I used to be that guy.

After using fancy, good-looking compressor plugins in various studios, I would get back to my home studio and stare blankly at the “DigiRack” compressor plugin that comes with Pro Tools.

It’s ugly.

It doesn’t have any fun colors or cute graphics.

It doesn’t look like an awesome piece of vintage gear.

It’s just a few knobs, a volume meter, and a gain reduction meter.


No way that thing could sound good.

And besides, the volume meter acts funny. You have to turn the threshold way down for the compression to kick in, unlike those fancy shmancy plugins I had used in the studio.

But I was wrong. (And you might be wrong, too.)

When I finally took the time to USE the stock Pro Tools compressor plugin…I mean REALLY use it…I found that it sounds just fine.

In fact, it actually sounds pretty good, especially on vocals.

See, I made a classic rookie mistake. I assumed that since something was “free” and kinda ugly it must not be good enough for my mixes.

Don’t get caught in that trap.

If you can’t get your free compressor plugin to sound good, I got news for you, cowboy.

The plugin ain’t the problem.

Sure, fancy plugins are awesome, and I’ve got nothing against ’em. (I own a few in fact.)

But unless you take the time to learn HOW to use compression, you’ll jump from compressor to compressor, never getting that elusive sound you want.

Speaking of compression, this week I’m adding a bunch of new content to my Understanding Compression series. It’ll be at least 3 brand spankin’ new videos.

BUT…with the new videos comes a price increase.

If you order today you’ll get access to the existing videos PLUS the new videos, all at the old price.

If you already own Understanding Compression, you’ll get the new vids for free. (You knew that’s how I roll, right? No paid updates here.)

That’s all for today. Head over to the site right now before you forget:


Joe Gilder

8 Responses to “Why Ugly Compressor Plugins Rock”

  1. Bechara Saliba

    Hey man … I’ve been browsing your website … It’s really helpful … but no offense, you’re promoting heavily the two websites understandingcompression and understandingeqs
    I am surely gonna buy anything you release but would it be possible you got an ebook release rather than tutorial videos ??


    • Joe Gilder

      Hi Bechara!

      These are currently only videos and accompanying audio (mp3) versions. I plan to have some of it transcribed and made available as PDFs, but honestly it’s hard to teach audio concepts without giving you a way to actually HEAR the things I’m teaching.
      You can read about it all day, but that doesn’t let you hear those concepts in action, y’know?

  2. Jon

    Some free vst programs are garbage, but I’ve really found some gems over the past few years!  Hey Joe, what “fancy plug-ins” do you own, if you don’t mind telling? 🙂  I’ve got the Waves Renaissance series myself!

  3. mystudiolove

    I learned the same thing when it comes to the free delay plug-ins that comes with Pro Tools.  They don’t look fancy but once you know how to use them they work as good as, if not better, than the expensive ones.  Plus, their interface is more intuitive.

  4. CameronN

    Same goes for other types of gear too. The cool look of the microphone I bought definately had something to do with why I picked it. At least it was still pretty good, though.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *