From top to bottom: The VC 76, VC 2A, and VC 160, each with their expansion panels open, showing the sidechain and wet/dry level controls.
A trio of effects covers a wide range of applications
The Backstory Vintage Compressors represents a continuing evolution for Guitar Rig. Introduced originally as an amp/effects sim for guitarists, GR version 4.2 has been transformed into a generalpurpose host for processors beyond those geared solely toward guitar—like these three compressors, designed by Softube.
The concept goes one step further with the Guitar Rig 4 Player, a free (yes, free) subset of Guitar Rig that can host NI’s new processors, so you needn’t buy anything else to use them. And you get some cool free effects: one amp/ cab combo and 13 processors, the full roster of Guitar Rig modifiers (LFO, Envelope, Step Sequencer, Analog Sequencer, and Envelope Follower), and two “tools” I’ve always found highly valuable—a split module for creating parallel effects, and a crossover that works similarly but creates parallel paths based on frequency.
Note that Vintage Compressors are not standard VST/AU/RTAS plug-ins, but “Guitar Rig plug-ins.” However, Guitar Rig supports VST/AU/ RTAS, as well as 32- and 64-bit systems natively.
The VC 76, VC 2A, and VC 160 emulate the UA 1176, LA-2A, and dbx 160 respectively. Overkill? Not necessarily, although you can buy each one individually. Like the originals, the emulations have different characters—from the 2A’s smoother sound; to the 76’s more clinical, clean vibe; to the 160’s versatile, drum-friendly, occasionally over-the-top options. All three have wet/dry controls for parallel compression (a welcome feature, as you don’t need to set up your host for parallel paths) and sidechain inputs. The 2A and 160 also include a low-cut parameter for the detector, so you can keep lower frequencies from triggering compression; the VC 2A has a limit/compress switch.
The VC 160 offers extremely low thresholds and high amounts of compression, so you can do truly heavy-duty squashing as well as more subtle effects. The VC 76 incorporates the famous “all buttons” ratio for drastic sounds, while the VC 2A is the smoothest and in some ways, the most “normal” of the three—it’s great for bass and vocals.
Sure, there are plenty of compressor plug-ins, including some pretty outstanding emulations. But the sidechain option and dry/wet control add desirable elements that go beyond a standard emulation, the dbx 160 is a little-emulated but way-cool compressor, and when bundled, the three models really do cover all your bases— with excellent sound quality—for about $77 each.
Undecided? Download the Guitar Rig 4 Player (which you want anyway!), then the compressor demos, and check out some excellent dynamics control for yourself.
NATIVE INSTRUMENTS VINTAGE COMPRESSORS $229 (INDIVIDUAL COMPRESSORS $119 EACH) VST/AU/RTAS
STRENGTHS: Sound quality. Supports sidechaining. Dry/wet controls for parallel compression. The three types complement each other well.
LIMITATIONS: Runs only within Guitar Rig, but a free “player” host is available.
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