4 Types of Audio Compressors You Need to Know About


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What are the 4 types of audio compressors discussed in the article?

One of the most integral pieces of equipment in sound engineering is the Audio Compressor. It plays a significant role in shaping and balancing the dynamics of the audio signals. In this article, we will introduce you to four major types of audio compressors that you should know about. Let’s dive in.

1. VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier)

VCA Compressor

The VCA, short for Voltage Controlled Amplifier, is one of the most common types employed in sound mixing. Renowned for its flexibility and superior audio performance, it offers excellent control over the signal’s dynamic range. A key feature is that gain reduction is determined by the voltage, which allows fast attack times and precise adjustments.

Popular VCA Compressors

  • API 2500 Stereo Bus Compressor
  • SSL G-Master Buss Compressor

2. FET (Field Effect Transistor)

The time-honored FET compressors utilize field-effect transistors to emulate a valve sound while providing reliable consistency in a solid-state design. Known for their fast attack times, FET compressors give a distinctively aggressive and colorful tonal quality to the audio.

Popular FET Compressors

  • Universal Audio 1176LN
  • Empirical Labs Distressor

3. Optical (Opto)

Optical Compressor

The Optical compressor, or Opto for short, uses a light source and a photoelectric cell to control gain reduction. This unique design creates smoother, more natural sounding compression ideal for vocals or when you want to apply compression subtly.

Popular Optical Compressors

  • Teletronix LA-2A

4. Variable-MU

The Variable-MU compressor, also known as a tube compressor, operates by varying the bias of the vacuum tubes to control gain reduction. Known for their rich and warm sound, Variable-MU compressors add a vintage vibe, perfect for warming up digital mixes or putting a lush finish on a vocal track.

Popular Variable-MU Compressors

  • Manley Variable Mu Limiter Compressor
  • Chandler Limited RS124

In conclusion, each type of compressor serves a unique purpose in sound engineering, and understanding their characteristics and functionality could greatly enhance your mixes. So, experiment with these different types, and see which one best suits your specific needs!