After a long and hectic firsthand experience and research, ProHomeMusic brings you the list of the top best free compressor VST plugins with download links. If you are reading this, it means you are here to download one of these awesome plugins. That in turn means you must already have the knowledge of how compressors work and how to use them, but in case you are yet to get a full grasp of it – here’s a detailed explanation of audio compression in music mixing . There are various types of compressors, and every compressor has their unique character, tonality and different approach to compression. Some compressor plugins which can be tagged as “clean” simply level out the volume of an audio without adding any sort of tonality or saturation, while some others are modelled after some known hardware units whose characteristic sounds and design they emulate. Not to bore you with too much talks, here is the list of most of the top best free compressor VST plugins in the world with very brief explanations on our favorite ten picks in no particular order.
ReaComp by Cockos
Made by Cockos, the creators of the awesome DAW called REAPER. ReaComp is the default stock compressor in REAPER. If I could only keep one best free compressor plugin to work with, this will be my pick. It delivers effectively clean compression at very low CPU consumption. It also has on board every function you’ll ever need a compressor to perform. Sidechains, filters, limiting, etc. It can be downloaded along with the rest of REAPER’s stock plugins which are all highly useful.
Available on Mac & Windows
Download page: ReaPlugs VST FX Suite
Blockfish by Digital fishphones
Digital fishphones is famous for their popular fish filets bundle. This bundle contains all the basic effects you’ll need to start out as a newbie, all at no cost. Believe me when I say they are all effective at their jobs, and Blockfish is the compressor plugin in there. If you are looking for a free compressor plugin with the LA2A vibe, Blockfish is got to be the most LA-2A-like free compressor plugin. With its opto mode kind of character, it is highly suitable for vocal compression.
Available on Mac & Windows
Download page: the fish fillets channel insert package
Rough Rider 2 by Audio Damage
This one is the most popular free compressor plugin out there. One of the earliest free compressor plugins, and its legacy still stands. Even pro mixers still have it in their arsenal because it is too good to be free. Its version 2 was released not too long ago, with a change in interface design. This plugin is very good at adding aggressive character to music, especially to drums. With extreme settings, it can crush and shred sounds. If you need that effect, definitely go for this. If clean compression is what you need, definitely go for another compressor.
Windows and Mac
Download page: Free downloads Audio Damage
Kotelnikov by Tokyo Dawn Labs
This plugin was voted one of the top 10 best VST plugin compressors in a poll on gearslutz. That’s how good it is. Customary of TDR, they offer most of their plugins for free, then release the commercial versions (gentleman editions) with a few additional dispensable features at a very affordable price. There is no difference in the sound and processing abilities of both the free and the gentleman editions of Kotelnikov, besides the addition of auto gain function, the ability to specify ratio in a frequency dependent manner, and sidechain high-pass filter. Kotelnikov is a perfect compressor to use on the master bus because of how it handles the dynamics effectively with so much transparency.
Available on Mac and Windows
Download page: TDR Kotelnikov
VOS Density MKIII by Variety of sound
Variety of sound has a very impressive collection of free VST plugins bundle. I still can’t wrap my head around how they could afford to give away those amazing processors at no cost. VOS Density MK2 is one of the free compressor plugins in the awesome VOS complete bundle. This compressor is the world’s best free emulation of the famous Fairchild 670 compressor. Density is particularly good for use on busses, including the master bus.
Windows and Mac
Download page: Downloads- Variety Of Sound
MCompressor by MeldaProduction
MCompressor is another gem contained inside MeldaProduction’s MFreeFXBundle. This plugin provides standard compression with volume maximization and has other useful fine tuning adjustments like the knee adjustments. It has a unique feature of adjustable compression shape inside its graph-like section, which gives you power to set custom smoothing or even interesting sound effects. It also comes with sidechain functionalities and mid-side processing to suit your workflow if it ever calls for it. You can also use this for surround mixing. Very great all round compressor for free.
Mac and Windows
Download page: Mcompressor – Meldaproduction
MJUCjr by Klanghelm
Renowned for their earlier released great compressors like DC8C, DC1A and great saturation plugins, Klanghelm released the MJUC jr. alongside their very successful MJUC variable-tube compressors plugin in 2016. The MJUC Jr. is is a slightly stripped down version of the bigger bros. Instead of the three modules – MKI, MKII and MKIII available in the full version, MJUC Jr. Has only the MKI and MKII modules. The Jr. version also lacks the bottom panel with additional controls for filters and saturation, the HQ mode, auto-gain compensation, and the scalable UI. Other than those, they both run on the same algorithms and work very fine. However, if after demoing you feel you need more control over shaping the dynamics, you can get the full MJUC at about a meager $24. For a compressor plugin voted the first place in the famous gearslutz top 10 poll, that price is a steal.
Windows and MAC
Download Page: MJUCjr. Variable Tube Compressor
D2 by De la Mancha
D2 has the most straight forward interface which will be so easy to use especially for newbies. With its basic layout, it is well suited for quickly dialing in some common compression settings. D2 is great for both single track inserts and busses applications as it can go from heavy to subtle, razor quick to gentle, and clean to dirty with just the push of the “Dirt” button. A really simple but effective compressor worth starting out with.
Download page: D2
OTT by Xfer
This is a free multiband compressor offering from xfer records, which are famous for their Serum soft synth VSTi plugin. Like serum, this plugin is best suited for EDM production and mixing. The three band compressor is capable of both upwards and downwards compression, and has an aggressive sidechaining capabilities. The simplicity and functionality of OTT makes it a favourite among the greatest EDM, dubstep, and all electronic music makers generally. Plus it is very low tasking on CPU.
Windows and Mac
Download page: Xfer Records OTT
Tagged “the compressor with character” by the makers, Molot is a very colorful compressor which though is not an emulation of any hardware compressor, can provide audible results with comparable characters to well-known compressors. It can emulate and deliver the characteristic sound of a Neve 33609 when used on a drums buss. Used on a lead vocal, it can provide a similar result reminiscent of a hardware Tube-Tech CL 1B. While on the master buss, it can hold things together like a Fairchild 670 vintage compressor. The saturation flavor is top notch and desirable. Mostly suitable on busses for that midas touch.
Windows and Mac
Download page: Vladg/Sound Molot
Those are the top 10 picks. However, this does not mean these are the best free compressors around because there abound several other gems which can even do more. We will be listing almost all of them below with links to their download pages, so you can try them out and see if any of them feels right for you.
That’s it my people! You don’t have to break a bank to get top notch mixing tools, all thanks to the generous developers giving away these gems for free. Get yourselves at least five favorite ones out of them all for varieties’ sake, and get down to crafting a really good mix. You should also read the simple use of EQ in music mixing to get a better knowledge of how to rightly use Equalizers.
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