There are so many great tools out there, where do you begin? I’ll be sharing options for each kind of processor that I “couldn’t live without”. Some of the processors listed here can be found in plug-in bundles that might meet other compression, gating, etc… needs. Of course you have to think about budget when acquiring your tools, this list highlights some of my favorites from all around.

Compressors: There are so many great compressors out there but for me these are the essentials. Notice there is one from each of the four “main” food groups; FET, Optical, VCA, Tube. 

  1. Urei 1176 or UA 1176
  2. LA-2A or Tube-Tech CL1B
  3. Waves C1 Comp-SC
  4. Wave C1 Comp (for side-chain compressing)
  5. SSL Bus Compressor or API 2500 or Neve 33609
  6. Manley Vari-Mu or another compressor that goes down to at least a 2:1

Limiters: UA Precision Limiter, Sonnox Oxford Limiter or McDSP ML1000

Gates/Expanders: Avid Expander/Gate or some other gate with side-chain filtering/input.

Although my personal list may not be the same for everyone, it’s definitely worked very well for my needs. I’d love to hear how these plugins work out in your mixes, or about your own personal essential toolset for Compressors, Limiters, Gate and Expanders.

Questions? Comments? As always, please share in the comments section below!