Softube Fet Compressor
The famous Urei 1176 compressor is probably the most emulated FET hardware unit of all time. However, there are many other gems, each with its unique quality and character, to be explored. In this list, we attempt to compile a variety of plugins with the most authentic sound.
Softube Fet Compressor
A FET compressor is an analog dynamic effect plugin that employs a field-effect transistor in its circuit to perform the gain reduction. Compared to other types, these compressors are fast-acting and provide a better transient response, making them ideal for percussive sounds like drums.
The plugin is an emulation of the Urei 1178 compressor, which was the stereo version of the famous 1176. Both were recognized for their punchy and aggressive sound. Pulsar has included a sleek sidechain EQ, an optional saturation stage, and a mix knob in addition to capturing the tone.
The upper section of the plugin has a parametric sidechain EQ and a graph to display the gain reduction. In the lower section, you will find the main parameters for the compressor. In addition to being a stereo compressor, Pulsar 1178 also lets you compress in mid/side mode, which makes for a fabulous stereo image manipulating experience. Also, Pulsar offers a variety of presets you can choose from.
This plugin is a three-band FET multiband compressor, just like the actual hardware. Under license and in partnership with the creator, Ivor Drawmer, Softube has replicated all of its intricacies. The result is a highly adaptable and brilliant-sounding compressor with a unique sonic identity, especially with its fixed crossover slope that matches the original unit. It is often used to improve top-end clarity and tame the boomy low-end.
You could certainly use this plugin as a simple compressor for general use, but we would recommend utilizing its exciter features too. In addition, it can also help you sculpt your sound using the three bands. However, if you already own a multiband compressor, you might be better off with a single-band compressor for convenience.
When you first open the Comp76 v2, you will see one of the compressors matching the functionalities of the hardware unit, including the famous All ratio mode. However, there is a section below the compressors that adds several more drastic features to the plugin.
The sound of this plugin is particularly fantastic on drums, especially if you like the sounds of talk-back limiters. +10dB Compressor features both a compressor and an expander, each with fundamental controls. Similarly, there is also a limiter that checks unwanted peaks at the output.
If you are on the hunt for a compressor that can turn your drums aggressive and mighty, make sure you download a trial and check this plugin out. With the mix knob, you can also experiment with parallel compression for even better control.
FETpressor is one of the most versatile and efficient compressors on our list. Most FET compressor emulations focus on being aggressive or warm, whereas FETpressor finds an outstanding balance between smooth and dirty.
The plugin is inspired by the 1176 unit, but we would consider this plugin more of an individual FET compressor with its own unique sound. The interface is convenient and shares parameters similar to the hardware. And it even features an analog pre-amp coloration.
While most of the FET compressors on our list are emulations of the Urei 1176, each still offers something different and innovative. So, make sure you look into each in detail before deciding on which you prefer.
For example, if this is your first time working with a FET compressor, we recommend something universal like the Pulsar 1178 or the IK Multimedia Black 76. And if you are looking for something aggressive, check out the Waves CLA-76 or the Lindell Audio 7X-500.
The 1176 is arguably one of the most popular compressors of all time. Known for its super-fast attack time and colorful tone, this iconic compressor has been used on countless hit records over the last 50 years.
The FG-116 is available as part of the Virtual Mix Rack from Slate Digital. This 500-series-style compressor is modeled after the 1176LN Rev. E, but Slate also offers emulations of vintage and modern bluestripe models.
Based on the name and feature set I think this is supposed to sound like an 1178 stereo fet compressor with a highly tweakable sidechain giving it an edge for bus duties... I think it sounds pretty great and performs that role pretty well (often better in context than a waves 1176, I mean, its got the parallel knob built the fuck in so you can do the NYC all buttons in trick), but since the arouser came out I have been using this a lot less for anything but NYC type 'special effect' compression. Even direct guitar is seeing a lot less of this and the waves 76 when I can do so much with arouser. But this is a great plugin that captures that urei vibe for the most part.
There are plenty of excellent analog FET compressors and plugin emulations of such compressors. With so many options to choose from, I've compiled what I consider to be the 11 best FET compressor emulations plugins.
What is a FET compressor? A FET compressor is an analog compressor that utilizes a field-effect transistor at the core of the circuit. These compressors are fast-acting and offer greater transient preservation than other types of compressors.
The aggressiveness of this compressor makes it a go-to tool for drum mixing and other sources that benefit from harder compression. Mixing with the FET Compressor is made even easier thanks to the Parallel Inject control, which offers user-friendly access to parallel compression.
Modelled after one of the most sonically recognizable and sought-after compressors ever, IK Multimedia has meticulously crafted its Black 76 plugin to capture the character of the 1176LN revision E from the input transformer to the class A output stage.
Arturia's Comp FET-76 is a superb digital plugin recreation of the highly-celebrated original 1176 D/E from the 1960s. This compressor plugin captures the aggressive vintage tone of the 1176 in an easy-to-use plugin format with simple controls.
With superb output transformer emulations and a distinctly smooth FET-style character, the FETpressor is a unique yet reminiscent FET compressor. The zero-latency plugin is an excellent choice for those who want FET compression without another 1176 clone.
Unlike the other 1176-based compressors on this list, the FETpressor has a dedicated threshold control, allowing users to define the compression effect's specific threshold. It also offers variable ratio control rather than the discrete ratio values we've seen thus far.
As the name would suggest, the Plugin Alliance Lindell 7X-500 (link to check the price at Plugin Alliance) is a plugin emulation of the Lindell 7X-500 500 Series FET compressor, which is Lindell's take on the legendary 1176.
This plugin is a wonderful recreation of the 500 series hardware it emulates. This one-channel FET compressor/limiter features a high-pass sidechain filter and a Mix control for more versatile compression. It sounds like an 1176 but looks and performs like a 7X-500.
The plugin version of the MC77 offers Headroom control M/S processing, Brainworx Mono-Maker and a Stereo Width control, making it a top contender for the best FET compressor plugin on the market today.
Last but certainly not least, this bundle of plugins is the definitive plugin collection of the most famous 1176 compressor versions. After all, Universal Audio's founder, Bill Putnam, designed the incredibly forward-thinking Urei 1176. From conceptualizing and producing the first-ever solid-state compressor to starting what would be one of the biggest and best audio companies in the world, Bill Putnam has certainly made his mark on the audio industry.
Determining the best compressor for your audio needs takes time, knowledge and effort. For this reason, I've created My New Microphone's Comprehensive Compressor Buyer's Guide. Check it out for help in determining your next dynamic range compressor purchases.
The 1176 is hands-down one of the most popular compressor designs of all time. It was legendary for its fast response times and for the harmonic distortion and distinctly analog flavor it could impart to any signal. There were several different revisions, each with their own take on the same base sound. Digital audio has come a long way toward recreating the sound of the 1176 and these are some of the best 1176 plug-ins available today.
Many "modeled" compressors are nothing more than futile attempts to get an off-the-shelf algorithm to match its hardware counterpart by tweaking a few parameters like the knee and attack/release times. But anyone who has worked with hardware compressors knows that there must be more to it. And there is.
The heritage of analog compressors very much showcases the history of electronics in the previous century. It's the deficiencies of the different designs and components that give each unit its unique character, and what started out as technical limitations have now become sought-after sounds. Simply approximating the most apparent features is not enough to capture this uniqueness. It takes a model of great complexity and accuracy to make a digital replica sound like the original with all settings and inputs.
When creating FET Compressor, Softube set out to make the most accurate emulation of the most famous solid state compressor. Instead of modeling individual features and putting them together digitally, Softube have modeled the unit in its entirety: input and output stages, gain reduction feedback loops, bias differences of different transistors, etc. It's been by far the hardest project Softube have taken on, but they feel that the result speaks for itself. And hopefully it will be easier to do it the next time (yeah right).