Buyer’s Guide to the Best Compressor VST Plugins

Updated on October 1, 2020

Buyer’s Guide to the Best Compressor VST Plugins

The world of music has changed drastically over the last couple of years. An individual can create well-rounded audio out of the comfort of their bedroom. By only using a computer, some sound equipment, and different software programs you can create record-breaking songs. 

This doesn’t mean that musical or instrumental sounds and effects are just created out of nothing. For musical producers, DJs, and recorders there are VST plugins that make producing different audio much easier. 

A big part of VST production is using compression to balance the musical production. Read along to discover more about VST and compressor plugins. 


Virtual Studio Technologies is audio software that allows the creation of different virtual sound effects through DAWs (digital audio workstations). Designed and created, initially, by Steinberg, it is now being used on many different platforms. 

As a whole, VST plugins use a signal processing tool that works on a digital platform. It mimics different sounds made by instruments or hardware interfaces and translates it into a digital interface. To send and receive information they use different MIDIs or protocols. Learn more about the history and development of Virtual Studio Technologies here:  

When you choose a plugin, you have to consider a few different factors that will suit your needs: 

Skill Level: If you aren’t an expert in using plugins, a detailed and complex bundle won’t be to any use for you. Getting the best out of Virtual Studio Tech programs, you need the necessary experience and knowledge. 

Some bundles are created and aimed towards professionals. Be honest about your skill level and rather start out with a few basic ones. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can continue on to more comprehensive plugins that challenge your skills. 

Genre: When you want to produce classical music, you won’t introduce the electronic guitar into it. In the same way, a saxophone will sound out of place in a heavy metal song. Be clear on the genre of music you want to produce and find plugins accordingly. 

Narrow it Down: There are loads of different plugins available on the market. Having too many options will only make the process of actually creating something tedious and scattered. 

If you aren’t that versatile and you only want to produce one type of genre, then it’s best to invest in a few collections that you’ll definitely use. 

Man controlling an audio interface

After you’ve chosen different instrumental plugins, you should start considering different effects. Ranging from EQ to panning and delay to echo, all VST effects can be used to create full rounded musical results. 

One effect that you can not go without is the ‘compression’ VST effect. 


Compression is a process that is usually applied after a piece of audio has been created. It lessens the dynamic range between loud and soft parts. It’s done by using special tech that gives soft parts a boost and quiets loud parts. By using compression, you will create the perfect balance between loud and soft. 

Controls within a compression VST plugin is typically as follows:


This is the cut off signal at which the software has to apply compression. Either a cut off will be set at a loud audio frequency or a very soft audio frequency. Whenever audio exceeds a threshold, the compression can be manually or automatically applied. 


This refers to how much the input signal has to cross the threshold before being applied. If you set the ratio at 3:1, the signal has to reach 3 decibels for the output level to increase with 1 decibel.

selective focus photography of audio mixer


This refers to the time at which the compression stops after the input signal has exceeded the threshold and have been compressed to below the threshold. 


Once the signal input reaches the threshold, you can adjust the ‘attack’ mode to set a time at which the plugin starts working. This can be set to milliseconds. 


When the threshold is passed, the knee is used to set reactions from the plugin when different signals are received. The knee can be set to soft or hard. Soft Knee means that the plugin starts working slower once the signal has passed the threshold, while a hard knee kicks in immediately. 

Make up gain

Because compressors weaken the signal, the make up gain is used to boost the signal. 


Lastly, output allows you to either increase or decrease the signal output from the compressor. 


Just like all other software, your best products are those you have to pay for. Avoid downloading and installing free compression plugins to avoid unwanted bugs and malfunctions. You can click here for top compressor plugin list worth considering.

Alternatively, you can consider buying a VST plugin from a well-reputed brand that have many different tech software available. If you are happy with one plugin produced by a certain manufacturer, chances are you’ll be satisfied with their other products. 

Buying plugins in bulk will also save money and time browsing through various options available on the market.  Make sure that the compressor VST plugin has all of the above-mentioned features in order for you to use it efficiently. 

man in black and white checkered dress shirt sitting on black office rolling chair

Ensure that you have the right kind of musical software and tech equipment in order to use the plugin as well. Knobs on mixers will typically be used to set the threshold, ratio, attack, knee, release, and make up gain to specific measurements as follow:

Threshold: between 0-50 decibels (recommended threshold is around 10 decibels)
Ratio: between 1-30:1 (recommended ratio is 3:1)
Make up gain: between -15-40 
Release: between 0-5,000ms (recommended release of 50-150ms)
Attack: between 0-200ms (recommended release of 100ms)
Knee: between 0-1.0

Once you’ve set up the tech software and your mixer to recommended measurements, you are ready to start experimenting and playing around. 

By using a compression plugin, you’ll be able to take your audio mixes to an expert level in no time.