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Top 7 Mix Bus Compressors

Britpressor - Analog Obsession

Britpressor is a great plugin by the indie-developer Analog Obsession. It can be used as a great parallel compressor, but with the right settings, it makes a fantastic mix bus compressor as well.

It includes both a limiter and compressor. The limiter can be set to a program-dependent or automatic release time.

The compressor has a 1:5:1 ratio which is subtle enough for mix bus compression. This compressor also has an automatic release option.

On the right side, you have a wet/dry blend which is great for a subtle effect, as well as an internal or external side chain EQ so you can control what frequencies trigger the compressor.

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Weiss DS1 MK3 - Softube

Weiss has made some of the most impressive digital processors of the past couple of decades, and now computers are powerful enough to house these processors as a plugin.

The DS1 MK3 is incredibly versatile and can be used for de-essing, limiting, and a lot more, but it also makes an amazing mix-bus compressor.

When using it as a mix-bus compressor, try the mid-side option for natural widening of your mix, and control what gets compressed with the bandwidth function.

The automatic make-up gain function is really powerful, and the soft-knee and ratio versatility make it perfect for dialing in the right amount of compression.

Drawmer S73 - Softube

If you’re looking for a very easy to use, but still professional-sounding mix bus compressor, try the Drawmer S73.

The S73 is a lot like the Drawmer 1973, but with algorithms that make using it a lot easier. Each one of the algorithms performs its title or augments a particular instrument or range.

Once you find the right algorithm for your mix, using the wet/dry to blend the effect in just the right amount.

This processor is really powerful so be sure to use it only as much as needed.

The air shelf introduces a high shelf prior to compression, and the output is useful if you find the setting increases or decreases your mixes amplitude too much.

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Comp Tube STA - Arturia

Admittedly this compressor isn’t used as a bus compressor too often. Its controls are more suited for individual instruments and instrument busses.

With that said, the tone of this compressor makes it a great option for imparting a unique tonality onto your entire mix.

Granted you’ll need to use the compressor very carefully due to how long it’ll hold onto the signal, but with the gain reduction meter in the middle, you’ll always know how much processing you’re applying.

The advanced section makes it pretty versatile as well - letting you change the detection from left and right to mid and side.

Additionally, you can use an internal side chain to determine when the compressor gets triggered.

Presswork - u-he

This compressor is a little complex and takes a moment to get the hang of, but it offers more versatility than most.

What makes this plugin unique is that it combines its settings to create multiple plugins - all of which are accessible via the main compressor.

So if you’re finding the main page a little overwhelming, try starting with one of the condensed plugins.

Back to the main page, we have a really unique function with the nonlinear dial - which when combined with the soft-knee function can really affect the timbre of your mix.

At the bottom, add a little saturation as well to make your mix sound fuller and more impressive - but be sure to use this effect sparingly.

Pro-C 2 - FabFilter

The Pro-C 2 is probably the compressor plugin I use the most. It’s comprehensive and offers an immense amount of flexibility, but always is easy to understand.

If you’re mastering or compressing your mix bus, try out the different mastering styles. Opto, Bus, and Mastering are all great starting points and each offers distinct tonalities and compression behaviors.

The plugin offers both automatic make-up gain and auto-release, which can be fined tuned ranging from fast to slow.

Oversampling and lookahead will help you reduce unwanted distortion, and the side chain section allows you to control when the compression gets triggered.

Lastly, some great presets are available to help you get started.

TRackS Opto Compressor - IK Multimedia

If you’re looking for a simple, inexpensive, and great-sounding mix bus compressor, try Opto Compressor by IK Multimedia.

With it, you control your input, output, attack, release, ratio, and the range of the compression, which is super helpful if you want to keep the compression to a minimum.

The left side offers detection options from left and right, just left or right, and mid and side.

Mid-side will widen your mix in a really pleasant way, so try that out in lieu of traditional stereo widening.

Lastly, you can monitor your input, output, and most importantly, you gain reduction to keep an eye on how you’re processing your signal.

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