5 of the best classic compressor emulations

ik multimedia
(Image credit: IK Multimedia)

This month, we've been looking into how you can capture the sound of classic analogue hardware using modern software. Today, we turn our gaze to analogue-modelled compressors, surveying five recreations of vintage greats that will bring colour, bite and attitude to your audio.

1. Softube Tube-Tech CL1B Collection

softube plugin

(Image credit: Softube)

Platforms: Mac/PC | Price: €225 | Buy

As one of the few emulations of the original hardware – designed in
conjunction with the original makers Tube-Tech – Softube’s take is an
exacting emulation. It’s capable of both subtle containment and excellent
audible colour, so use it as a standard compressor for taming signals or get some lovely vintage character. 

2. Universal Audio Teletronix LA-2A Collection

universal audio plugin

(Image credit: Universal Audio)

Platforms: Mac/PC | Price: £149/$184 | Buy

The official emulation of the original LA-2A is one of UA’s oldest and best plugins and now comes as part of a bundle with two other versions. The original kept the signal character while performing dramatic compression, and these superb emulations also run native so no UA hardware required.  

3. IK Multimedia Black 76

ik multimedia

(Image credit: IK Multimedia)

Platforms: Mac/PC | Price: €79.99 | Buy

A great emulation of the original UREI 1176, Black 76 works in IK Multimedia’s T-RackS ‘shell’, and as a plugin in any VST/AU/AAX-compatible DAW. You get everything on the original including four ratios (plus the famous ‘all buttons in’ mode) and it also sounds as good. One of the best compressor emulations out there. 

4. Waves CLA-76 Compressor/Limiter

waves plugin

(Image credit: Waves)

Platforms: Mac/PC | Price: £249/$249 | Buy

Rather than a standard 1176, Waves’ emulations take two specific models owned by engineer Chris Lord-Alge which have a more aggressive character thanks to years of use and repair giving them a very distinct sound that is highly sought after. As of writing, this is currently on sale for $29.99, so if you're interested, grab it now. 

5. Universal Audio Fairchild Collection

ua plugin

(Image credit: Universal Audio)

Platforms: Mac/PC | Price: £149/$184 | Buy

Like the EQ collection, it’s hard not to recommend this bundle, which also now runs native without the need for UA hardware. You get three versions of the Fairchild compressor made famous at Abbey Road, and it’s particularly good for achieving the Beatles’ drum sound. They’re more transparent but the ‘later’ units still yield that much sought-after sound.    

Andy Price
Editor of Computer Music

Andy is the editor of Computer Music and former editor of MusicTech. He's previously written for Guitar.com, NME, Uncut, Audio Media International and Classic Pop. He's always keen to investigate the latest trends that affect music-makers.

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