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Which compressor plugins do you like? Are there some modeled plugins that sound like hardware that you use and enjoy?

The topic came up in this thread in Craig Anderton's forum and I didn't see it here so now we have a place to share. http://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3046726/rookie-recording-mistakes#Post3046726

I've played around with a few different compressor plugins, have not found ones that seem to work quite like hardware compressors. Admittedly, I am not using any of the classic hardware compressors. Currently on hand I have the FMR RNC, a compressor in the HHB Radius 40 channel strip and one in the Presonus Eureka. I can't say I prefer or dislike any of them, they all change dynamics differently.

When you compress, what do plugins have you liked and for what reasons? Thanks in advance for any and all replies, including more questions. Cheers, Kuru


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I use quite a few plugin compressors in addition to my hardware. I am alwasy experimenting with different ones, but a few that seem to make most projects.
Elysia Alpha. I love this one because it does its job and does not draw attention to itself. I use it when I do not want to hear the sound of the compressor.
Empirical Labs Arouser. I hate the name and I do not think it sounds like a Distressor, but I like using it when I want to do aggressive compression ITB.
ACME Opticom. I like this when I want the compressor to bring a lot of its own character to the party. It is a harmonic box as much as a compressor.
Sound Toys Devil Lock Deluxe (not the regular "Devil Lock). Another one that I am using more for coloration as dynamic shaping. It is a pretty blunt tool, but the features in the deluxe version give you a lot more control of it.


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Thanks Ronan, I appreciate your answers!

The "real world" keeps coming at me so I haven't spent much time with my dynamics plugins. I did get to play around with my 3 humble hardware units, there is a lot to be learned if you just plug a single instrument in and carefully test different settings. None of my compressors are "character" pieces so I haven't "smashed" anything yet. I think a couple of my IK plugins might be able to crush, smash, etc.


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I've been reading some old trade magazines lately, and it's taking me back to the day when there were about half a dozen different compressors and/or limiters on the market, a Fairchild 660 was part of a lacquer cutting lathe setup, and a mic preamp was where you connected a mic to your console. Today there must be a hundred different hardware compressors on the market, at least half of them emulating the "famous" models in their own way, and at least a dozen different plug-ins for each of the hardware units on the market.

How do you choose? I read some articles where the author (a famous or not-so-famous engineer) says, of some hardware or software, "I use this on every vocal session." Or "I always put this across the drum bus." Have they tried all the other 900 variations?

I'll admit that I don't have a drum bus, I want my vocals to sound like the singer (and if he or she is no good, get another singer), and most of the basses that I record are acoustic and I'll occasionally put a compressor on one if there are a few notes that stick out - either due to the instrument, mic placement, or the player. My rack of dynamics here consists of an FMR RNC (Really Nice Compressor), a dbx 160x, and a dbx 166. I have no idea how many plug-in compressors I have, but they're all ones that came with the few DAWs that I have. I can't remember when I've ever used one, but maybe some time or other, maybe with a live recording.

Am I OK? Or do I need to watch more videos and see what happens when you really squash a snare or apply 20 dB of gain reduction and can't hear it?

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Thanks for adding to the conversation, Mike.

I've been cautious about tracking with compression, mostly I avoid it. I have an FMR RNC as well, channel A is inserted into a Focusrite ISA One mic pre. I've experimented with it on bass guitar, with a 1:1.5 ratio and careful dialing of the Threshold and Attack, I was able to get the compressor to drop the level of some unwanted high frequencies coming from the bass.

I've also realized that the way the RNC is laid out makes it a simple choice for sidechaining. When I tried using Channel B only, the compressor did not respond at all. Only Channel A input will get the compressor going.

So, plug the sidechain into Channel A input and the sound you are sidechaining through Channel B - done. Could be handy someday, maybe...

Currently in my Dynamics folder in Plugins, I have 16 different compressor, limiter, ducker, etc. plugins and I've hardly used any of them for anything. That's OK, recently on Craig's forum he mentioned that compressors modeled after classic analog units want to see a hot signal coming in. I hadn't considered that but when I do get around to trying these out I'll have a better basis for testing them.

I've used the compressor that came with Tracktion/Waveform more than all the others combined, simply because it was what I had. I am not particularly fond of that sound but I do like that the interface is all mouse friendly sliders. I also use Tracktion Master Mix, which has a pre EQ, multi-band compressor and post EQ, lots of useful presets in that one.

It's coming and hopefully soon - the horrendous "try out all the plugins, choose the best and toss the rest" shootout. I'd love it if I only had a dozen total plugins that all did what I need done, it is too easy to get submerged in them and it isn't what the music or song is about.

For all that, last night I bought Eventide MicroPitch. Not a compressor so a bit OT but a set of tools nicely compiled into a single plugin. I do like the sound of detuning if used well and this one plugin has modualtion and delay effects, a real time "ribbon", just ticks a lot of boxes. I can probably get rid of quite a few other plugins and just use this one instead.

A single Swiss Army Knife compressor would be something I'd be interested in rather than "this one is good for that and that one is good for this." TOO MANY PLUGINS!!!!! Cheers, Kuru


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I'm a fan of Waves H-Comp. Four different analog "flavors", and a clean digital option that bypasses the analog simulations (which is great and clean). I actually have done mixes with it as the only compressor. The only thing I don't care for it on is vocals. Otherwise it's great for pianos, synths, guitars, basses, and drums. Very "natural" sounding without being too sterile (and like I said it has the bypass option too for a very transparent compression).


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Originally Posted by Mighty Motif Max
I'm a fan of Waves H-Comp. Four different analog "flavors", and a clean digital option that bypasses the analog simulations (which is great and clean). I actually have done mixes with it as the only compressor. The only thing I don't care for it on is vocals. Otherwise it's great for pianos, synths, guitars, basses, and drums. Very "natural" sounding without being too sterile (and like I said it has the bypass option too for a very transparent compression).


That's the sort of plugin I am looking for, thanks for posting Mighty Max!!!!

A "five in one" covers a LOT of bases. It would be nice to reduce the total number of plugins, I have a stupid amount of them.


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Wow, it's only $29.95 right now!!!
Gotta do a bank run tomorrow anyway, maybe I'll get this...

https://www.waves.com/plugins/h-comp-hybrid-compressor#introduction-to-h-comp


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Dang it!!! They got me!!!!!
The old "spend $50 and we'll give you a free $30 plugin).

I surfed their entire plugin list. I got the H Comp, the NLS Non Linear Summer (has modelled SSL, Neve and EMI consoles) https://www.waves.com/plugins/nls-non-linear-summer#classic-console-sound-with-nls

And IR 1 convolution reverb - Waves has a free 4.8 gig download of convolution files for that, it's downloading now.

Plus there was a free widget, Studio Rack - you can park multiple plugins there. Waveform has similar features to this, I'll compare them and choose the easy one.

That set me off, I started in on ALL of my plugins. So many of them just give you the VST, VST3 and AU files and I carelessly installed the whole shebang. Add to that, when you download IK Multimedia TRackS, they include EVERYTHING and lots of the individual plugins are not authorized, just in the way.

I prefer to use the AU plugins. I went through all of those first and tossed stuff I never use and don't want. Then I cleared out all duplicates of VST and VST 3 files. I think I have one more round to get everything but then I'll only have 1 VST and 4 VST3 plugins.

I cleared and rescanned my Waveform plugin files, deleted all the clutter in my custom plugin folders so now I am ready to move everything into my folders and have organized plugins.

Eventually I'll try everything and probably toss some more stuff that just doesn't get used.
Probably never get down to just a dozen or so plugins but I can dream!!!!


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I've been using my Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor Class A quite a bit! I also have SPL Iron I won't to give a good workout. I use the T-RackS Black 76 for parallel drum compression every time as well smile

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Originally Posted by Bill Heins
I've been using my Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor Class A quite a bit! I also have SPL Iron I won't to give a good workout. I use the T-RackS Black 76 for parallel drum compression every time as well smile

Bill

Nice, the Magic Death Eye compressor plugin just got a great review in Tape Op. Looks interesting, a hardware version is almost $6k and supposedly top of the heap.


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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
Dang it!!! They got me!!!!!
The old "spend $50 and we'll give you a free $30 plugin).

I surfed their entire plugin list. I got the H Comp, the NLS Non Linear Summer (has modelled SSL, Neve and EMI consoles) https://www.waves.com/plugins/nls-non-linear-summer#classic-console-sound-with-nls

And IR 1 convolution reverb - Waves has a free 4.8 gig download of convolution files for that, it's downloading now.

Plus there was a free widget, Studio Rack - you can park multiple plugins there. Waveform has similar features to this, I'll compare them and choose the easy one.

That set me off, I started in on ALL of my plugins. So many of them just give you the VST, VST3 and AU files and I carelessly installed the whole shebang. Add to that, when you download IK Multimedia TRackS, they include EVERYTHING and lots of the individual plugins are not authorized, just in the way.

I prefer to use the AU plugins. I went through all of those first and tossed stuff I never use and don't want. Then I cleared out all duplicates of VST and VST 3 files. I think I have one more round to get everything but then I'll only have 1 VST and 4 VST3 plugins.

I cleared and rescanned my Waveform plugin files, deleted all the clutter in my custom plugin folders so now I am ready to move everything into my folders and have organized plugins.

Eventually I'll try everything and probably toss some more stuff that just doesn't get used.
Probably never get down to just a dozen or so plugins but I can dream!!!!


Haha, Waves will do that to you! I've had no use for StudioRack thus far. I know what you're saying about the IK TRackS install - it's super annoying. I just copied them all into a different folder and removed them from the plugin directories. As far as having VST/AU/VST3 etc plugins, I've realized it's a good idea to keep the main versions of those plugins around as a backup in case you end up switching operating systems. Don't keep them in the plugin folders, but make a separate folder of the VST versions of your AU plugins and keep them on a USB or a hard drive or something. Because like it or not, we're chained to the internet for plugins now, and once a manufacturer decides to no longer support your plugin, you can't always download it again, should you need to, or if you switched to Windows from MacOS or whatnot. I'd also keep the installers if you can.


Motif XF8/YS200/MX61/CVP-305/CLP-130/YPG-235/PSR-295/PSS-470
Proteus/1/PROformance Plus/Mo'Phatt
JV-1000/JV-1010/Fantom XR
Krome 61/N1R/X5DR
Kurzweil PC3/PC4
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Originally Posted by Mighty Motif Max
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
Dang it!!! They got me!!!!!
The old "spend $50 and we'll give you a free $30 plugin).

I surfed their entire plugin list. I got the H Comp, the NLS Non Linear Summer (has modelled SSL, Neve and EMI consoles) https://www.waves.com/plugins/nls-non-linear-summer#classic-console-sound-with-nls

And IR 1 convolution reverb - Waves has a free 4.8 gig download of convolution files for that, it's downloading now.

Plus there was a free widget, Studio Rack - you can park multiple plugins there. Waveform has similar features to this, I'll compare them and choose the easy one.

That set me off, I started in on ALL of my plugins. So many of them just give you the VST, VST3 and AU files and I carelessly installed the whole shebang. Add to that, when you download IK Multimedia TRackS, they include EVERYTHING and lots of the individual plugins are not authorized, just in the way.

I prefer to use the AU plugins. I went through all of those first and tossed stuff I never use and don't want. Then I cleared out all duplicates of VST and VST 3 files. I think I have one more round to get everything but then I'll only have 1 VST and 4 VST3 plugins.

I cleared and rescanned my Waveform plugin files, deleted all the clutter in my custom plugin folders so now I am ready to move everything into my folders and have organized plugins.

Eventually I'll try everything and probably toss some more stuff that just doesn't get used.
Probably never get down to just a dozen or so plugins but I can dream!!!!


Haha, Waves will do that to you! I've had no use for StudioRack thus far. I know what you're saying about the IK TRackS install - it's super annoying. I just copied them all into a different folder and removed them from the plugin directories. As far as having VST/AU/VST3 etc plugins, I've realized it's a good idea to keep the main versions of those plugins around as a backup in case you end up switching operating systems. Don't keep them in the plugin folders, but make a separate folder of the VST versions of your AU plugins and keep them on a USB or a hard drive or something. Because like it or not, we're chained to the internet for plugins now, and once a manufacturer decides to no longer support your plugin, you can't always download it again, should you need to, or if you switched to Windows from MacOS or whatnot. I'd also keep the installers if you can.

Excellent advice, thank you. I do keep installers when they are available, You are right about offloading them for future. Too much needs done already, yikes!!!


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