Today’s edition of bpb Freeware Studio features the best free compressor VST/AU plugins for Windows and Mac.
I’ve been preparing this one for quite a while since there are so many free compressors out there and it wasn’t easy to create a best-of compressors shortlist without leaving out some very good freebies.
In the end I’ve decided to split the list in two parts. The main part contains my absolute favorite free compressors and the bonus part features an additional set of great freeware compressor VST plugins that are definitely worth checking out and might become your favorites.
You might also want to check out the best free multi-band compressor VST plugins and best free sidechain compressor VST plugins lists.
Follow the links for screenshots & download info:
- AC-1 by Audiocation Audio Akademie (Windows)
- BLOCKFISH by digitalfishphones (Mac, Windows)
- Classic Compressor by Kjaerhus (Windows)
- Compressive Pro by Martin Eastwood (Windows)
- D2 by de la Mancha (Windows)
- DC1A by Klanghelm (Mac, Windows)
- DCAM FreeComp by FXpansion (Mac, Windows)
- Density mkIII by Variety Of Sound (Windows)
- Endorphin by digitalfishphones (Windows)
- FL4TT3RY 2 by platinumears (Windows)
- jsCompShaper by jsAudio (Windows)
- MCompressor by MeldaProduction (Mac, Windows)
- Modern Series by Antress (Windows)
- Molot by vladg/sound (Mac, Windows)
- NightShine by discoDSP (Windows)
- ReaComp by Cockos (Windows)
- Rough Rider by Audio Damage (Windows)
- TDR Feedback Compressor by Tokyo Dawn Labs (Windows)
- ThrillseekerLA by Variety Of Sound (Windows)
- TLs-2095-LA/TLs-3127-LEA by tinbrooketales (Windows)
For stereo bus use, my two absolute favorites are Molot and Density mkII. Density is more transparent and smooth, a perfect tool to add glue to a mix (or a drum bus, for example) while keeping a natural sound.
Molot adds quite a bit of color however, which isn’t always what you need, but it works great when you want to add some character to bland sounds. It can also work very well on bass guitars and vocals – play around with different modes and check out the manual to see what this great unit is capable of.
TLs-2095-LA and TLs-3127-LEA are my secret weapons – they’re not used on every mix (probably because I’m not a big fan of the limiting amplifier design), but I try them out whenever I’m not satisfied with the results I get with other compressors. And most of the time I tell myself – damn, I should use those TBT compressors more often.
Compressive Pro is a great RMS compressor with a funky vintage analogue modeled sound and a reasonably low CPU hit. It’s quite easy to use due to its simple and clean GUI and has some nice bonus features like external sidechain and auto-gain makeup. A great all-around compressor, useful on individual channels as well as on the stereo bus. You might also want to check out D2 by de la Mancha, it is a nice sounding coloring compressor (coloration can be turned off) that’s very easy to use.
Another perfect all-rounder is ReaComp. It is very easy on the CPU and a breeze to use. Unlike Compressive Pro, this compressor is super-clean sounding and very transparent. When I just need a quick channel compressor, ReaComp is what I go for most of the time.
When you want to kick the living hell out of a track, Rough Rider is your safe bet. It will sound too over-the-top most of the time, but in certain occasions it’s THE perfect spice for a mix. If you’re not affraid of the compression police, try putting it on the master bus right at the start of a mixing session – this can work in some kinds of electronic dance music and can give the whole mix an oversaturated, super-sticky sidechained feel. If that sounds interesting, make sure you also check out Camel Crusher and LMC-1.
BLOCKFISH is often my number one choice for use on vocals. It features a characteristic sound and a superb opto mode (modeled after the old optical compressor designs) which is great for transparent and smooth gain riding on vocals.
If you need a simple compressor to learn with, check out AC1, Classic Compressor, GComp2, andGranComp. All four have great clean interfaces and nice gain reduction meters that will show you exactly what you’re doing (especially GComp2 which also features a dry/wet waveform display)!
Finally, to help you learn compression, here’s a very informative compression video tutorial byFabFilter (it’s basically a promo video for their Pro-C compressor, but also a very good compression tutorial):
And that’s all for today! Have I missed any good freebie compressor? Please suggest it in the comments section below!
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