Best Compressor Plugins of 2020 [GUIDE]

Last updated on March 5, 2020
by Jay Von K

20 Best Compressor VST Plugins

01. Fabfilter Pro-C 2

Fabfilter Pro-C 2


A pacesetter in its own right, the Pro-C 2 by FabFilter is a good bet for your money particularly if you want to upgrade your DAW’s compressor.

To begin with, it is impressively versatile offering up to eight different program-dependent compression algorithms, namely Clean, Classic, Opto, Vocal, Mastering, Bus, Punch, and Pumping.

Pro-C 2

Each delivers a distinct compression style all with beautiful sound and character.

But, probably the real kick lies in smooth lookahead, up to 4x oversampling, intelligent auto gain and auto release controls.

Let’s not forget, it also avails a variable knee, range, hold, external side-chain triggering as well as variable stereo linking and mid/side processing controls.

Most importantly, everything is housed under a redesigned retina UI for intuitive metering with real-time displays for optimal workflow.

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02. FabFilter Pro-MB

Fabfilter Pro-MB


For all it is worth, the Pro-MB delivers nothing less expected of a plugin powerhouse like FabFilter.

While it is easy to set up and control, it packs immense power for on-the-go dynamic multi-band processing.

Designed to save time and effort, it brings forth a new approach in the form of Dynamic Phase Processing.

So, while it retains the same frequency response as conventional multi-band processor, it rids off latency or pre-ringing.

Pro-MB Mastering Plugin

Specifically, it offers six processing bands that can be placed anywhere in the spectrum.

And there is an additional possibility of snapping them together to create the conventional crossover system.

Granted, it can work out any form of dynamics processing be it high transparent compression, limiting and expansion or even pumping upward compression.

Other key features include up to 4x linear-phase oversampling, accurate real-time frequency analyzer, Smart Parameter Interpolation, interactive help, SSE optimization, and more.

Overall, the Pro- MB boasts of an effective combo of top quality processing and favourable workflow for a transformative compression.

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03. Sonible - Smart:Comp

Sonible Smart Comp


If you are looking for an AI-based compressor to even out tonal imbalances, Sonible –smart: comp is by many standards a frontrunner.

Generally speaking, it has been tailored for on-the-fly custom compression.

To be clear, it boasts of two types of compression, namely Regular (time-domain) and Spectral.

In use, Regular-activated in a click suggests suitable settings for parameters such as threshold, ratio, attack and release.

On the other hand, Spectral analyzes the input signal over 2000 plus bands.

Smart Comp

In the process, it dynamically balances tonal imperfections.

That’s not all. Sonible also features frequency-dependent side-chain ducking.

So when functioning in side chain mode, it checks for potential spectral collisions and works to avert them by bending affected frequency ranges within the input signal.

Other handy offerings include attack and release shaper for better creative flexibility, smart auto gain for consistent loudness perception, and the ability to develop factory profiles for content-aware processing.

And the best part is- while it is intelligent, users retain control, so the final result is purely the work of their hands.

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04. PSP VintageWarmer 2

PSP VintageWarmer 2


Moving on, the PSP VintageWarmer 2 can best be described as digital emulation of a single/multi-band analog-style compressor.

VintageWarmer 2 from PSP

Speaking of which, it brings the delightful taste of warm analog sound with everything housed in a straightforward interface.

Whether you want to engage it for single, multi-band compression or brickwall limiting- VintageWarmer 2 packs has all it takes.

Of interest, is the attention-to-detail present on its overload elements.

VintageWarmer 2

That means, the processor can generate analog tape-recorder-like saturation effects.

That aside, you'll be happy to know that it includes professional and PPM metering as well as overload indicators all guaranteeing premium results.

Topping VintageWarmer 2’s impressive features is the comprehensive collection of presets that offer the much-needed inspiration when the controls become overwhelming.

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05. Softube Weiss Compressor/Limiter

Softube Weiss Compressor Limiter


Having issues dealing with dynamics on your mix bus?

The Softube Weiss Compressor or limiter could be the solution.

Available independently or as part of the Weiss DS1-MK3 collection, this plugin is tailored to focus squarely on the crust of sound.

With fast and intelligent functionality, it pretty much offers the last chance to make or break a track.

Weiss Compressor Limiter

To that end, it boasts of unrivalled versatility thanks to elaborate controls over elements such as attack and release times, knee settings, ratio, threshold, filters and more.

Again, it can manipulate the perceived loudness of track to desirable levels without dragging in unwanted artifacts.

The result is clean, sweet, and dynamic sound at high levels.

And for further flexibility, the plugin presents two new advanced limiter algorithms.

It doesn’t stop there.

Softube Weiss also features new visualizations to allow users to see with precision the details of effects on audio signals.

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06. Softube CL1B

Softube Tube-tech Cl 1B


Now, the Softube CL1B is considered a modern classic for all the right reasons.

As a vocal compression tool, it is built with a versatile edge that makes it a go-to pick for wide-ranging genres.

Talk of classic rock, pop, rap, and hip hop…

the list goes on and on.

Tube-tech Cl 1B

You can apply it to beef up instruments, even out vocals, or enrich your low-end in no time.

Wondering what gives it the magical kick?

Well, the CL1B is an advanced recreation of a luxury studio hardware equivalent but with modern tech enhancements.

Since the latest component emulation and signal processing techniques were used during its creation- achieving detailed and punchier sound is no mountain to climb.

Besides, it features high-resolution graphics making it look stunning of different screens.

Looking at it, you’ll want to get started at first glance.

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07. SoundSpot Axis

SoundSpot Axis


“Clean, simple with a logical user interface” is perhaps the best way to introduce the SoundSpot Axis.

In all fairness- one needs no incentive to take notice that it is simply a cool multi-band compressor that affords users immense control.


Central to its function is the ability to add a touch of life to dull elements while also polishing material that goes through it.

Its power boils down to dual directional compression tailored to be either brutal or subtle as the situation demands.

And considering the whole unit is multi-band, it grants total control over the incoming sound signal for unhindered manipulation of punch, groove, sparkle, and clarity all in-house.

The long and short of it- Axis comes handy in situations in mixing or mastering where one needs to more than typical plugin tweaking options.

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08. Leapwing Audio DynOne II

Leapwing Audio DynOne II


If you’ve worked with many VST compressors, you may have noticed some take unnecessarily long to start and tweak.

Well, with DynOne II, the experience is quite the opposite.

To overcome the concern, it is designed with fixed bands to allow mixing right in the compressed signal.

Again, it includes min-max values for attack and release, so depending on the nature of the signal (transient or not) it can apply adaptive timing values.


Don't forget, its exquisite crossover filters are customized to interact without raising phase alignment issues between the bands.

Of course, that remains a pipe dream with conventional multi-band compressors.

Isn't that amazing?

To enable enhanced control, it offers everything from stereo linking percentages to variable RMS vs peak detection as well as smart adaptive controls.

If everything else falls short of your expectation, no doubt, the beautiful retina interface will receive full marks.

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09. Cytomic The Glue

Cytomic The Glue Compressor


Now, Cytomic The Glue is a model of a classic analog G Buss Compressor that dates back to the '80s.

Like the vintage hardware it is based on, the purpose is to enable gluing of a mix together.

The first thing to note, it comes with the unique vibe of analog equipment which perfectly sits on the processed signal.

The Glue

Of course, it includes new enhancements for advanced processing possibilities.

For instance, it features reliable algorithms that cater for real-time generation of harmonics that shape and improve sound going through it.

Moreover, The Glue supports varying levels of audio quality thanks to a handy Oversampling feature.

Other exciting features it presents include, advanced attack and release settings, a classic three-step ratio knob, high-pass side filter, Dry/Wet control, and compression range control.

And to ensure pain-free user experience, it houses everything in an uncluttered and responsive interface.

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10. Empirical Labs Arousor 2.0

Empirical Labs Arousor 2.0 Compressor


A first of its kind from the Empirical Labs, the Arousor 2.0 is designed to allow users to experience the power of Classic Knee compression.

To make that happen, it offers propriety high-resolution detector modeling and a broadband saturator that allows desirable control over peaks.

Arousor 2.0

When it gets to changing the shape of attack or enhancing attack times, it has a handy AtMod Attack Modification Control to get things done.

If that isn’t enough, you’ll appreciate Empirical Labs iconic White Knobs featuring parameter readout and direct entry.

Arousor 2.0 also comes set with high-pass and bandpass side chain EQ to add a depth of flexibility.

And when inspiration is all you need, the collection of Lock 'n' Load presets readily accessible can keep you flowing with creativity.

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11. Nicky Romero (Cableguys) Kickstart

Cableguys Kickstart


Looking for a way to speed up the process of integrating side-chain effects in your tracks?

Are you overwhelmed by complex compressor routings?

With Cableguys Kickstart you forget about all that trouble.

In the first place, it comes with a massive Mix (Dry/Wet) control and sixteen tailor-made modulation curves to get things started.

Nicky Romero Kickstart

Also, it has an accurate oscilloscope and can operate synced or retriggered via MIDI.

And with that, one can rhythmically change the volume of the audio to create space for instruments to stand out accordingly.

Essentially, Kickstart employs a variety of volume ducking curves to create effects usually associated with side-chain compression.

Then again, it has straightforward UI so you can easily take charge of the controls while monitoring the audio signals in real-time.

In a nutshell, with Kickstart, pumping side-chain style effects couldn't be any easier.

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12. Waves CLA-2A & CLA-76

Waves CLA-2A & CLA-76


Look! The CLA-2A and CLA-76 are part of the Waves’ revered Classic Compressor bundle.

Specifically, the CLA-2A takes after a universal tube opto compressor- Teletronix LA-2A.


CLA 2A Compressor Limiter

And true to it, it comes with matching controls coupled with Waves analog control options.

Ideally, it shines when it comes to transparent operation with considerably less harmonic distortion.

But, perhaps the real kick lies in its ability to lend itself to vocals and other materials, especially where post transient control seems desirable.

On the other hand, the Waves CLA-76 takes after the original 1176 compressor.


In principle, it is a Solid State compressor/limiter that employs Field Effect Transistors as gain control tools.

Notably, CLA-76 is available in two versions- the Bluestripe and Blackface.

Although Blackface seems to be the frontrunner, both are by far effective for analog-style compression.

Otherwise, they have varying gain stages, time constants, and noise levels.

Overall, the CLA-76 is highly reliable for pump and breathe compression effects thanks to incredibly adaptive Attack and Release controls.

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13. UAD SSL 4000 G Bus Compressor

UAD SSL 4000G Bus Compressor


Like the legend it emulates, UAD SSL G Bus Compressor is built for delivering powerful and punchy mixes with better cohesion and clarity.

As you might expect, it brings out emulated nuances and circuit behaviors among other trademark SSL elements, making it a complete end-to-end model.

Interestingly, it harnesses impressive features such as Side Chain Filtering, Mix, and Headroom controls for altering the overall operating level.

By all means, you'll appreciate specially optimized characteristics suitable for compressing a whole mix.

SSL 4000G Bus Compressor

UAD SSL 400GBUS Compressor offers everything from dynamic and transparent control to aggressive textures with peak limiting.

With its simple and intuitive UI, you can tune all you want in no time.

It is also equipped with fixed Attack and Release controls as well as program-dependent Auto Release function to add the functional range.

What’s more?

It allows custom enhancement possibilities.

Thanks to the internal side-chain filter- accurate tailoring of low-frequency response and limiting low end pumping are a few touches away.

Beyond that, there is the Mix control that caters for inline Dry/Wet processing ideal fast parallel compression either on a drum or vocal bus.

Above all, it makes available presets from accomplished artists to add to your creative potential.

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14. UAD API 2500 BUS Compressor

UAD API 2500 Bus Compressor


The UAD API 2500 finds a spot in our list for several reasons.

Firstly, it is famed for its ability to add energy, movement, and tone to mixes and sub-groups alike.

Secondly, it emulates the original classic compressor accurately capturing everything, including the all-discrete signal path with signature Thrust circuitry technology.

It also details API’s custom transformers as well as the 2510 and 2520 op amps.

API 2500 Bus Compressor

Now you can thrust up low frequencies to desired levels.

And for flexibility, you can choose between Old and New compression styles with feedback and feed-forward sound at hand.

Guess what else?

You have plugin only Mix and Headroom controls help enhance your workflow and percent-based L/R Link controls to contour mix stereo interaction.

As a bonus, it offers professional artist presets to inspire your mixing efforts.

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15. UAD Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor

UAD Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor


“Utilitarian” and “creative” may be the best two words to describe the UAD Empirical Labs Distressor.

As an end-to-end emulation, it packs all the features and sound of the original Distressor design.

With it, you can radically shape instruments and vocals in a track or mixes with nearly limitless gain reduction variations.

At the core of the Distressor is the staggering compression variation with each offering unique tones and curves.

Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor

And you can exploit exclusive plugin only inclusions such as Dry/ Wet parallel processing and Headroom control to achieve a custom operating level.

To cater for creative coloring of instruments you have reliable Dist 2 and Dist 3 modes.

Better yet, you can decorate, pump or destroy bass, synth and room mics courtesy of a custom detector filtering feature.

Stuck in tracks?

Don’t worry.

Empirical Labs has an impressive range of pro-grade presets to ignite your creativity.

You can’t have enough of the Distressor without experiencing the side-chain controls that allow hassle-free focus on dynamics.

In the same vein, it has an exciting Band Emphasis feature that serves to streamline harsh vocals.

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16. Waves Renaissance Vox

Waves Renaissance Vox


Another dynamics processor optimized for vocal tracks, the Renaissance Vox is unique and powerful all at the same time.

At face value, it reveals an aura of simplicity thanks to clean and straightforward controls.

But, what meets the eye could be misleading because it packs controls for compression, gating, and expansion, limiting, as well as level maximization all in one unit.

And with its Auto make-up gain, peak hold indicators for instant visual feedback, and clip-guard output limiter that prevents clipping; there is little else to ask.

Waves Renaissance Vox

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17. Sonnox Oxford Dynamics

Sonnox Oxford Dynamics


Ever tried manipulating dissonant frequencies with conventional static EQ?

Chances are that you’ll end up meddling with the integrity of the original material.

Then what?

Unnatural sounding recordings and lost time- are all you will reap.

Oxford Dynamics

Now, with Sonox Oxford Dynamics, you’ll be in for a whole new experience.

Designed to offer just the right processing threshold in use, it comes with five Oxford Type-3 EQ curve bands.

The bands offer proportional-Q essentially allowing world-class control with distinctive transparency over individual sources, instrument groups, and more.

With all these features, you may imagine the controls to be overwhelming.

But a clear and informative graphical interface streamlines everything to guarantee a smooth workflow.

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18. U-He Presswerk

U-He Presswerk


In all fairness, Presswerk deserves a spot among effective dynamics processors considering all it has in store for users.

First, it is set in an intuitive UI that gives hands-on control over all the sound details.

Then again, it blends the classic analog feel with diverse modern touches to make it more adaptable to contemporary compression needs.

Well, that is just but the surface because it features all you might expect from a pro-grade plugin.


Speaking of which, it comes side-chain ready.

That means, you can create all the space necessary in your mixes or explore creative options with keying/pumping effects.

Beyond the above, Presswerk boasts flexible compression curve and envelope, soft knee, compression ratio, attack and release settings which enable users to make the most of audio.

That’s not all.

It can also make tracks sound louder, deal with harsh peaks, and prevent distortion when output levels fly out of control.

Other vital features include; the M/S mode, Dual Phase Rotation, variable detection topologies, and internal parallel compression.

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19. UBK Kush Novatron Varitone Tube Compressor

Novatron Varitone Tube Compressor by UBK Kush


Like many other options here, the UBK Kush Novatron is an analog-modeled compressor.

But, unlike most digital emulations which take after only one classic hardware, Novatron draws sonic elements from a variety of vintage tools.

As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that it comes out as outrageous compressor with revolutionary attack and release qualities.

UBK Kush Novatron

Likewise, it features separate in/out transformer saturation and two alternative tone circuits.

The combination delivers a limitless set of colours and styles that one can work with accordingly.

But, perhaps what sets it apart from the rest of the pack is the three-dimensional solidity and tonal smoothing effect.

With it, you can quickly achieve painstakingly gorgeous sound associated mainly with high-end hardware compressors.


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20. MeldaProduction MSpectralDynamics


Summing up our list, the MSpectralDynamics is designed to thrust users to a world of unique spectral processing.

Thanks to fine-tuned algorithms, it can level out the spectrum, forestall collisions between tracks, and eliminate noise besides offering other creative opportunities.

Primarily, it works in the spectral domain thereby enabling users to engage distinct frequencies.


In the process, it can reduce the perceived loudness of booming frequencies hence delivering exquisite sound.

While it handles an avalanche of standard tasks, it features a simple interface with easy to use controls.

The result is hassle-free tweaking whether one goes deeper or keeps to the surface.

Other than that, it includes the characteristic ultra-flexible level follower, Automatic release modes, peak hold, RMS length, lookahead, custom attack and release shapes.

All things considered, the MSpectralDynamics is all in one solution for unleashing limitless creativity.

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Final Thoughts:

In your quest for the best compressor plugin, perhaps the first thing that should guide your decision is how well it designed to settle your needs.

As ever, each option will produce varying results depending on different factors during application.

Ultimately, whatever is optimized to suit your area of application say vocals, drums, mixing or mastering- go for it.

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