Updated: January 25, 2020 by Richard Cole
Many newcomers to music production wonder what is a compressor plug in used for. On a first glance it’s a rather confusing effect that seemingly does very little for the song even though many of them come with a whole bunch of controls.
This confusion is normal. Once you understand the core principle behind a compressor, both the digital and analog, you will find them to be an irreplaceable tool in your toolbox.
Compressors have a huge impact on the overall sound of the track. They are used to regulate volume of the whole recording/project, and keep the whole thing sounding rich and loud without clipping. Without a compressor, if you wanted to increase the volume, you would have to push the mixer into red.
This creates distortion and muddies the overall sound of the mix. With a compressor you can regulate this while remaining way bellow the threshold and so much more.
Good compressor plug-ins usually cost a fair amount of money, however there are many free compressor VST available on the internet that will provide nearly as impressive performance.
We found several such VSTs for you to check out.
Let’s get started
TLs-2095-LA is a pretty simple compressor that doesn’t offer too much flexibility, however it does have a unique color that you can apply to your mix. The controls are pretty basic, and you will probably need some time in getting used to what each knob does for your sound.
However once you master this VST, you will find it pretty pleasing for everyday use.
If you need transparency in your sound, Blockfish is a great little compressor that just nails it when it comes to vocals. You can give your recording a truly smooth gain that doesn’t bite in on the quality nor does it change the color of the vocals. It does have its own specific sound, but nothing too overt that might impact the recording.
Molot is a compressor that is designed for stereo bus use more than anything. It comes with a lot of features, but it adds its own color to the sound. This works great most of the times, but in rare cases you will really feel the new shape of the signal sort of standing out from the mix. If you’re mixing bass guitars, drums or similar, this compressor VST will do a pretty decent job.
– Compressive Pro
If you need a more conservative compressor that bears a lot of similarities with vintage analog models, Compressive Pro is something that can deliver that kind of performance.
It features a very basic and intuitive interface, and comes with all the controls necessary to make it a very flexible compressor. It isn’t CPU intensive by any means, and you can pretty much use it on any type of instruments you choose.
– TDR Feedback Compressor by TDL
TDR Feedback Compressor is a very detailed dynamic range compressor that is pretty much based around bus compression. The level of control you have is pretty extensive, and that is the result of TDL doing a long research into different parameters and behavior of sound when certain compression ratios are applied. If you play around with this thing for a while, you will get some pretty sweet results.
– GComp 2
Finally, if your just starting out with compressors in general, GComp 2 is a VST to learn on. It’s simple, intuitive even for someone who has never used a compressor before, and you get a waveform display that tells you exactly what is being done.
It doesn’t offer too many features outside controlling gain and volume levels, but that is exactly the type of VST you want to build your skill on.
We have selected what we think are the best free compressor VST options on the internet. There’s many more of these to be found, and each has its unique sound signature.
The ones we included in this list vary in terms of function and skill requirements, but also offer a great base to start learning how to apply compression to your mix.
If you are new to compressors, these will be a great learning tool. On the other hand if you already have some experience, you will find these to be a great tool that you can use for free.