My Favourite Plugins Compressors and Limiters (Part 2 of 5)

This is part 2, you can find part 1 here, where I talk over my favourite Channel Strip and EQs

1) Channel Strip and EQ
2) Compressors and Limiters
3) FX including Reverbs, Delay and Saturators
4) Space Enhancers Chorus / Flanger, Utility and others.
5) Virtual Amps and Virtual Instruments


My go-to compressors are usually emulations of analogue gears, apart from the SSL SL4000E Compressor that is on every channel via to my Console 1 channel strip, I go for the FET Compressor for a compression rich of tones and character or the Summit Audio TLA-100A for a really smooth gentile compression (both from Softube). I often use the LA-2A and 1176, I own the Waves emulation of those two plugins.
Those are classic compressors that always sound good and also improve the quality of sound by adding some character, mainly in the form of harmonic distortion. Their really recognisable sound is found on 1000s of records, you can’t really go wrong.
Every single hardware unit sounds different from each other, Waves, UAD, Softube and many others have created their own emulations of those compressors, so even if really well emulated they all sound different.
This is actually really helpful for us, as we can basically recreate this uniqueness of each unit in our digital world by using a different emulation of the same compressor. 

Sometimes I need a digital compressor for transparent work and the one I always go to is the Renaissance Compressor made by Waves, I believe I’ve been using this compressor for 20 years or so and it still on every mix I do, it’s a must-have.

Waves also makes a hybrid compressor called H-Comp which is a really good one to use for almost any kind of material.
If I need a bus compressor I usually use the SSL G-Master, the Chandler Zener Compressor/Limiter, the Kramer PIE (Waves) and the Fairchild 670/660, all have a unique sound and the ability to glue together the mix.

For multiband compression, I use the Drawmer s73 easy to set up and does the job. For really high lever tweaking I use the Waves C6 or the Waves Linear Phase Multiband Compressor. I find myself to use the F6 dynamic EQ instead of a multiband compressor.

Like I said for the EQ, I use different compressors for different instruments just to increase character definition and spatial placement. For example, I would use an LA-2A on a bass guitar, a different emulation of the LA-2A on the backing vocals, DBX160 on a synth, an LA-3A on electric guitars, BSS DPR-402 on the snare, 1176 or a Fairchild on the lead vocal and so on.
If there’s a rule here is that If you use too many of the same ones you negate their effect.


I use limiters to control picks or to keep a really unconstant performance of a musician under control If it can’t be fixed with a compressor. On single tracks, I use Chandler Zener Limiter or the old favourite Waves L1. I’ve been using L1 for probably 20 years now and probably on every mix I’ve done. 

On the 2bus and main stereo out, I go for the Chandler Zener Limiter. For the mastering process, I used L2 or the L3-16 if I need a super loud mix, which fortunately isn’t something that gets asked too often anymore, ( see Mastering Audio for Streaming).

Leave a Reply