Free Sidechain Compressor VST Plugins


Let’s look at some of the best free sidechain compressor plugins you can add to your favorite digital audio workstation.

Before we list our favorite free sidechain VSTs, here’s a quick introduction to sidechain compression.

What is Sidechain Compression?

Sidechain compression is a common audio mixing technique where the level of one audio signal (the sidechain) controls the amount of compression applied to another track. You will commonly recognize it as a “pumping” or “breathing” effect in modern mixes.

This “pumping” effect can be used deliberately to add a sense of groove to a track. Daft Punk famously pioneered this technique in their musing using a cheap Alesis 3630 hardware compressor.

But Daft Punk didn’t invent sidechain compression, and it wasn’t always used as a creative effect. The technique was introduced much earlier to make particular sounds stand out in the mix.

The most common example is sidechaining the bass track to the kick so that the kick stands out in the mix.

Several freeware compressors have a sidechain input, but we created a separate article to make them easier to find.

Sidechain vs. Sidechain Compressor

It’s also worth noting that you don’t need to use a sidechain compressor to achieve the sidechaining effect.

So-called faux-sidechain effects have become very popular in recent years. These effects simply automate the volume by following a specific modulation curve, thus emulating the behavior of a sidechain compressor.

They are easier to set up and more versatile since the user can freely customize the modulation curve.

We included both traditional sidechain compressors and modern faux-sidechain plugins in the article below.

Free Sidechain VST Plugins

Most current DAWs come with a native sidechain compressor, but if your DAW doesn’t, here’s a list of the best freeware alternatives.

  • Molotok
  • MCompressor
  • ReaComp
  • SideKick2
  • TAL-Filter-2
  • Flux Mini 2

TDR Molotok

TDR Molotok by Tokyo Dawn Records

TDR Molotok is a free compressor effect plugin for PC and Mac, available in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX formats.

It’s a simplified version of the TDR Molot GE, priced at €40. Both plugins are based on Vladislav Goncharov’s legendary Molot freeware compressor.

I love how easy it is to use TDR Molotok as a sidechain compressor. The plugin features a sidechain input that instantly connects to any signal source in your DAW.

Once connected, simply apply the desired amount of sidechain compression to get the pumping effect. TDR Molotok sounds excellent and makes sidechain compression easy to achieve.

The GUI is another strong point, with a new design and functional layout. It includes A/B testing buttons, a bypass switch, a resizable GUI, an adjustable refresh rate, and a preset manager.

Additional workflow improvements in TDR Molotok include copying and pasting settings between instances, adjusting the GR meter gain range, and changing mouse sensitivity.

More info: TDR Molotok


MCompressor by MeldaProduction

MCompressor is a versatile free sidechain compressor plugin by MeldaProduction. Similar to TDR Molotok, the sidechain is easy to use. You can enable it from the front panel and connect it to a signal source.

However, MCompressor lets you pair sidechain compression with several other techniques, allowing for unique dynamic effects. You can use it for expansion, gating, and rhythmization by taking advantage of user-defined modulation shapes.

It also features several workflow enhancement features. For example, MCompressor compensates for the signal reduction caused by compression, ensuring maximized loudness.

Another helpful feature is the compression graph display, which shows the actual dynamic values expected at the input and output.

If you’re looking for a sidechain compressor that can handle other audio compression and mixing tasks equally well, MCompressor is an excellent choice.

More info: MCompressor


ReaComp by Cockos

ReaComp is a free compressor plugin by Cockos, the developer behind the popular Reaper DAW. It’s part of the free ReaPlugs plugin suite.

This old-school compressor plugin focuses on utility instead of modern features and innovative design. Despite its old age, it does several things very well, including sidechain compression.

ReaComp features a sidechain input filter that lets you clean up the sidechain signal before it hits the compressor circuit. This is useful for removing excess bass from a bass synth to have more control over the compression shape and intensity.

My favorite part of ReaComp is the CPU optimization. The plugin uses virtually zero CPU resources, meaning you can use numerous plugin instances without affecting your DAW’s performance.

ReaComp also features a precise peak meter and a highly customizable compression module with adjustable knee size and auto-release.

More info: Cockos ReaComp


SideKick2 Is A FREE Sidechain Plugin For Windows

SideKick2 is a free sidechain plugin by Rewired Records. It uses volume automation instead of compression, offering more control over the sidechain compression effect and enhancing workflow.

The plugin shares some similarities in naming and design with Nicky Romero’s popular KickStart 2 plugin. Like its paid counterpart, SideKick2 is a robust tool for recreating the classic sidechain pumping effect commonly used in EDM and related genres.

SideKick2 features an editable graph for customizing volume automation. The plugin’s user-friendly interface allows you to quickly adjust the volume modulation shape.

To speed up the workflow, SideKick2 includes pre-made shapes for quick experimentation with different styles of volume automation. Users can create sharp curves in the graph to achieve effects like the Trance Gate, recently popularized in modern EDM.

Users can also select different rhythmic divisions for the effect, like 1/4, 1/8, 1/2, and 1/1, enabling the creation of varied rhythmic effects. These effects are especially popular in Future Bass when combined with filter automation.

Another helpful feature is the mix knob, allowing the blending of processed and unprocessed signals for a more filled mix.

More info: SideKick2


TAL-Filter-3 by Togu Audio Line

TAL-Filter-2 is a freeware filter plugin with versatile modulation capabilities. Thanks to the customizable modulation curve, it can also work as a sidechain plugin.

The plugin remains efficient in producing complex results quickly, thanks to its well-designed GUI/workflow that allows users to draw shapes and tempo-sync them to their DAW, reminiscent of Cableguys’ DriveShaper.

You can use TAL-Filter-2 to create various effects, from basic filter sweeps in EDM to wobble-bass in Dub. It includes a dropdown menu for setting beats per bar and note types for tempo sync, enabling more intricate patterns.

With multiple modulation types, such as LP 12dB, BP 12dB, HP 12dB, Pan, and Volume, TAL-Filter is versatile. It is useful for auto-pan effects, tremolo, and transforming percussion into intricate rhythms, pulsing bass/pads/drones, or cinematic rises/hits.

More info: TAL-Filter-2

Flux Mini 2

Flux Mini 2 by Caelum Audio

Flux Mini 2 is a free sidechain VST plugin by Caelum Audio. It is available in VST, VST3, AU, AUv3, and AAX plugin formats for Windows, macOS, and iOS.

It offers more control over the modulation curve than other similar plugins. You can easily use the built-in curve editor to create a custom modulation shape and then adjust the modulation intensity, speed, and loop.

One of my favorite Flux Mini 2 features is the ability to modulate the volume, filter cutoff, and resonance with varying intensity. This allows for creative modulation setups that go beyond what’s possible with a traditional sidechain compressor.

More info: Flux Mini 2

Honorable Mentions (Discontinued Sidechain Compressors)

Here are a few more free sidechain VST plugins that are useful despite being old and discontinued.

  • DualComp
  • Martin Eastwood Compressive Pro
  • Platinumears FL4TT3RY

If you’d like us to test another free sidechain plugin, please let us know in the comments section.

For more freeware plugins and instruments, return to our Free VST Plugins page.

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About Author

Tomislav is a music producer and sound designer from Belgrade, Serbia. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief at Bedroom Producers Blog.


  1. Hi,surely the new ‘MOLOT’ compressor should be up here as it now has a sidechain option.Its also one of few free plugins thats hardware modelled.


  2. I am using compressors from so many time but Density mkII and MCompressor are really very impressive and easy to mix effects too.

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