What is a Compressor?
Before we delve into the compressors available in Logic Pro, it’s good to know what a compressor is. A compressor is a processing tool in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Essentially, what you do with a compressor is to squeeze a audio signal and shape it by, for example, evening out the dynamics and raising the average level. You can also use a compressor to achieve a certain sound in your song.
Compressors in Logic Pro
Included in Logic Pro is a compressor that emulates some well-known analog compressors. In this guide, we will go through how they work and how you can use them.
This model is Logic Pro’s own digital compressor. It has a transparent sound and a transient response (the ability to reproduce high and sudden sounds, e.g., hand claps) that is quick and transparent. Platinum Digital works well on any sound. There is also the option to add distortion to achieve a more “raw” sound if you want the coloring (character) of analog hardware.
Studio VCA is an emulation of the Focusrite Red 3 Dual Compressor/Limiter. Red 3 is a dual mono/stereo compressor and limiter that was released in 1994. Its success earned Red 3 a TEC Award for outstanding technical achievement in the category of “Signal Processing Technology.”
Studio VCA works well on bass, vocals, and guitars due to its fast and tight response, but it also shines on mix buses. The emulation is completely discrete and balanced, which means it has a clean sound and does not color the sound like other analog compressors. Although Studio VCA has a more transparent sound, you can give your sounds a more analog feel with the distortion control.
The Studio FET model emulates the UREI/Universal Audio 1176 Rev E “Blackface” compressor/limiter. UA founder Bill Putnam Sr. designed the original Universal Audio 1176 compressor in 1967, as well as the Vintage FET compressor. The 1176 is known for being used on some of the greatest recordings in history and is a favorite among producers and mix engineers. Its lightning-fast attack and release times are ideal for drums, bass, or guitars and for bringing vocals forward in the mix.
Studio FET’s aggressive sound provides a sense of energy that adds brightness and presence to anything that goes through it. When driven hard, it adds a certain in-your-face edge, making it widely known as a drum compressor. The 1176 also has a very distinct sound even when not compressing audio due to its unique circuitry. Some people run audio through the 1176 with compression turned off just to get that special tone it imparts.
The Classic VCA model emulates the DBX 160 series of compressors/limiters. It was introduced in 1971 and was used on almost all major recordings in the late ’70s and throughout the ’80s. Later models in the 160 series also became industry standards that are still frequently used today.
Classic VCA is considered one of the best drum compressors ever, and the original DBX 160 has a proven track record. It is known for its vintage character, aggressive punch, and simplicity. The compressor’s tight and fast response makes it perfect for crushing groups/busses and adding subtle “fatness” to everything from guitars to vocals. The DBX 160 is also legendary for its simple control set and classic hard-knee compression not found in other VCA compressors.
Finally, we have the Vintage Opto model, which emulates the Teletronix LA-2A optical compressor. Since its introduction in 1965, the iconic Teletronix LA-2A Leveling Amplifier has been heard on countless hits. Teletronix founder Jim Lawrence first used photocells to control audio amplification in an innovative way. His ingenious optical compression design was a technical breakthrough that surpassed the stability and transparency of previous circuits.
Universal Audio founder Bill Putnam Sr. later acquired this patented technology and continued manufacturing the LA-2A until 1969. To this day, the LA-2A continues to captivate new generations of retro-seeking enthusiasts.
For over 50 years, the Teletronix LA-2A has been revered for its smooth, natural, musical compression. Known for its subtle, seductive, and warm qualities, the original LA-2A’s tube-driven electro-optical attenuation circuits were revolutionary for their time. Top-tier artists, engineers, and producers praise its ability to work on anything you choose. Its fast attack and release offer a character that is more transparent than other compressors from its era. However, the LA-2A is most renowned for treating vocals.
We hope this guide was helpful to you in choosing compressors in Logic Pro. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us! You can also learn more about the Vintage EQ Collection in Logic Pro.