PSP Audio Vintage Warmer, $149
It's a bit of an oldie, but Vintage Warmer still sounds terrific even when held up to newer plug-ins. Multiband compression and brickwall limiting are on offer, as well as PSP Audio's gloriously retro sound, thanks to the included tape saturation simulation. It's fairly easy to use, though it isn't exactly spartan in design. A once and future winner, this one.
PSP Audioware VintageWarmer 2
Cytomic The Glue, $99
Here we have another classic vintage compressor, meticulously modelled and given a few extra features. Combining the best of the E and G series SSL 4000 bus compressors, The Glue sports a super-fast attack time and a range knob to control the amount of compression applied. There are loads of other controls, plus sidechaining to boot.
Read Cytomic The Glue review
FabFilter Pro-C, £129
If there's anyone who knows how to wrangle a classic hardware sound from zeros and ones, it's FabFilter. Its Pro-C compressor earned rave reviews when it was released, and with Clean, Classic, and Opto modes on hand, this dynamic dynamo can handle anything you throw at it. Better still, it's actually easy to use and comes with an excellent collection of presets.
Read FabFilter Pro-C review
Solid State Logic LMC-1, Free
This is an emulation of the Listen Mic Compressor, modelled from the famous E-Series consoles. The original was meant merely as a means to prevent overloading the console's talk-back mic, but was made famous when it was used to record Phil Collins' drums on Peter Gabriel's Intruder. This brief flash of inspiration shaped the sound of the following decade.
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Audio Damage BigSeq2, $49
The original BigSeq featured a pretty cool gate effect, but the second version blows the lid off. It's got ten effects that are arranged in six 'blocks', each with its own step sequencer, modulation sequencer and timing. The idea is to sequence the gate effects and modulation for some outre sounds. As always with Audio Damage, it's anything but run-of-the-mill.
Read Audio Damage BigSeq2 review
AraldFX StormGate, Free
StormGate offers a different approach to gating. Instead of relying on a sidechained signal to trigger the process, it allows users to create dynamic patterns by drawing shapes into a large display area. These gate patterns can be looped and synchronised to the host's tempo. There's even support for swing to give your rhythms even more vibe.
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digitalfishphones Floorfish, Free
This slippery little morsel is included in The Fish Fillets suite, along with the cool Blockfish compressor and Spitfish de-esser. Here, though, the focus is on expansion and gating. Stereo support is on tap, and you can tweak the attack and release settings. Use Floorfish to block out noise or to expand the incoming signal - it's a must-have utility for any plug-in folder.
Download digitalfishphones Fish Fillets
Destroy FX MIDI Gater, Free
Taking the gating idea far beyond its roots, this plug-in is more like an instrument in that it responds to incoming MIDI notes. The idea here is MIDI-controlled gating, but with a twist - you see, MIDI Gater is polyphonic. A new copy of the incoming signal is produced for every incoming MIDI note, and each copy responds to velocity. Strange stuff, but good fun!
Download Destroy FX MIDI Gater