Purchasing the best vocal compressor can be a little challenging. Although there have been a number of recent releases that, on paper, should perform better, most producers tend to return to the timeless classics for the comfort and familiarity they provide. The human voice is one of the most dynamic instruments available, hence most modern mixes need for compression to make it stand out without being too loud. The human voice poses numerous special mixing issues without compression.
Although software compressor plugins are excellent, an external voice compressor is required if you want an actual, rich analog sound. There are many fascinating new compressors to select from, but some of the classics are always a good choice. We’ll help you identify the top vocal compressor available right now in this article, along with what to look for when making a purchase.
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Universal Audio Teletronix LA-2A Leveling Amplifier
- True to the original in design, manufacturing, and performanceLag-free, distortion-free, optical attenuator systemDistortion less than 0.5% THD0-40dB...
- A unique electro-optical attenuator system provides instantaneous gain reduction with no increase in harmonic distortion (less than 0
The LA-2A is Universal Audio’s response to the resurgence of vintage voice compressors in studios all around the world. The firm already has a vocal compressor on this list of the top vocal compressors available right now with the LA-610. Given that the corporation is renowned for the superior quality of its products, this isn’t really surprising. An analog classic plug-in with truly outstanding overall performance is the LA-2A.
The original Universal Audio plug-ins are more than ten years old and are beginning to show their age. Therefore, having a fresh batch of plug-ins to reenergize the line is fantastic. This device makes use of recent technological advancements to produce powerful vocal compression at a reasonable cost.
This device is purely retro in terms of design. However, it looks fantastic and Universal Audio has created various optical versions so you may have all of the classics without having to choose! It combines the features of the Silver, Gray, and “Legacy” models. In order to create this new version of the LA-2A, Universal Audio combined three of the most well-liked LA-2A variants. With the UAD-2 systems and their absolutely amazing processing power, it performs incredibly well compared to predecessors.
Interestingly, the controls for all three versions are the same. They are renowned for being user-friendly, and thankfully, the most recent version is no different. It has various knobs and buttons that are easily accessible and have clear labels. For instance, the Peak Reduction knob lowers the threshold and aids in adjusting compression settings. Additionally, there is a Gain knob that, as its name suggests, controls the output gain. Additionally, I noticed that the Emphasis option aids in reducing low frequencies. This is the Best Vocal Compressor in 2023.
dbx 266xs Professional Audio Compressor/Gate Dynamic Processor
- Error proof operation to smooth uneven levels, add sustain to guitars, fatten drums or tighten up mixes
- New Gate timing algorithms ensure the smoothest release characteristics
- Program-adaptive expander/Gates
DBX is a pioneer in the field of compression technology, particularly for vocals. The business first gained notoriety in the 1970s thanks to its top-of-the-line VCA compressor. Nowadays, practically all reputable producers and performers’ studios contain DBX equipment. The business is well recognized for its pricey selections. I therefore had some reservations regarding their 266xs line.
I’m delighted to report that the performance it provided much above my expectations. It is a strong compressor with exceptional performance that can compete with even more expensive choices on the market right now. It has a number of characteristics that make it a really fantastic choice to have in the studio. Let’s think about a few of these attributes.
The product’s performance supports the manufacturer’s claim that it is a live sound compressor. You won’t experience coloring or sound squashing when utilizing dbx’s OverEasy technology. This feature transforms your compressor into a device that offers some of the smoothest transitions between uncompressed and compressed sound.
I must admit that when utilizing this device for guitar and bass in the studio, I was very impressed with how well it performed. You need something to control the tremendous dynamics that bass guitars are known for. Any unwanted noises will be fully eliminated by adding this unit to your current configuration.
There are very few alternatives that compare to this unit in terms of value. For a relatively inexpensive cost, it provides performance that is above average. Even if you can’t use it in your overcrowded studio, adding it to your live performance will enhance the efficiency of your setup.
Tascam TA-1VP Rackmount Vocal Producer Processor With Antares Autotune
- Co-developed with Antares Audio Technologies to bring together everything you need for a polished, modern vocal sound, in the studio or live
- The rackmount processor includes a mic preamp, compression, de-essing, mic & tube modeling and Antares’ famous Auto-Tune pitch correction
- Perfect for live performance, house of worship or studio use, the TA-1VP brings your vocal sound into the 21st century
We rank it as the best all-in-one processor you can find right now since it is one of the most flexible solutions on the market. Despite having a wide range of features and capabilities, this device has an intuitive user interface. Users may quickly get access to this interface and learn how to operate the device. Each module has its own controls and meters thanks to the design of the device. These can be controlled by a data knob, a pager, or a save button. With these knobs, you may easily do a variety of tasks on the device.
It comes with an easy-to-read manual to help you set it up. You’ll note while using it for the first time that the presets are primarily focused on bass, drums, and several other instruments.
With this device, controlling the dynamics is simple. The gate, in my opinion, delivers incredibly smooth vocals and aids in the elimination of any wayward noises. It has settings and a changeable knee that enable you adjust the dynamics of changing your singing volume. You can even control sibilance with a de-essing feature without removing any highs in the process. The EQ is another aspect of this that I thought was impressive. With this 2-band EQ, you can experiment with the compressor.
Although the 2-band EQ is really helpful, a 3-band option would have been preferable. Using only 2 bands makes it impossible for me to handle tonal shaping or process instruments.
Universal Audio LA-610 Mk II Classic Tube Recording Channel
Many people are still drawn to vintage compressors and audio preamps despite advancements made in vocal compressors over time. The cause of this is not known (although you will find many professionals arguing that the vintage units offer better overall performance). The LA-610 is one of the company’s top offerings, and Universal Audio is a well-known brand in the audio product sector.
The Teletronic LA2A compressor and the Putnam 610 preamp, two of this maker’s most well-liked devices, are combined in this particular unit. Any audiophile would be extremely interested in this product just based on this. This device has an outstanding yet retro design. The entire assembly is housed in a rack mounting enclosure. The unit’s panels are decorated with old-fashioned buttons and knobs. It also includes some extremely remarkable audio transformers, as you will discover.
Three XLR connectors are located on the device’s rear panel. In order to operate the device with either 115V or 230V current, a fuse holder is also included. However, the front panel is where most of the action happens. Preamp controls, compressor controls, a VU meter, a power switch, and a power indicator are all located here. Overall, it has a really outstanding appearance and is possibly the most attractive item in our list.
The real strength of this device is in performance. For instance, the preamp section has a large rotary level control. This control performs flawlessly. Setting up is quite simple. Setting it up shouldn’t be too difficult for the majority of people, in my opinion.
While using it, I noticed that it produces a sound that is incredibly large and open and of amazing quality. With the correct add-ons, you’ll probably fall head over heels for this vocal compressor’s personality. I used it with a whole mix during testing, and the outcomes astounded me. I observed that even without using the console’s EQ controls, this unit maintains a crisp sound and presence.
When I decided to use an electric guitar to test the compressor, I heard that it brings life to an otherwise flat tone. I think this is where you’ll really like the equalizer option on the vocal compressor since it gives it character. It sounds better than I had anticipated and does a fantastic job of controlling the bass noises.
For anyone looking for a voice compressor that has a vintage feel, this product is advised. Even though the price is a little high, the product’s overall performance more than compensates it. This is the ideal choice for you if you’re a serious producer looking for the best voice compressor for a home studio.
Golden Age Project COMP-3A Compressor
- Vintage-style circuitry with no integrated circuits
- Transformer-balanced I/O
- Employs classic T4-style electro-optical attenuator for gain control
This device is a Golden Age-era vocal compressor or leveller. Considering the very modest price, it is a single channel solution that gives incredibly outstanding performance. It has a number of qualities that set it apart from many other solutions now available. Let’s think about a few of these.
In the beginning, it is available as a single channel/single path option that uses only discrete components. Transistors, resistors, and capacitors are a few of the components used. I learned that it has balanced transformer input and output because of the technology it uses. It’s interesting how separate transformers are used to power each of them (input and output). The efficiency of the unit is undoubtedly increased by this separation. As a result, both the input and the output are entirely performance optimized. It may seem familiar to you that the input and output are powered by separate transformers, especially if you previously used vocal compressors before integrated circuits were invented. This separation technique, which was formerly the norm for producing audio components, makes a comeback in this old equipment.
When compared to similar-priced alternatives, this unit is virtually unbeatable in terms of performance. It’s enough to state that the sound is amazing. The fact that getting the desired sound doesn’t require a lot of labor is a plus in my book. The design is excellent. Only the most important controls are present on the front panel, which is uncluttered. It has a ratio switch built into the front panel, which is amazing.
While new technology is frequently superior than older models, in this instance it appears to be the opposite. The compactness and simplicity of integrated circuits make them a welcome addition to designs. They don’t give the best sound quality, which is the issue. They frequently lose the sound’s “character.” Most people find the sound quality of older components to be quite acceptable. The fact that the sound quality when the noises are recorded using digital audio equipment is noticeably different emphasizes this intriguing situation even more.
This is undoubtedly the reason why so many manufacturers are scouring their inventories to recreate some of the legendary antique vocal compressors. Additionally, it is the main cause of the price difference between historical and contemporary voice compressors.
The circuit of this device is constructed with an antique design. A photoelectric cell and an electroluminescent panel are used to regulate it. With this setup, the voice compressor produces some of the greatest sounds you can get for the money. Personally, I really liked the new sound’s personality and power. I like this inexpensive choice because it is so simple to set up and operate. It comes with two controllers that let you adjust everything to get the sound you desire.
What is Vocal Compression?
Vocal compression is the process of reducing the dynamic range of a vocal track. This means that the loudest parts of the track are brought down in volume, while the quieter parts are brought up. This evens out the overall volume of the track and makes it easier to hear every word clearly. Vocal compression can also help make a vocal sound more present and polished.
What are the Benefits of Using a Vocal Compressor?
Using a vocal compressor has several benefits, including:
Even out the volume of a vocal track
Improve the clarity of a vocal track
Add a professional sheen to a vocal track
Reduce the amount of background noise in a vocal track
Help a vocal track stand out in a mix
What are the Different Types of Vocal Compressors?
There are several different types of vocal compressors, including:
Each type of compressor has its own unique characteristics and sound. Some producers prefer one type over another, while others use a combination of different compressors to achieve a specific sound.
What Should I Look for in a Vocal Compressor?
When choosing a vocal compressor, there are several factors to consider, including:
Attack and Release Time – The attack time determines how quickly the compressor kicks in, while the release time determines how quickly it stops compressing. Finding the right balance between the two is essential for achieving a natural-sounding vocal track.
Ratio – The ratio determines how much the compressor reduces the volume of the vocal track. A higher ratio means more compression.
Threshold – The threshold is the point at which the compressor starts to reduce the volume of the vocal track. Setting the threshold correctly is essential for achieving the desired level of compression.
Make-up Gain – Make-up gain is used to boost the volume of the compressed track back up to its original level.
What are Some Recommended Vocal Compression Settings?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the ideal vocal compression settings will vary depending on the specific track and the desired sound. However, here are some general guidelines to get you started:
Ratio – 4:1
Attack – 15-30ms
Release – 40-60ms
Gain Reduction – 3-6dB
Knee – Soft
Remember that the attack and release settings are crucial, and you may need to experiment with different settings to achieve the desired sound.