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The Quickest Way to Compare Your Waves Compressor Plugins

Aug 06, 2020 | 20,074 Views

Long pauses between A and B options are your enemy when comparing subtle differences between different plugins – for example, between different compressors. Learn how to A/B different plugins instantly with a single mouse click, using StudioRack’s parallel split racks.

One of the most important things when A/Bing different processors is speed. To fully appreciate subtle differences between, for example, different compressors, you don’t want a long pause between the A and the B options.

What if you want to compare a variety of different compressor plugins such as a VCA, FET and OPTO on a single track such as a kick drum or snare? Not so simple...

You would most likely find this process a bit clunky if you were to rely on traditional DAW methods for comparing multiple compressors. Below are two familiar approaches.

The Quickest Way to Compare Your Waves Compressor Plugins

You could, of course, insert several compressors one after the other on a track engaging one compressor while having the others bypassed; but there will always be a slight pause between you selecting to hear one compressor, bypassing it, and listening to another.

The Quickest Way to Compare Your Waves Compressor Plugins

Another workaround to comparing several plugins is to duplicate several tracks. Each track all will have the same audio, but its plugin inserted you wish to compare. Track solos can then be used or mute automation for auditioning. While this approach works, excess tracks can start to make a mess of your sessions.

It's fair to say that these workarounds are not exactly elegant if you want to compare a FET against a VCA and OPTO compressors. Before we reveal an awesome plugin comparison workflow, let’s first explore some reason why you may find this workflow fruitful:

  1. If you are new to mixing, you will be able to train your ears to hear differences in character between different styles of compressors.
  2. If you are a seasoned mix engineer, you may have grown bored with your go-to compressors and want something new but not wildly different in behavior to the compressor you want to replace in your chain.
  3. Sometimes we all need just a little inspiration in a mix. Comparing several compressors could very well provide the key to a better mix or a better direction you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

In this video you will learn how parallel split racks in StudioRack can be used to help you objectively compare the sounds of multiple styles of compressor plugins with a single mouse click. This is a handy utility that you’ll struggle to setup within a DAW without StudioRack.

This StudioRack workflow isn’t limited to just working with compressors. You could very easily use StudioRack to compare the sounds of different saturation plugins, EQs, or reverbs, which we also demonstrate in this video.