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Best Variable-Mu Compressor Plugins 2024

A vacuum tube serves as the focal point of an analog compressor known as a variable-mu (variable gain) compressor. The current supplied to the tube’s grid falls as the input signal gets stronger, which lowers the level overall.

Arturia Comp Tube-STA

The sturdy, valve-driven compressor that served as the all-American workhorse of early broadcast and recording studios is beautifully recreated by the Arturia TUBE-STA. You may now possess a piece of history as a software effect in your DAW with straightforward settings, compression ratios, powerful performance, and exquisite vintage tone.

The first Gates compressor, which went into production in the 1950s, had an oddball non-linear attack and release that were remarkably forgiving of practically any input. It was a favorite of radio and studio engineers because of its straightforward controls and excellent, harmonically rich sound, and because to the strength of Arturia’s exclusive TAE modelling technology, it’s now going to be a favorite of yours as well for limiter compressor. This vintage compressor has been examined, laid out, revived as a software plugin, and enhanced with fresh features that make it a must for contemporary producers.

Input and output levels with input-output link control, compression styles, mode and recovery time controls (to change both attack and release times), meter selection, and simple controls are all part of the Arturia Comp Tube-STA (Input gain, Output or Gain Reduction levels). A Mix control for simple parallel compression is also available on the top panel.

Other parameters not present in the original hardware are also included by Arturia on the bottom panel. The advanced sidechain control and equalizer are located on this bottom panel. You may quickly adjust the sidechain’s gain while selecting between internal and external sidechain signals. Five distinct ways to interpret the sidechain signal are available in the detection mode. The modes available include Reversed, Dual (left + right channels), Linked, Mid Only, and Side Only. To improve the compression triggering and achieve de-essing, shape the sidechain signal using the three-band semi-parametric EQ. This is the Best Variable-Mu Compressor plugin in 2023.

Softube Summit Audio TLA-100A

The Softube Summit Audio TLA-100A is a plugin that imitates the excellent Summit TLA-100A Tube Leveling Amplifier, as the name would imply. The superb leveling and smooth, natural-sounding gain reduction of the user-friendly TLA-100A have been expertly modeled by Softube. This plugin offers seemingly straightforward control over signal dynamics without flattening the sound, and it sounds fantastic on pretty much anything.

This Summit Audio-created Softube plugin is officially licensed and the closest thing you’ll get to the legendary hardware compressor without shelling out the cash for one. From the acoustic character and settings to the user interface itself, this plugin provides some of the best-emulated variable-mu/tube compression currently available.

If you run this program-dependent compressor really hard, it basically does the work for you and produces a pleasant, warm distortion. Enjoy the wonderful sound of this superb variable-mu compressor plugin by customizing the Gain, Gain Reduction, Attack, and Release time settings. Users can also choose between an interior and an exterior sidechain signal.

Pulsar Audio Mu

An updated version of the renowned Fairchild 660 tube compressor, Pulsar Audio Mu is a plugin that emulates the legendary Manley Variable Mu compressor. This plugin’s 660 emulation is very accurate, and it works fantastically for mixing and mastering. When it comes to variable-mu compressor plugin emulations, Pulsar Audio’s Mu is a top performer with the original’s remarkable compression transparency.

The business has been able to model the exact characteristics of the 660 and even outperform the performance of the original with improved noise specs like limiter compressor thanks to Pulsar Audio’s distinctive Topology Preservation Technology. Although the Fairfield 660 has been properly modelled, the Mu may be seen as being closer to the 670 (the stereo version of the 660) in terms of stereo capabilities.

Pulsar Audio’s Mu also has a mid/side mode in addition to left/right stereo operation. The SIFAM metering accuracy is excellent. For fine-tuning compression settings, the plugin even offers a more contemporary visualization option that shows the waveform and gain reduction both instantly and over time. The sidechain signal may be controlled more effectively using this plugin. The Pulsar Mu added an entirely new EQ function with three EQ bands with varying frequencies, pushing the well-known high-pass modification attack and release in the sidechain signal even farther (high-pass, mid-peak and high-shelf). For better transient control, look-ahead and look-behind functions are also made available.