What Budget Compressor is Good For Me? We picked the best!

Compression can be one of the trickiest elements to get right in a mix. We picked some of the very best (and most cost-effective) compressors out there, that will result in rich, full mixes with a lot of character.

Featuring CFA Sound, BABY Audio, Denise Audio and Stagecraft Software.

By Eimear O SullivanMusicngear Editor

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GRIP - Valve Drive Compressor - CFA Sound 

Article photo - What Budget Compressor is Good For Me? We picked the best!

In this compressor, two very powerful worlds collide; as it is an emulation of German vintage tubes from the 60s, mixed with a modern VCA compressor. GRIP is a plugin that can do a lot, and do it well. 

You can change the characteristics of a sound massively; ranging from a distorted gravely sound, to a nice warm, clean sound. The mastering preset on this is gorgeous, glueing everything together without squashing the life and vitality out of the mix; and making every element breath together as one, resulting in a beautifully smooth mix. 

This sounds great on Rhodes or any other e-piano ( fully embracing and enhancing the inherent warmth of this instrument), whilst adding a soft character to it. GRIP is a fantastic plugin, one that will make your music sound like it was mixed by a veteran mixing engineer.

Price: €29.95 
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I Heart NY - BABY Audio

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Utilizing what is called New York Compression (the process of compression being applied to a sound via a send, resulting in a fusion of the wet and dry signals, as opposed to putting the compressor directly on the sound). This plugin utilizes this via the fader in the midsection - which allows you to hear what compression it is adding, and you can mix the two as you like. This helps prevent a sound from becoming squashed or overly dulling the transients.  The Spark knob controls the amount of compression; the aforementioned fader mixing the dry and wet signal.

One of the many things BABY audio does well, is creating plugins with very straightforward interfaces, that allow you to get the very most out of them, without becoming overwhelmed. I Heart NY is brilliant for anyone looking for high-end bulk in their mix, for a very reasonable price. This is a highly versatile compressor, that works on anything.

Price: $29
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Dragon Fire - denise audio 

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Dragon Fire (as powerful as the name suggests) gives you a lot of control over each element of your mix; by combining the compressor with an EQ. You can also apply drive, giving saturation to a specific frequency; the plugin also has a pull option that allows you to pull selected frequencies from the output, without killing the character of the sound. 

In addition to this, you can also sidechain (which is very useful for kick and bass, possibly the most tricky elements of a mix to get to work together) Dragon Fire sounds great on everything, across the board - I found it to work exceptionally well on mid-range instruments; resulting in them sounding nice, full and controlled. Being able to control the amount of compression applied at each frequency band can transform your mix, giving you more freedom to make the mix sound how you imagined it would in your head. 

Dragon Fire does the job of a few plugins at once - and can single-handedly save you from a lot of frustrating mix issues.

Price: $99.00
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Compressor - Stagecraft Software

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A solid compressor, that sounds great on vocals. This plugin from Stagecraft Software beefs up the sound it is applied and enriches it; without sacrificing the character of the original sound. It also comes with great presets - I used Vocals 2 on doubled vocals, and it immediately made them sound so much more together, and much fuller. It also sounded great on bass guitar, nicely enhancing the higher harmonics of the sound I was using, whilst maintaining the power of the low end. A fantastic plugin that will make vocals and other elements of your mix sound as powerful as you imagined - this does the job and does it well. 

Price: $50
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Which one of these is your favorite? Let us know in the comments and don't forget to take the What's Good For Me? test to find the best music gear for you!

About Eimear O Sullivan

Eimear Ann O Sullivan is a multi-genre music producer, audio engineer and vocalist. After receiving a Masters in Music Technology from the CIT Cork School of Music, she went on to operate as a producer under the name Blakkheart. Her releases have received critical acclaim from Ireland's biggest music publications, such as District Magazine and Nialler9, alongside receiving heavy commercial radio airplay. She currently works in Cork recording studio Flashpoint CC. Previous clients of hers include the likes of Comedy Central’s Dragony Aunt star Candy Warhol, rapper Darce and Outsider YP. (Photo credit @Fabian Boros)

Contact Eimear O Sullivan at eimear.o.sullivan@musicngear.com

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