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Software compressors vs hardware compressors… 10 of the best

The compressors most of us use are software plugins that come with our DAWs, and they do a great job. The flexibility to be able to put as many compressors as we like, anywhere in the audio chain, at any time, is the sort of luxury the engineers who mixed most of our favourite classic tunes could only dream of.

But these simple software compressor plugins bear no relation whatsoever to the hardware compressors that those same engineers still use in their mixing right up to the present day. These days, it’s pretty easy to mathematically define a compressor in terms of ratio, attack and release times, and so on, and build a plugin that slavishly follows that definition.