In this article, we’ll be looking at the top 10 best compressor plugins for vocals. We’ll also be giving some tips on how to get the most out of using a compressor plugin.
When it comes to recording vocals, one of the most important aspects is making sure that the vocal track is as clear and polished as possible.
This can be achieved through the use of various audio plugins, but one of the most important plugins to have in your toolkit is a compressor.
A compressor plugin can help to even out the levels of your vocals, making them sound more clear and polished.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the top 10 best compressor plugins for vocals, and we’ll be discussing how to use these plugins effectively in your recordings.
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Table of Contents
What is a compressor plugin and how does it work?
A compressor plugin is a type of audio processing tool that helps to even out the levels in your vocal recordings, making them sound more clear and polished.
This is done by reducing the dynamic range of a recording and reducing the volume of louder signals, while also increasing the volume of quieter signals.
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There are many different compressor plugins available on the market, and choosing the right one can be a bit overwhelming.
Well, don’t worry, because I’m here to help! In this article, I’ll be discussing the top 10 best compressor plugins for vocals.
The benefits of using a compressor plugin for vocals
There are many benefits to using a compressor plugin for vocals.
Let’s point out them.
- The compressor plugin can help to even out the levels of your vocals, making them sound more clear and polished.
- A compressor plugin can help you to create more dynamic and interesting vocal recordings.
- Using a compressor plugin can also give your vocals a more professional, studio-quality sound.
- And finally, a compressor plugin can help you to achieve more consistent volume levels in your recordings, which is especially important if you are recording for a live performance or if you are going to be using your vocals in a project with other tracks.
Now that we’ve discussed what a compressor plugin is and what the benefits of using one are, let’s take a look at my recommendations on top compressor plugins for vocals.
The Top 10 Best Compressor Plugins For Vocals
Here are the top 10 best compressor plugins for vocals, based on my experience and research:
UAD LA2A Compressor Plugin
The UAD LA2A Compressor Plugin is an emulation of the original Teletronix LA-2A compressor.
It is a tube compressor plugin that has a warm, vintage sound that is perfect for vocal tracks.
The UAD LA2A compressor plugin allows you to easily manipulate your vocals, making it a popular choice for producers and audio engineers alike.
One of the main benefits of using the UAD LA2A compressor plugin is that it is very easy to use.
It has a simple interface with just a few controls, making it perfect for those who are new to using compression plugins.
Another benefit of using the UAD LA2A compressor plugin is that it can help to add depth and dimension to your vocal tracks.
If you are looking for a compressor plugin that is easy to use and sounds great, then the UAD LA2A Compressor Plugin is a great option.
Whether you are a seasoned producer or someone just starting out, this plugin is sure to help improve your vocal recordings and take them to the next level.
- Simple interface with just a few controls
- Warm, vintage sound perfect for adding depth and dimension to vocals
- Adds depth and dimension to your vocals, making them sound more rich and full
- Ideal for both seasoned producers and beginners alike
- Great choice for improving vocal recordings and taking them to the next level
Waves CLA-76 Compressor Plugin for Vocals
The Waves CLA-76 compressor plugin is an emulation of a classic 60’s compressor/limiter.
It has a fast attack time, meaning that it can be used to compress drums for a thick and edgy sound, and can also be used on vocals for that same reason.
However, some producers prefer not to use the CLA-76 for vocals, as it can add a certain amount of saturation and distortion to the sound.
Nevertheless, many producers still consider it one of the top compressor plugins for vocals and many swear by its unique sound.
- Variable attack and release times
- Make-up gain
- Stereo link
- Dry/wet mix
Softube FET Vocal Compressor
The Softube FET Compressor is a plugin that emulates the sound of the Fairchild 670 compressor.
The Softube FET Compressor offers several unique features that set it apart from other compressor plugins on the market.
For starters, it includes both parallel and serial compression modes, which allow you to apply different amounts of compression to different parts of your audio signal.
This can be a powerful tool for reshaping the dynamics of vocals, especially in mixing and mastering situations.
Another standout feature of the FET Compressor is its built-in sidechain EQ, which allows you to apply different amounts of compression depending on the frequencies of your audio signal.
This can be useful for taming harsh high-end frequencies or boosting the low end of vocals.
Finally, the FET Compressor includes a wet/dry mix knob, which allows you to blend the compressed and uncompressed signals together.
This can be useful for creating more subtle effects or for dialing in the perfect amount of compression.
The Softube FET Compressor is a versatile tool that can be used to enhance the sound of vocals in a number of different ways.
If you’re looking for a compressor plugin that offers a unique set of features, the FET Compressor is definitely worth checking out.
- Emulates the sound of the Fairchild 670 compressor
- Includes parallel and serial compression modes
- Features a built-in sidechain EQ
- Includes a wet/dry mix knob
FabFilter Pro-C2 Compressor
The FabFilter Pro-C2 compressor plugin is a great tool for improving vocals in recordings. It offers a variety of modes that are targeted at the most common tasks that you would need to use a compressor for when mixing vocals.
This makes it a versatile and practical tool that is worth using for any mixing or recording project.
One of the best things about the FabFilter Pro-C2 compressor plugin is that it offers control over the knee of the compression.
This is a great feature to have when mixing vocals, as it allows you to get the perfect sound for your recording.
Additionally, the interface is visually informative and easy to use, making it a great choice for anyone who is looking for a compressor plugin that is easy to use and offers a variety of features.
If you are looking for a versatile and practical compressor plugin that is easy to use, then the FabFilter Pro-C2 compressor plugin is a great choice.
Whether you are new to mixing or are an experienced engineer, this plugin will help you achieve the perfect sound for your recordings.
- Offers control over the knee of compression for perfect sound
- Visually informative and easy to use interface
- Versatile and practical
Waves Audio V-Comp
The Waves Audio V-Comp is a plugin that rides on the vintage Neve’2254’s classic sound. Its controls are familiar to anybody who has used a compressor before, and its interface is simple and easy to understand.
The V-Comp also includes a De-Esser switch, which works like a high-frequency side-chain to smooth rough high frequencies in the vocal.
This can be a great tool for taming harsh sibilance in vocals.
Additionally, the V-Comp includes a wet/dry mix knob, which allows you to blend the compressed and uncompressed signals together.
This can be useful for creating more subtle effects or for dialing in the perfect amount of compression.
A limiter is also included, which may be useful for controlling dynamics in very dynamic vocals.
Some users are less than thrilled with the V-Comp’s virtual replication of the actual 2254 machine, but many people are ecstatic with its smooth compression and sound, and find that it is more than capable of handling the job.
The V-Comp is a great value for those seeking to get the most bang for their buck, especially if you’re searching for a compressor plugin that’s easy to use and offers a variety of different features.
- Vintage sound emulation
- All the typical compressor controls
- Intuitive and easy to use interface
- De-Esser switch for smoothening harsh high frequencies
- Independent limiter function
- Lends a unique ‘analog-ish’ color to the mix
- Silky smooth compression
- Squashing of the transients is convincing
- Warmth in the processed signal can be shaped by the De-Esser and limiter functions
Softube Summit Audio TLA-100 Compressor
The Softube Summit Audio TLA-100 Compressor is a great compressor plugin for vocals.
It is smooth and controlled which provides a nice softening effect that can really improve the quality of vocals in recordings.
In addition, the plugin has a separate saturation section, which allows you to control how “tubular” the sound gets.
The parallel options are also great, as they allow you to use this plugin with more brutal compressors if needed.
While this compressor plugin may not be a “jack of all trades”, it is a great option for singer-songwriter tracks and can be a great addition to your vocal compression arsenal.
- Smooth, controlled sound
- Softening effect that makes vocals sound great
- Separate saturation section for more “tubular” sounds
- Parallel options for use with more aggressive compressors
Softube Tube-Tech CL-1B
The Softube Tube-Tech CL-1B is a great compressor plugin for vocals that has many fans due to its musicality.
It is an optical compressor, which is known for softening vocals and making them sound more natural.
This plugin is great for those who want to give their vocals a unique, characterful sound.
One of the top features of the Softube Tube-Tech CL-1B is its ability to offer a wide range of tonal options.
This makes it ideal for those who want to create a distinct vocal sound with their recordings.
Additionally, the plugin is very easy to use, with clearly labeled knobs and controls that allow you to quickly make adjustments to your vocal track.
If you are looking for a compressor plugin that can add a unique character to your vocals, the Softube Tube-Tech CL-1B is a great option.
It is one of the top choices for both free and paid compressor plugins, making it a great choice for both beginners and experienced users alike.
- Offers a wide range of tonal options
- Softens vocals and makes them sound more natural characterful sound
- Easy to use, with clearly labeled controls
- Ideal for both beginners and experienced users alike
Waves CLA-3A Vocal Compressor
The Waves CLA-3A is based on the original 1969 solid-state compressor.
It has a transparent compression curve which ensures a fast response from attack to release. It is perfect for high-tempo music.
It also has a little harmonic distortion for some extra zing. This is ideal for bass since it adds a distinct sound twist. However, the CLA-3A is not as versatile as other plugins.
Despite its rather limited use, the Waves CLA-3A is still a great option for those seeking a fast and transparent compressor.
The compression techniques are program dependent, making it difficult to predict how altering a specific option would alter the sound quality.
This makes it fun to use and is one of the reasons why it is considered one of the best compressor plugins for vocals.
The CLA-3A’s user interface is quite simple to use. It includes a Peak Reduction knob for controlling the desired compression and a Gain knob for adjusting the output level.
Overall, the CLA-3A can be used for a wide range of applications. However, it is most effective on bass, vocals, and guitars.
If you are looking for a plugin that will give your vocals that extra edge, then the CLA-3A is a perfect choice.
- Based on the original 1969 solid-state compressor
- Transparent compression curve for a fast response
- Packs a subtle harmonic distortion for some added spice
- Ideal for bass, vocals, and guitars
- Simple interface with Peak Reduction and Gain knobs
Waves Renaissance Vox
The Waves Renaissance Vox plugin is a vocal compressor that has been praised by producers such as Noah “40” Shebib.
It is known for its ability to add weight to a vocal signal and make it stand out in a mix.
The R-Vox’s ‘under the hood’ bag of capabilities compensates for its underwhelming looks. It uses a wide range of expansion, compression, and limiting functions that are mostly automated.
Even with all of the complex technology at work, users only have three controllable parameters to work with: the expander and compressor thresholds, and output attenuation.
Despite this limited control over certain aspects of the plugin, the overall ‘plug-and-play’ philosophy of the Renaissance Vox can be beneficial for producers who want to focus on other parts of their mix.
It also has a small CPU footprint, making it a good choice for producers who want to use multiple instances of the plugin.
- Simple three-knob interface
- Warmth and weight to vocals
- Automated functions
UAD 1176 Compressor Plugin
The UAD 1176 compressor plugin is a faithful recreation of the original hardware unit that was first released in 1967.
It is a tube compressor plugin that is highly regarded as one of the best compressor plugins for vocals, due to its ability to provide transparent compression while retaining the natural sound of the vocals.
This makes it perfect for recording vocals that need to be bright and clear without sacrificing the warmth of the original signal.
Another benefit of using the UAD 1176 compressor plugin is its variable knee setting, which allows you to choose how much compression you want to apply to each audio signal.
This is a great feature to have if you want to experiment with different degrees of compression, as it gives you more control over the sound of your vocals.
- A faithful recreation of the original 1967 hardware unit
- Tube compressor plugin
- Provides transparent compression while retaining the natural sound of the vocals
- Variable knee setting allows you to choose how much compression you want to apply
How to choose the right compressor plugin for your needs?
Now that we have looked at some of the best compressor plugins for vocals, let’s take a look at how to choose the right one for your needs.
The type of vocals you are recording will play a big role in deciding which compressor plugin is best for you.
If you are recording vocals that have a lot of low ends, then you will likely want to use a compressor plugin that has a high ratio and hard knee setting.
On the other hand, if you are recording vocals that need to be bright and clear with a lot of high ends.
For example, if you are recording rap vocals that need to be punchy and have a lot of attitudes, then you will want to use a compressor plugin with a high ratio and hard knee setting.
On the other hand, if you are recording soft and delicate vocals that need to be bright and clear without sounding overly compressed, then you may want to opt for a compressor plugin with a low ratio and soft knee setting.
Additionally, the amount of compression you apply will also depend on your personal preference, as well as the overall sound you are trying to achieve with your vocals.
The sound you want to achieve should guide your decisions when choosing a compressor plugin, as this will ultimately determine which features and settings are most important to focus on.
The type of music you are producing will also play a role in determining which compressor plugin is best for you.
For example, if you are recording rock vocals that need to be aggressive and have a lot of attitudes, then you will likely want to opt for a compressor plugin that has a high threshold level and fast release time.
On the other hand, if you are recording R&B vocals that need to be smooth and sexy, then you may want to use a compressor plugin with a low threshold level and slow release time.
Tips for using a compressor plugin to get the best results
Once you have a good idea of what you want from your compressor plugin, you can start to narrow down your choices.
If you are looking for a plugin that will add weight and warmth to your vocals, then the Waves Renaissance Vox might be a good choice.
If you want to experiment with different degrees of compression and have more control over the sound of your vocals, then you might want to consider using the UAD 1176 compressor plugin.
Ultimately, the best way to choose the right compressor plugin for your needs is to experiment with different options and see what works best for you.
So if you are looking to improve the quality of your vocals, then a compressor plugin could be a great tool to help you achieve that.
Just remember to take into account the type of vocals you are recording, the sound you want to achieve, and the type of music you are producing when choosing a plugin.
In conclusion, a compressor plugin can be a great tool to help improve the quality of your vocals.
There are many different types of compressor plugins available, so it is important to take into account the type of vocals you are recording, the sound you want to achieve, and the type of music you are producing when choosing the right plugin for your needs.
To get the best results, it is also important to experiment with different compressor plugins and see what works best for you.