At first, parallel compression could seem scary. The Top 5 Parallel Compressor Plugins You Can Get In 2023, though, will provide you with a greater understanding of how it functions.
To achieve a goal, parallel compression was created. The bulk of compressors is not operating. As a result, they function by lowering source material peaks. However, parallel compression was intended to function as an upward kind of compression. In this situation, raising the quietest portions of the material reduces the dynamic range instead of crushing the peaks, giving a track additional depth and emotion.
Although the engineer truly decides how to apply it, parallel compression is usually heard being employed on bass guitar, vocals, and percussion. Parallel dynamic processing cleverly uses human hearing as a method of upward compression. Our ears are sensitive to rapid drops in high sound levels but not as sensitive to rises in quiet sound volume.
We utilize parallel compression to take advantage of this significant variation in our hearing. We keep the fleeting components of performance while bringing up the calmer sections. Contrary to down compression, parallel has a special method for effectively maintaining a performance’s intensity and “feel”. As a result, it may greatly increase the aggression and excitement of a track!
Top 9 Parallel Compressor Plugins You Can Get In 2023
1. BABY Audio IHNY-2 (Easiest To Use)
IHNY 2 by Baby Audio is a simple-to-use parallel compressor with a distinctive audio character.
Since 2019, Baby Audio has been creating and delivering audio plugins, and the firm celebrated its third anniversary yesterday. IHNY-2, an improved version of their initial plugin, I Heart NY, was produced to commemorate the occasion.
The IHNY-2 claims to provide sounds that no other plugin can with strong, modern-sounding parallel compression controlled by manipulating a “node” in an XY display panel.
While a Shape adjustment gives an Equalization curve, accentuating the high- and low-frequency content of the audio, a Harmonics setting generates harmonic saturation and is controlled by volume compression, increasing saturation in proportion to the amount of compression used.
When regulating bass-heavy content while treating the high end more softly or vice versa, a Tilt control causes the compressor to work harder on either the low or high end of the sound. Last, a function offers a means to stop the compression from being done above or below a user-defined cutoff threshold.
- Tweak Panel
The Tweak Panel offers a few fresh features and settings that were missing from the original. The anticipated attack, release, and ratio settings are there, and a Punch control offers a mechanism to save the transients from being lost when using strong compression.
This plugin is available for macOS 10.10 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in standalone mode and VST2, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
Compression may be easily overdone despite the plugin’s reputation as a gentle giant. Overall, the trade-off between straightforward design and comprehensive functionality is successful. The adjustment part, however, needs to be improved and made more accessible, in our opinion.
However, the launch price of $39 is just somewhat higher than the initial pricing and offers good value for money because you receive additional features for the higher price.
2. Arturia Bus FORCE (Parallel Processor/Channel Strip)
Bus FORCE is a parallel processor effect that was created to improve the sound of anything.
A parallel processor effect called Bus FORCE was developed to enhance any sound. With ultra-powerful parallel processing that is easy to use, Bus FORCE is intended to ignite the energy of your mix, from subtle tweaks to forceful cranks. Whatever sort of music you are composing, use this plugin before any other plugins.
- VCA-style Compressor
The VCA-style compressor offers a beautiful analog-like tone, can be rather forceful and provides basic high-pass or peak sidechain filtering. Last but not least, the saturation stage allows for effective control over saturation character and tone. Although it’s rarely subtle, the overdrive may be turned to severe levels.
- 3 Busses in Parallel
Three parallel buses with separate level controls are present in the plugin. The Compressor processor is always connected to the Compression bus, as the name would imply, while the Saturation processor is always connected to the Sat bus. The remaining processors can then be added to whichever buses you desire, but this decision is not free. For instance, if the compressor is on the Sat bus and the Equalizer is on the Comp bus, the eq must also be on the Sat bus. While making this work might be challenging, it makes sense in theory.
- Filter Processor
The Eq may also be placed in the Dry bus, however, the filter processor can only be used in the Comp and Sat buses. The filter could have been freely allocated to various busses if it had been placed before the Eq.
This plugin is available for macOS 10.10 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in standalone mode and VST2, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
Bus Force’s parallel processing paradigm is minimalist and enables CPU configurations that would otherwise be challenging to design, even though bussing can be painfully unpredictable.
Consider a single effect that can be applied to each track individually, from the snare to the synth, to the bus channels for beautiful dynamics, and to the stereo master for that quick gloss you’re looking for. Therefore, if you take the time to set it up properly, it will pay off with some fantastic outcomes.
3. Waves CLA-76 (FET Compresor)
The Waves’ take on Urei 1176 is almost a classic itself.
The plugin itself is a very simplistic model of the Urei 1176, in both the look and the functionalities. Whether or not it sounds akin to the hardware is up for debate, but the ease of use remains similar. There’s also an analog noise generator with 50 Hz or 60 Hz hum options. While the noise section is optional, we recommend the compressor’s use on vocals for character or on drums for aggressiveness.
- Two Variants
The CLA-76 offers emulations of two revisions of the original hardware: “Blacky” and “Bluey.” The Blacky is warmer in tone compared to the Bluey, which works great for audio rich in mid to high frequencies like vocals, saw pads, guitars, etc.
- Pre-amp Saturation
The CLA-76 has a saturation stage built before the compressor to give the audio warmth. So, you could actually use the plugin to add character without utilizing the compressor at all. That is, of course, if you enjoy what it does to your sound.
This plugin offers exactly what the hardware offered with no modern tweaks or idiosyncrasies. Hence, it feels like one of the easiest compressors to use. There are also some presets to help you get started. Try it out on percussive instruments and see if you like the sound.
CLA-76 is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
The plugin is brutally aggressive, and that’s exactly what it is meant for. It may not be the most accurate Urei 1176 emulation, but it sounds interesting on its own. In addition, with the constant sale at Waves, CLA-76 feels like a well-deserving addition to your collection.
4. FabFilter Pro-C 2 (Advanced All-Round Comp)
Visualize your compression by using the Fabfilter Pro-C 2.
Most compressors on the market don’t offer you that much visualization, where you can see precisely how the soundwave changes with your configurations. The Fabfilter series primarily focused on providing that visual experience, with their vast line of great mastering tools featuring extensive options to tweak your sample.
The Fabfilter Pro-C 2 is no exception, offering you 8 different compression styles, low and high-pass filters, audition triggering, and many more features that help you get the right sound for your song.
- Compression Styles
Aside from offering the standard compressor experience, The Fabfilter Pro-C 2 gives you 8 different compression styles to choose from. The styles range from a Clean, overall sound to more personalized options that make mixing bus channels or vocals a better experience. For your EDM/Future Bass tracks, it’s best to use the Pumping style, which gives an added deep character to your kicks and bass lines.
- Side-Chain LP and HP Filters
The low-pass and high-pass filters are great additions to the plugin because they allow you to cut off some excess frequencies that interfere with other elements in your song. When applying your side-chain to the sample, you might find that the bass is creating a solid pumping sound, which can be great for EDM, but the high frequencies might interfere with the sound you are looking to get, which the filters do a fantastic job at helping you achieve what you want.
- Audition Triggering
It might be a bit harder for a new producer to hear exactly where the compression applies to their sample. To address that, FabFilter Pro-C 2 has an option called Audition Triggering. This option allows you to see where precisely the compression takes place and how much of it is applied to your sample. This action is all done on a large screen that shows your audio sample, helping you understand what compression does.
- Side-Chain EQ
When you need to apply a pumping effect to your sound, the Pro-C 2 has your back with the added side-chain function. Side-chaining alters the sample volume to create a “wave” effect or sort of like a repeated “whip” effect. You can tweak how strong you want this effect to apply to your sample, and you can even cut off some unnecessary frequencies with the added low and high-pass filters.
- Variable Knee
To avoid having a punchy compressor, you can use the variable knee option to tweak how the compressor will apply itself to the sample. A hard knee is best for drums because it keeps that punchy feeling, while the soft knee is probably best for melodies, especially in your chorus. Although, if you want to create an interesting effect, try applying the soft knee to your bass line to get a more ambient vibe.
FabFilter Pro-C 2 is available for Windows XP or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 10.10 or higher 64-bit only. It comes in VST/3, AU, AAX, and AudioSuite formats.
Fabfilter is an excellent compression plugin, especially for producers who don’t quite understand what compression does to their sample.
The additional 4x oversampling and auto gain and release options do a great job at helping you apply the compression in the best possible way.
5. Baby Audio Parallel Aggressor (Enhancer / Compressor)
Parallel processing can do wonders for a mix if done in moderation. For example, dialing in a touch of saturation alongside a dry drum group can make them satisfyingly snap like a dog’s bark.
One of the downsides of parallel processing is that it can use up valuable busses for those confined to a limited number. However, there is a solution!
Baby Audio’s Parallel Aggressor is designed to provide an all-in-one space to apply parallel compression and saturation to a signal. It offers a simple three-fader interface along with a handful of parameters for shaping the sound of the compression and saturation.
The spank feature controls the parallel compression and improves upon Baby Audio’s I Heart NY plugin. Parallel compression can be useful for bringing more body or punch to a sound so that it sits better within a mix. However, if overused, it can become tiring to listen to—especially when used on drums.
The Heat feature controls the saturation accompanying the dry signal and is loosely based on the saturation offered by their Super VHS plugin. Parallel saturation can help achieve a clearer tone by adding harmonics to the signal. This, in turn, can be used to elevate tracks sitting above bass sounds for a clearer low-end.
- Style Injection
Spank and Heat offer up to four style Injection settings for you to shape the tone. Spank offers a side chain option, a mono-mode, a punchier output, or an aggressive output option. Heat offers various filtering options and the option to include a second, grittier distortion algorithm.
The plug-in supports Windows 7 and higher and Mac OS 10.7 and higher. Also, it supports VST, VST3, AU, and AAX formats.
The Parallel Aggressor streamlines using parallel processing and adds a few unique features that could help any sound come alive. So if you’re looking for a plugin that can help you add some life to your mixes, Baby Audio’s Parallel Aggressor is a great choice!
6. Cytomic The Glue (VCA Compressor)
Cytomic The Glue is an analog modeled compressor plugin by Cytomic. It’s a virtual recreation of the iconic SSL E and G bus compressors and aims to bring you their sound in an affordable package.
The Glue has settings and controls from the original SSL bus compressor and some new features to make it feel at home inside your DAW.
- Auto-release and SSL-accurate features.
The auto-release feature was part of the original SSL, and it’s a handy feature to have if you’re experiencing unwanted signal pumping while compressing. Other SSL-accurate features include the set ration values at 2:1, 4:1, and 10:1 and the attack times.
- Ultra-fast attack option.
The Glue added a new feature, its super-fast attack time at 0.01ms, a welcomed addition to this compressor. You also get release times at 0.1s, 0.2s, 0.4s, 0.8s, and 1.2s.
- New sidechain section.
The Glue has another feature not found in the original SSL channel strip, a sidechain section. This includes a built-in sidechain highpass filter that lets you roll off frequencies up to 2kHz. This means you can reduce pumping by stopping the low end from reaching the compressor, a very useful feature to have.
- Mix and range.
You also get a mix knob for blending wet and dry signals for parallel processing. The range knob also provides additional control over the tone of the compression.
- Perfect bus compressor.
The Glue is marketed as a bus compressor, something that’s also apparent in its name; it glues sounds together. Use it on your drum bus, bass bus, or your master chain for that final compression stage. I personally find it useful on all sorts of sounds, even on individual tracks, but it truly shines on busses.
Cytomic The Glue is available on Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.10 or higher in VST, AU, and RTAS formats.
The Glue is the perfect bus compressor for modern music producers. It helps bring together sounds and make them sound cohesive. If you are looking for a faithful emulation of the iconic SSL bus compressor with some new, useful features, this plugin is the right choice for you.
7. Softube FET Compressor (FET Comp)
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.
8. Boz Digital Labs +10db Compressor
+10db Compressor is a model designed after one of the most iconic hardware compressors in the industry.
The sound of this plugin is particularly fantastic on drums, especially if you like the sounds of talk-back limiters. +10dB Compressor features both a compressor and an expander, each with fundamental controls. Similarly, there is also a limiter that checks unwanted peaks at the output.
- Expander and Gate
The expander section of the plugin has a “mode” switch that lets you either bypass the expander or turn it into a gate. A cool trick we like doing is to put this plugin on a snare track, enable the gate mode, add a big reverb before the +10dB Compressor, and then limit it. Then, finally, just tweak the gate until it matches the rhythm of your beat.
- Light On The CPU
This plugin was designed to be as light on your CPU as possible, allowing you to use it on multiple tracks without consuming too much processing power. This is especially important if you intend to use it on each of your drum stems.
- Huge Sound
The 1960s hardware unit this plugin is based on is renowned for giving a huge sound, especially to drums (think Led Zeppelin’s drums) and vocals, thanks to its combo circuit of the compressor and expander. The input saturation also helps it achieve a fuller and warmer sound. We also think it’s interesting when used on bass lines to add content around the mid-high frequencies.
+10dB Compressor is available for Windows XP or higher and macOS 10.5 or higher, 32-bit and 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
If you are on the hunt for a compressor that can turn your drums aggressive and mighty, make sure you download a trial and check this plugin out. With the mix knob, you can also experiment with parallel compression for even better control.
9. Arturia Comp DIODE-609 (Diode Bridge Compressor)
If you listened to any album or hit song in the last 40 years, you’ve probably heard the distinctive sound of the Neve® 33609.
Arturia decided to create a plugin for your DAW that you can easily use, to recreate the iconic sound of its real-world counterpart.
The plugin allows you to experience one of the best compressors available on the market that shaped songs such as Californication by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Instant crush by Daft Punk, Cornerstone by Arctic Monkeys, and many others.
The plugin also features an extensive FX library for you to explore, boasting many presets that could help you out when you are in a tight spot. These presets can help you tighten drums, adjust vocals, pan your back vocals, and perfect your mix overall. The signature transient sound that it produces adds character to every sound you add it to.
- Stereo Processing
Diode-609 features Mono and Stereo audio tweaking for the compressor and the built-in limiter. This feature allows you to decide exactly how wide or narrow you want your output signal to be. It also features linkable Left and Right channels that work on both sections. Stereo Processing is a great way to fine-tune your instruments in the mix, allowing you to create that crisp guitar sound in the middle of your listening field while also keeping the ambiance in the background. This specific sound works wonders in any genre, as You can also use it to provide that bouncing effect to techno songs and an Orchestra Hall feeling to more mellow genres.
- Advanced Sidechaining
Comp Diode-609 is the perfect sidechaining tool that allows you to fine-tune audio coming from an internal or external output. You can tweak the look-ahead control and even tweak your vocal space with a sidechain equalizer. To prepare for a sidechain transient, You can tweak up the look-ahead controls to 5ms, so you don’t lose that punch of the kick drum you used. It also allows you to have pumping elements in the mix, to create an outstanding dynamic track. This setting is perfect for kicks or snares, as it can give life to the drums, creating a sound identical to live drums playing in the same room with you.
- Perfect Compression
DIODE-609 can add remarkable harmonic richness and tightness by using its built-in dual compression panels, perfect for bus channels. You can also use this feature on your drum channels and even your stereo master. You can fine-tune the attack options on the compressor, allowing you to choose if you want a slower or a faster attack for that perfect tight punch. A slower attack might be better for a smoother genre, like jazz, classical music, and blues, while the faster attack rate is best for Rock, Metal, Hip-Hop, and other aggressive genres.
Mid-side processing allows you to fine-tune the stereo field to your liking. You can configure each side of your mix individually, allowing you to create a great dynamic that is truly unique. The plugin also allows you to separate the mid-field from the sides, which increases the depth of your compression configuration. Mid-field tweaking is often used to force the low-end of the sample you are using to be in the center, which frees up the sides of your mix, reducing muddiness in the final product.
Character & Sound:
The compressor provides a warm, crunchy sound that Producers have used for 40 years in the music industry. It can generally be applied to any instrument or vocal, as it adds a specific familiar character that is pleasant for your ears.
Comp DIODE-609 is available for Windows 8.1 or higher and macOS 10.13 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST2/3, AU, AAX, and NKS formats.
Diode-609, made by Arturia, is the perfect compressor for people who want to take their mixes to the next level. The diode bridge working system allows for careful and precise tweaking of the Audio signal.
The available knobs and settings allow for incredible results in all genres, specifically those that use live music. Arturia designed it to be enjoyable and easy to use, featuring in-app tutorials and support for almost every DAW available on the market.
This plugin is an excellent addition for anyone new to audio production. Still, the more complex options allow for outstanding results if you take the time to learn how each knob operates. Having this in your plugin catalog will surely help you in future track-making and expand your mixing possibilities.
As I mentioned, parallel compression fills certain crucial roles in your mix. If you use it properly, you have the opportunity to offer listeners a fundamental in-your-face sound. It’s a skill that takes some time to learn, but once you’ve mastered it, you have many chances.
You have the option to compress your music with the Arturia Comp DIODE-609. It is a plugin that flawlessly replicates the Neve® 33609 sound and gains access to an FX library. And given that it is the most widely used instrument for analog emulation and saturations, the Softube FET Compressor is unquestionably the best option.
FabFilter Pro-C 2 is a tool that provides you with a more visual experience, which helps you comprehend the parallel compression you apply to your mix in more depth. Therefore, we strongly advise using it, especially for beginners. The plugin you require is BABY Audio IHNY-2; however, we’re still talking about novices. It is the simplest plugin to use on our list, yet the way it operates unquestionably teaches you how to utilize compression.
Finally, this top meets even the most demanding manufacturing requirements. Beginners will unquestionably get a deeper understanding of these tools and how to use them. In addition, it will undoubtedly assist you in selecting the right instrument.
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. Read more…