Overloud Gem Comp76 V2
Double the compressor for double the control with Overloud’s take on the Urei 1176.
When you first open the Comp76 v2, you will see one of the compressors matching the functionalities of the hardware unit, including the famous All ratio mode. However, there is a section below the compressors that adds several more drastic features to the plugin.
First, let’s talk about the mid/side mode toggle switch, which adds another compressor in the GUI for convenience. This feature, which wasn’t available in the original hardware, lets you add compression to the mono and the stereo information of your audio separately. Although, we would have loved to see a dedicated left and right channel compression mode as well. Second, we have the Parallel knob, which is essentially a mix knob to get a parallel compression effect. And the third idiosyncrasy is the LF Sens knob, which controls the low-frequency sensitivity of the compressor. Let’s talk about the rest below.
- Multiple Revisions
The Urei 1176 saw several revisions, each improving on the sound quality of the hardware. And so, in Comp76 v2, the first knob on the lower section labeled “REV.” lets you select various revisions of the hardware unit. The first one, ‘A,’ is the original version and has the warmest sound with a high noise floor. The one labeled ‘D(LN)’ is the newer black version with a cleaner sound. Similarly, the third one, called ‘F,’ is the newest revision of the hardware with the most transparent and cleanest sound.
- Harmonics Control
The Harmonics knob lets you control how much distortion the compressor should introduce in your audio. The saturation results from the emulation of the transformers in the original hardware, so a little bit of it makes your audio sound warmer.
- Quick Reaction
Just like the hardware unit, Comp76 also offers super-fast attack times ranging from 20 to 800 microseconds. This ability makes the compressor capable of catching the quickest transients in your audio. However, it doesn’t limit the usage of this plugin to only percussive sounds — 1176 has been used on just about anything, even for its subtle saturation, if not the compression itself.
This plugin is available for Windows Vista or higher 32-bit or 64-bit and macOS 10.9 or higher 64-bit. It comes in VST 2, AU, and AAX (only AAX64 for both OSes).
There isn’t any FET compressor plugin that gives you the option to select from three hardware revisions. So, wethink that is a huge advantage the Comp76 has over the competition. Furthermore, its CPU usage is also relatively low, making this plugin a considerable candidate for your use.
Arturia Comp FET-76
Modeled with Arturia’s TAE® technology, the Comp FET-76 the familiar Urei 1176 functionalities with deep controls.
When you first open this plugin, you will see the familiar controls of the newer iteration of the hardware unit. However, Arturia has added an additional page where you can get further controls.
Click on the double arrow in the main UI section to open a hidden, lower plugin section. There are sidechain settings, input detection modes, “time warp,” and an EQ in this section.
- Input Detection Modes
This parameter lets you select what kind of input should the Comp FET-76 detect: reversed stereo, stereo, linked stereo (mono), mid only, and side only. Linked (Left/Right mode) is the default setting. This mode works with the Stereo Left/Right signal, and detection is done by the maximum level between both channels and compresses them simultaneously.
- Input EQ
The plugin has a high-pass filter, a low-pass filter, and a single peak band to sculpt the input signal. In addition, you can turn the entire EQ section on and off. However, they have pre-selected values for frequency controls, so they aren’t quite as flexible as they sound.
- Time Warp
This innovative feature lets you change the timing of your compression a few milliseconds forward or backward in time. Moving the effect forward (max 5ms) is basically adding a look-ahead, whereas moving it back (max 10ms) lets loose some transients.
- Compression Range
This feature limits the amount of gain reduction applied, acting in practice as a gain reduction limiter. So, if your compressor was to apply a 10dB of gain reduction on a specific part of an audio clip, you can set the range to only 6dB to force it to avoid compressing the four more decibels of the peak. The default position for this parameter is Full (100dB range).
Comp FET-76 is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.10 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, NKS, and AAX formats.
When pushed hard, this plugin also provides decent saturation and character of analog hardware. We think it is well worth giving it a try, especially for the Time Warp feature. It feels like a much-needed innovation in the overdone market.
With the CLA-76 compressor from Waves, you can give your lead and rhythm parts an analog flavor.
Type 1176 compressors are one of the most popular in music production because of their analog coloring and super fast attack. You can put them on any track and get great results. Whether to use these compressors on guitars is a matter of taste. If we’re talking about high-gain guitar tone, maybe it’s unnecessary because it’s already compressed. But sometimes, it can give a certain flavor.
Now, the plugins from Waves are pretty easy to use since you will only have two basic knobs. On top of that, you will be able to control the Attack, Release, and amount of Ratio. You will also have a fairly detailed VU Meter.
Another important fact of this software is that you will have two revisions of the plugin – Blacky and Bluey. So you can choose which flavor is right for your material. Let’s go directly to the features.
- Input And Output Regulators
In general, the entire operation of these plugins will boil down to the other controls – Input and Output. The first knob acts as a kind of Threshold. Therefore, the more you twist it, the more the signal will lend itself to compression. Use Output for the final balancing.
- Adjust Attack And Release
Next, you will see two controls with the same name responsible for Attack and Release. Remember that a smaller value here will mean slow, and a larger value will mean fast.
- Ratio Control
The set of vertical buttons in this plugin is responsible for the Ratio. You will have options in 4, 8, 12, and 20. Also, there is an All variant, which implies all buttons are pressed at once. You will get the most compression with it.
- VU Meter
As for the VU Meter, it can work in several modes. For example, you will have the options Gain Reduction, In, Out, and Comp Off, which means full bypass. You will often want to use it in Gain Reduction mode to keep track of the amount of compression.
- Two Flavors Of Compression
An important feature of this software is that you can use two modes – Bluey and Blacky. The first will give you more analog coloring, while the second will be more transparent. By the way, you can also add analog noise in 50 and 60-hertz modes.
- Dry/Mix Control
This feature was not present in previous plugin versions, and the developers added it recently. We are talking about the regulator of the ratio of the Dry and Wet signals. Use it if you need this unit for parallel compression.
Waves CLA-76 is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.15.7 or higher. It comes in VST/3, AU and AAX formats.
The CLA-76 is a wonderful plugin from Waves, created in collaboration with legendary producer Chris Lord-Alge. It is a digital emulation of FET compressors that has a great sound. So you can use this software to make lead parts expressive and give them an analog coloration. Or you can use them for rhythm guitar – it’s up to you.
Lindell Audio 7X-500
This plugin is a take on the sound of the Urei 1176 but with plenty of differences.
The 7X-500 is a peculiar-looking FET compressor plugin with both continuous and three-step attack/release. The latter is used to give it a more hardware-like feel. Similarly, it has several other features to set it apart from the rest. The most significant difference is the ratio — there are 4:1, 12:1, and 100:1 ratio modes.
- Internal Sidechain Filter
There is a high-pass filter with 100 Hz and 300Hz options on the input signal detection. Thus, it can be helpful to avoid pumping effects due to the kicks on a full mix or drum busses.
- Optional Analog Emulation
Unlike other plugins that attempt to involve saturation and noise by default, the 7X-500 lets you activate or deactivate the analog emulation. This option adds output transformer saturation, noise, and power supply unit hum to your audio.
The plugin can work in stereo mode to apply the compressor freely on each channel or in the linked mode, where both channels are compressed at once. The linked mode is the default as that is the most common usage for a FET compressor.
This plugin 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.
The 7X-500 sounds quite decent and unique. It sounds almost nothing like the original hardware, but it still has some of the hardware’s character in the saturation stage. It sounds particularly well on instruments requiring aggressive sounds like growling basslines or even guitars.
IK Multimedia Black 76
Based on the Urei 1176LN unit, the Black 76 offers authentic sound and lightning-fast reactions.
When we say lightning-fast, we mean it — this plugin literally works in microseconds (20 to 800μs), making it an excellent choice for percussive instruments. However, its aggressive sound also favors just about anything you throw at it, such as vocals, basslines, lead synths, guitars, etc.
If you like the warm and hard-hitting tone of the preamp, you could turn on the “off” switch to only retain its characters while using a different compressor entirely. This feature was also available in the hardware and went to show just how meticulous IK Multimedia is in capturing the details.
- User Friendly
The large knobs and resizable GUI make Black 76 one of the most user-friendly and convenient emulations of the Urei 1176 yet. You can also use this plugin individually in the left or right channel and mid/side mode, making this also function as the 1178 but with an even more distinct tone.
- Authentic Sound
The most important part of a FET compressor emulation is its sound characteristics. You want the hard-hitting punchiness and aggressive growl with these plugins, and the Black 76 delivers. We feel like the “All” ratio for limiting sounds remarkably accurate compared to the original unit. Furthermore, the audio headroom is relatively higher, making this compressor easier to handle and predict.
Before any gain reduction is applied, the Black 76 imprints a warm tone on your sound. And the more you drive the compressor, the more the character develops. If you turn on the All ratio, you will instantly hear your audio getting louder and more aggressive because of the emulated transformers and more. We imagine that a fan of analog saturation would utilize the preamp of this compressor even when no compression is needed.
This plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher, both 64-bits only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
The Black 76 is truly a universal plugin. In addition, its moderately low CPU footprint lets you become comparatively more unrestricted in terms of your usage. Unfortunately, this plugin doesn’t come with a mix knob for parallel compression. However, if you are after a simplistic super-fast compressor that sounds awesome, make sure you give this one a try.
Softube FET Compressor
Softube is one of the biggest names when it comes to analog emulation and saturation, and their FET Compressor adds even more to the reason.
FET Compressor draws inspiration from the Urei 1176 units with its quick attack and unique ratio parameter with the ‘All’ mode. Furthermore, while sounding every bit as warm and fat as hardware emulations go, Softube still manages to give this plugin a few modern twists. And none of them feels out of place.
Softube’s sleek GUI with the glowing needle meters gives the plugin a modern-day look and added functionalities. For example, it includes a Parallel Inject knob to get parallel/NY compression right from the plugin. Similarly, it also features an external sidechain gain, filters, and a look ahead control.
- The Hardware Sound
All of the fixed ratio settings from the original hardware, including the famous ‘All’ ratio setting, are present in FET Compressor, making it acoustically authentic to the original unit. Furthermore, every plugin stage was emulated separately to ensure the same behavior as the hardware. The result is the sonic warmth reminiscent of the original version of the Urei 1176 but with a low noise floor.
At the bottom right of the plugin, you will find the Detector section. The first knob is the External Side Chain, which lets you control the compressor’s sensitivity to the sidechain input it is receiving. This feature is helpful for taming basslines with the kick or creative uses like synth ducking.
The Detector section also features two filters: a low-cut and a high-cut. They are useful for cleaning up the sound generally. However, since the range of the filters is vast (20 Hz to 2 kHz low-cut and 100 Hz to 20 kHz high-cut), they could be used for targetting a specific frequency range as well.
- Look Ahead
As fast as hardware FET compressors are, the shortest transient peaks still manage to escape their hands. Enter Softube’s ‘Look Ahead’ feature in FET Compressor. It lets the plugin add latency of up to 1 millisecond in your DAW to ensure no peaks get to escape. So, you could actually even use this compressor as a master limiter. Although, make sure you check your True Peak levels externally too.
This plugin is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
The deeply emulated transformer components and individual stages make Softube FET Compressor one of the warmest and fattest sounding analog compressor plugins yet. We feel like it would perform exceptionally well on drums, and as for vocals and other instruments, you could add a touch of it to give them some color. However, it’s worth noting that the plugin feels slightly pricey, so we recommend waiting on a sale if you aren’t in a hurry.
This plugin is a stereo FET compressor with smooth-control parameters and zero latency.
FETpressor is smoother-sounding compared to some of the others on our list, which makes it a considerable choice for vocals, synths, guitars, and bass, as well as the usual drums. It’s made to give precise, practically immediate compression with character.
Furthermore, the plugin also features a makeup amplifier and output transformer emulation to add subtle character even with the ratio set to 1:1. So if you are looking for a versatile compressor that isn’t just for aggressiveness, you should definitely take a closer look at this one.
- Fantastic Sound
The FETpressor has a very smooth and controlled sound, compared to 1176 and other FET compressors. Thus, it is ideal for taming vocals; the subtle saturation adds clarity to the vocals and helps bring it out in a mix.
- Sidechain Filter
There is a high-pass filter in the input stage to clean up the sound. Interestingly enough, though, the filter can go as high as 1kHz, so it could open up some creative usage too.
FETpressor features stereo functionalities and can perform with the channels unlinked as well. Similarly, just like IK’s Black 76, you can also adjust each channel’s compression individually.
This plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.8 or higher, 32-bit or 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
FETpressor is one of the most versatile and efficient compressors on our list. Most FET compressor emulations focus on being aggressive or warm, whereas FETpressor finds an outstanding balance between smooth and dirty.
Free 1176 Emulation Plugins
Antress Modern DynaKiller
Simple and easy, Dynakiller is an emulated FET compressor capable of a wide variety of sounds.
The plugin is inspired by the 1176 unit, but we would consider this plugin more of an individual FET compressor with its own unique sound. The interface is convenient and shares parameters similar to the hardware. And it even features an analog pre-amp coloration.
- Ultra-Fast Attack
The attack parameter of this plugin can go as quick as 0.1 ms (10 µs), making this plugin useable for limiting and compression both, especially with its “Limit” ratio mode. The release parameter has a range of 50 ms – 2 sec).
Dynakiller features an emulated preamp stage for sound coloration and saturation. The compressor itself also adds character to your audio, becoming more apparent the harder you drive it. We suggest giving it a try on percussions and vocals.
Dynakiller is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit only. It comes in VST 2 format.
While it probably won’t replace your stock DAW compressor, this plugin worth keeping for when you want a peculiar character in your audio. Its aggressive nature can help pop your drums, vocals, etc., out in a busy mix as well.
Pulsar Audio 1178
The 1178 FET compressor from Pulsar Audio can be indispensable to you because of its character and sound quality.
Using compressors is an essential part of music production because it affects the dynamics of your tracks, but it can also help change a specific character. The wonderful thing is that today we can use outstanding digital copies of analog equipment with extraordinary ease. The French company Pulsar Audio has taken care of this by creating the 1178 plugin.
This type of compressor is similar to its big brother, 1176, but unlike it, it has a cleaner sound and more versatile use. Thus, it is ideally suited for more modern music. In addition, it is worth noting that such mixing legends use 1178 as Nigel Godrich, Yvan Bing, Chris Lord-Alge, and Bob Clearmountain.
- Fast & Bright Character
You can use 1178 to temper your naughty transients, both during mixing and recording. It will be helpful to crush a drum room or apply a more gentle dynamic contouring – it all depends on what settings you choose.
- Full-Featured Sidechain EQ
Sidechain is an excellent technique if you want to get more control over your signal compression. Thanks to the Sidechain EQ feature, the plugin will allow you to adjust how much gain reduction will be on kick and how much on the snare.
- Accurate and Modern Metering Section
You get a good-looking and up-to-date metering of how the compressor affects your signal. For example, RMS meters monitor the volume, Peak meters speakers, and Scrolling View to look at attack and release.
- Add Saturation to a Taste
It is a great feature that helps you enhance the expressiveness and character of your signal. In general, the plugin has four flavors of saturation: Clip, Warm, Triode, and Tape.
- Apply it to Anything
You can use this plugin for almost anything. But it is most suitable for vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, and drum overheads. In addition, it may well work just as well for bus and master compression.
The plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.8 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST2.4/3, AU, and AAX Native formats.
The 1178 plugin from Pulsar Audio is an excellent FET compressor with great sound, unique features, and versatility of use. You will get an indispensable compressor that will ideally influence the dynamics of your tracks and give them some character. Another great thing about this plugin is the built-in saturation function.
Teletronix® LA-3A Audio Leveler
The LA-3A is a hybrid of the classic Teletronix LA-2A and UA 1176 compressors, which combine gentle optical compression with solid state clarity and punch in the virtual dynamic processor by UAD.
The plugin can be switched between a limiter and a compressor and is generally known for creating upfront and in-your-face dynamic characteristics in your sounds. Even if you don’t apply any level changes to the sound, the plugin just by itself will add its unique texture to the sound. It includes output gain (make-up gain), peak reduction, and different ratios and threshold settings for compressor and limiter modes.
- Adjustable VU meter
The VU meter shows real-time switchable gain reduction and output levels. That gives you a visual picture of the overall loudness within the plugin. It also gives a more vintage and old school feel while using the plugin.
- Easy to use
The GUI is extremely simple, with few controls that make the dynamic processing less complicated and easier. Even by simply applying the plugin to your sound, without any evident compression, it will add its color. Further, you can simply use presets without tweaking much, and audition if it works for you.
LA3A Audio Leveler has a minimum requirement of macOS 10.15 Catalina, 11 Big Sur, or 12 Monterey, and is available only on Mac currently, in AAX, VST3, Luna, and AU plugin formats.
The plugin is a decent emulation of the legendary compressor, but the real hardware circuits have an altogether different and enhanced flavor, which is difficult to replicate. However, among all the emulations, UAD has got closest and can crack the formula with its plugin.
Shaurya Bhatia, is an Indian Music Producer, Composer, Rapper & Performer, who goes by the stage name MC SNUB, and is also 1/2 of the Indian pop music duo, called “babyface”. A certified Audio Engineer & Music Producer, and a practicing musician & rapper for more than 6 years, Shaurya has worked on projects of various genres and has also been a teaching faculty at Spin Gurus DJ Academy.