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The 6 Best Diode Bridge Compressor Plugins For Music Producers

We've talked a lot about the different compressor types and plugins, going from optical compressors to FET compressors, and now a very undermentioned but still pretty important, the diode bridge compressors. Diode Bridge compressors are the most colourful, they're vastly versatile and great to make any audio signal sound punchy, creamy, and thick. In this article, we'll go over the best 6 diode bridge compressor plugins.

What Is A Diode Bridge Compressor & What Is It Useful For?

A Diode bridge compressor is a compressor that uses a diode bridge to achieve gain reduction. They tend to have very fast attack and release, produce harmonic distortion, and are useful for any type of bus compression.

Despite their non-linear compression, they're incredibly versatile, and great in several mixing situations, whether you use them for compression or as a saturator. Unlike FET, VCA, or optical compressors, diode bridges require a low-level input signal to work correctly.

What Are The Best Diode Bridge Compressor Plugins?

Here's the complete list of the best diode bridge compressor plugins:

  1. Arturia Comp Diode-609
  2. IK Multimedia Precision Comp
  3. Viator DSP Bedroom Compressor
  4. Lindell Audio 354E
  5. UAD Neve 2254
  6. Softube Chandler Limited Zener

1. Arturia Comp Diode-609

Compatibility: Win8.1+, macOS 10.11+13, VST, AU, AAX, 64-bit
Price: $99

Pros

✅ Perfect compressor to use on your mix buss or bus channels in general

✅ Harmonically rich compression

✅ Individual control over compressor and limiter sections helps preserve and improve the perceived loudness

✅ The advanced controls are great for accurately setting what triggers your compressor

Cons

❌ If you treat each channel differently and then try to link them to do simultaneous minor adjustments, the second channel's settings change to be the same as the first.

Arturia's Comp Diode-609 is a diode bridge compressor plugin based on the legendary Neve 33609 diode compressor and limiter, which is a classic unit typically used as a two-bus or mastering compression to bring analog warmth and colour to any audio signal.

The GUI emulates the classic hardware unit by Rupert Neve and it's pretty easy to reach the best settings. It includes two diode compressors and limiter modules, a mix control for easy parallel compression, a fast attack switch for each module, and m/s processing to enhance the stereo field.

It sounds awesome and the advanced features let you dial in the frequencies that you want to compress and exclude, the others help balance the spectrum while compressing.

Pro tip: use this compressor at the end of your drum bus processing chain and automate the threshold in mid/side mode.

To do this set threshold, attack, and release times on each channel in a way that fits the downbeats, compressing the mid more aggressively than the sides to create a sense of dynamic stereo widening with the compression.

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Finally, automate the mix knob to incorporate this effect to transition from section to section as the song progresses, making it more dynamically interesting.

This technique creates excitement dynamically, which also helps the song have some movement and vibe.

2. IK Multimedia Precision Comp

Compatibility: Win10+, macOS 10.10+, VST, AU, AAX, 64-bit
Price: $99.99

Pros

✅ It's an amazing go-to mix bus and master bus compressor

✅ Thorough emulation of the originally designed British hardware unit and its iconic sound

✅ Great for transient control while preserving a good dynamic range

✅ Incredibly versatile analog compressor, perfect for almost any situation in a mixing and mastering context

Cons

❌ Couldn't find any

IK Multimedia brings us another great digital recreation of the Neve 33609 diode bridge compressor with a few differences compared to other compressors, like Arturia's or UAD's.

Here, we don't have the split-channel stereo control, but rather the one set that applies to both. It does include the M/S decoder and separate compressor and limiter sections with individual thresholds, attack and release, and ratio.

You can use this plugin when mixing EDM music on your mix buss to control transients while giving your mix a more punchy and warm sound. It isn't as warm as other compressors that emulate this unit, but it still has a natural vintage vibe that brings life to your tracks.

3. Viator DSP Bedroom Compressor

Compatibility: Win7+, macOS 10.11+, VST, AU, 64-bit
Price: Free

Pros

✅ Includes a high-pass filter, which helps you achieve a cleaner compression

✅ Has a heavy, harmonically rich tone based on the diode bridge circuitry from the Neve 5254 analog compressor

✅ Can achieve high levels of gain reduction without being heavy-handed or too aggressive

✅ The simplicity of the GUI makes it super simple to nail the best settings quickly

Cons

❌ Couldn't find any

Bedroom Compressor is a unique and free diode bridge compressor plugin with a super simple GUI and a creamy, well-rounded tone that works great in almost any situation.

This compressor is a great addition for beginners to get their feet wet with using diode bridge compressors when mixing, as it doesn't take much more than loading the plugin and tweaking a few parameters to sound good.

One thing to point out that's worth mentioning about this free plugin is that, unlike the other listed analog compressor emulations, Bedroom Compressor includes an internal high-pass filter to avoid low-frequency information to be distorted when the compressor kicks, keeping your low-end clean and tight.

4. Plugin Alliance Lindell Audio 354E

Compatibility: Win8+, macOS 10.11+, VST, AU, AAX, 64-bit
Price: $149

Pros

✅ Ideal for mix bus compression to get warmth and glue

✅ The ability to manually set the crossover's frequencies allows a better precision

✅ Ability to process each band individually, allowing complex non-linear compression techniques

✅ Suitable for multi-band parallel compression

Cons

❌ Couldn't find any

Plugin Alliance brings us a digital recreation of the Lindell Audio 354E, a diode bridge compressor with multiband compression capabilities that recreates the colour and vibe of the legendary Neve 2254E.

It's the best thing you can do to your stereo master if you want to add a compressor. With this plugin, you can adjust the crossovers, filter out low frequencies, use it for parallel compression with the blend knob, and our favourite, individual control over each band's compression.

This diode bridge compressor with all of these additional features makes it great for transient control, enhancing the stereo field, and much more. The nuke button can bring a lot of low-level input signals forward, which is great to recover details if you use the mix knob and blend the clean with the compressed signal.

Pro tip: in your mix bus, use the selector to compress each band in a different way to produce a richer and more exciting sound.

For this technique, you'll need to compress the mid image on the low band, use regular stereo compression on the mid-range band, and compress the side image in the high-frequency band.

This will enhance the stereo field and the sense of space in your mix, adding some harmonically rich compression to each one of these bands.

Finally, set your attack and release times accordingly and adjust the crossovers isolating each band.

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5. UAD Neve 2254 & 33609 Collection

Compatibility: Win7+, macOS 10.11+, VST, AU, AAX, 64-bit, 32-bit, UAD hardware required
Price: $149

Pros

✅ Great analog sound with high-mid harmonics, which is perfect to add clarity to any input signal

✅ Includes an internal sidechain HPF to filter out low frequencies from 20 to 500Hz

✅ The harmonic distortion is perfect for rock, metal, and hip-hop

✅ Great compressor to add punch and character to any source

Cons

❌ Incapable of mid/side processing

❌ It adds a +4dB gain boost when the compressor is engaged

Here we have a thorough recreation of the famous Neve 2254 diode bridge compressor. It's a very true-to-the-original model with very few additions but, differently from Plugin Alliance's 354E, incapable of both m/s processing and multiband compression.

Just like many more diode bridge compressors, it goes great on your drum bus, mix bus, guitars, and beyond, but this one is particularly great to fatten up any audio signal you feed into it.

It has a very thick low-mid presence that works pretty smoothly but doesn't get to be muddy, so it's very pleasant when you push it.

Besides that, you can find everything else you'd find in all compressor types, as well as a mix control, a high-pass filter, and individual control over your output signal.

This collection also includes a model of the Neve 33609, which models the same gear as Arturia's plugin from above. This compressor, compared to its companion, 2254 is a lot more transparent and better suited for mix bus compression.

This model produces less harmonic distortion and lighter compression, which makes it ideal to regulate the dynamic range of your mix without much gain reduction applied to the audio signal.

This model is also great for mastering situations where you might need to add more punch and body without affecting the output gain. This can help you achieve louder masters increasing the loudness perception of your tracks due to the increase in voltage.

6. Softube Chandler Limited Zener

Compatibility: Win10+, macOS 10.15+, VST, AU, AAX, 64-bit
Price: $135

Pros

✅ Great to use as a preamp on vocals and guitars

✅ The limiter is really good on drums and any percussive input signal

✅ Perfect for finishing your vocals adding clarity and harmonic

✅ Ideal for rock drums, particularly kick and snare

Cons

❌ Can be too aggressive if you don't set the parameters right, causing pumping due to gain reduction

❌ No blend control

Finally, we all know that when it comes to analog emulations it's hard to compete with Softube and their harmonically rich and accurate recreations of analog gear.

In this case, they took their shot at the classic Chandler Limited's TG 12413 Zener Limiter, which is a hardware limiter based on the EMI TG console and its unique tone.

This plugin is great to create vocal space or to use as a saturator or pre. Whatever you put through it will sound creamy, aggressive, and with a very unique mid-range-y distortion that just sounds awesome.

Another plus of this plugin is that you can process the mid/side image in any element of your mix.

Pro tip: if you're mixing different elements together a nice way to blend them is by using a similar saturation, this will make them feel more cohesive and produce a fuller sound.

You can use this plugin as a saturator after processing or as a preamp for this purpose and blend different types of distortion together to get a fuller and wider sound.

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Summary

To recap, here is the complete list of the best diode compressor plugins:

  1. Arturia Comp Diode-609
  2. IK Multimedia Precision Comp
  3. Viator DSP Bedroom Compressor
  4. Lindell Audio 354E
  5. UAD Neve 2254
  6. Softube Chandler Limited Zener

Diode bridge compressors are great for processing nearly any audio signal, but they're not very commonly used because of their typical non-linearities. This type of compressor wasn't as famous as optical compressors, FET compressors, and VCA compressors because their complex manufacture made them pretty hard to produce.

Nowadays, it's still not common to hear a lot about this type of compressor, although many professional engineers use them on a daily basis each time they go and work on their mixes for several purposes, particularly for their color.

Before wrapping up, it seems worth mentioning that to use a diode bridge compressor, these audio plugins work similarly to the original gear, so they respond better with low-level input signals, which technically requires a more output gain.

This is important to mention because they can be very bad on noisy recordings, so make sure to clean up your audio before adding a diode bridge compressor to your signal.

Finally, all of these compressors included in the list can be incredibly helpful for you depending on the situation:

  • If you need a tight and compressed mix with delicate gain reduction, you'll benefit from an emulation of the Neve 33609 like Arturia's Comp 609 or UAD's.
  • If you're aiming for a colorful finish, you can combine the 33609 with a Lindell 354E and its multiband features.
  • If you don't have any budget but still want to try this type of compressor, use the Bedroom Compressor.
  • If you want a good compressor/saturator to process your drums, vocals, or electric guitars, use Softube's Chandler Limited Zenner model because it sounds great on any input signal. Just remember to switch the voltage to low-level to avoid excessive compression.
  • If you want a cleaner compression use IK Multimedia's model 2254.

FAQ

How Does A Diode Bridge Compressor Work?

Diode bridge compressors use diode bridges to achieve gain reduction. A diode bridge is an array of 4 or more diodes in a bridge circuit that provides the same polarity to the output regardless of the input.

In plain English, they only allow the current to flow in one direction but have a very small region where their conductance varies, which allows them to control the input voltage, causing variations in the diodes' resistance which results in gain reduction.

What Are Diode Bridge Compressors Good On?

Diode bridge compressors are fantastic on:

  • Electric guitars, to give them a creamy and thick mid-range presence.
  • Drums, whether it is your drum bus or individual elements, diode compressors give them a lot of power and punch, the harmonics are especially good on snare and kick drums or percussive elements.
  • Bass, to add presence and high-order harmonics. they're greatly helpful to make a bass come forward in the mix and be appreciated on any playback system.
  • Mix Compressor, to add character to your mix and make it sound bigger and thicker. Their non-linearities are amazing to add excitement and clarity since they typically focus on the high-mids.
  • Vocals, for similar reasons, diode-bridge compressors add character and clarity, which is what you typically want for your vocals.
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