Favorite Compressor Plugin for Kick and Snare

If you all can’t tell already I’m really trying to get my drum mixing down pat and I really trust elektronauts opinions. So another question for you all: what is your favorite compressor for kick and snare (plug-in, or hardware if you really have a hardware piece you love)? Thanks!

SPL Transient Designer. I have an old hardware version but the plugin gets pretty close.


I tend to find U-HE Presswerk very effective for that kind of compression task.


What are the characteristics of a good kick/snare compressor?

Empirical Labs Arousor

Fab Filter ProQ3


…on each individual channels, or on a glueing bus…?

on individual channels, i work with bitwigs onboard transient shaper and compressor…
plus some bitwig colouring distortion, sometimes…no real need for more here…
the right envelope and eq curve plus the right transient shape are the most important steps…

while on the bus, i’m totally in love with ott…a little upward meets downward compressor monster…

but brainworx’ ssl channel strip emulations do a great job here, too…

no real experience with the new smart compressor2 from sonible yet…but it sounds pretty promising…

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Great pick, I’m spoiled by having had this as a stock setting in Live but I often forget just how juicy it is.

@Claid …yup…it’s a cheap 'n dirty trick box setting from ableton in a little standalone vst3 plugin…and if ur into juicy, that’s THE one…a truu little dirty secret like no other… :wink:

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Individual channels, not the bus. Thanks for the recommendations!

I was thinking about the arousor, but once a plug-in starts costing multiple hundreds of dollars I start thinking, maybe I should just buy a hardware Distressor lol.

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I don’t compress individual drum sounds much since they are usually samples and already compressed. I prefer distortion or clipping. One cool mix idea is running your kick and snare through a soft clipper first. This can really set the level of each drum sound, make it sound louder while giving you more headroom. From there you can add distortion as needed. Maybe look into Pyros or Kelvin as they are really nice plugs for this.

I do compress the drum buss and many times put the bass in there as well. I love the sound of that, plus the low end adds some pumping. If you don’t like that you can typically high pass that out. For this though, I use hardware, although an API style compressor (ex : Lindell audio API strip plugin) does a pretty good job here.


If you can find a distressor for $200, you win the internet! But even then, it’d only be one channel.

I do agree that maybe it should retail for $149 or even $99. I believe I got mine for $99 upon initial release.

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Depends what kind of stuff you’re trying to do with it, but here’s what I tend to use:

Snares: Fabfilter Pro-MB, either upwards or very aggressive settings for the lows and mids, to get a tight transient, allowing more of a tail the higher up the spectrum I get, with the high end having the shortest attack and the longest release. Usually follow up with some saturation or EQ, and maybe another full spectrum compressor like a Pro-C or Arturia Diode comp to fill it out.

Kick: If it’s a 909 or something then usually not much: Maybe a Pro-C. For an acoustic kick I will sometimes throw a Pro-MB on it and do similar stuff to the above, and definitely saturate.

Drums bus: FET compressor with the “all” ratio setting for beefy parallel business, then another, tighter compressor for about 2-4db of slow attack, fast release punchiness. I love an API 2500 for this, though have also been using the Arturia Diode compressor recently too. Also… More saturation.

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I also use presswerk because it looks pretty and got good reviews.

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Ok, so you make a good point. Have you by any chance tried the chandler germanium compressor plugin? In the same price range and I am also curious about it.

I haven’t tried that one. I have WAAAY too many plugins so I’m sure I never will at this point.

Slate Digital VMR has a distressor, 2A, 1176 and a couple others. Tough to beat that collection.
Waves CLA-2A & CLA-76 still hold up.
Plugin-Alliance Purple MC77 & Elysia comps are good.
KUSH Audio comps are good too.

Ok, I must stop now.

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I don’t always compress individual Kicks and Snares (sometimes). I’d say I use saturation and EQ way more often.

If and when I think I might need to compress a kick or snare these are the firsts I’d reach for.

DMG Track Comp

Emulations of all of the major compressors. They all sound good and it’s nice to be able to try different ones in the same plug-in.

Can be faster than most comps without artifacts. Interface is simple and easy to use. Lots of character hidden in this one.

If this was my only compressor I’d be okay

Fabfilter Pro-C2


Great interface and it’s very predictable and precise.

UAD Emperical Labs EL8 Distressor!!!

Saturation and compression (a staple of mine in various chains).

It just sounds great and adds a lot of fat to the ass of anything you put through it. It’s also permanently on my drum bus.

I’ll experiment with others, but those are my go-to’s.

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What’s genre are you producing?

Big fan of waves plug-ins here.

V-Comp is very versatile.
CLA-3A makesa stuff loud and punchy

I dont always compress drum bus. But first thing after mvmeter in 2-bus is klanghelm dc8c where i compress 1-3dB with slowish release and 1.5 ratio. I think this is called master glue compression and I feel it helps in getting bass to dance with BD and snare.
Some people prefer mjuc, maybe for mojo dunno.

Pro-C 2 or one of the klanghelm goes to drumbus or individual hits if I want to.

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The Glue, now and forever ! It’s the VST version of the built-in Ableton Live compressor.

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