Among the endless supply of precision mixing tools lies the multiband compressor, one of the most intricate and versatile mixing tools around.
Unfortunately, many multiband compressors can be quite expensive, and finding quality free multiband compressor plugins isn't easy either. Lucky for you, we put in the research and curated a list of the best free multiband compressor plugins on the market today, so you can bring a new dimension to your music without paying a dime.
Let's dive in!
What Is Multiband Compression?
A multiband compressor offers the capability to divide a track into distinct frequency ranges, known as "bands," and apply compression to each of these segments individually.
Essentially, you get the ability to selectively compress specific portions of a track's frequency spectrum, so you can apply diverse compression characteristics to various sections of the audio spectrum.
So, why would you want to do this?
Well, there are a number of reasons.
However, whenever I'm trying to determine if multiband compression is suitable for a particular task, I like to ask myself one question:
Is the issue I'm addressing consistent in nature (meaning it remains unchanged throughout the song), or is it dynamic (shifting from note to note)?
Consistent issues can most likely be fixed with EQ would be sufficient, though if an issue exhibits dynamic behavior, such as variations in volume or tonality across different frequency ranges of a vocal or ultra-dynamic lower frequencies in a bass guitar, a multiband compressor might be the more effective solution.
We look look more into how to use multiband compression in another article, so for now, let's explore the top free multiband compressor plugins.
12 Best Free Multiband Compressor Plugins
Tokyo Dawn Labs TDR Nova
I find myself writing about TDR Nova quite a bit, as it’s one of my favorite dynamic plugins out there. What’s interesting about it, however, is that it’s technicall y a dynamic equalizer plugin.
With that said, by circumventing the EQ functionality on this plugin, TDR Nova seamlessly transforms into a conventional multiband compressor. In a similar fashion, the compressor can be bypassed, allowing TDR Nova to function as a parametric equalizer.
If you’re in search of a multifaceted solution for all of your mixing and mastering needs, TDR Nova is one of the most indispensable tools on the market right now. Its functionality balances beautifully between addressing frequency-related issues to reigning in dynamic range variations.
I highly recommend taking the proactive step of diving into the TDR Nova manual if you want to maximize your experience with the plugin. As a beautifully written repository of knowledge, the manual is teeming with valuable insights about both dynamic equalization and multiband compression principles.
Cut Through Recordings Convergence Free
Convergence Free is the second free multi-band compressor on our list and potentially one of the sleekest-looking free multiband compressor plugins out there.
You'll find a real-time spectrum analyzer, an arrangement of four bands, and 2X oversampling. Of course, the frequency spectrum display isn't solely meant to be some pretty cosmetic feature; it allows you to designate the range for each compression band based on what you see from the signal.
The plugin was derived from the complete Convergence multiband compressor VST plugin, which, as of today, is valued at $45. While this free iteration of the plugin certainly has some restrictions in comparison, it still retains full functionality without any time-based limitations.
The functionality at hand is undeniably impressive, yet it's worth noting that Convergence Free does have a little bit of lag in its interface responsiveness, which can be a bit frustrating at points. Plus, the graphical user interface is more of a dark color scheme compared to others on this list. Though it’s visually distinctive, it can make certain parameters and controls a bit challenging to see.
OneClickChords Nano Dynamics
Nano Dynamics from OneClickChords is another one of our favorite free multiband compressor plugins. Despite its seemingly simple graphical user interface, this multiband compressor VST plugin hosts a wide range of advanced features under the hood.
For those who are averse to the intricacies of manually tweaking a compressor's temporal parameters, Nano Dynamics offers a welcomed solution. The plugin has the capability to select attack and release times automatically, cutting the guesswork out of the process. Through an analysis of the incoming audio signal, Nano Dynamics sets accurate timing settings that are implemented prior to reaching the maximizer stage.
Flexibility is one of the key benefits of Nano Dnamics, as you can apply distinct levels of compression to individual bands. On the other hand, at times when you want to simplify things, you can use the Power knob to control the global compression of the plugin.
Nano Dynamics certainly doesn't shy away from its commitment to user-friendliness. It was clearly made to shoulder a substantial portion of the workload, allowing you to concentrate on applying the desired amount of compression to specific frequency ranges.
Flandersh Tech Uraleq
Uraleq is a dedicated free multiband compressor plugin tailored solely for Windows users.
Unlike some of the simpler multiband compressor VST plugins on this list, Uraleq is distinguished by its advanced feature set. You'll find a few rarities like amplitude modulation, mid-side processing, a dual-mode crossover filter offering both linear-phase and Linkwitz-Riley options, and an array of other valuable tools, most of which you wouldn't expect to find in typical free multiband compressor plugins.
The interface might be one of my favorites on the list, striking the perfect balance between analog sophistication and user-friendliness. Even with its wealth of advanced functions, you never feel overwhelmed while it's in use.
For each of the four frequency bands, you get precise control over the attack, release, ratio, knee, and threshold settings. If that wasn't enough, the channel strip allotted to each band is accompanied by balance and dual delay controls, giving you the most comprehensive audio sculpting experience possible.
While you might not find yourself using features like oversampling and modulation as frequently as you would other, their placement along the periphery of the interface gives you accessibility should you choose to use them without ever feeling like they're encroaching on the main multiband compression parameters.
Unfortunately, one of the things that its worth noting is that Uraleq is incompatible with macOS systems. As of now, it exclusively exists as a Windows-based VST3 plugin. However, if you're a Windows user keen on finding a top-notch free multiband compressor VST, Uraleq is highly worth the download.
Analog Obsession Dynasaur
Dynasaur is similar to TDR Nova in that it is technically a dynamic equalizer. It departs from the customary crossover frequencies seen in conventional multiband compressors, adopting a selection of bandwidth values and frequencies akin to equalizers.
The plugin spans five bands, each equipped with adjustable detection modes. In terms of functionality, Dynasaur operates just like a multiband compressor, delivering dynamic gain reduction per band based on predetermined thresholds and ratios.
The plugin's interface is one of my favorites on the list, presenting a hardware-like aesthetic and labeled knobs in lieu of a graphical display. Each of the controls on the plugin are meticulously calibrated, and the result is a wonderfully musical quality.
Despite the fact that it’s totally free, the plugin has a distinctly "premium" feel, both in the look and sonic output. One of the hallmark features of Dynasaur is that it works in both Peak and RMS mode.
Peak mode responds swiftly to immediate spikes in signal level, triggering gain reduction. It’s an invaluable feature for taming rapid transients in high frequencies.
On the other hand, RMS mode computes average levels over a defined time window, keeping instantaneous peaks out of the equation. This proves particularly advantageous for lower frequencies where peaks may be less pronounced, yet the average energy remains higher.
Dynasaur gives you the liberty to select either mode for any of the bands, allowing you to sculpt the best possible sonic character for your production.
Xfer Records OTT
For anyone that's eager to add some 'oomph' to their audio in a pinch using a free multiband compressor, look no further than Xfer Records' OTT . For many years, it has been a go-to multi-band compression VST for electronic music producers.
Plus, with an automatic multiband compression design, it's one of the most user-friendly multiband compressor VST plugins on the market today.
OTT caters to a wide range of applications, whether you're looking to infuse a bit of robustness or glue into your drum busses or accentuate the intricate details in vocal or acoustic guitar recordings.
We have no doubt why the developers named it "over the top," as OTT's impact on recorded audio tracks is nothing short of transformative.
Beyond its mixing prowess, OTT boasts utility as a creative music production tool. If you've ever perused cinematic sound design tutorials on YouTube, you've probably come across someone that had an instance of OTT in their signal paths.
I absolutely love it when I need to draw forth some essential harmonics from sounds that are "too clean." It's also great for increasing the energy in sub-bass frequencies, transforming lackluster "thud" sounds into impactful hits that are nothing short of cinematic.
In the past few years, we've seen OTT undergo some much-needed aesthetic updates, giving it a revitalized graphical user interface and compatibility with the latest plugin formats. Even so, it maintains its original charm and hard-hitting nature.
If this potent Xfer Records gem isn't already in your possession, I'd definitely consider updating your arsenal ASAP.
ReaXComp is a free multiband compressor from the masterminds at Cockos, the same team behind the widely acclaimed REAPER DAW. You'll find this free multiband compressor nestled within the ReaPlugs VST FX Suite, which is an assemblage of native REAPER effects that you can use as plugins across various DAWs.
If you're on the hunt for a multiband compressor that seamlessly marries surgical accuracy with total customization, ReaXComp is an ideal candidate.
This plugin delivers unlimited bands, an array of precise metering, and controls that intuitively respond to your commands. The filtering might be my favorite element of this free multiband compressor, as it maintains utmost transparency.
Even with its flexibility and responsiveness, ReaXComp is somehow able to stay masterfully CPU-efficient, meaning you can run multiple instances of the plugin in your DAW without casting a shadow on performance.
Though the clinical or austere aesthetic of the interface design might throw some users off, I quite like the fact that it embraces a no-frills ethos. Without a bunch of embellishments to get in the way, the focus remains unwaveringly on the task at hand, which is multiband compression.
Sixth Sample Cramit
Cramit is very much in line with Xfer Records' OTT, as it's an "over-the-top" multiband compressor plugin. However, Cramit is also unique in that while the fundamental functionality is multiband compression, it also bestows the advantage of incorporating saturation into the audio signal.
Within this plugin, you'll find a unique collection of seven distinct saturation algorithms, giving you a wide spectrum of possibilities to enrich and control your audio. I love the fact that Cramit gives you the option to introduce saturation either before or after applying compression, as it adds that small layer of flexibility that's sometimes necessary to get a sound to work in a mix.
The true prowess of Cramit is its ability to sculpt forceful, larger-than-life sounds from audio that lacks character. I've found that it's become one of my go-to solutions for when I want to add a bit of dirt to my mixes.
With versatility and an exceptional user interface, this free multiband compressor has a well-deserved slot in this list.
GMulti is a complimentary multiband compressor from the team over at GVST. While it may feel a bit reminiscent of ReaXComp in terms of its vintage status and slightly dated design, this free multiband compressor plugin remains a stalwart in terms of delivering on its intended purpose.
At its core, GMulti has a trio of compression bands, complete with controls for stereo width and compression intensity. Of course, you also get volume adjustments for each individual band.
One of the best things about this free multiband compressor might be the real-time waveform visualization, which effectively portrays the nuances between the clean and compressed audio signals.
Again, the old-school interface might throw you off, especially if you're someone that wants advanced visual feedback. However, if you're fine with an interface that strikes a balance between simplicity and organization, GMulti excels.
The distinct graphical user panels are easy to get the hang of and it delivers transparent multiband compression, even when pushed to its limits.
I absolutely had to add T-Sledge into our lineup, and with its old-school borderline sci-fi interface, it feels almost like I’m revisiting another era. While this plugin might be an old-timer, its enduring quality still shines.
T-Sledge is a specialized mastering compressor that wields a vast arsenal of possibilities. The plugin has a huge ensemble of features, including a level maximizer, a peak limiter, a four-band compressor module, and more.
The bands on the T-Sledge interface are neatly categorized into high, high-mid, low-mid, and low, and each comes with dedicated attack, release, threshold, and ratio controls.
The plugin also gives you the ability to toggle between hard and soft knee compression styles, and you can even set the ratio to values below 1 to deploy the expansion or upward compression mode. Pushing the ratio to its maximum transforms the band into a limiter.
One of the notable things about T-Sledge is the Auto Release Control mode, which perpetually computes release times in accordance with the input signal material.
In terms of versatility, T-Sledge offers two types of dividing filters: FIR and IIR.
IIR filters prioritize efficiency, making sure the plugin remains adaptable for both mastering and real-time scenarios, while FIR filters provide enhanced accuracy but introduce latency, making them particularly suited for mixing and mastering.
While T-Sledge wouldn’t ever secure the top position for my favorite free multiband compressor plugins, it’s far from outdated and surprisingly versatile. From subtle to vigorous compression, this plugin is great for anyone seeking out a pro-grade multiband compressor or versatile mastering compressor.
HY-MBMFX2 Free is somewhat of powerhouse when it comes to multiband audio processing. Not only does the plugin offer a high-end multi-band compressor module, but you'll also find a staggering array of 22 distinct effects at your disposal.
Each of the effects within this plugin can be interwoven to construct your very own personalized multiband FX amalgamation. However, the true appeal of HY-MBMFX2 Free extends beyond its customization abilities.
Should you opt for a conventional approach, this tool can solely serve as a standard multiband compressor without any fuss. Start by integrating the compressor module into each FX slot, and you'll get a robust multiband compressor with three bands, each of which boasts its own distinctive modulation possibilities.
Yup, you read that right – modulation within a multiband compressor.
HY-MBMFX2 is one of the most innovative multiband compressors in this way, offering you the power to breathe life into your compression parameters via envelope followers, LFOs, and macro controls. The multiband compressor plugin also provides the capacity to randomize parameters and archive "favorited" settings as presets for future mixes.
Now, if for whatever reason the already impressive feature set on this multiband compression plugin leaves you desiring more, you can check out the comprehensive (paid) version of HY-MBMFX2. With the full iteration of the plugin, you can load multiple FX modules per band, including distortion, saturation, chorus, and much more.
The sonic possibilities are nearly endless, which is why it's one of our favorite free multiband compressor plugins.
MCS6 takes a unique approach in that it works as a serial multiband compressor
Unlike a conventional multiband compression plugin that functions in parallel, processing each band independently before summing the outcomes, the MCS6 takes a sequential route.
It processes each band consecutively, adhering to the sequence specified by the user.
In this plugin, the response of crossover frequency ranges manifests a distinct dynamic character. When a subsequent compressor stage's target range overlaps with the current one, that frequency range undergoes consecutive compression from both stages, one after the other.
Remarkably enough, the MCS6 is equipped with six sequential stages, and within each stage resides a set of filters, including band-pass, high-pass, low pass, and notch. You can even take advantage of using multiple filters within each stage.
One of the intriguing things about this plugin, however, is that at each stage, you’ll also find a non-linear saturator. It’s an invaluable addition to the plugin that introduces character and grit to specific bands whenever you need some more harmonic character.
It has a similar function to GMulti too, in that at each stage, you’ll find a stereo width control, perfect for when you need to spread the stereo field in the higher frequencies while maintaining a crisp, focused low-end foundation.
For further cleanup, the MCS6 also delivers global high and low cut filters, which are great at getting rid of harshness or rumble before processing.
As you can see, the world of freeware is much bigger than you probably thought. From traditional multiband compressors to full-fledged, multi-dimensional dynamic processors, you’re bound to find something that works for you on this list.
The best thing is that trying out these multiband compressors is no risk at all, as you don't have to spend a dime!