This isn't so much a shootout as an attempt to discover the nuances of the compressor plugins available. I'm in the process of demoing a bunch of 64-bit plugins, and I happen to have wav files of 34 different compressors doing their unique things on drum buss for your listening pleasure or pain. I used Superior Drummer 2 with an Avatar drum kit and gathered some crazy midi grooves and fills. Other than each compressor's unique way of handling it, the kit is completely unaffected. The project settings in my DAW (Reaper) were 44.1k and 24-bit. I rendered each file at the highest render setting with no dither nor shaping to 44.1k and 16-bit, which is what you're hearing. Levels are as closely matched as I could get and average around -3 dBFS.
The sounds you're hearing are just me trying to find what each compressor does well, so the settings from one to the next will be very different. I was just looking for cool sounds. Some I let distort. Others I left cleaner. I did try to push most of them though. If I couldn't get a decent sound (probably my fault) I left the compressor out of the lineup. I'll edit this post and add more (if Gearslutz allows) as cool 32-bit compressors become 64-bit. I'm not against 32-bit compressors. I just didn't demo them because I'm staying 64-bit.
I decided to divide the compressors into 2 categories -- those with internal limiters and those without. I did this so that apparent levels of limited drums don't sound like they're dwarfing the non-limited drums. This first batch will be compressors with limiting built-in.
I won't post the compressors' names to start. I'll just number the files. I'm looking forward to your opinions on what you hear. I'll post which compressors they are later in the thread after enough people have listened and commented.
(edit) Post 2 is an entirely different batch of compressors with no limiters built-in. It's only a coincedence that there are 17 compressors in each batch. Post 3 are 39 compressors on acoustic guitar. Post 4 is of me singing through the same compressors as in Post 3 in the same order but with slightly different settings. Post 6 are the cheat sheets!
So here are the dry drums and 17 compressors (so far) with built-in limiting:
And here are 39 different compressors on a short acoustic guitar passage. Recorded at 44.1k and 24bit, dithered to 16 bit using Reaper's dither. Though I recorded with the steep low cut on my SM81 microphone, I chose not to EQ the guitar at all in the DAW, so it sounds a little boomy, but I think it might be useful to hear what the compressors are doing with the low end. All files peak around -1.5 dBFS. Ratios were set anywhere from 2:1 to 4:1 and attacks are medium and releases are slow to medium on most compressors. I was going for a maximum gain reduction of 10db at the loudest peak on all compressors.
Anyone listening? Feeling a little lonely here. Here is the last batch of compressors. This time on my voice. The compressors are the same and in the same order as on acoustic guitar. I made a few little tweaks but settings are almost identical to how I set them on acoustic guitar. 10db gain reduction at peak and all files matched around -2dbfs. I used a separate EQ to cut a narrow band at 430 Hz to make the vocal sound a little cleaner before going into each compressor. The song? Well... forgive me.
But what makes to think a 64-bit compressor will "behave" or even sound different than a 32-bit?
They should sound EXACTLY the same, otherwise something is wrong in the code.
Hello, Jon! Thanks for joining me! I didn't mean to imply that they sounded or behaved differently. I had a few BSOD's (blue screens of DEATH!) with a couple of 32 bit plugins I bridged, so I wanted to avoid having to bridge if at all possible. If there's a 32 bit plugin that rocks my world, I will most certainly bridge it! I recently purchased Eventide's Blackhole and Schwa's Oligarc because I felt they did something really special. BTW, I already owned the UAD 1176 and LA2A which are still 32bit, so I added them to this comparison.