The Best 1176 Compressor Plugins

Best 1176 Compressor Plugins

Only 20 or so years ago, you had to have a room full of expensive hardware to be able to produce music. Nowadays, modern technologies even allow us to have all of that expensive equipment in the form of software, indistinguishable from the original. The number of software emulations sometimes could be overwhelming, so we are here to help you find the best 1176 plugins.

Top 5 1176 Plugins

 

  1. Native Instruments VC 76
  2. Softube FET Compressor
  3. IK Multimedia Black 76 Limiting Amplifier
  4. Waves Audio CLA-76
  5. Slate Digital FG-166

1176 Plugins Buying Guide

What is 1176?

Before diving into the best 1176 compressor plugins emulations, let’s find out what 1176 is or rather was at this point. UREI 1176 Peak Limiter is a dynamic range compressor made by Bill Putnam in 1967. It was the first-ever true peak limiter to use field-effect transistors technology instead of tubes. Audio engineers widely appreciated the original 1176 and, over time, became somewhat of the must-have for every respectable studio.

The original 1176 was a solid-state compressor with a fixed threshold controlled by four selected control ratios. The release time varied; it was quicker after the initial transient and slowed down after sustained compression. Originally, you could choose one out of four ratio settings, but over time engineers from Britain figured out how to push all four buttons at once. This caused the compressor to produce a vast amount of harmonic distortion; this phenomenon is called the British mode and became a focal point of various manufacturers in producing fateful software emulations.

Over the years, UREI 1176 underwent a lot of changes in its design, but there are two main revisions of the compressor that are the most valued. The first would be the original one with a silver aluminum faceplate and blue meters. The second one – would be UREI 1176LN, where LN stands for “low noise.” It was designed with special circuitry to minimize distortion and with slight tweaks in its programming. 1176 LN is distinguished by a solid black faceplate.

To this day, it is highly valued by audio engineers around the world due to its unique sound characteristics. It gives the sound a noticeable coloration, which in turn makes it brighter and clearer on the top end. Despite the original 1176 compressor becoming a classic and therefore very expensive, there are many software alternatives. Here are the best 1176 plugins.

Best 1176 Plugins Reviews

Native Instruments VC 76

Native Instruments VC 76

Pros
  • A fateful 1176 emulation at a great price with some additional features
  • Has a free 30-day demo
Cons
  • Could be bought only as a part of the bundle
See Price @ Native Instruments

VC 76 is a fateful emulation of the original 1176LN of high quality. It has all the features of the original, including a so-called British mode where all the ratios can be selected simultaneously. This mode can give you a coloration without any compression applied or enhance a compressed signal.

Best features and specs

With the VC 76 plugin, you have a variety in terms of compression that can be made. You can easily tame the transients of otherwise punchy vocal lines or give some added punch to the drums. With any regard to the chosen compression settings, you’ll always get quite a notable sound coloration, which makes it brighter and cleaner.

In addition to original features, VC 76 has a few tricks of its own. Amongst the features that were not available on the original hardware unit, there are quite a few that can be considered an improvement. It has a side-chain input functionality that allows the plugin to compress the signal with input from another audio source, which gives an opportunity to use this compressor in a very creative way. It also has dry/wet controls, which turn this plugin into a versatile parallel compressor.

User impressions

Users like this plugin because of the way it makes the music material sound and its reliability. Also, it works well with other plugins that are used in the mix.

What we think

We are fond of this plugin’s saturation settings. No matter how hard you push it, it will always sound sweet and even soft at the top-end. The coloration is so sublime that it is quite satisfying to use it in British mode as a saturator without any compression.

Bottomline

VC 76 plugin is part of Native Instruments Vintage Compressors bundle, so it means that it couldn’t be bought on its own but rather with two additional ones. The bundle costs just under $100 and features two extra vintage compressor emulations. In case you don’t consider this offer a bargain, NI gives you the opportunity to try those compressors out for 30 days without any limitations except for the plugin shutting down after 30 minutes of usage.

Softube FET Compressor

Softube FET Compressor

Pros
  • A reasonably priced and very versatile 1176 emulation of renowned plugin manufacturer
Cons
  • The sound is precise to Softube plugins and sometimes doesn’t play well with plugins from other developers.
See price @ Plugin Boutique or Sweetwater

This well-respected Swedish audio-plugin developer doesn’t really need any introduction. All of the wide variety of Softube plugins have some kind of special flavor, and Softube FET Compressor is not an exception. It is quite a meticulous emulation of the original with lots of additional features and quite an authentic sound.

Best features and specs

Softube deconstructed the original unit and modeled every single analog stage separately to make this plugin as authentic as possible. So, with this one, you get every nuance that you’ve expected from the original one. That being said, this plugin has a lot of unique features that make it quite a versatile one. You can use it as an original 1176 would be used or turn it into a conventional digital compressor with slight analog coloration.

In addition to classic 1176 features, it has separate input and output harmonic distortion, which gives you a lot of control over the sound characteristics. In addition to the original fast attack time, it has a lookahead function to make the attack even faster.

It has parallel compression settings, although, for some reason, they made it backward, from left to right. Also, it has external side chain controls and built-in low-pass and high-pass filters. In case you are not satisfied with the original ratios, the control knob lets you choose settings in between. Additionally, it has a British mode.

Users Impressions

Users like this plugin because of the pleasing level of saturation and better dry/wet compared to other plugins.

What we think

We love the added functionality that opens a lot of different ways it can be used, but the coloration and overall sounds characteristics of the Softube plugins could be overwhelming.

Bottomline

Usually under $200 Softube FET Compressor could be a well-spent investment into your home or even a professional studio. Often than not, Softube runs special time-limited sales. Check out the price now to see if there’s a discount.

IK Multimedia Black 76 Limiting Amplifier

IK Multimedia Black 76 Limiting Amplifier

Pros
  • High quality 1176 compressor plugin with a very subtle analog saturation for a good price
Cons
  • None, really.
See price @ Sweetwater

Here is another plugin developer that doesn’t need an introduction. IK Multimedia is known and respected for its high-quality audio software. Both feature-packed fully-digital plugins and well-thought and accurate vintage classic emulations. In this list, Black 76 Limiting Amplifier stands on its own with a thorough recreation of 1176LN with very few additional features that might distract you from what this compressor is all about.

Best features and specs

Black 76 Limiting Amplifier is distinguished by very accurate modeling of the original compressor. Also, it has mid/side capabilities as well as true stereo compression with a separate compression applied to each channel. Although, you have to use separate instances of the plugin for that. Additionally, you have the ability to turn off the attack and release settings, which almost turns this compressor into a very capable analog saturator. Using the famous British mode, which of course this one also has, you’ll get even more coloration.

As to the sound of this plugin, the coloration is very subtle and soft. Even using very aggressive compression doesn’t seem to bring this plugin to a point where the saturation would sound unpleasant or a bit over the top.  IK Multimedia Black 76 has an extensive range of compression utilization; you can tame peaks of your vocal track as well as aggressively smash your drum bus. No matter how you use it, the distortion would be subtle.

Users Impressions

Users find the Black 76 Limiting Amplifier good as to its variations on the attack and release times as well as features and sonics.

What we think

We use it a lot due to the subtlety of saturation; we found it can be used quite unconventionally. It sounds amazing applied to string quartet bus. On lower ratios, it gives your strings a lot of weight and depth, adding gentle analog saturation.

Bottomline

On its own, IK Multimedia Black 76 Limiting Amplifier usually costs under €100, but it is included in two bundles, one of them being T-Racks 5 Deluxe, which features 22 different plugins of the highest quality. At the cost of under €300 for the whole bundle, it makes it quite an offer to be considered.

Waves Audio CLA-76

Waves CLA-76

Pros
  • A high-quality plugin from a respected manufacturer with a relatively low cost.
Cons
  • The coloration might be considered too excessive for some more subtle music productions.
See price @ Waves Audio

Waves Audio made a name for itself a long time ago. Nowadays, it’s tough to imagine an audio engineer or a producer who doesn’t own at least one of Waves plugins. Considering Waves has lots of analog emulations, they couldn’t pass by 1176 as well. Due to Waves Audio’s impeccable reputation, you would expect to get a very reliable emulation of the classic plugin. Of course, you will be right, but except with the twist – in the case of CLA-76, you get not one but two versions of well-known classics.

Best features and specs

With CL-76, you have a classic original version of 1176 as well as a later model of 1176LN. The best part is that each of them could be called in within one instance of the plugin. As expected, both versions sound amazing and deliver high-quality results.

The plugin has thoroughly recreated the original controls and sonic characteristics of the original hardware units. They even went as far as adding inevitable analog noise with different options of 50 or 60 Hz. Of course, you can always turn those off in case you don’t want to go fully analog.

Waves Audio CLA-76 has a very edgy and aggressive sound due to its modeled pre-amp distortion. Both versions will give you a very colored and rich sound. One, of course, would be more subtle than the other. As for the compression controls, they work, as you would expect with the Waves plugins, perfectly. Of course, it has a British mode; it wouldn’t be wise to expect any less.

Users Impressions

Users note that Waves Audio CLA-76 is a perfect match to make the vocals sound silky, and at the same time, it makes everything sound analog and punchy.

What we think

Although this is a plugin of the highest quality possible, it is less versatile due to its saturation. At times, the distortion could be perceived as quite aggressive, which doesn’t always fit the project needs. That being said, this plugin is fantastic on rock vocals and drum buses.

Bottomline

The listed price of Waves Audio CLA-76 is usually around $250, which might be considered a bit expensive. Usually, Waves Audio runs a variety of discounts, so at times you can get it for as low as $29. Or even for free if you consider buying a couple of other plugins, which you probably should as they are all great.

Slate Digital FG-116

Slate Digital FG-116

Pros
  • The quality of the sound is astonishing.
  • It is very convenient to use.
  • It comes in a bundle with lots of good plugins.
  • Quite a reasonable subscription.
Cons
  • Quite pricey, to say the least, to buy on its own.
  • The i-LOK dongle could also be a problem if you are not used to it.
See price @ Sweetwater

It seems like Slate Digital at some point took the world by storm. In addition to highly-innovative business strategies, Steven Slate gave us some of the most amazing-sounding plugins. The majority of Slate Digital plugins tend to be a recreation of classic analog hardware. In one form or the other. So it’s not a surprise that they didn’t forget about 1176.

Best features and specs

Well, that is where things get interesting; FG-116 is actually a bundle of 2 compressors, each having two separate circuits recreations, which gives you not one but four analog compressor models. A vintage one gives you an option of the classic compressor, the one with a blue stripe, as well as a later recreation with a smoother mids and highs. The modern FET will give you, as expected, a more modern version of the same compressor, with more clarity and a smoother bottom end.

Needless to say, it sounds very gentle and subtle with very smooth saturation as all Slate Digital plugins do. That being said, a vintage one could be driven quite hard if that is what you are looking for. Choosing different circuits gives the plugin quite distinguishable flavors.

As for the features, it accurately models controls on the original units as well as its sonic behavior. Additionally, it has a mix knob, which gives you the option of parallel compression. A hi-pass button allows you to leave a bottom-end intact with no compression applied. The modern FET is so subtle that Steven Slate even recommends using it on the mix bus, which, let’s say, doesn’t happen a lot with 1176s.

Users Impressions

Users tend to either absolutely love Steven Slate’s plugins and use them exclusively or simply don’t know anything about the manufacturer.

What we think

Since the plugin doesn’t come as a stand-alone unit or rather comes in a rack, it’s very convenient to use. You can even daisy-chain two instances without any unwanted clutter on your screen. That being said, you might find it too intense to use on lower spec computers.

Bottomline

Slate Digital FG-116 comes included with All Access Pass with a variety of payment options. At the time of this writing, you can pay $24.99 a month or $149 a year. You may consider it as well since Slate Digital has a collection of awesome plugins with quite frequent new additions.

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