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The best free VST compressor plugins you need to have

The best free VST compressors

Accumulating plugins is addicting and if you’re not careful it can get expensive. Luckily there are a lot of great software developers offering their plugins to the music production community for free. Here are a few incredible sounding compressor plugins that if they weren’t free I would gladly pay for.

All of these plugins are 100% free and available in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX formats.

Klanghelm MJUC Jr.

Klanghelm MJUC Jr. Compressor VST Plugin
  • Emulated Variable-Mu circuit injected with ear-pleasing saturation.
  • Loosely based off of the legendary Fairchild 660.
  • Extremely good looking GUI.
  • Easy to use with a straight forward vintage design consisting of only Input, Output, and Time Constraint controls.
  • A more extensive version with added features and two other modeled circuits is available for less than $27.
  • Vari-mu compressors offer a unique compression style not commonly found in many plugins. With a variable-mu circuit, the ratio of the gain reduction increases as you hit the unit’s input harder, which can yield very musically pleasing results even when you lay into it aggressively.

Klanghelm DC1A

Klanghelm DC1A Compressor VST Plugin
  • Two knob compressors are f*cking awesome.
  • Go from a light, clean, gentle squeeze to heavy pumping with crunchy distortion with only two knobs.
  • Negative mode offers upward or over compression. Downward compression is what everyone calls compression, but upward compression increases the level of the signal when it falls below the threshold, which leads to embellished dynamics and a unique sound.
  • Deep mode adds a high-pass filter to the sidechain input.
  • Mono mode compresses each channel independently.
  • Relax mode changes detection from Peak/RMS.
  • Built-in mix feature for quick and easy parallel compression.

Tokyo Dawn Records Kotelnikov

Tokyo Dawn Records Kotelnikov Compressor VST Plugin
  • Designed as a mastering compressor 
  • Original design, not a vintage emulation
  • Able to tame transients and still sound transparent.
  • Unlike many free compressor plugins out there, this sounds great on the mix bus.

Tokyo Dawn Records Nova

Tokyo Dawn Records Nova Compressor VST Plugin
  • Parallel dynamic equalizer
  • Parametric equalizer with an added dynamics section.
  • Sounds excellent on a wide range of applications, a few common are de-essing, repairing clashing frequencies without effecting overall tonality throughout the entire track, frequency-selective compression, or changes in the movement for only specific frequencies.
  • The difference between a dynamic EQ and a multiband compressor is with a dynamic EQ you can adjust Q curves, while multiband compressors have overall frequency ranges.

Acustica Audio TAN

Acustica Audio TAN Compressor VST Plugin
  • If you’re new to Acustica, then this is the place to start.
  • Classic VCA compression style similar to an SSL compressor with added vibe
  • The unique ShMod control.
  • “ShMod” (Shape Modulation) is a shape control for the attack curve of the compressor: it allows you to fine-tune the attack shape so that you can optimize the attack behavior for the specific source.

Analog Obsessions LALA

Analog Obsessions LALA Compressor VST Plugin
  • Smooth, silky compression reminiscent of the most well-known compressor ever made.
  • Compare to Waves CLA-2A and UAD LA-2A.
  • One of the sexiest looking GUIs I’ve ever seen.
  • Additional features that are not found on the original hardware include a mix knob and more sidechain filter options making this classic even more versatile.

Link to the developers Patreon,
https://www.patreon.com/analogobsession

AudioFB SeteChave

AudioFB SeteChave Compressor VST Plugin
  • Gritty and aggressive style compression.
  • Although designed for a “pumping effect,” this compressor is very capable of achieving sonically pleasing results on a variety of sources.
  • Lack of metering may seem like a negative but it makes it a good plugin for training your ear.

Max1 by BeatSkillz

Beatskillz Max-1 Compressor VST Plugin
  • Extremely straight forward and easy to use with an intuitive GUI.
  • The soft clipping feature keeps me coming back; great for adding knock to drums. If you don’t know what clipping is, you can read all about it here.
  • RMS or Peak detection modes offer two different styles of compression. In peak mode, the compressor will react when any peak crosses the threshold. In RMS or Root Mean Squared mode, the detector calculates and responds only when the average level of the signal crosses the threshold. RMS is excellent for overall leveling.

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This new free reverb plugin from Valhalla will blow your mind!

Valhalla Supermassive
Valhalla Supermassive

If you’re not familiar with Valhalla DSP plugins, then you either just started recording yesterday, or you live under a rock. For the last 13 years, founder and head reverb and delay algorithm mastermind, Sean Costello, has been putting out some of the best sounding and most widely used plugins available. From the massive list of famous musicians and producers that are believers of his reverbical prowess to the fact that you’ll find all of his plugins in just about every recording studio around the world, it’s obvious he makes some of the best sounding plugins out there.

On the Valhalla DSP website, Costello talks about his obsession with digital signal processing algorithms and his immense passion and desire to produce immaculate sounding reverbs. His passion, combined with a background consisting of over ten years of experience, are the ingredients that allow him to create some of the best and most highly regarded reverb and delays.

If you mention the name Valhalla to producers, you’ll almost always be met with a resounding nod of approval, usually accompanied by a few kind words delivered in an excited tone. Not only are they practical, intuitive, and easy to use, but they are also incredibly affordable– all of their paid plugins are just $50.  If you can’t afford something regardless of how fairly it’s priced– Valhalla DSP is generous enough to offer a few plugins for free to anyone that knows how to click a link on a website. That’s right; not only is Valhalla giving it away for free, but they also aren’t asking for anything in return, not even an email address or a follow on social media. It is a truly admirable way of marketing and an incredible asset to producers and audio engineers.

Valhalla’s second free plugin, Supermassive, takes reality and throws it on its head. Costello thought it was silly to only focus on realistic sounding algorithms. Before Supermassive, his primary goal was to preserve the natural characteristics of reverb you’d find in real environments. Realistic reverbs are familiar to our ears, but then he started thinking, ‘what about delay lines that didn’t and couldn’t exist in the real world?’ In walks, Valhalla Supermassive.

Supermassive

Now let’s get into what exactly this new plugin is all about. According to Valhalla’s website, Supermassive is based around feedback delay networks and designed to create reverbs and delays that sound massive. Feedback Delay Networks consist of a set of delays and a feedback matrix through which the delay outputs are coupled to the delay inputs.

Supermassive includes all of the features you’d expect in a standard delay but what really sets it apart from the pack is the Warp control. The Warp knob allows you to change the length of the delays in the network relative to the set delay time. The more you increase the warp value, the more delays in the network spread out. The results can range from simple echos, resonant delays, smeared reverb tails to massively lush reverbs. Another unique parameter in Supermassive is the density value. The density works by altering how the delays are mixed. 0% density means that the delays are completely parallel and not mixing at all. As you increase the density, the more the delays will be mixed together with 100%, meaning each network is completely mixed. 100% density usually yields a more familiar conventional sounding effect.

As with all Valhalla plugins, there is a built-in LFO that’s used for modulation, allowing users to create unique chorus and flanger sounding effects. The mix lock feature is nothing less than genius and something that should be built into all plugins; this feature allows you to set a mix percentage and lock it in so as you scroll through presets, it stays the same. If it were up to me, there would be a control lock feature for every plugin parameter.

On top of all of the previously stated features, eight different delay/reverb modes offer different characteristics and flavors.

  • Gemini: Fast attack, shorter decay, high echo density.
  • Hydra: Fast-ish attack, shorter decay, low to high echo density (depending on the DENSITY control setting)
  • Centaurus: Medium attack, longer decay, medium to high echo density (depending on the DENSITY control setting)
  • Sagittarius: Slow attack, longer decay, high echo density
  • Great Annihilator: Medium attack, very long decay, medium to high echo density (depending on the DENSITY control setting)
  • Andromeda: Slowest attack, very long decay, very high echo density
  • Lyra: Fast attack, shorter decay, low echo density
  • Capricorn: Fast attack, shorter decay, medium echo density

There are so many unique new sounds and textures you can create with this one of a kind plugin… and it’s free! It’s a no brainer. Download this plugin right now! Supermassive is available for Mac or PC in VST/AU/AAX formats.

Download Supermassive on the Valhalla website here!

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