Our List of the current best compressors on the market for your mixing needs.
01 – Empirical Labs Arousor
From the same company that made the hardware Distressor comes Arousor. A plugin version of their aesthetic in compression, a Distressor on steroids in the box. Has a certain quality in its action that fits anywhere from slow compression, to punchy, to low ratio master bus compression. The highlights are the attack modification function that provides amazing punch, the great sounding soft clipper that helps analogize the sound and the extended detector eq which helps fine tune the compressor’s action. Maybe a premium product but you can do no wrong with it.
Tip 01: Use a 1.5:1 ratio and slight compression along with the attack mod and soft clip functions for an analog master bus sound.
Tip 02: Use it with extreme settings in parallel with the blend function to give extra vibe to any sound.
02 – TDR Kotelnikov (Gentleman’s Edition)
The mastering compressor in the box. It has a special place in our toolkit and also in the toolkits of other engineers we have talked with. Has a very clean sound but a certain musicality in its action that makes everything sound finished. Can manipulate the dynamics in large amounts without colouring the sound and has any functionality a bus or master may need. Highlights are the dual release stage, the FDR function that adapts the ratio to the frequency and the yin/yang functions that add harmonics to the compression. Last but not least something that is a standard on all Tokyo Dawn products, an extended master panel which includes an equal loudness bypass so you are not tricked by the loudness difference and also a delta function so you can hear just what is being compressed.
Tip 01: By using mostly the peak release stage can lead to a very fast and punchy but clean compression that can lift the drum bus or any drum driven track.
Tip 02: Use the high pass (low freq relax) and the FDR function to focus and fine tune the compression to the frequency range that works best for your track.
03 – Leapwing Audio DynOne
An amazing multiband compressor with the best crossover filters to our ears. The crossover points are fixed but smartly chosen and the compression is extremely transparent. All functionality can be in parallel without any phasing or other issue and the attack and release settings are adaptive between two values so it works without the need to automate on complex program material. It has become our go to for parallel multiband compression on our buses and master and a secret weapon for transparently loud masters. A really smart tool that even manipulating the default setting can lead to a great sound but delving deeper, learning and experimenting with it we guarantee pays off.
Tip 01: Use the main sliders as a kind of EQ to lift the frequency bands that complement your track.
Tip 02: Ratio slider goes below one so each band can also work as an expander.
04 – PSPaudioware FETpressor
An amazing character compressor plugin. Even though it is a FET feedback type compressor based on a 70s model sounds very modern and has a characteristic that is difficult to achieve in the box. It has a 3D quality in its action, especially on drums and has a specific mojo that makes any source sound instantly better. The extended feature set (sidechain highpass, blend control, stereo link/unlink) pushes it further and makes it more useful than the original hardware. A true workhorse that finds its way in every session, everywhere, even in the master bus in parallel.
Tip 01: Use it on your drum bus in parallel to add an extra layer of depth and movement to your drums.
Tip 02: Use it with 1:1 ratio as a tone box and take advantage of the great transformer and makeup amp emulation.
05 – Kush Audio Novatron
A compressor with tone and mojo for days. It does not emulate a specific hardware but can do a range of compression styles from really fast FET type, to a bit slower VCA or even slower Vari-MU type. All in excellence with great attack/release characteristics and always with great aesthetic and vibe. If you wanna push it even further it provides adjustable in/out transformers that go beyond insanity. To all that add the great meters, a tone shift circuit, three fine tuned modes for different uses, a sidechain highpass and a blend control. A great tool that offers compression with analog dimensionality and solidity in the box.
Tip 01: Set it up with master bus settings or use any of the great presets and mix into it to benefit from the tone and glue it imparts.
Tip 02: Push it with extreme settings and use it in parallel. Adds great analog characteristics on digital synths and sounds.