Whether you mix in hardware or in a DAW, you need some plugins including compressor plugins. In the hardware mix, we use them via insert channels and in DAW mixing we apply straight to the channel’s plugin section. Compressors are quite sophisticated plugins. However, once you understand the operating and work of compressors, you can easily handle them.
In DAW recording you encounter with two types of GUI in compressor plugins.
- Analog Emulation
- Dynamic compressors
However, both works in the same way and help to reduce the higher and expand the lower dBs but for different applications, different types of compressors are used. Instrument-specific compressors have inbuilt presets for instruments to get the pro result with just one click. As well as they are designed to compress instruments.
Like in Logic Pro X inbuilt compressor, you get several presets for different instruments. There are some compressor plugins which works tremendously with specific instruments.
Best Compressor Plugins For Bass Guitar
In this article, we will discover 5 best compressors which perform well with Bass Guitar. These 5 compressor plugins are the best compressor plugins for bass guitar as they are built for low-frequency instruments and have built-in presets them which makes your mixing so easy and saves your time.
#1 Softube Tube-Tech CL-1B Compressor
Softube is known as one of the biggest audio plugin manufacturers. They have created many successful plugins and also quite popular in creating hardware emulations.
Tube-Tech CL-1B compressor plugins is an emulated after the legendary hardware compressor of the same name. The software version of Tube-Tech CL-1B is a great plugin for bass frequency compression. You get the hardware harmonics feeling very close to the original Tube-Tech CL-1B. If you want your bass to stand out in the mix then you should use this compressor plugin.
Some features of Tube-Tech CL-1B
- You get an improved quality sound with Softube’s latest signal processing technology.
- Some great additional features such as sidechain low-cut filters and parallel blend control will help you to get maximum from your mix.
- High-resolution GUI gives you a better look.
- As it is bundled with legacy CL-1B you get it is as a part of this bundle.
Tube-Tech CL-1B native hardware is an optical compressor so Tube-Tech CL-1B plugin and gives you warm, natural compression which is demanded by many pro recording engineers. When you pushed its threshold to the extremes, you will feel squishiness with some warm and transparent feel.
Its a perfect compressor choice for bass, drums, and vocal tracks. As it can preserve the punch and clarity of bass tracks, you can use it effectively with bass guitars.
If you don’t know much about setting up perfect compression then it’s for you. Tube-Tech CL-1B Compressor seems to sound great no matter how you set them. Along with bass lines you can use it to male vocals, kick drums and other low-frequency instruments.
#2 Waves Audio CLA-3A
Have you ever heard about the classic Teletronix LA-3A compressor from the 1970s? Waves CLA-3A is claimed to be one of the best emulations of that classic analog compressor hardware. However, if you want the original LA-3A native plugin, you need to buy UAD DSP accelerator, as officially LA-3A is part of UAD plugins.
But we can’t underestimate CLA-3A. It gives you the kind of character and subtle harmonic distortion which you expect from a vintage hardware unit. Features like Side-chain frequency filter and fast response makes it a useful plugin for bass line compression.
Waves CLA-3A Features
- Analog Emulation compressor plugin
- Modeled from the early ‘70s solid-state compressor Teletronix LA-3A
- Separate compressor and limiter modes
- A perfect compressor for bass and electric guitars
- Sidechain frequency filter
- Zero latency in your DAW
When I used it in my bass line, it feels like I was getting punchy and “on-the-face” tone. Also its very simple to use with only two main knobs, Gain and Peak Reduction. You just have to adjust the input gain with respect to peak reduction to get the best out of it. It also works as a limiter. So you can additionally use it in the master channel. It works well with bass and 808 kick drums.
However, there is no option to fine-tune the attack and release yet its so effective.
If you ever compare it with the legendary compressor Teletronix LA-3A, you can feel that Waves CLA-3A can be able to give the same punch and harmonics of the original hardware. Waves CLA-3A is transparent-yet-punchy compressor which can transform your bass and drums to a new level. Its a part of Waves bundles so when you calculate the combined value of the bundled plugins its cost you far cheaper individually.
#3 FabFilter Pro-C 2
Fabfilter is one of the best graphical GUI based audio plugin manufacturers. They provide tons of features in their plugin so you can precisely analyze your audio and apply the perfect effect.
Due to the highly precise GUI, Fabfilter Pro-C2 is very demanding among today’s engineers. This plugin helps you to achieve subtle changes in compression that other plugins can’t do. You can say it an allrounder as it fits with for all your mixing needs.
Features of Fabfilter Pro-C2
- It provides 8 different compression styles including Vocal, Mastering, Bus, Punch, and Pumping. Punch and pumping are best style for bass and kick drums.
- Retina interface and animated level knee displays as well as accurate peak/loudness metering.
- 0% to 200% mix gain setting scale
- Side-chain EQ section with high pass and low pass filters which is recommended when compressing bass lines.
- Graphical attack and release curves
- And many more…
It could be quite difficult to understand how thing work, at least at the start. But after you become familiar with it, it would be more easy to adjust the parameters. Despite the difficulty its a great plugin for pro mixing. There are several features you get with this plugin which can help you to fine-tune your audio precisely.
You get a graphical GUI with tons of features so you can subtly adjust the compression as per your need which is not possible with Waves CLA-3A and other analog modeled compressor plugins.
For me, all Fab-filter plugins are great with maximum flexibility. I use them whenever I want some precise adjustments in my audio. But keep in mind with several adjustment sliders it’s quite confusing for newbies.
If you want simplicity, I would suggest you use Waves CLA-3A. Waves CLA-3A has only 2 knobs and adjustments are not confusing as well as you get the warmth of analog unit which is a win-win situation with CLA-3A.
#4 Waves Audio C4
If you have enough money to buy Waves plugin bundle then you not only get analog model plugins but also get some dynamic UI plugins for better flexibility. Waves bundle has several GUI based plugins and Waves C4 compressors is one of them.
C4 is a multiband compressor with 4 bands. You can use it with many types of operations including your bass lines and kick drums. As it is a multiband compressor plugin, you can use it in master channel too. You can shape any frequency range with this compressor. SO its a very useful compressor for all type of operations whether its bass, kick drum, vocals, melody or mastering.
Some features of Waves C4 compressor plugin
- 4-band multiband compressor plugin
- precisely control the frequency ranges and dynamic response as per you need
- Shape your mixes dynamically by frequency-based compression and expansion
- Auto release control
I am using Waves plugin bundle for past 10 years and seen its growth during these 10 years. The plugins offered by Waves are really amazing and make a great impact in your mix. However, without using them you can’t realize how they can shape your work.
Okay, not its time for Waves C4 compressor. For bass guitar and kickdrums, it’s a perfect dynamic compressor as you can adjust the frequency range and dynamics as per your need.
Whether you want only subtle changes or the big difference it will help you. The best part of using this dynamics multiband compressor is, you can not only judge the changes by your years but also by seeing the changes graphically.
The only one thing I don’t like with c4 compressor, ie; it the noise that it can add in certain settings. However, if you adjust the parametric settings carefully, you can be able to reduce the noise.
Apart from other dedicated bass compressors, it can be effectively used in other operations. It’s not built for just for a bass side of compression so if you own this plugin, it can be used in several positions in your mix.
The only one thing can disappoint you that it is a part of Waves bundles so you have to buy the whole package to get this plugin. However, if you buy Waves plugin bundle that has a whole bunch of plugins, it would not be a bad deal.
#5 UAD 1176 AE
Our last compressor plugin is UAD 1176. Its emulated from the 60’s classic analog compressor 1176 AE. As its a modeled plugin you get an analog UI which is not quite confusing for you.
There are only 4 knobs for input, output, release, and attack. apart from Waves CLA-3A, it has 2 more knobs for attack and release which makes it more precise then Waves CLA-3A. And also it can’t add much noise to the track like Waves plugins.
You need U-Audio DSP accelerators like U-Audio satellite firewire and U-Audio PCI cards to run this plugin on your computer.
Some Features of U-Audio 1176AE Limiting Amp & compressor plugin
- Emulated from the legendary 1176AE Analog Compressor
- 4 dedicated knobs for input, output, release, and attack
- VU meter with 4 types of settings
- Emulation – transistor circuitry and ultra-fast FET gain reduction technology
- Accurately models ultra-fast hardware attack time: 20 microseconds to 800 microseconds
I have recently bought U-Audio satellite firewire ad used this compressor in my projects. It gave me tremendous results when used in bass lines. It really a great compressor plugin for bass lines. However, you can use it with other instruments but for bass guitar and kicks its a perfect compressor plugin.
It adds analog harmonics to the audio and does something extra which gives your audio a warm sweet analog feel that can’t be possible with any other plugin listed above.
Should you use this plugin?
Yes, definitely if you have enough money in your pocket. Apart from the Waves plugins, UAD plugins only run on the computers which are equipped with U-Audio DSP accelerators. These accelerators cost you at least $500. additionally, you need the 1176 plugin bundle which cost you $149 extra. So if you have that amount of money, definitely go with this great plugin.
As I have told you above, no other emulated plugins or plugin bundles can beat U-Audio plugins so your money doesn’t go waste when you buy it.
Final Verdict -Which One is Best For You
So, among all of them, which compressor plugins are best for bass guitar? Have you got it? if yes comment below. However, in my case, I am using U-Audio 1176 compressor which is quite costly for most home recordists.
Before owning U-Audio Satellite Firewire I had been using Waves CLA-3A for my bass lines. It has Side-chain frequency filter and fast response time which helped me a lot making great dynamics for bass guitar. as well as it has not sophisticated UI and perfect for newbies so I prefer it. Now, the last choice is yours. Among these 5 plugins whichever you own, comment below mentioning it which help other RB community members to take the best decision.
This article will also help you to choose