Do you want your song’s vocals to stand out and match properly in your mix? We have gathered the Top 11 LA-2A Compressor Plugin Emulations 2023 for you.
One of the most well-known compressors ever created is the LA-2A. The LA-2A has long been a favourite among engineers because of its revered rich, warm tone and smooth melodic compression characteristics. The original compressor accomplished gain reduction by the use of an optical attenuator powered by a tube.
The compression ratio and release time might vary significantly depending on the source content because the optical attenuator is completely program-dependent. Although the typical attack duration is set at ten milliseconds, the release characteristic gives the sound its distinctive personality.
Depending on the program’s content, the first release time is specified at one to fifteen seconds for the complete release and at 60 milliseconds for 50% of the release.
Jim Lawrence, born in 1924, worked as a radar operator in the Navy during World War II, pursued electrical engineering, and spent some of his early years working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. His ground-breaking concept involved employing optical sensors to build the first levelling amplifier.
Lawrence created a device to level the incoming audio stream using military optical sensors found in his surroundings. He enclosed them in a metal tube-sized container and paired a luminous panel with photoresistors, whose resistance varies with light intensity. The subtle, program-dependent optical compression that audio experts still admire all over the world is provided by this optical attenuator.
We’ll examine some of the most well-liked LA-2A emulations in this post to help you choose the one that’s best for you.
Top 11 LA-2A Compressor Plugin Emulations 2023
1. BPB Dirty LA (Our Pick)
The BPB Dirty LA compression effect plugin is now available on the Bedroom Producers Blog as a free download for Windows and macOS DAWs.
For those who appreciate the sound of classic limiting amplifiers, we present BPB Dirty LA, a free compressor effect. This plugin is aimed to achieve the same musical-sounding compression with a more streamlined process. If you ever need to saturate the signal completely, we’ve included one of their Dirt algorithms to assist you in doing it.
This compressor is not a direct software replica of any existing hardware model, but rather it draws upon the best features of numerous established hardware designs. They optimized internal algorithms and the control method to get as close as feasible.
- Peak Reduction Knob
With the Peak Reduction dial, you can adjust the threshold value and hence the degree of signal compression. Once satisfied with the compression, you can easily compare it to the dry signal by setting the Output knob to the same level.
They optimized their Dirt method to provide transparent saturation, which enhances and warms up the signal while somewhat taming the transients. It pairs nicely with the compressor and is especially useful for making the bass and drums in a track stand out.
Activating the plugin’s Dirt setting causes it to oversample internally by a factor of 4. Turning off Dirt prevents oversampling, which in turn reduces CPU use. In addition, they’ve ensured the plugin uses as little processing power as possible, so you may run numerous instances simultaneously without slowing down your projects.
This plugin is available for macOS 10.10 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 8 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST/RTAS/AU/AAX formats and supports 32 and 64 bit systems.
It’s a flexible plugin that you may use in various ways to suit your requirements, including as a parallel compressor and mix glue on the master bus. With Dirty LA’s default settings, you receive a fast attack time and a moderate compression ratio; however, switching to limiting mode will increase both of these values. It’s free, which is always nice, and it uses very little CPU, even when oversampled four times.
2. Native Instruments VC 2A By Softube
One of three new vintage compressors from NI with DSP components designed by modelling specialists is the VC 2A Softube.
One of the most sought-after compression units ever produced served as the model for the VC 2A. This tube compressor was first created in the early 1960s and is currently utilized in the world’s top recording studios.
Transparent compression was a key component of its ground-breaking design, which used an electroluminescent optics gain reduction mechanism.
This contributed to creating the unit’s distinctive character, whose gentle colouring is still highly valued by artists and sound engineers, coupled with analogue circuitry. The features and traits of its highly regarded hardware grandfather are accurately replicated by the VC 2A. It provides the same extremely basic interface that mostly uses two buttons.
- Optical Compressor
It is an electro-optical tube compressor and limiter with a smooth, silky sound, the VC 2A is a part of the VINTAGE COMPRESSORS line and an out-of-the-box software recreation of classic precision studio equipment.
Automatic decisions are made about the attack and release in response to the input signal. The VC 2A has two major settings, Gain and Peak Reduction, which regulate the threshold and degree of compression, making it simple to find the sweet spot.
- More features than the original
The VC 2A, which was created in conjunction with Softube, has several extra features not seen in the original. The addition of a sidechain input opens the door to a variety of inventive compression techniques in addition to the classic ducking and pumping effects.
In addition, a low-cut slider instructs the compressor to disregard anything below the specified frequency, and a dry setting makes compression parallel to the VC 2A a reality. This crucial innovation aids in preventing over-compression brought on by rogue low frequencies.
- Electro-Optical Technology
A light bulb or LED can be found within an electro-optical compressor. It reacts to the signal input; a strong signal causes the bulb to shine, and spikes cause the bulb to glow more brightly. The gain level is adjusted by a photocell that watches the lightbulb. The attack and release timings are intentionally delayed due to the photocell’s comparatively sluggish reaction.
The OS requirements for this plugin are Windows 7 or higher for PC and macOS 10.9 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/RTAS/AU/AAX formats and supports 32 and 64 bit systems.
And that’s before combining it with other Guitar Rig effects to create racks. Vocally, the VC 2A immediately replicates the LA-2A’s seductive and frequently noticeable pull, and the low sidechain cut is undoubtedly a helpful feature when compressing bass-dominant songs.
The built-in mixing, however, is a big benefit for us since it enables us to drive the VC 2A harder than normal and mix to taste. Compared to IK Multimedia’s White 2A or other LA-2A emulators, the VC 2A is a less replica.
3. UAD Teletronix® LA-2A Classic Leveler Collection
The greatest collection of the most renowned optical compressor ever is the Teletronix LA-2A Leveler Collection.
Universal Audio was somewhat expected to use the chance to explore some of their other vintage compressor plug-ins after releasing the revised 1176 Classic Limiter plug-in collection. However, the most recent “analog classic” plug-in to enter its second generation is the Teletronix LA-2A.
It’s unquestionably a timely step, especially because the original plug-ins are older than ten years and that plug-in authors now have access to substantially more CPU resources than they did previously.
The Teletronix LA-2A optical compressor was one of the most admired hardware optical compressors of its era, known for its melodious, smooth compression.
The well-regarded late 1960s “Silver” version of the LA-2A, a more recent version from the mid-1960s “Gray,” and an extremely rare early 1960s LA-2 were made available by Universal Audio as plug-ins.
- Two-Knob Compressor
The attraction of the Teletronix LA-2A hardware and plug-in must be its constrained control set, which is maybe the antithesis of the adaptability provided by a VCA compressor that can change appearances.
It is essentially a two-knob compressor, with a Gain knob to boost the signal back to unity once compression has been applied, and Peak Reduction works as a kind of Threshold control. The plug-extra in’s Limit/Compress option, which has some control over the compression ratio, is included in both the Silver and Gray versions.
- Peak Reduction
The trigger threshold can be changed using this parameter to determine how much signal compression is applied. Lowering the threshold results in more compression when the value is increased. The values on the front panel knobs are arbitrary and do not correspond to any particular dB level. To acquire the desired compression, turn this control clockwise.
Set the VU Meter knob to Gain Reduction to keep an eye on the peak reduction amount. Peak Reduction needs to be changed separately from the Gain control. The signal is still tainted by the circuitry even when Peak Reduction is set to its lowest value, and the Gain control can be used to change the output level.
- Emphasis Control
The unique Emphasis control input, which helps innovatively adjust compression performance and colour, and the obvious absence of “picture collapse” when you push the compressor harder are notable upgrades over the original heritage plug-in. In addition, the sidechain signal’s filtering is increased when the Emphasis control is turned counterclockwise.
As a result, the sidechain signal’s lower frequency content is gradually reduced by the Emphasis filter, making the compression less sensitive to those frequencies and more sensitive to the high-frequency information. Therefore, the higher frequencies are increasingly compressed when sidechain filtering is increased.
The OS requirements for this plugin are Windows 7 or higher for PC and macOS 10.9 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/RTAS/AU/AAX formats and supports 32 and 64 bit systems.
It’s encouraging to see Universal reevaluate major products to maintain its position as a market leader in the face of growing competition from other plug-in developers. For example, the LA-2A Classic Leveler Collection is the pinnacle of software mixing and a wonderful representation of what music plug-in compression might sound like because it has 64-bit compatibility.
4. Black Rooster Audio VLA-2A
A brand-new German software startup called Black Rooster Audio is committed to producing high-quality DAW plug-ins.
A brand-new German software startup called Black Rooster Audio is committed to producing high-quality DAW plugins. Their initial product is the VLA-2A, an imitation of an Opto compressor. Would Black Rooster Audio sound well enough to compete with the other comparable emulations, given the abundance of them on the market?
- Circuit Emulation
Original LA-2A units’ tone and feel are the foundation for the VLA-2A circuit replica. Black Rooster Audio used an authentic 1968 reference device to model and match every component of the compressor, including the input and output transformers, audio path tube stages, and filters.
The VLA-2A’s automatic oversampling adjustment maintains audio transparency, which is another intriguing feature. In order to conserve CPU while yet delivering the most transparent sound possible, the oversampling rate automatically adjusts to the session sample rate.
- User Interface
The Vintage Levelling Amplifier has a minimal and attractive GUI. Its simple and clean layout features all the controls you’d expect on emulation. On the left, there’s an On/Off switch, a Limit and Compress switch and large rotary knobs for Gain and Peak Reduction.
On the right-hand side, there’s a VU Level that allows you to switch between Input, Gain Reduction and Output. In the centre of the plugin are the VU meter and the Black Rooster Audio logo. The controls look neat and clean, and even the font on the compressor looks classy. Simply opening it up in my DAW gave me a good first impression.
The OS requirements for this plugin are Windows 7 or higher for PC and macOS 10.9 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/RTAS/AU/AAX formats and supports 32 and 64 bit systems.
The VLA-2A is a flexible compressor and limiter that may be utilized in various musical genres. This compressor is nicely made, simple to operate, and has decent sound quality. Its compression capabilities would be useful among other instruments.
By dialling up the Gain knob, the VLA-2A may also be utilized to create more severe sounds. We discovered that the low-end frequencies remained tight and apparent, even increased Gain.
5. Mellowmuse CP2V
Mellowmuse CP2V is a compressor with a straightforward interface and offers multi-stage analog modeling.
An audio dynamics compressor plugin for songs and programs with personality and attitude is vintage-style CP2V with a straightforward interface and multi-stage analog modelling processing that adds harmonic saturating smoothness.
He is equally comfortable destroying percussion, taming voices, and improving acoustic guitar. The gooiest compressor sound Mellowmuse has ever produced, without a doubt!
- Compression And Make-Up
By merely raising the amount of compression and saturation, the compression knob pushes the input level up toward the threshold. Additionally, the Make Up Knob controls the output volume and serves as a saturation enhancer.
- Attack And Release
Finally, we have a beautifully integrated and responsive Vu Meter in the middle of the plugin. Under that, there are two possibilities for the Attack Switch: rapid or slow, and the attack’s reaction time is fixed. The Release knob may function fast or Slow and has a predetermined release time. Under all that, a preset tab is quite helpful for saving voice settings and other things.
It performs its job well if you want something quick and convenient, but there are somewhat more complex solutions available that cost roughly as much as this plugin. I listened to it with drums and guitar, and it definitely sounds good that way.
6. TBT TLS 1295 LEA
The LA-2A limiting amplifier served as the inspiration for the compressor plug-in known as TLS 1295 LEA, which is currently a 64-bit VST plug-in for Windows and Linux.
The TLs 1295 LEA plugin is a compressor that draws from the functionality of this sort of analog device rather than attempting to be a 100% accurate analog recreation of an Opto compressor. Its creator defines it as a compressor with a hint of the vintage LA2A limiting amplifier.
- Ratio Curve
A closer examination reveals that the compressor has a gentle knee inside the ratio curve and never functions as a limiter when pushed to the limit. The 4:1 ratio can be roughly represented by setting the Peak Reduction slider to 40 dB.
A meter for signal output and gain reduction, an LED indicator for when our signal reaches the clip, copy/paste, an A/B test, and integrated MIDI learning features are also included in the plugin (Midi Learn). So naturally, it also has a GUI with a strong analog flavour.
Although we can adjust the knob in Clean when performing compression of all ways will be done, they will introduce harmonics into the signal, so the developer added control over envelopes (Attack – Release), we can adjust the level of harmonic distortion (Clean / Driven), we also have a Side-chain High Pass filter and Dry/Wet mix control.
I think it’s a really helpful plugin that can warm up our acapella; add it after adjusting the signal’s peaks to add the vintage analogue character of an LA2A; and, of course, feel free to use it wherever you think it fits best in your processing chain for various signal types.
7. Waves CLA-2A
Another great product from the CLA line that boasts character and fidelity to the vintage sound.
Chris Lord-Alge has had an iconic partnership with Waves Audio Ltd. for quite some time now, offering great products that are equally great renditions of the original hardware units. Their responsiveness and sound character are often similar to what they aim to reproduce, ranging from equalizers to compressors and beyond.
- Vintage inspired
The CLA-2A plugin is inspired by the Teletronix tube compressor made in the early 1960s. The original unit was hand-wired, and this is a hard aspect to reproduce digitally because it solely depends on components within the circuit. To overcome this, Waves included some analog elements inside this plugin’s algorithms, such as “Total Harmonic Distortion,” “Variable Release Times,” “Hum,” and “T4,” which reproduces the original optical component inside the compressor.
- Peak reduction
The dedicated “Peak Reduction” knob tailors the proper amount of compression in your signal, set in a range from zero to 100 (0.01 steps) and with an initial value of 46.00. However, the scale is not linear as the original compressor, thus offering a bit more compression than its precursor in some cases.
The small “HiFreq” button is responsible for adding gain to the amplifier voltage, but only for frequencies above the 1kHz mark. If set to a flat position, the plugin will provide equal peak reduction in the circuit for all frequencies. If you move away significantly from the flat position, the compressor will become less active in the lower frequencies, resulting in a more lightweight overall compression.
- Analog selection
External interferences, such as floor noises or electrical hums specific to the electric current that the compressor unit would be plugged in, can also affect the final sound result. This seeks to mimic how their power supplies would behave in different environments, independent of any parameters included within. You can turn it off to get the effect running undisturbed, but there are also “50Hz” and “60 Hz” selections that will bring up that “vintage mojo” from the old units.
- Vintage inspired
This plugin is available for macOS 10.15.7, 11.6.5, and 12.4 (64-bit only) and Windows 10 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
The CLA products line from Waves is famous for the intrinsic recreations of great hardware used extensively in recording studios, but not only in the early days of music production. As these equipment turn out to be very responsive even in modern genres, they’re still used by great professionals such as Chris Lord-Alge himself.
CLA-2A Compressor is another good example of this hard work, with exquisite responsiveness in every subtle dynamic range, with the added possibility to set the frequency range upon which the effect will act. It’s as straightforward as possible, and the included might make it sound excellent with any audio input you may want to use.
8. IK Multimedia White 2A Leveling Amplifier (Emulation of Teletronix 2A-LA)
Another member of the T-Racks suite by IK Multimedia, the White 2A leveling Amplifier offers a slightly different take on the classic Teletronix LA-2A discussed before.
The classic LA-2A uses a lamp controlled by the side chain to alter the conductivity of a photosensitive device, which then controls the gain for the signal.
This is an Opto-attenuator system, and it has some unusual linearities that allow for a smooth and musical sound signature that works perfectly with vocals, as well as adds a subtle warmth to bass instruments.
For the interface, users are greeted with gain control to manipulate the output signal, whereas peak reduction is used to specify the level of gain reduction to be applied. A meter can be switched to show readings from +10dB to +4dB.
Additionally, users can set the choice of stereo from L/R or M/S. Finally, users can switch between the limiter and compressor using the switch provided.
The plugin version (the White 2A leveling Amplifier) offers the same control knobs but with additional switches for the stereo control. Now you have this “=” sign which links the two channels, either L/R or M/S, together and processes them simultaneously instead of processing them separately.
Moreover, you get to switch between limiters and compressors using the switch provided.
Here, the Peak Reduction determines how much gain reduction is used, while the Gain control modifies the output signal. This time, there is a reset button, a meter that may be altered, and a stereo processing option independent left/right. There are no attack or release settings, just like on the original hardware, and the switch toggles between a very moderate compression and a more aggressive, limiter-type action.
Initially designed for broadcast usage, it quickly evolved into a genuinely iconic recording and mixing tool. It’s essential for voice tracking and mixing, but it also works wonders on electric bass, upright bass, piano, brass, and many other instruments where you require light compression with a distinct warmth. One of the few components in the audio business that another item will not replace is this one.
The actual compression process doesn’t include any electrical hardware. Instead, a simple photoresistor tube amplifier is powered by an output signal and illuminated by the fluorescent panel. There were only two methods available at the time of this innovation for creating an audio compressor: variable-mu and optical. The magic came when the correct components for the light emitting panel and the photocells were matched since optics was the simplest science.
The White 2A leveling amplifier by IK Multimedia offers comprehensive emulation of the Teletronix 2A-LA. So if you are looking for that sound, then we highly recommend this plugin. Its price is fairly reasonable and justifiable, considering the impressive attention to detail by the developers of this plugin.
9. Brainworx bx_opto (Compressor with Character)
Released back in July 2015, the bx_opto by Brainworks is an Opto compressor plugin designed after traditional optical compressors but with a twist in controls to make it highly versatile.
Obviously, most of the Opto compressor plugins, including the ones discussed in this article, are inspired in some way or another by the classic LA-2A compressor; the bx_opto is no exception. The bx_opto is not as simple as the LA-2A in its interface as it offers a few more control knobs as opposed to the simple 2 main control knobs interface offered by the LA-2A.
These knobs offer you more control over the sound design of the compression, which makes this plugin highly versatile. In addition to that, bx_opto has an improved sound design over the LA-2A. For example, it does not add saturation as dramatically as the LA-2A does, making it easier to use for a pleasant punch at slower speeds and exciting urgency for faster speeds.
- Speed Control
The additional Speed control is bx opto’s main selling point. As a result of the peculiarities of the light decay in their level detectors, conventional optical circuits have a fixed release time.
Brainworx broke the analog rules of nature by adding an adjustable release time control. The handbook claims that velocity control has just a little impact on attack time. This gives optical compression access to a completely new realm.
- Side Chaining
With the presence of the ever-popular sidechain filter, low-end pumping from things like pushing bass on turntables is a breeze. It has a full but not full bottom end. This sidechain filter is perhaps one of the more adaptable ones we’ve encountered.
As well as a variable filter with a range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, it features four distinct filter types: High Pass, Low Pass, and two Band Pass settings. Brainworx has also included the now-ubiquitous “Mix” disc for parallel compression to complete the functionality.
This plugin requires Windows 7 or higher for PC and macOS 10.9 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats and supports 64-bit devices only.
This game might not be for you if you’re searching for transparent compression, but if you want both personality and adaptability, bx opto might be the right choice. I’m a huge fan of plugin developers that work to stretch the limits of analog conventions and treat digital like the vast, limitless universe it really is. In light of this, the bx opto compressors provide a welcome update to the traditional design and sound fantastic while doing so.
10. ADHD Leveling Tool
Looking like a classic compressor, the ADHD levelling tool is a free plugin that does surprisingly well in capturing the sound of a classic compressor unit.
The developers of this plugin claim to have carefully engineered this plugin for optimum performance on vocals. It can also be used on instruments like guitar, bass, etc., to duck down some peaks and add more punch and character to the mix.
- User Interface
Controls are all present and properly shown in the user interface. The compressor has numerous uncommon characteristics in addition to dry/wet control. A sidechain high-pass filter adds a high-pass to the signal it is listening to, making parallel compression easier to create and lessening the pumping impact. Here, a rotational actuation control may also be used to modify the saturation level of the tube.
- Gain Knob
Peak reduction will result in a low volume of the signal. Add some makeup to raise the ante. The levelling tool has an integrated tube driving effect; the more gain applied, the more effective the tube actuation.
- Attack and Release
When a gain has reached the threshold, the assault is the length of time needed to reduce it, and the release is the amount of time needed to stop reducing profits once the return signal lowers the threshold.
- Dry/Wet and High Pass Filter
The signal being listened to by the compressor should have a highpass filter added. It may be applied to remove the bass-heavy pumping effects and make some compression more transparent. Additionally, Dry/Wet may be utilized for parallel compression, which is excellent for drums but normally should be set to 100% Wet.
The ADHD levelling tool has support for most Windows and Mac operating systems. It comes in VST/AU formats which makes it not available for Pro Tools. It supports both 32 and 64 bit systems.
Overall, this plugin does impressively well for a free plugin. It obviously is not up to par with the plugins discussed on this list when it comes to emulating classic compressor sound signatures. However, if you are looking for a free plugin that makes a decent attempt at that, then the ADHD levelling tool is the go-to.
12. Analog Obsession LALA (Inspired By Teletronix LA2A)
The LALA plugin from Analog Obsession gives you smooth compression that’s great for vocals and bass guitar.
The LA2A-type compressors are among the most popular studio units. They provide smooth compression with a slow attack, which is ideal for processing vocals and bass guitars. Through years of digital music production, dozens of plugins have been created that emulate their operation. And now we’re going to talk about a free one.
It is another Analog Obsession product called LALA. You will immediately see by its design that it is a reference to the original LA2A compressor by Teletronix. You will have the same main Gain and Peak Reduction knobs and additional features. We’ll talk about them below.
- Extremely Simple Operation
As with other similar plugins, you get an extremely simple operation. It comes down to only two knobs, Peak Reduction and Gain. With the first, you can select the amount of compression, and the second helps you balance the output signal.
- Sidechain Section
On the left side of the plugin, you will see some additional features. For example, there is a High Pass Filter from 20 to 500 hertz. You can also adjust the compressor’s sensitivity to medium and high frequencies, thanks to the corresponding knobs. And, of course, there is an External Sidechain button.
- Adjust The Balance
If you want to use this plugin for parallel vocal compression, you will have the option to do so. That’s because the developers have implemented here the Mix function, which is not present even in some similar paid plugins. So use it to find a proper balance.
- Three Nice-Looking Skins
Another cool thing about this plugin is that it has three skins. Specifically, these are White, Vintage, and Modern. It’s not a big deal, but it’s nice. Choose the one that pleases your eye the most.
Analog Obsession LALA is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST/3 and AU formats.
Analog Obsession’s LALA is an unusually straightforward plugin that helps you get smooth and musical compression. However, the settings on the left side of the window may be a bit confusing if you are a beginner. You can even leave them untouched, using only the two main knobs. But, overall, the plugin can easily compete with paid products regarding sound quality.
Klanghelm MJUC Jr.
MJUC Jr. is an emulation of a variable-mu compressor, reflecting the sound of the 60s.
μ (Mu) is a technical term for audio gain. Hence, a vari-mu compressor varies or changes the audio level using transformers to achieve its tube-based compression. This technique makes its effect faster, smoother, and distortion-free. MJUC Jr. delivers the sound using in-depth emulation.
- Analog Sound
The plugin uses component emulation to recreate the sound of vari-mu compressors. Hence, using more compression introduces saturation, which you can use creatively in vocals, drums, etc. However, you can also use it on slower audio like the bass with equally good results.
- Slew Control
The Time Constraint slider lets you set the compression attack and release times. However, it doesn’t stop there — the emulation also enables you to change the slew rate of the transformers. Slew Rate is the maximum number of voltage changes in a range of time. So, it controls whether the audio is distorted.
MJUC Jr. is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Vari-mu compressors are generally preferred for fast, transient sounds when you desire less distortion or coloring. However, if pushed hard, they are also capable of producing transformer and tube-based saturation. MJUC Jr. does both quite impressively, and we think it deserves a try for sure.
Well, this significant history that completely transformed compressor quality also benefits from a place in the present world. There are several plugins available now that imitate the analog sound of the past. This LA-2A assortment provides the greatest alternatives in the field of modulation in recent times, and we can see the demand for customers to have options about the mix of their songs with these plugins.
Of course, if we want to produce a quick overview and highlight the plugin that best emulates the Teletronix® LA-2A, we must add that everyone’s favourite is the UAD Teletronix® LA-2A Classic Leveler Collection. This plugin has undoubtedly had the most requests from the general public, and their plugin is the most accurate. Native Instruments VC 2A is not far behind, and in some phases, it even outperforms UAD. Native Instruments thought it was vital to provide a low-cut slider that aids the compressor when doing parallel compression. Electro-Optical technology is equally crucial.
Let’s not forget TBT TLS 1295 LEA, which has been used for many years by productions, and a 64bit version of it has been constantly requested. It fits perfectly in conjunction with the voices, and the signal benefits from a valuable analog character. It’s also free, so please give it a try.
Top 10 Pultec & FairChild Emulation Plugins
Many professionals consider tube equalizers and compressors among the best studio equipment. This article will show you the Top 10 Pultec & FairChild Emulation Plugins 2023.
Pultec EQs and FairChild compressors are, for many engineers and producers, a kind of “holy grail” when it comes to audio equipment. This equipment is tube-based, allowing it to give a smooth sound while adding excitement to the material, making it unique. However, there are also negative sides – this gear is one of the most expensive.
But fortunately, we live in an era when you can get digital emulations of these legendary units. And some of them are available for free. That is what we will tell you about in this article. So feel free to scroll down and choose what you like the most.
Top 10 Pultec & FairChild Emulation Plugins 2023 (EQs & Compressors)
1. Nomad Factory Pulse-Tec EQs
Pulse-Tec EQs is an excellent emulation of analog equipment from Nomad Factory, which will give you three sections for processing.
We will start our list with a plugin that has been around for quite some time. The Pulse-Tec EQs from Nomad Factory will give you the same open sound as Pultec-type equalizers. However, it is worth noting that, in addition, there is also a preamp, thanks to which you can drive the signal more.
As for EQs, there are two sections: one for middle frequencies and the second for low and high frequencies. You will be able to turn off the section that you do not need. In addition, you will have a clipper and the ability to add the effect of actual hardware. Let’s take a look at the features in more detail.
- Mid-Range EQ
At the top of the plugin, you will have a section responsible for mid frequencies. In particular, you can boost frequencies from 200 to 1000 Hz. There is also a Dip, which means cut, ranging from 200 to 7K. And you will also get another section for a boost from 1.5 to 5K.
- Program Equalizer
The middle section will be your Program EQ and deals with the low and high frequencies. Here you can boost and attenuate from 20 to 100 hertz. As for the high frequencies, there is a choice between 3K and 16K plus 5K to 20K attenuation. In addition, you will have a separate Bandwidth control.
- Adjust The Preamp
A preamp is something you don’t often see in plugins like this. Nevertheless, you will have it here at the very bottom. In particular, these are two Input and Output knobs. Thus, you can drive the Input while compensating for the Output and getting a little more saturation and grit.
- Vintage & Clipper Switches
Thanks to the Vintage switches located on both equalizers, you will also have the opportunity to add more “analog soul” to the signal. In addition, you will also get a Clipper function on the preamp, which will be especially useful to chop off too spiky transients.
- Two VU Meters
The developers also put two VU Meters in the preamp section to make it easier for you to monitor what is happening with your signal. One will show the processing on the left and the other on the right channel. You can also switch them from In to Out mode.
- Mid-Range EQ
Nomad Factory Pulse-Tec EQs is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.8.5 or higher, both 32 and 64-bit. It comes in VST, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
Pulse-Tec EQs from Nomad Factory are an excellent emulation of the Pultec equalizer, giving you a sufficient number of functions. In particular, this is an EQ for the mid frequencies and the second for lows and highs. In addition, there is a preamp, the ability to add analog feel and a clipper. This software is perfect for both bus processing of instruments and mastering in general.
2. Apogee Pultec EQP-1A
Apogee’s Pultec EQP-1A plugin will give you the ease of use and authentic analog sound.
Apogee is a well-known audio equipment company that has been around since the 80s. This brand produces converters, audio interfaces, microphones and many other studio equipment. And it is worth noting that plugins are no exception here. Now we will take a look at their version of the Pultec equalizer.
The main feature of this plugin is that it was created in official cooperation between Apogee and Pultec. So you can be sure that you will get an authentic sound. In general, this plugin is quite easy to use because it has only control over low and high frequencies. So let’s see what is here.
- Boost Some Lows
As for low frequencies, you can add them in the range from 20 to 100 hertz, and a separate switch at the bottom is responsible for this. As for the boost, the knob of the same name is responsible for it.
- High Frequency Control
If you want to add high frequencies, it will be possible from 3K to 16K. Use the frequency control and boost knob for this. The latter is set from 0 to 10, but this is not the number of decibels.
- Use Some Attenuation
Attenuation is one of the main features of Pultec-type equalizers, and it will help you to provide resonant EQ curves. In particular, you will have a separate knob for this for low frequencies. The highs are also there, but with a range of attenuation from 5K to 20K.
- Choose A Bandwidth
Of course, you will have a separate regulator responsible for how wide your Q will be. It is called Bandwidth and is located in the center of the plugin window. So, with it, you can go from sharp to wide Q.
Apogee Pultec EQP-1A is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.12.6 or higher. It comes in VST/2, AU, and AAX formats.
Apogee Pultec EQP-1A is an extremely simple plugin that will give you great results. Apogee created this software in official cooperation with Pultec, and it has excellent sound quality, especially in terms of massive low-end. However, the plugin does not have a midrange control section and gain controls. Nevertheless, it is a decent digital recreation of analog equipment.
3. Waves PuigTec EQs
PuigTec EQs by Waves is another great digital recreation of Pultec equalizers with a distinctive sound.
Waves PuigTec EQs are perhaps one of the most popular plugins that emulate the work of Pultec equalizers. Waves created this product in collaboration with the legendary producer and engineer Jack Joseph Puig based on one of the units from his collection. This software costs about $300, but you can always find it on sale for about $30, and it’s great.
It is worth noting that this includes not one but two plugins that work in a complementary way. One is responsible for low and high frequencies, and the second will give you more options in the mids. So, without further ado, let’s go directly to the analysis of the features.
- Program EQ
The main plugin is called EQP-1A and is a recreation of a passive software equalizer. Thanks to it, you can boost low frequencies from 20 to 100 hertz. As for the highs, as in most similar plugins, the range reaches from 3K to 16K.
- Midrange Equalizer
Like in the analog realm, you will have a second virtual MEQ-5 unit, a mid-range equalizer. In particular, here, you will get two Peak controls with a total range of operation from 200 hertz to 5K.
- Attenuation And Dip Controls
Of course, you will still be able to do an attenuation and create resonant EQ curves. It applies to low, high and mid frequencies. In particular, you can choose the attenuation frequency for high frequencies from 5K to 20K. As for the mid frequencies, there is a Dip knob that performs the same function from 200 Hz to 7 kHz.
- Adjust Your Gain
These features are not available in the original units, but fortunately, both plugins have Gain controls. You will find them on the right side of the software. These knobs allow you to go in both directions by 18 dB. Thus, you can balance the signal after EQ manipulations.
- Add Some Analog Hum
It is important to note that the plugin also has the function of adding analog hum around 50 or 60 Hz. Most users usually have this turned off, but it can add an interesting, authentic character to your signal in some scenarios.
Waves PuigTec EQs is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.15.7 or higher. It comes in VST/3, AU, and AAX formats.
PuigTec EQs by Waves are two great plugins that will allow you to use the sound of vintage EQ in your DAW. You will fully control the frequency spectrum, including bass, mids and highs. The developers also included several extra features, such as a Gain control and analog hum emulation.
4. Overloud Gem COMP670 (Compressor)
Gem COMP670 from Overloud will give you an emulation of three studio units and many useful features.
The developers from Overloud did a great job here because they combined the emulation of three studio units in one plugin. Yes, they are all FairChild. But the point is that they differ in sound because some compressors have changed components. As a result, you will have the opportunity to play with three different flavors.
In addition, the creators have added many digital realm features, making this plugin a really powerful tool. For example, you will have a Sidechain Filter, the ability to influence the amount of harmonic content, parallel compression and more. Let’s now try to understand all this in more detail.
- Input Gain And Threshold
The large Input Gain and Threshold controls will be your main ones when working with this plugin. Thanks to the first one, you can send the required amount of signal to the compressor, and thanks to the second one, you can adjust the threshold of the compression. In addition, most knobs are mirrored, so you can make separate settings for the right and left channels or mid/side processing.
- Choose Time Constant
As for the attack and release settings, the Time Constant switches will be responsible for this. In general, they have six positions: the first will have the fastest attack and release, and the last two have a slow attack and program-dependent release, so they are suitable for mastering or bus processing.
- Three Compressor Modes
The developers created this plugin based on three FairChild compressors from different cities. Therefore, you will see a switcher with options for London, Los Angeles, and Milan. The first one is the warmest and most authentic. As for the other two, you will be able to get from them some more sheen in the high frequencies.
- DC Threshold And Harmonic Controls
Looking at the bottom left corner of the plugin window, you will see two small DC Thres and Harm controls. The first one will be responsible for setting hard or soft knee. As for the second one, you can add more harmonic distortion with it and get more analog grit.
- Add a Sidechain Filter
An extremely useful feature of this plugin is the Sidechain Filter. Thanks to it, you can tell the compressor not to consider low information. In particular, this function works in the range of up to 500 hertz.
- Parallel Compression
And, of course, you also get a Parallel control, which is the balance setting of Dry and Wet signals. In this case, you can apply quite extreme parameters and mix them with the original signal, a well-known parallel compression technique.
Overloud Gem COMP670 is available for Windows Vista or higher (both 32 and 64-bit) and macOS 10.9 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST, AU, and AAX formats.
Gem COMP670 by Overloud is an extremely powerful compressor that will give you an authentic analog sound and a lot of modern features. You can influence the flavors of compression, add harmonics, apply sidechain and run compression in parallel. This plugin is suitable for many scenarios, including processing individual instruments or work as a great mastering compressor.
5. Waves PuigChild Compressor (Compressor 2)
PuigChild by Waves is another famous FairChild compressor emulation that will give you great sound and ease of use.
Waves PuigChild is another plugin from the Jack Joseph Puig collection that emulates vintage studio equipment. In general, this software comes in two versions: 670 і 660. But you only need to know here that 670 is a stereo version, and 660 is a mono.
Regarding this plugin’s functionality, it accurately repeats analog equipment but does not load you with many settings. In particular, you will have controls for gain and threshold, output signal, and the well-known Time Constant switch responsible for attack and release. Let’s now take it all in order.
- Adjust The Gain And Threshold
This plugin is simple – you will have two controls, Gain and Threshold. Add the required amount of signal with the first one and determine the amount of compression with the second one. If you work in the stereo version of the plugin, you will have mirror settings.
- Time Constant Settings
If you have already dealt with plugins of this type, you know that the Time Constant parameter is responsible for fixed attack and release. In particular, the first positions will give you faster settings. In turn, 5 and 6 will have longer attacks and auto releases.
- Balance Your Signal
Of course, you will have an Output Gain knob, which you can regard as a Make-Up Gain. It is because the more you apply compression, the plugin will reduce the more your signal. Therefore, thanks to this control, you can compensate for the loudness.
- Analog Hum
Like most Waves plugins, PuigChild also can add analog hum. It will be possible thanks to the switch in the lower left corner. Specifically, there are 50 and 60-hertz options, which refer to the different cycles from the power supply of analog equipment in Europe and the United States.
- Left/Right 0r Lat/Ver
The stereo version of this plugin can work in several modes: Left/Right, Linked, and Lat/Ver. The first will allow you to apply different settings for the right and left channels, and the second – to do it simultaneously for both. As for the latter, it is a type of Mid/Side processing.
Waves PuigChild is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.15.7 or higher. It comes in VST/3, AU, and AAX formats.
PuigChild by Waves is from the category of those plugins that seem to have been around all the time. Overall, this is a great emulation of FairChild, which will not annoy you with many settings because everything here is quite straightforward: gain, threshold, time constant, output and mod switch. In addition, you will get two versions, both for mono and stereo signals.
6. NoiseAsh Rule Tec EQ1A
Rule Tec EQ1A from NoiseAsh will give you a fairly accurate emulation of an analog unit and an additional Stereo Width function.
The next plugin on our list is an emulation from the Turkish company NoiseAsh, engaged in creating excellent plugins for music production. In particular, among their products, there are many equalizers based on Neve, SSL and other well-known brands. And we must note that the recreation is quite high quality.
As for the Rule Tec EQ1A plugin, it is also an emulation of the famous program passive equalizer. You will get the same settings for low and high frequencies. However, there are also a few extra features, including stereo width and gain control. Let’s dive into the analysis of this software.
- Boost Some Lows
You can boost or attenuate the low frequencies from 20 to 100 hertz. The controls on the left side of the window will be responsible for this: Boost, Atten, and CPS. Use attenuation to clean up the area near the desired frequency.
- High Frequency Control
On the opposite side of the plugin are the controls responsible for controlling high frequencies. In particular, you can add highs from 3K to 16K. As in other similar software, you can also attenuate these frequencies within 5, 10 or 20 kHz.
- Adjust Your Bandwidth
And, of course, the Bandwidth regulator will also be at your disposal. Thanks to it, you can adjust the Q size of the equalizer. In general, there is a range from sharp to wide.
- Gain Control
The ability to adjust the gain is one feature that distinguishes this plugin from others. You will see this small slider at the bottom right of the window. Use it to balance your signal after EQ manipulations.
- Set A Stereo Width
It is worth noting that this software also has a Width adjustment, which is presented here at the bottom of the window. So, in addition to improving the frequency spectrum, you can make it wider in the stereo picture. This feature can be useful at the mastering stage.
NoiseAsh Rule Tec EQ1A is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9.5 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST3, AU, and AAX formats.
Rule Tec EQ1A from NoiseAsh is another great recreation of the legendary equalizer program that should surprise you with its sound quality. You will get all the same settings and a few additional features, including the Stereo Width function. You can also purchase this plugin in different versions, including a mid range equalizer and low and high pass filters.
7. Softube Tube-Tech Equalizer Collection
Softube’s Tube-Tech Equalizer MkII combines both of the most famous and praised tube equalizers from the ’50s.
The well-loved Pultec sound has had its heritage preserved by a Danish company called Tube-Tech since the mid-eighties. This plugin is the exact recreation of Tube-Tech’s version of the original Pultecs, put together by Softube to facilitate the workflow. This software generally consists of two parts that will give you maximum control over the frequency spectrum.
The upper section is the Program Equalizer, and its main focus is dealing with high and low shelves. It almost skips the midrange, although you can broaden the bandwidth at lower KCS values and reach some of the mids. The second unit on this plugin handles the mid-range more thoroughly, making the frequency response complete.
- Program EQ
As in other familiar Pultec-style equalizers, the upper section of the plugin is responsible for low and high frequencies. In particular, it is from 20 to 100 hertz and from 1 to 16 kilohertz. You can boost them and choose the Bandwidth size.
- Attenuate Frequencies
Of course, you will also have the option to attenuate frequencies. However, it will be the same range you selected, particularly on the lows, thanks to the main switch. As for high frequencies, you can choose between 5, 10 and 20-kilohertz options.
- Midrange Control
As for the lower section of the plugin, there is an equalizer for the middle frequencies called ME 1B. Generally, you can boost two bands: one from 0.2 to 1 kHz and the second from 1.5 to 5 kHz. In addition, there is also a Dip section, allowing you to cut the unnecessary mids.
- Output Gain
And, of course, the developers of the Tube-Tech EQ plugin did not deprive you of the ability to adjust the output level. Two Output Gain knobs on both sections of the plugin will be responsible for this. Thanks to them, you can balance the signal after changes.
Softube Tube-Tech Equalizer Collection is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Softube Tube-Tech Equalizer Collection is a great plugin that will give you two emulations of classic studio units. Softube developed this software in official cooperation with the Danish company Tube-Tech, so you can be sure you will get good sound quality. In general, the plugin is very easy to use and has a clear interface for anyone who has already dealt with similar tools.
8. IK Multimedia EQP-1A (Emulating EQP-1A hardware)
EQP-1A is a plugin from IK Multimedia that will give you a similar sound to an analog unit.
IK Multimedia is a well-known Italian company that creates audio equipment and digital tools for music production. Now we will look at their view on the emulation of the Pultec equalizer – this is a plugin called EQP-1A, which is part of the T-RackS plugin series.
Here you will get only the software equalizer, i.e. the midrange section is absent. Nevertheless, you will have the same usual low and high-frequency controls inherent in this equipment. Despite this, the plugin has a few more good features, which we will tell you below.
- Low Shelf
You can apply shelving to low frequencies, and the settings of this filter are located on the left side of the window. In particular, there are the usual Boost and Atten controls. As for the frequency range, it reaches 20, 30, 60, and 100 hertz.
- High Frequency Control
On the opposite side of the window, you will find the settings for the high-frequency shelf. Here you can select frequencies in the range from 3 to 16 kilohertz. And, of course, you will be able to attenuate them with options of 5, 10 or 20 Hz.
- Choose A Bandwidth
The developers of this plugin also did not deprive you of the ability to customize the size of the Bandwidth. You will see this slider in the center of the plugin. You will often want to use the broad setting because it will give a wider sound.
- Balance The Signal
Also at your disposal will be the Output control, thanks to which you can balance the signal from the plugin. By the way, there is an On/Off switch right next to it that you can use as a bypass to compare with the raw signal.
- L/R or M/S Operation
If you look to the left, you will see a small section where you can configure the plugin mode. In particular, you can work with the right and left channels separately or together. And, of course, you will be able to switch to Mid/Side mode, which can be helpful in mastering.
IK Multimedia EQP-1A is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.10 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
EQP-1A from IK Multimedia is a worthy digital emulation of the most famous analog equalizer. This software equalizer will allow you to do the famous Pultec-trick because it has all the same low and high shelf settings as its vintage ancestor. In addition, you will be able to use this software in Mid/Side mode at the mastering stage.
9. Lindell Audio 6X-500
Lindell Audio’s 6X-500 plugin is a digital recreation of their successful transformer-coupled analog preamp.
This plugin is unlike most Pultec-style EQs we have presented on this list. Nevertheless, the principle of its operation is somewhat similar because it emulates a preamp with a passive equalizer. Therefore, you can also use it for tone shaping.
Lindell Audio 6X-500 includes a passive EQ that applies a Pultec-style high and low-frequency boost that you can set to one out of three frequencies. In addition, adding a harmonic distortion and two filters is possible. Let’s dive into its features so that you can understand this software a little better.
- Linked Gain & Output
The first among the controls of this plugin are Gain and Output. The great fact is that they are linked. Thus, you don’t have to worry about your level when you add Gain because the plugin will always balance the loudness.
- Boost Some Highs
As for the equalizer section, there is a High Boost control. In addition, you will have a switch with three positions, which will determine which frequencies to boost. In particular, there are options of 6, 10 and 16 kH.
- Low Boost
Similar to High, you will also have a Low Boost control. It will help to add more weight to the tracks. As for the frequency selection, there are options to add low frequencies at 30, 60 and 100 Hz.
- High & Low Pass Filters
Another great feature is that you will have Low and High Pass Filters. Both ranges are from 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz, which is quite extensive. You will also be able to change the amount of dB per octave with options of 6, 12, 18, 24, and 36.
Lindell Audio 6X-500 is available for Windows 8 or higher and macOS 10.11 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Lindell Audio’s software model of their 6X-500 preamp is as much as you can expect from a solid hardware emulation. It adds a different type of non-linearities, and its overall tone is bright and open. 6X-500 is a highly recommended plugin at the top of your chain if you want to add soft harmonic distortion to enhance any sound source.
10. UAD Pultec Passive EQ Collection
UAD is considered a giant in the audio industry, and now this is their attempt at emulating the classic Pultec EQP-1A EQ.
UAD is one of the most popular companies creating music production tools. You can find their converters and audio interfaces in many top studios worldwide. As for the emulation of physical units, this is another area where UAD holds top positions because their plugins sound almost identical to analog equipment.
Now we will look at the Pultec Passive EQ Collection, which includes as many as three plugins. In particular, you will get a program equalizer, EQ for midrange frequencies, and a filter. So let’s try to analyze all this in more detail.
Source: Universal Audio
As for the program equalizer, it is almost no different from the well-known analog unit. You will find the settings of two shelves for low and high frequencies and the Bandwidth control.
- Midrange EQ
The next plugin is MEQ-5, thanks to which you can process midrange frequencies. As in other similar units, you will find two Peak sections and one Dip here. The range of this software is from 200 Hz to 5 kHz.
- Pultec Filter
Well, and of course, you will get one more piece of software in this collection: the EQ filter HLF-3C. It is generally quite easy to use because it has only two knobs: Low Cut-Off and High Cut-Off. The range of the first one is from 50 to 2000 Hz, and the second is from 1.5 to 15 kHz.
- Input And Output Transformers
The developers of these plugins emulated not only the work of the equalizer but also the input and output transformers. In particular, the first two plugins have a switch that disables the equalizer section but leaves the influence of the transformers. Therefore, you will get the harmonics of the original hardware.
UAD Pultec Passive EQ Collection is available for Windows and macOS, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
If you are an experienced producer or engineer and want a passive equalizer that offers you more control over your track’s dynamic range and sound characteristics, then look no further. The Passive EQ collection from UAD offers you exactly what you need in passive EQs. In particular, it is a software equalizer, midrange equalizer and filter. In addition, you get an excellent emulation of analog transformers.
Best Free Pultec Emulation Plugins 2023
1. Analog Obsession FRANK 2 (Analog EQ)
The FRANK 2 plugin from Analog Obsession is a tonal shaping EQ that is based on well-known studio hardware equalizers.
The tonal shaping equalizer would be a great tool to give some color and expressiveness to your instruments. It is exactly the plugin of the famous company Analog Obsession, which creates its software based on analog gear. All products are free, but you can support the developer on Patreon.
Overall, there are three bands of EQ, Low and High Pass filters. So by the plugin’s name, you can understand that it is a kind of Frankenstein. And it is not strange because each parameter is taken from a separate studio equalizer, whether API, Neve, or Pultec. So let’s take a closer look at the plugin.
- High and Low Pass Filters
The two Low and High Pass filter knobs are located on both sides of the window. The first is based on the Helios and allows you to cut from 0 to 15 dB at 50 hertz. The second one is a Pultec-style high-frequency attenuator, allowing you to go from zero to 10 decibels.
- Adjust The Lows
As for the low frequencies, you will have two whole knobs at your fingertips. The first is a boost, and the second is an attenuator. Their frequency of action is 60 hertz. In general, they are based on Pultec units.
- Mid Control
The black knob on the gray background will be responsible for the mid frequencies. You will be able to cut and boost up to 15 decibels. Most likely, this setting is based on API hardware.
- Add Some Highs
And, of course, the knob on the green background will help you remove or add high frequencies. It’s a shelf. At least you can tell that from the little icon above the knob. Here the creators took the Neve units as the basis.
- Input and Output Knobs
Notably, the plugin allows you to drive more signal into it thanks to the Input control. So you can add more harmonics to it. There is also an Output knob, which helps balance the signal’s outcome.
Analog Obsession FRANK 2 is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST/3 and AU formats.
The FRANK 2 plugin can be your to-go equalizer for working with any instrument. It can be vocals, guitars, bass, and drums. Yes, the plugin is a kind of Frankenstein, but that’s how it’s designed to give you a unique sound. So experiment with it to see for yourself.
2. BPB & Analog Obsession Rare EQ (Analog Magic EQ)
Rare EQ from Analog Obsession and BPB will give you the color and sound of a legendary studio unit.
As you can guess from the design of this plugin, it is inspired by the tube studio equalizer from Pultec. This unit has long been considered legendary for its distinctive sound and harmonics. And the good news is that you can get a decent emulation for free.
It is the Rare EQ plugin, which AAnalog Obsession created in collaboration with BPB. Overall, there are two EQ bands and the ability to boost and attenuate frequencies. In addition, you get Bandwidth and Gain controls. Let’s take a closer look at this.
- 2-Band EQ
In general, you will have only two equalization bands at your disposal. But it will be enough to add character to the sound. In particular, low frequencies here go from 20 to 100 hertz, and high frequencies from 3 to 16 kilohertz.
- Boost or Attenuate
You can both boost and attenuate frequencies. You will have two separate knobs for this. The point is that if you boost and attenuate simultaneously, you will get different EQ curves, giving you an interesting sound.
- Adjust The Bandwidth
In the center of the plugin is a separate Bandwidth knob. As you can see, it will affect your EQ band’s width. Again, experiment with this to find the right setting for your situation.
- Gain & Output
On top of that, you get two separate Gain and Output controls. You can put the first one in pre and post-EQ modes, which will also affect the character of the sound. And, of course, you’ll need Output to balance the signal.
BPB & Analog Obsession Rare EQ is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST/3 and AU formats.
Rare EQ is a wonderful plugin to add tube character to your instruments, a bunch of instruments, or a master. It is quite easy to use, as you will only have two EQ bands. Nevertheless, it has everything you need to get the results you want.
3. Kiive Audio Warmy EP1A Tube EQ (Pultec Style EQ 2)
Aptly named, this plugin sounds warm, and smooth and adds sparkling high frequencies on instruments and vocals.
The Warmy EP1A EQ is an emulation of the notorious Pultec EQP-1a vintage equalizer. It’s many mixing engineers’ go-to additive EQ for adding some low-end depth or high-end sheen. This software plugin is an attempt at reproducing the original hardware’s internal components and the slight saturation of the inductor and output transformers.
If you have recorded some vocals, but they sound somewhat dull, try adding this EQ and boosting the high frequencies upwards of 8 kHz. It makes the vocals sound much cleaner and brighter in almost every case, with no harshness whatsoever.
- Controlled Tube Emulation
The Mix knob, seemingly an EQ mix, controls the amount of tube emulation out of the EQ. Try using a somewhat high value of Mix with the EQ at their default positions. It will add some character to your audio, which could be desirable if you enjoy analog emulations.
- Smooth Sound
The plugin offers a separate boost and cut knob, where the boost is a shelf filter, and the cut is a peak filter. The shape the two filters make together sounds ultra-smooth and natural. It keeps unwanted resonance away and ensures a musical sound.
- Adjustable Bandwidth
The bandwidth or the Q-factor of this plugin can be manipulated by using the knob of the same name. However, the single knob controls the Q-factor of both the low and the high filters. It isn’t limiting at all, though, because most of the time, you’ll likely be using a broad shape anyway.
- Mastering Ready
The Warmy EP1A has up to 16x oversampling for mastering-grade anti-aliasing, providing transparent emulation even with the tube saturation introducing harmonics. Furthermore, while mastering, it could add character to the low-end using the tube saturation, and you will have complete control over its intensity courtesy of the Mix knob.
Kiive Audio Warmy EP1A Tube EQ is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST2, AU, and AAX formats.
Pultec EQP-1a is an incredibly versatile and smooth-sounding equalizer, and the Warmy EP1A captures the sound to an impressive level. We recommend its use on vocals and for mastering. Also, try it on instruments with only the tube emulation dialed in to get an interesting character on your audio.
4. Acustica Audio Coffee ‘The PUn’ (Pultec Style EQ 3)
Yet another Pultec-inspired EQ, the PUn offers similar functionality with a modernized interface.
Acustica has gone a different route with this emulation by emphasizing an aggressive character in its engine. If it is the character you are after, we would suggest the PUn over the other entries. It also features a ‘Pre’ button to enable the preamp section of the EQ, somewhat like IK Multimedia’s iteration of this unit.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the PUn focuses more on the low frequencies over the highs. It’s evident by the inclusion of a frequency selector knob for the low-frequency cut and boost filter each. We recommend its use on kicks and bass instruments to add character and color.
The plugin includes a peak-to-shelf transitioning Q-factor for the high-frequency filter. When put somewhere in the middle, you’ll find its sound similar to that of a high shelf filter with increased resonance. However, it doesn’t sound harsh or whistling at all.
The ‘Pre’ button controls the preamp of this EQ, and you could use this plugin without even employing the filters for its saturation alone. If you want more of the harmonics, dial in the Input Trim to drive the preamp further. For this usage, we suggest placing the plugin before any other plugin on your FX chain.
- Low-Frequency Character
The PUn has a frequency selector for the low cut and the low boost. The low cut is a peak filter, whereas the low boost is a shelf filter. It works excellently to increase the thickness of snares, vocals, and bass guitars while also ensuring the sound doesn’t get muddy by cutting some of the 248 Hz..
Acustica Audio Coffee ‘The PUn’ is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.10 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
This plugin feels complementary to the previous Pultec entry because of the contrasting emphasis on the low frequency to the other one’s focus on the high frequencies. So, we would suggest you use this plugin alongside the previous for adding depth to the sound and clearing up mud.
5. Ignite Amps PTEq-X
The PTEq-X from Ignite Amps is an analog Pultec EQ on steroids.
By now, you’re probably aware of the versatility and smoothness of the Pultec EQP-1a hardware equalizer. However, Ignite Amps goes above and beyond by combining three Pultec EQ units in one plugin. It features a tube midrange equalizer and an analog cutoff filter section.
We recommend this plugin if you enjoy the sound of the vintage Pultec units. Its combination of refined filters for midrange control and cutting off unwanted low or high-end makes this plugin add to the versatility of the esteemed hardware. What’s more, you can easily enable and disable each section of the plugin by toggling the ‘In’ switch off.
- Tube Midrange EQ
The top section of the interface contains the MQ5 midrange EQ, which is also a relatively well-known unit by Pultec. This section has two Peak (boost) controls and a Dip (subtractive) control. Each filter has a frequency selector and an amount knob. This section works well for a range of uses, from cutting muddy frequencies to adjusting the tone of instruments.
- Shelf Filters
The second section of the interface holds the EQP-1a equalizer. It has all the standard controls available in the hardware, but there is one quirk worth mentioning. At the right side of the section, you will notice a toggle switch labeled Tube and a drop-down menu below it. It contains four options, each representing the various transformer stages in the hardware unit. However, the effect is so subtle it feels unnecessary.
- Cutoff Filters
The bottom section of the interface has two cutoff filters for cutting the lows and the highs. However, the slopes of the filters are somewhat gentle while still being moderately steep. We wouldn’t recommend relying on it for mastering, but they work great for removing unwanted frequencies from individual instruments.
Ignite Amps PTEq-X is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 10 or higher 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3 and AU formats.
This plugin is an excellent all-in-one solution for EQing your audio material using hardware-inspired plugins. According to Ignite Amps, they followed careful measures to ensure every component on the hardware’s signal path is modeled as accurately as possible. In addition, the 2x oversampling it offers also makes this plugin suitable for basic mastering uses.
6. Analog Obsession – RareSE
RareSE by Analog Obsession can be called “Pultec on steroids”, and it is completely free.
The next item on our list will pleasantly surprise you if you are a fan of Pultec equalizers and are looking for mastering software. The RareSE plugin is created for this very purpose because it allows you to work in different modes. And the good news is that it is free.
In general, you will have two mirror program equalizers. But the point is that you can use them both in the Left/Right and Mid/Side modes. Or you can link them for both channels at the same time. There are also some good features for the output signal. So let’s have a look at it.
- Use As A Usual Program EQ
Of course, you can use this plugin like a regular program equalizer. It has all the necessary parameters: two bands for low and high frequencies, bandwidth, boost, and attenuation. Adjustment of low frequencies – from 20 to 100 Hertz, and high frequencies – from 3 to 16 kHz.
- Different Operation Modes
You can link the settings using a separate switch if you need to process both channels simultaneously. In this case, both sections of the plugin controls will work together. You can also unlink them and switch to the Mid/Side or Left/Right modes. Then they will work separately.
- Output Control
Interestingly, the developer of this plugin also put two Output controls here. One you can use for Left or Mid, and the other for Right or Side. In both cases, you can boost or cut by 12 decibels.
- Oversampling Feature
If you have already used Analog Obsession plugins, you know that many of them have the Oversampling function. Thanks to it, you can slightly improve the signal quality. To enable it, click on the company logo, which will light up red.
Analog Obsession RareSE is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST/3, AU, and AAX formats.
RareSE by Analog Obsession is a great plugin if you are looking for Pultec-style EQ for mastering. You will get all the usual settings of the program equalizer and the ability to work in the Left/Right and Mid/Side modes. In addition to this, there is also an Oversampling function. By the way, do not forget to support the plugin developer on Patreon.
As you can see, plenty of plugins emulate the work of Pultec EQ and Fairchild compressors. And as for equalizers, you can even get them for free. So, at the end of this post, let us give you some tips on what software you should especially pay attention to.
As for Pultec-style EQs, worthy emulations are #1 Nomad Factory Pulse-Tec EQs, #3 Waves PuigTec EQs, #6 NoiseAsh Rule Tec EQ1A and #10 UAD Pultec Passive EQ Collection.
If you need vari mu compressor emulation, we advise you to check out the 4 Overloud Gem COMP670, as this plugin has many modern features. Also, number 5, Waves PuigChild Compressor, may be a good option for you. This software has a really good sound.
However, you have to pay money for all these plugins listed above. You can use several free options if you do not have such an opportunity. In particular, it is number 2 on the free list BPB & Analog Obsession Rare EQ. Also, number 5 Ignite Amps PTEq-X and number 6 Analog Obsession RareSE.
Remember that it’s not what plugin you use that matters but how well you know how to use it. We are sure that this skill will allow you to achieve new success in music production. Good luck!
Other Plugin Roundups:
Reverb & Delay Plugins:
Amps & Preamps:
Audio Restoration, Calibration & Utility:
Processing & Sound Design:
8 Best Lo-Fi Plugins 2023 (PAID & FREE)
Death metal enthusiast here. I am a Romanian musician and producer with over 13 years of experience in the music industry. I’ve experienced all types of Metal up until now, playing Melodic Death Metal, Brutal Death Metal, and Black Metal with different bands. Learning by doing is my base principle, which is why I’ve been drawn to sound design from an early age.