Best Audio Compressor- Reviews & Buying Guide

Do you find it hard to produce the best vocals for your songs? Most probably all along you have being using poor compressor. To have a breakthrough to that, check out the above 3 best compressors for vocals and pick the one that fits your liking.

1.DBX DBX0117 compressor / Limiter  White – best compressor for vocals – budget

Talking of the list of the best compressor for vocals, it will be a disguise if I fail to place this compressor in that list. The DBX 166XS is a dual channel compressor and gate. It is a sizable unite that will only occupy 1 rack space and it is painted using an eye catching hue of shining white colour which makes it to be easily noticeable. Out of my blazing yearn to get the best compressor for vocals, I was able to procure different brands of DBX in the past, out of all of them I am getting this DBX 166XS to be the best built unit with a knob that doesn’t break off very easily. Ever since I procured my DBX 166XS I have never come across any problem concerning it’s knob or the unit as a whole. I have already used it for now about a year. You can crystal clearly see how reliable of quality the unit is.

This compressor will greatly assist you to maintain your live sound under control. Maintaining a professional and polished edge for your dynamics is very simple courtesy of this unit. All you need to do is simply connect your DBX 166XS  compressor to the rig of your live sound. This compressor comes with a very transparent sound that works perfectly with guitars,drums, vocals together with other sources of sound. With this compressor, you are assured of 100% smoothing levels as it comes with a classic auto mode.  In addition, you can easily monitor the gain reduction and smoothing levels thanks to the help of its easy to read and bright LED indicator. To get maximum clarity levels, the unit comes with a program adaptive expander on its either channels. Other features that makes it to be among the best compressor for vocals include:

  • Side chain insert
  • Dual-mono operation
  • Classic auto mode for nearly error proof operation New gate timing algorithms for smoothest release.
  • Balanced inputs and outputs on ¼ TRS & XLR connectors
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  • Comes with a perfect mode that distribute the work over trio compression paths cutting off any transients slip on extremely dynamic signal
  •  Pocket friendly
  • Best smoothening levels
  • Not the prettiest despite of having an amazing look behind the optional rack mount faceplate that is capable of pairing with an RNP or RNLA which are products from the same company.


I regard this to be the best option for starters in the profession as it is quite affordable and has a more transparent performance that will keep you on the chase to your vision.

2. Warm Audio WA76 Discrete compressor

The list of the best compressor for vocals can never be complete if you fail to mention this compressor. The WA76 basically is a 2U rack mountable unit that it’s faceplate anodised in a black hue inside a slightly muted contrast to loudy orange amongst the other existing WA. its label “WA76” is nicely highlighted on it using a black and silvered -filled rack. Somewhere at it back,the balanced XLR audio ins and outs are well duplicated on TRS jacks. Beside these, there is a pad that is of great use when you want to lower the incoming signal by 23dB. This feature makes it possible for you to “drive” the compressor for coloration even when your mic preamp lacks an output attenuator and still give out an appropriate level to the compressor’s compression circuitry.

At the back, there is also a power inlet. Differently from UREI models, this compressor has the ability of being powered by an external transformer. According to me, this is better than a wall-wart as it saves on build costs for you. This comes about as there isn’t high main voltage inside it and hence little need for screening inside it.

It’s front-panel is greatly inspiring as it has similar appearance as those of 1176 apart from the orange lettering that is made on it. The big input knob is finally stepped whereas the output one is some kind of smooth. The smaller Attack/Release knob are centrally positioned making it possible for the fattest of the fingers to operate it. At the sides of its meter, there lies 4 buttons. The anticipated compression ratios of 4,8,12 and 20 lies to the left with the last two being limiting ones. In addition to that, there is also a nuke option. If you wish to apply the option of no compression at all, you can ensure all the buttons are outly positioned by half depressing adjacent knobs before releasing them.

The buttons positioned at the left gives you an option of picking on the the meter display of your liking. The Gain Reduction is positioned at the top and the output level ption on either +8 or+4 dBm the moment the meter display 0 and off. Other features that makes it to fall amongst the list of the best compressor for vocals are:

  • 48V phantom meter
  • Integrated 115/230V power supply unit
  • Additional tremble band EQ points
  • Switch for phase reversal
  • Incremented potentiometer
  • Tone button for switching the input impedance
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  • Lovers of warm coloration can enjoy that by simply passing their signal through the compressors bypass mode.
  • Sleek appearance
  • Relatively affordable
  • Its compression ratio settings are only limited to 4 options


The limiting amplifier is designed to affordably emulate the classic UA 1176 which I bet you will never set sight on such in the current days.

3. Avalon VT-737sp Class A Mono Tube

To wrap up my list of best compressor for vocals, I present to you the above avalon compressor. It combines a tube pre, optic compressor together with a 4 band EQ in a 2U space. Observing it from the left front panel, there is a preamp gain,input control knob for connecting line instruments or mic and an instrument input port. In addition, there are [push buttons for filter, high gain, phantom power and phase. The high pass filter comes with a knob that begins from 30Hz upto 140 Hz.

Again the pre is an awesome opti compressor that performs wonderfully on vocal tracks without interfering with the original singers voice. After the compressor, you will see the 4 band EQ that is awesome on the transparent side. EQ basically works best if you have a tube fpre. This is because the pre already comes with a smooth sound and so the EQ makes it possible for you to play with the frequencies without interfering with the true character of the pre.

The Avalon 737 performs well when it comes to bass DI. its pre add a remarkable smoothness and the EQ makes it possible for you to shape the sound to be of your liking without altering its overall tone.

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  • It features an unbelievable preamp and parametric equalizer n addition to the world-class compressor.
  • Relative affordable
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  • Being a single channel, you will be forced to have two of them in order to record a stereo
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If you are a fan of pop, R&B and Rap studio recordings, then I bet you have heard this on some of your favourite tracks and album without realising it. The best background vocals you always hear from those tracks are as a result of Avalon VT-737sp. 6 songs in this list have used this compressor. Can you spot them?

4. DBX 266xs Audio Compressor

Are you looking for a compressor pedal that will effectively compress your signals to give out the best audio outputs at an affordable price? Most probably, you have already used far much expensive compressors before and you got them to be quite disappointing. I present to you dbx 266xs as a long lasting solution to your problem. Through the aid of the above dbx 266xs review, you will learn how to deliver the best out of the unit.

It is worth knowing that dbx as a company has always been topping the compression industry ever since they began their pro audio compressors market towards the mid 70s. As we speak today, their compressors can be easily spotted in nearly all studios, live concerts and broadcast facilities. Whereas their uses, effectiveness and prices varies greatly across their recent products, the 266xs brand outstandingly comes with a price that is close to half that of a standard studio vocal microphone. The dbx 266xs provides two channels of compression with each channel coming with their own sidechain inputs together with automatic modes of compression. This is just but a few of its numerous fantastic features that will be of great help to any beginning engineer who wishes to understand more about outboard compression. How could I even forget to mention the XLR/TRS options available for both inputs and outputs that makes it possible for seamless studio integration setting together with musician’s touring rack. With the aid of this dbx 266xs review, you will learn how to effectively make use of this compressor for both live and studio uses.

Live use

The dbx 266xs compressor is ever pictured as a live audio compressor gate that flawlessly functions. Most adverts gives a little coloration on this compressor especially when it comes to talking about its OverEasy Technology. To briefly touch on the OverEasy technology, it is worth knowing that this technology will definitely convert your compressor into a soft-knee unit that produces a smooth transition from uncompressed to compressed audio. This compressor has accurate and clean gates which will definitely keep out unwanted fret noise coming from the guitar or most bleed sound coming from a drum kit. If you are going for a live broadcast or performance then i’ll definitely recommend for dbx 266xs as it has the ability to operate in real- time without you having to spend a lot on the compressor.

Studio use

In my entire tracking process, I find it necessary to inform you in this dbx 266xs review that this compressor particularly work best on guitar and bass. It is a common phenomenon for dynamics to get a bit wild from time to time when operating a bass guitar. With the aid of dbx 266xs compression, you are able to control peaks together with inducing some new punches to the audio. From my experience in running a guitar into the Pro Tools, I got it easier using DI as a processing software. The DI is able to pick up every little sound from the guitar and only worsen with single-coil pickups. When you add 266xs to te chain,you will get rid of any unnecessary noise the time you are using the gate. In addition, it adds some awesome sustain to the guitar leads. Even though vocals can be operated through dbx 266xs, I a times find some loss of warmth, something that you can easily notice the moment you are using a tube preamp or tube mic.  A squashing sound is usually expected at an entry level unit when it is driven hard with any audio source. Some compressor unit are capable of adding colour when driven hard but they go for more than 10 times the price of dbx 266xs. Another amazing thing about the controls of this compressor is that the release and attack knobs can be easily set just like any other models and give a best hardware alternative to other software compressors.

The dbx 266xs compressor can also be very useful in the mixing process. To get a natural sounding suppression, you can easily apply the gate to do away with the too much bleed on your kit. Another magnificent feature about this pedal is it’s sidechain inputs as they make it to be a great effective hardware unit. This feature make it possible for you to pump a mix of any song you could want. As majority of nowadays track songs do sidechain their kick drum to a synth or even the entire mix, this compressor allow home studio to perform that in some kind of an outboard format.

You can also compress a stereo track by simpling stereo coupling the dbx 266xs. In addition, you can apply it as an effect or just compress the entire of your mix. However, you are advised to take care of the latter as extreme compression can kill you track.


It is difficult for me to stress out how it is close to impossible to find a decent, workable and inexpensive outboard gear. This is unless you get a deal on a second hand or repairable compressor pedal. This compressor gives you two channels of reliable gating and compression at a very affordable price. Take an initiative of going out and finding one for yourself. If you get it unusable in your studio, it gonna perfectly fit with any of your live rig.

5. Wampler Ego Compressor review

The Ego Compressor is an OTA (Operational Tran conductance Amplifier) compression pedal. For new users the biggest question should be what is the function of the Wampler Ego Compressor?  The compressor helps to bring quitter and louder parts to a balanced playing level so as to achieve the best sound ever which ordinally compressors are unable to bring out.

The  compression is particularly well suited to different types of  guitars, The Wampler Ego Compressor goes beyond  2-knob control’s by having  additional knobs for blending and  having the right tone, initially the Ego compressors had their output and input jacks on their sides but Wampler has moved them on the top side of it, as they continue improving their product with new non-mini  pedals, hence enabling it to operate exceptionally  well in a variety of guitars even the ones that have pedal boards  that are tightly-wired together. The pedal is made of high grade film caps plus there is the NEC JAPAN EA2-5SNJ which adds up to its high quality components.

This Wampler Ego Compressor has top mounted jacks which ensures that the pedals are tightly packed to the board, it’s power consumption is 14mA through a 9v power jack. It also has a  9v-18v DC power supply which can be  bought separately. It’s film capacitors and resistors are of superior quality plus the five built-in  controls  which include the blend control that enables you to get sustain. Another feature is the tone control which adds high frequencies for good quality sound. Other controls are volume and attack all tailored to enable for  easier use of your instrument .

Functions of the different controls on the panel include;

Blend controls

Blend control has an effect on the total volume of the system and is capable of moving the signal from full to zero, It can be used as a mixer knob. This ultimately produces a cleaner signal, balancing between the counter-clockwise and the anti-clockwise to get an authentic sound. It is usually suggested that one should blend fully clockwise then Sustain at 1-2 o’clock and attack at 2 o’clock for a perfect authentic sound and tone from your guitar.

Sustain controls

The sustain controls works in different ways, one on its setting one can raise it which will automatically allow your notes to go on for a long time. The only problem with this is that it will raise the noise level, Hence one should know how to balance it to ensure the noise levels are bearable.

Tone controls

The other control knob is the tone control, it works by raising it clockwise to add that extra clarity to the sound and not anti-clockwise as this won’t have an impact on the signal.

Attack controls

The Attack controls works gradually by changing the settings on either a slower attack or with a quick attack all depending on what you want with your sound. The slower attack has less noticeable effect on your notes while the quick attack a pop-in effect.

Volume controls

The volume control allows one to adjusts the output  of the pedal to your desired levels for maximum sound output.

Bypass Switch

The bypass switch helps to bypass the signal when it’s off.

The pedal measures 63.5mm x 114.3mm x 38.1mm without including the height of the knobs and switches in the compressor.

The pedal beats all other pedals by delivering high quality sound. With the Ego compressor you will get the best ever tone clarity without losing the signal which can’t compare to the sound you would get from cracked tube amplifier. The pedals comes in two versions  analogue and digital to cater for their customers various needs beats all other pedals by delivering high quality sounds

One big challenge faced while using OTA compressors is the problem of maintaining a good signal integrity between your guitar and the amp but Wampler’s Ego compressor has been able to overcome this by use of high quality film capacitors and resistors hence ensuring brilliance in the sound produced by your guitar.


The Wampler Ego Compressor has been designed in a way that there is a balance in the sound effect. The tone and blend controls are a perfect match towards achieving this, This is a dream come true many people. The best thing about the compressor is that it is able to work very well with any amp. it can also  work very well with acoustic guitar plus it can be used with a microkorg. The only down side is that it does not come with a power supply but it has a power supply jack which is located at its back.

6. Dbx 266XL Audio Compressor

Each hardware accompanies a fee joined to it, be it better or mild. Some of the time the cost of a device costs a purchaser a fortune which he/she would have used to position sources into distinct segments. Looked with a difficulty amongst fee and nice, many wind up inside the incorrect stand trusting that cost implies high-quality which I consider it isn’t always precisely legitimate.

To come up with agree with, I want to invite, have you ever ended up in a troublesome function constraining you in purchasing notably luxurious blowers? Is it accurate to mention that you are that DJ, Studio chairman or entertainer in essential need of disentangling your paintings at mild fee yet you haven’t any clue how to complete your fable? Certainly, no extra stresses. Certifiable dbx 266xl sound execution and steadfast excellent and no greater insignificant possible fee. Dbx 266xl finishes an excellent motion at giving incapably aced CDs a few really important punch without pumping or honestly tainting fantastic detail.

The dbx 266XL Compressor and Gate consist of a stereo mission with OverEasy weight, True RMS Power Summing, and XLR mind-boggling points of a hobby. It, in addition, deals with visible comments. The processor has a full supplement of information/yield metering and moreover, get diminish metering and easy to-scrutinize lit up switches.

The dbx 266XL gives traditional dbx sonic exceptional and execution for the operating entertainer, DJ, studio director or any man or woman who needs an intriguing blower/gateway to acquire fine weight, gating, and diving augmentation quickly and effortlessly.

Most compressors/gateways provide no longer as tons as melodic weight, joined with gating that swallows homeless human beings or closes early, slicing off decay and reverb tails. The great planning within the 266XL guarantees that the two its weight and gating supply adaptability and fabulous sonic execution in conditions where different blowers/entryways generally make difficult taking care of vintage rarities.

The Auto Dynamic equipment constantly indicates symptoms of alternate the certifiable ambush and release times to in a super international prepare this system cloth. Since you are not constrained to using the Attack and Release controls just in the nice errand, you may tailor the reaction of the 266XL for solitary tracks, blended application fabric, gildings or structure protection. In this manner, you can use the versatile 266XL to supplant various single-purpose limiters even as sound assist customers can standardize at the 266XL for the lion’s percentage of your programs.

The 266XL’s pushed portal gadget uses an definitely new, application-subordinate arranging estimation to make ultra-easy release attributes” despite complicated symptoms, for instance, voice or reverb spoils. Dbx 266XL architects persisted to misuse the wide power variety and excessive precision of the dbx VCA to plan in an extra huge point of confinement run and certification top gating execution for each utility.

Confine precision LED appears for getting diminish, weight utmost and portal area permit short, specific setup, at the same time as the 266XL’s intuitive assignment lets customers without difficulty clean choppy tiers upload maintain as much as guitars, squash drums or cope with mixes. In Stereo couple mode, the Channel 1 controls advance toward getting to be Master controls, and Channel 2 takes after exactly to make certain a stone solid stereo image”regardless of high proportions of weight. Specialists and learners will locate that the 266XL units up swiftly and musically the primary occasion whilst it’s miles used, and whenever beginning there.

The dbx 266XL processor is the final results of a focused building an element exchange effort went for abusing the cutting-edge and fine advances in collecting improvement to pass on sincere to goodness dbx 266xl sound execution and fidelity at any fee feasible value. The 266XL places an in reality new level of blower/entryway execution interior each person’s diploma.

Dbx 266XL Features

Propelled door hardware makes use of a totally new, program-subordinate making plans calculation

Give no longer as a great deal as melodic pressure, mixed with gating

Program-versatile expander/entryways

Extraordinary sounding factors manage for a software material

Produces extremely-easy discharge features in spite of the complicated flag

Isolate exactness LED suggests for select up lower, strain side, and entryway   restriction permit snappy, precise setup

Swallows drifters or closes early

Goof proof hobby to clean uneven tiers, upload control to guitars, fill drums or fix out blends

Alters the real assault and discharge instances to ideally coordinate the program material

New entryway timing calculations guarantee the smoothest discharge traits

I have no doubt that dbx 266xl is your savior. Stop scratching your head and select Dbx 266xl which satisfy your need via serving its motive satisfactorily and at the equal time “keep your pocket”.

7. Alesis 3630 Review

Are you puzzled on whether or not to buy Alesis 3630 compressor? Most probably, your previously purchased compressors were a bit disappointing. For that reason your thirst for best sound tones is not yet quenched. I bet you should try out Alesis 3630 compressor to experience a remarkable turning point in your music profession. With the aid of my above Alesis 3630 review, your uncertainty will be automatically be converted to certainty. In this Alesis 3630 review, I have personally tried to elaborately dig deep into this compressor and hence give you all the available nitigrities.

  Alesis 3630 Review: Overview

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  • One of the most popular pocket friendly compressors majorly used in live stages and studios worldwidely
  • Houses two independent units which can be used for different purposes. For instance, one of the unit side can be used as an electric guitar while the other as a vocal compressor.
  • Can be used as a final stage for mixing your tracks
  • Capable of taking signal from the side-chain return to process it against the original
  • Has the best vocal comprehension of vocals in live application
  • A times gets noisy together with a difficult to notice hissing sound to the signal
  • Being cheap, it lacks the sonic quality possessed by other expensive compressors

Ever since the above compressor was introduced, it has proved to become the most famous reliable processor ever to be made. Why do I say this? It’s simple, it offers two independent full-featured limiters in a single rack space while simultaneously giving a perfect sonic quality that is applicable in either studio recording, live sound performance or broadcast. In a nutshell, it also offers 4 custom control options- Decay, Ratio, Attack and Threshold which makes it apply compressions to the toughest signal. Again you have the alternative of picking between RMS and Peak compression mode together with soft and hard dynamic curves which is applicable for every subtle gain control to in-your-face punch.  Being an independent dual-channel compressor, Alesis 3630 is able to provide separate controls for two different signal sources.

To efficiently stifle unrequited ambient noise, this compressor comes with two entirely independent gates with rate and threshold control for the same. In addition to the above, it comes with the above advanced dynamic processing features:


1. Extensive metering

Every Alesis 3630 compressor comes with a 12-LED display that serves to show the amount of gain reduction. In addition to this, there is also a second 12 LED display that indicates the output/input levels. Finally, it also comes with a dual LED display that serves the purpose of indicating the status of the noise gate.

Pair it with this compressor

       2.   Stereo or dual mono operation

This suggests that the above compressor can act and serve as two entirely independent compressors or its both sections can be at a position of being strapped harmoniously to operate as a stereo which are:

  • “Hard knee” or “soft knee” responses
  • Peak or RMS response
  • Independent bypass switches for each channel

       3.  Side chain connections

This compressor allow you to insert EQs and other devices for the purposes of de-essing which adds tremble to darkened signal whenever there is excessive limiting. In addition you can now key one signal with another and do the ducking.


1. Threshold (-40 to + 20 dBu)

It dictates the level beyond which the signal will be limited or compressed. When you rotate the control in an anticlockwise manner,the threshold will be raised. This clamps signals at higher level and minimize the intensity of compression or limiting.

     2.   Ratio (  1:1 to infinity:1)

It dictates the compression slope determining how the output signal will behave in reference to input signal the moment the input signal will be above the threshold. The first numbering shows how many dB induced by input change will result to an output change of 1dB. The greater the ratio, the greater the compression.

     3.  Attack ( 0.1 ms to 200 ms)

This only works when the peak/ RMS switch in the Peak mode is on. The RMS mode automatically adjust the required attack time. This is based on the trait of the signal that is being processed.

In the peak mode, Attack control dictates how fast the limiter’s internal circuitry responds to change in the input level.

     4.  release ( 50 ms to 3 seconds)

This only works when the peak/RMS switch in the peak mode is on. The RSM mode automatically adjust the required release time. This is based on the trait of the signal that is being processed.

In the peak mode, the release control dictates the duration of time the limiter will take to return the gain unit the moment it has gone into limiting phase.

    5.  Output ( -20 to +20 dB)

The signal overall level is lowered by the process of reducing dynamics. For this reason, use this control to compensate that by adding output gain.

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