Evolving list of the most useful and interesting free vst compressor plugins out there.
Wether you’re looking for straight forward emulations of solid state gear, individual track compression, limiting, multiband or sidechain compression hopefully this extensive list of the best available free compression and dynamic processing vst plugins will help you.
As always in no order of preference and will be updated as I go along.
Really nice freeware vst compression plugin from digitalfishphones
BLOCKFISH is a versatile compressor with countless ways to shape the incoming audio.
Unlike many other digital compressors, BLOCKFISH has ‘soul’. It likes to bite, but it can be tamed easily once you’ve learned how to use its potential.
Rough rider freeware vst compressor from Audio Damage
A classic compressor effect that has a simple and familiar control setup.
Rough Rider is a modern compressor with a bit of “vintage” style bite and a uniquely warm sound. Perfect for adding compression effects to your drum buss, it also sounds great with synth bass, clean guitar, and backing vocals. Definitely not an all-purpose compressor, Rough Rider is at its best when used to add pump to rhythmic tracks. Of course, you can use it however you’d like. The Compressor Police aren’t gonna come to your house and give you a citation. Slap it on a track and crank some knobs.
Download it here
Jeroen Breebaarts ‘Broadcast’ – multiband compression style free vst plugin.
Bit of a weird one this, has three bands? Each has Threshold, Ratio, Gain, Side and AMB(ambience?)
It’s been described as ‘a multi-band dynamics processor (comprising automatic gain control, gate, compressor and limiter), combined with sub-band ‘stereo width’ processing.’ – KVR
From the manual it seems to be more of a mastering tool to be used in three stages -
Dynamic processing – Three bands the frequencies of these are controlled by the X1 and the X2 controls which are on the right side of the console – these are horizontal sliders that basically split the incoming singnal into three. The three bands of the compressor then work on these split frquencies. – Each band can be disabled via the little white square above each band.
Spatial processing – ‘Pushing the fader to the right will increase the side signal level. The amb parameter adds a synthetic side signal (on top of the conventional ‘side’ slider that only amplifies the existing side signal).‘ – taken from the manual – I need more time to experiment with this part.
Brickwall limiting – the broadcast vst plugin also hosts a very simple brick wall limiter – this can be turned off if needed. It has a pre-gain feature allowing the user to add to the input level only works if the AGC is turned off. AGC is Auto Gain Compensation – which does what it says on the tin.
All in a really nifty little plugin to add to VST folder.
Download it for free here
‘Broadcast combines the dynamics processing from the PC-2 compressor, spatial processing from OmniSone, and brickwall limiting from Barricade in a multi-band fashion.’ – Get it here
Free VST Compression Plugins – BuzComp Free Series – Download Here
The BuzComp Free Series is a set of compression plugins from buzzroom.
The Set contains the,
BuzComp Free GranComp
- Classic Hard Compressor -
BuzComp Free GranComp3
- Multiband Classic Hard Compressor -
BuzComp Free GeneComp
- Generic Digital Linear Compressor -
and finally the BuzComp Free GeneComp3
- Multiband Generic Digital Linear Compressor -
Free VST Compression Plugins – BuzComp Free Series – Free Download Here
If you’ve tried any of the other free VSTs available from Kjaerhus then you’ll know what you’re getting here.
Makes you think though, if these are that good and they’re free how good are the ones you pay for.
Classic Compressor is a classic analog style VST Compressor Plugin with a lot of warmth and punch. Special designed to use on individual Instruments and Vocal, but also useable on your final mixes.
Ajustable ratio up to limiting
Ajustable attack and release times
Ajustable knee (hard to soft)
Gain reduction LED
Ultra low CPU usage
Supports all sampling rates
Full VST automation
Download for free here
T-SLEDGE is a multi-band compressor for mastering, equipped with peak limiter, level maximizer and 4 compressors/expanders/limiters. And it is equipped with 2 kinds of dividing filter IIR/FIR. So, it also operates as a dynamics EQ.
C3 is a free three bands compressor VST . Easy t otweak and with good visualisation for the amount of compression in each band.
- Three stereo compressors.
- A master limiter.
- Flexible dividing filters(ButterWorth Filter or LinearPhaseFIR Filter).
- Sampling Rate: 44.1k, 48k, 88.2k, 96k support.
- 32bit float internal precision.
Found this compression plugin at Jeroen Breebaart’s free plugins, PC-2 Pschoacoustic compressor v1.0.1
‘Conventional compressors are based on peak or rms-level estimation to compute their time-variant gain or attenuation. This property of most compressors often causes undesirable intermodulation distortion and pumping/breathing artefacts.
PC-2 features a ‘psycho-acoustic relevance’ mode. Instead of using a peak or rms-level estimation, this mode employes a perceptual loudness model to compute the loudness of the input signal. This perceptual loudness model is combined with advanced attack and release stages that model peripheral adaptation of the human auditory nerve. The result is a very transparent compression characteristic, even with very short attack and release times.
On the other hand, the simple, classic compression behavior can be engaged too by simply switching off the complex loudness model.’
Download for free here
Excellent vst compressor plugin offered for free from smartelelectronix,
‘A simple and effective compressor with classic controls auto gain compensation and preamp to overdrive it.’
‘there’s a side-chain version for vst win32 too here with 3 inlets, the third one being the side-chain. Not all host will accept to load it because of this. However any decent modular host should do the job, and I think it’s also possible in more classical hosts using routing to effect capacities.’
Free VST Compressor D2 an excellent free VST plugins from DeLaMancha
D2 is an all-rounder compressor with an easy to use interface. It demonstrates the compressor algorithms of its big brothers, bathtub and sidearm while keeping the interface simple for quickly dialling in some common settings. D2 can be heavy or subtle, razor quick or gentle, clean or dirty and is happy as an insert or buss compressor.
· Stereo compressor with gain reduction meter
· True stereo, each channel is compressed independently
· Threshold down to –40dB
· Ratio 1.5:1 to infinity
· Attack from 0-30 ms
· Release from 5ms to 2.4s
· Make-up gain to 20dB
· VU meter shows actual and peak levels of gain reduction
· Dirt option gives added distortion and enhancement
· All control parameters named and mapped to midi CC
Download for free here
Invada Free VST Plugins: Compression.
A stereo and mono switchable peak/RMS compressor. Use peak detection for drums, RMS detection for voice. This compressor will prove useful on any sound. These plugins are also in the Invada Plugins Kit
Get the free download here.
As a reader of the always excellent ‘Computer Music Magazine’ Martin Eastwood was brought to my attention because of the excellent ‘CompressiveCM’ exclusive only to Computer Music Magazine free vst plugin.
‘CompressiveCM features an RMS compressor with both internal and external sidechains, as well as parallel compression, brickwall limiting and vintage valve emulation to add analogue warmth to your mix.
Both sidechains also feature a three-band EQ and mid/side processing with monitoring to allow you to accurately dial in the exact sounds you want the compressor to respond to. This allows you to set up light sound shaping, devastating ducking effects or even de-ess vocal tracks.’
‘CompressiveCM is available for both Windows and Mac VST exclusively with Computer Music Magazine’
This plugin is worth the price of the magazine alone, ands you have the added bonus of a bloody good read to boot. Not to mention all the other plugins available on the companion DVD.
Alternatively there is the,
‘Compressive is made up of two free audio compressors based on the DSP algorithms used in CompressiveCM
Compressive Pro is an external side chain vintage analogue modeled RMS compressor. The external side contains a 3-band EQ and mid/side controls to allow complete control of audio dynamics.
Compressive Lite uses the same algorithms as Compressive Pro but has a reduced feature for minimum CPU usage so is ideal for use as a tracking compressor.’
Download for free here
Leveling Amplifier v1.2 by Martin Best – Free VST Plugin
‘Leveling Amplifier was inspired by the famous hardware
limiters of the past, it has a very fast response to
peaks with a slow release for minimum distortion even
when driven hard.
The ‘Gain’ controls the input level from 0dB to +10dB,
the output will never exceed -0.2dB. If the plugin is
inserted on a track, it’s best to leave the gain at 0dB
then use the ‘Reduction’ control to lower the threshold
to the peaks on the track. The level meter can show input
level or gain reduction by using the push button, also
there is an ‘ST link’ button that should be used on
stereo tracks to stop the center image shifting about.’
George Yohng’s W1 Limiter VST
W1 Limiter is a clone of Waves L1, with identical output.
Release curve simplified
Release time multiplied 3 times (see notes below)
Softening circuit filter changed
Waves L1 famous limiter (and thus W1 – for compatibility reasons) uses three times longer actual release time than standard RT60 metric. This means that if you set 50ms release in the limiter, it will actually yield with 150ms standard RT60 release time.
Endorphin – free vst limiting and dualband compression plugin.
Analogue style brickwall limiter
An overview on the features:
Two independent frequency bands (low and high frequency processing)
Switchable stereo or M/S mode operation
Two basic compressor designs:
- modern vca mode with soft-knee characteristics and manual time constants. This mode provides an instant response behaviour and deep compression, using a feed-forward circuit
- Vintage-style opto (photo resistor) mode, modelled after ancient opto-electrical compressors. The time constants stay manually set, but they are also affected by the signal’s energy. This mode has the typical opto-style ‘overshoot’ on quick transients, this is one of the most gentle compressors you may find. Classical feed-back detector circuit
Adjustable high-level output stage with analog-style saturation
Global ‘de-comp/sat’ section. It’s you who decides how the unit reacts to large amounts of gain reduction as well as when and how to saturate.
Maximum output: -0.1dBFS. This is very helpful when using the plugin as the last stage before burning the CD.
Very cool freeware VST plugin Maximiser.
Input, Output, Gain, Drive & Release.
This maximizer / limiter VST works great and is very easy to use.
Squash your mix to death
Featuring transparent brickwall Limiting with 0 db stop and variable knee from 0% to 100% to keep limiting distortion at a minimum.
“IQ” mode allows users to get a more “intelligent” release from the knee with program emphasis.
Low latency for live performance use (40 samples at 44.1khz = ca 1ms latency).
Stereo link to preserve stereo field.
Supported samplerates: 44.1khz – 192khz.
If you’re looking for sidechaining plugin effects the compressor plugin from Slim Slow Slider is an excellent addition to your VST plugin folder.
The Sidechain compressor comes in a stereo and a mono version.
Really quite easy to use, just add the effect to the effects bin of the track you want to affect. Then route the track you want to ‘influence’ the compressor via it’s output. Click here for Sonar Sidechain tutorial, principle should work for other DAWs.
Also available for free is the Side Chain Gate/Expander.
MeldaProduction have kindly offered this free vst compressor plugin that also has sidechaining capabilities.
‘MCompressor provides standard compression with volume maximization and has adjustable compression shape, which gives you power to set custom smoothing or even interesting sound effects.’
* Standard and custom compression shape – using user shapes you can easily create various dynamic effects such as expansion, gate or even some extraordinary shapes for rhytmization…
* Actual source level indication inside the shape graph – you always know, what dynamic value you can actually expect on the input and output, and what gain-reduction MCompressor performs.
* Signal maximization – compressors actually lower the signal above treshold. MCompressor can compensate the reduction to ensure, that if the source has reached 0dB, result will too. This is especially useful for mastering, since you want to maximize loudness and use the entire bit resolution.
* Hard, linear and smooth knee with adjustable size
* Side-chain based on band-passing the original signal (useful for de-essing for example).
* Standard general parameters – input gain, attack and release…
* Fully automatable (except for the custom shape graph).
* Global preset management – using a title button you can save your settings, which are shared on the computer, so you can easily access them in another songs.
Download for free here