VCA test

VCA Compressor Plugins Comparison

The third and final in a series of parallel tests of compressor plugins is a comparison of VCA compressors.

Many claim VCA compressors are the most universal compressors, fit for any and all purposes an engineer might need in her or his quest for the perfect sound. I have to admit I can’t seem to agree with those claims – I’m not a fan of their sound. It might be that I am doing something wrong, but to me they don’t produce pleasing results.

That being said, I still decided to go through with this test and note my observations in the same way I previously did with optical and FET compressor plugins. The plugins being compared are:

Here are the audio files so you can listen and judge for yourself.

I recommend downloading the files, as Soundcloud transcodes to 128 kbps mp3 for streaming playback, which isn't sufficient for this purpose. Just click on the download icon on Soundcloud and you'll get a full quality .wav file. Alternatively, click here to download all the files as a zip archive.


For this test I intentionally used extreme settings in order to get the most obviously audible results and differences between the different models.

My observations:

  • Logic Vintage VCA and Waves SSL produced similar results. However, with the SSL the drum kit sounds ‘bigger’ (and, consequentially, further away), while the Logic’s Vintage VCA is more present or ‘in your face’.
  • Logic Classic VCA and NI VC 160 also mimic the same hardware unit and sound similar: both are crushing the kit quite heavily, letting the initial transients through. However, I prefer Logic’s compressor.
  • They all color the sound quite a bit, but Logic Studio VCA seems to do that to a lesser extent.
  • As in previous tests, I’ve found that Waves saturate the body of the cymbals whereas Logic’s saturation is higher up the frequency spectrum.

Settings Used:

If you liked this, check out my previous posts from the Compressor Tests series: Opto Compressor Plugins Comparison and FET Compressor Plugins Comparison.


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