilter always deliver the goods when it comes to making pro level mixing plugins. The company is known for its proudly digital approach to VST plugins development, and so they are yet to put out any colored or flavoured analog modelling plugin. Pro-C 2 is the most fully featured compressor in the game. It has an intuitive user friendly UI and the best real-time graphical display on board. It spots other essential features like the dry/wet parallel mix knob, a highly effective auto gain, fine knee adjustment, mid/side processing, internal and external sidechain with filters. To cap it all up, pro C 2 has eight different compression styles, five of which were added in version 2. The newly added compression algorithms are the Vocal, Mastering, Bus, Punch and Pumping algos respectively, and they are all suitable for the purposes they are made as the naming suggests. With these various features and up to 4x oversampling, plus a lovely user interface, Pro-C 2 is the king of comps.
Official webpage: Pro • C 2 Professional compression for everyone
Novatron by Kush Audio
It is always a good thing to see developers taking a new approach to a conventional process, especially when the product builds on and improves the familiarly common designs. The mere look of Novatron screams a modern day masterpiece. It is the most versatile compressor plugin around, so much it can morph into 3 major compressor types. This plugin is an hybrid of FET, VCA, and Vari-Mu compressors all in one. It effortlessly delivers the flexibility and respective strengths each of these compression styles bring to the table. One thrilling feature of Novatron is the amount of control it provides on the transformer circuits coloration. It offers transformer coloration at both the in and out stages, and they can both be turned off if one wants transparency. This further adds to its credence as the most fluid compressor plugin.
Novatron perfectly bridges the gap between the simple but effective few parameter compressors like the 1176/LA-3A and other fully featured compressors that provide extensive controls. It has a “pillowy” knock and depth that is rare to hear from a software compressor and it consistently delivers this across varying audio materials and settings. Finally, Its CPU usage is light enough for it to be used across a mix. Unless you want to make use of its feature of project-wide universal toggling on/off of oversampling, so you can quickly check how better the oversampling makes things sound across your project.
Official webpage: NOVATRON VARITONE TUBE COMPRESSOR
FG-Stress by Slate Digital
Slate digital is a company known for being one of the best at perfectly recreating hardware music processors in the digital realm. The FG Stress is Slate’s emulation of the renowned Distressor compressor by Empirical Labs, and you can bet they nailed the character to the least nuances. They did this so well that the plugin was endorsed by Dave Derr of Empirical Labs, the creator of the original hardware. Similar to the hardware after which it is modelled, FG-Stress can recreate the character of some of the industry’s most revered compressors like the punchy VCAs, fat tube compressors, and even vintage opto units. With its versatility, flexibility and effectiveness, owning FG-Stress is a no-brainer especially if you don’t already own a distressor emulator. You will however have to hop on board the Virtual Mix Rack module in order to use the plugin, which is not a bad thing considering other hidden gems you will discover by using the platform.
Official webpage: FG-STRESS
MJUC by Klanghelm
Since its release in 2015, the popularity of this plugin keeps soaring. That does not come as a surprise though, because that’s what happens when real quality is offered for cheap because people reach out to have a taste of the goodies. Dubbed as “variable tube compressors” by Klanghelm, this plugin features three compression modules in one and each module imparts different tube compression characters. MJUC offers a peep into the developmental history of tube compressors by capturing the essence of each generation as modelled in the three modules. The MK1 which spots a basic design that features two knobs for dialling compression and output respectively, delivers very subtle compression. While the MK2’s design features the classical compression outlook and a more “forward” character. The MK3 has almost similar design to the MK2, but with auto ratio function and additional high ratio switch. It also adds a punch intensity toggle switch for fine-tuning transients. This plugin easily rivals other top plugins that are way costlier than it by delivering high quality compression with analog depth.
Official webpage: MJUC – variable -tube compressor
Kotelnikov (Gentleman’s Edition) by Tokyo Dawn Labs
The concept behind this comp is “proudly digital”, because it doesn’t try to emulate any previously existing hardware device. TDR Kotelnikov is a descendant of the revered free TDR Feedback Compressor, a product by Vlad and Fabian the passionate software developers of TDL. Kotelnikov is a wideband dynamics processor combining high fidelity dynamic range control with deep musical flexibility. It offers a unique feature of providing two different release controls for audio peak and RMS content. It also has an intuitive user interface and powerful, state of the art, high-precision algorithms. Its compression style can be best described as transparent and stealthy because of its ability to manipulate the dynamic range by sizeable amounts and still carefully preserve the original tone, timbre and punch of the original signal. Hence, it is perfectly suited for stereo and master bus compression as well as other critical applications.
Official webpage: TDR Kotelnikov – Gentleman’s Edition
Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor by Universal Audio
UAD which is one of the most revered companies in the DSP world also decided to release a digital emulation of Empirical Lab’s famous Distressor hardware compressor. The Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor plugin was released along with the latest Universal Audio UAD Software V9.4 update for Apollo audio interfaces and UAD Accelerators. As perceptible in the plugin’s name, this UAD plugin version is gladly endorsed by Empirical Labs founder Dave Derr. Even though Dave’s company had previously released their Arousor plugin which is Empirical Lab’s official distressor emulation, he couldn’t help but marvel at how similar sounding UAD’s EL8 is to the original hardware units. The interface is a replication of the hardware outlay, but the interface was split into two halves and layered. The left part which houses the audio distortion and filtering mode, the ratio selection buttons, and the sidechain Detector mode selection, was layered above the right half which has the Input, Output, Attack and Release knobs. An additional feature – a wet/dry mix knob for parallel compression, which was unavailable in the original hardware was added. Which is a very good addition for in the box processing. Like the hardware, this plugin is so versatile it can mimic other compressor types.
Official webpage: EMPIRICAL LABS EL8 DISTRESSOR
UBK-1 by Kush Audio
Another gem from the staples of Kush Audio. The UBK-1 does not take the conventional approach to compression and interface design. The plugin has three sections which are the saturation, compression and density sections. First to the left of the UI is the saturation section which features a drive knob and a mix lever for parallel processing. The compression section is more of a “one-knobbed magic setting. This big compression knob is accompanied by a smaller knob for high and low filter, and two levers. The first lever by the left controls the dry/wet compression percentage, while the right lever is used for toggling the five various compression types – Splat, Smooth, Glue, Squish, and Crush. The density section is used to add depth and weight, if what you’re mixing calls for such. Though UBK-1 may not suit the task if you require total control on the dynamics, but this plugin adds lovable vibe and movement to mixes in a wonderful way.
Official webpage: UBK-1
The Glue by Cytomic
Several years after its release, Cytomic’s The Glue still stands firm as the vast pro audio community’s favorite SSL console emulation and is still widely used. What is lovable about this plugin is how it handles the dynamics in a remarkably smooth and subtle way while still doing a lot of processing under the hood. Hence, it is so good to use it as a master bus compressor. The best practice is to set it up for subtle gain reduction as a first step earlier in a mixing session and mix into it. A good starting point is to select either of the two “The Glue” presets and tweak to suite your mix. The additional features that’s often lacking in other SSL replication plugins is a plus and highly useful. The Wet/dry is handy, the range control knob does wonders and finally the extra sidechain filtering makes it the best featured SSL plugin around. The Glue does magic on buses. Provides very great glue and vibe on a drum bus, especially on acoustic drums. This plugin is very versatile and could be a real workhorse. With the release of the modern “The Glue HD” version underway as promised by Andrew Simper-the developer, this awesome plugin will get even better.
Official site: Glue
VLA-3A by Black Rooster
Black Rooster Audio is a budding Audio software developing company from Germany which hit the market hard in 2017 with their Vintage Mixing Bundle and other plugins. Despite the fact that they are relatively new in the game, they have really been making a buzz within the pro audio community. Among the plugins contained in the bundle is VLA-3A which is an emulation of the classic LA-3A compressor. Even though several other emulations had been released by other popular and established companies in the past, Black Rooster’s VLA-3A was able to claim its own spot among the big players. Besides its “dope” looking user interface, this plugin sounds so amazing it instantly became the people’s favorite.
Official webpage: VLA-3A
FETpressor by PSP Audio
PSP has a track record when it comes to coding effective compressor plugins that stand the test of time. Some of the notable ones are the highly revered Vintage Warmer and the Old Timer compressors. Fetpressor is the latest addition to their amazing list of compressors. Although the compressor borrows some features from the looks of a typical 117 compressor, it is nothing close to being a 117 emulation. Fetpressor is more like a multi-feature combination piece than a total 1176 emulation. Its numerous features and versatile sound gives the notion that there are elements of other compressors embedded in the plugin.
The PSP Fetpressor is a feedback type compressor plug-in which aims to replicate the attributes of the 1970s FET compressors. It has all the basic controls like the attack and release knobs, a ratio selector which ranges from 1:1 to 16:1, threshold, and makeup gain. It also has a high pass filter in its internal side chain. Plus a “Blend” knob to adjusts the wet/dry balance for parallel compression. A very useful and unique feature is the inclusion of a switch to toggle the mix control’s effect on and off by clicking on its label. This provides an excellent way to instantly compare the blend effect with a 100% wet signal. Also, by setting the ratio control to 1:1, the sweet tone of the output transformer can be used to color a track just for the sound of it without compression.
Official webpage: PSP FETpressor
That is our list of top 10 best compressor VST plugins 2018 . Like we always say, these are not all the best ones available because there abounds lots of other great compressor plugins out there. Some great classics still stand strong, while some other new ones bring new features to the table. Other cool plugins that would have made the list had it extended beyond the highly limiting count of 10 are: DMG Audio TrackComp, Waves API 2500, Empirical Labs Arousor, Sknote Disto, Waves CLA classic compressors, Softube CL1-B, Sonimus Tuco, Universal Audio 1176 Classic Plug-In Collection, Slate Digital VBC (Virtual Buss Compressors), Acustica Audio Ultramarine 3, and Brainworx bx_opto. It is good to have varieties of tools to work with because some plugins just work for a certain situation than the other. So if you can afford it, having at least 3 out of these lots will be a good move.
There you have it people! In case you lack the fund to get any of these, don’t worry some good Samaritan developers have got your back. You should check out the list of top best free compressor VST plugins with download links to get equally good plugins to work with. In case you are yet to fully grasp the concept of compression, you should read detailed explanation of audio compression in music mixing . Happy music making.
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