Pulsar Smasher – A 1176 Compressor Plugin FREE Until March 11th!


Pulsar Audio has introduced Pulsar Smasher ($54 value), an 1176-style compressor effect that is available for free download until March 11th, 2020. The iLok License Manager needs to be installed for plugin activation purposes (iLok USB key is not required).

Pulsar Smasher is a FET compressor effect modeled after the vintage UREI 1176LN peak limiter from 1967. The plugin closely emulates the “British mode” of a heavily modded 1176 hardware unit. The result is an extreme compressor effect with an aggressive and “crunchy” compression character. Pulsar Smasher is available in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX plugin formats for compatible digital audio workstations on PC and Mac.

See also: Best FREE Limiter VST Plugins In 2020!

The developers at Pulsar Audio describe the Pulsar Smasher plugin as a raw and gritty dynamics processor that is somewhere between a compressor and a saturation effect. It is the type of compressor that is suitable for processing your audio mixes in the style of bands such as Vulfpeck and The Black Keys. The Smasher is perfect for making the drums sound crunchy and distorted without losing the dynamics. You can also experiment with using the Pulsar Smasher compressor on vocals, bass guitars, or as a secret ingredient on the master channel.

The secret behind Pulsar Smasher’s aggressive compression style is the hardware 1176’s so-called “British mode” that is engaged by pressing all four compression ratio buttons at the same time. The hardware compressor’s analog behavior, along with certain custom algorithm modifications implemented by Pulsar Audio, are the essential ingredients of Pulsar Smasher’s signature gritty sound. According to the info on the product page, the Pulsar Smasher is the first plugin ever to emulate the 1176 compressor’s all-button mode.

Unlike its complex analog hardware emulation algorithms, Pulsar Smasher’s user interface is quite simple. It features the input and output gain controls, a mix knob, and a bypass switch. The mix knob is handy for quick and easy parallel compression. A gain reduction meter is also provided, along with a preset manager and undo/redo buttons. The user interface can be freely resized from 50% to 200% of its original dimensions. The plugin is optimized to use as few CPU resources as possible.

Visit the product page linked below to download your free copy of the Pulsar Smasher plugin. The download installer file will install both the Pulsar Smasher software and the iLok License Manager. The activation code provided on the page can be used to claim your free license before March 11th, 2020.

To activate your copy of Pulsar Smasher, you will need to sign up for a free iLok user account (valid email address required). When loading the plugin for the first time, paste the activation code provided on the product page. The license will then be registered to your free iLok user account and activated on your computer.

PSA: Your antivirus software may report that the installer contains malware. In my opinion (and from my experience), this is a false positive. That said, use your own judgment – you’re installing the software at your own risk.

More info: Pulsar Smasher (242 MB download size, EXE installer, 32-bit & 64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows & macOS)

Share this article. ♥️

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. When I try to install the VST, my malware scanner directly pops up.
    I don’t know if the download itself has been compromised or its already fraudulent on their page.
    Sorry for the unpleasant comment.

    • It’s because it is ilok dependent. It’s very common that ilok plugins are missread as malware/virus by security scanners.
      Turn it off before installing it and you’ll be good.

    • My antivirus (AVG) also reports the .dll library as a Trojian virus and quarantines it.
      In any case, the VST files are installed and, at least, the 64bit version seems to work; the registration procedure worked and also the registration on ilok. Maybe a false positive, however never had problems with other plugins (even if they require ilok); so the doubt remains a bit, although it is strange that the executable downloaded from the official website may be infected.

  2. Just installed and looks fine also no alert or anything. But a huge Pace bonjour installer too maybe thats the iLock which I do also already have. The extra installer runs and installs all kinds of stuff & writes into the reg, as it needs to be restarted then. But yeah thats maybe just the downside of a freeby in these days.

  3. The Pulsar Smasher is most definitely not the first plugin ever to emulate the 1176 compressor’s all-button mode. The Waves one does, the UAD one does, the Softube one does, the IK one does… pretty much all of them do.

    • It was exciting to see a freeware version of what looks to be the blueface 1176, but without selectable ratios, ilok dependence and an over reliance on the mix knob, i am not sure this would be worth it, at least for me.

  4. The post says that an iLok USB key is not required, but when I try to register the plugin it tells me “the license can only be activated to an iLok. Please plug one in.”

  5. Whether it’s a Trojan, any other malware/adware or just Apple’s Bonjour, I won’t be grabbing such freebie. But thanks for the gift anyway.

  6. For all the commenters here freaking about this plugin being a virus: it’s very likely a false positive. Let’s wait and see how it plays out before we all lose our collective minds. Lol

    • Don’t insinuate something to people and don’t confuse beeing cautious with ‘freaking out’, as you call it.
      For me (and, as I read, obviously for many others as well) it’s the first time ever having such an issue with a VST recommended on this site, even though I myself am a longtime visitor.

      • Please don’t reply to me with such a rude tone as I sure don’t deserve it. I was merely trying to help ease others’ minds as well as add a bit of levity in this comment section because, yes, some people *were* freaking out. This might be the first time you’ve had a false positive due to a VST, but it sure isn’t the first time for some of us. So instead of attacking me for being a rational voice and using verbage that you dislike, perhaps you could consider respecting those of us that have had experience with things like this. Have a great day!

        • Yes, I was the one being rude and attacking when I was only explaining my point of view.
          Yes, you are the only rational person out here.
          Yes, if this is so common for you you may would’ve helped others more in sharing your experiences to calm the situation than using language that depreciates other people by telling them that they ‘freak out’ and ‘lose their minds’ and ‘lol’ing them in the end.
          Yes, you are the good samaritan everyone was looking for.
          Yes, I wont respond any further to this textbook trolling.

  7. In my opinion Ilok is malware. It exists to protect the profits of software companies at the inconvenience of the paying customer. Avoid as this plugin is not “free”.

  8. I didn’t have a problem installing this. Already had ilok installed anyway (thanks to BPB letting me know about the amazing UltraChannel, when it was free to download for a couple of weeks!).

    The compressor itself is very good, comparable to SuperCharger (NI) & RoughRider.
    So if you have either of those, you don’t really need this one, however it’s immediate settings are exactly what you’d want, and there is some very slight difference.


    • No I dont think its unsafe but its another thread running in the background on your music machine, also needs internet connection to activate & writes deep into the system. Some people dont want this, so the avoid it. on the other hand, here are dozens of very good plugs, that use iLock in these days.

    • Thanks for your reply, WOWZERY. The ilok thread running in the background, isn’t it suppose to consume very little CPU? And besides, isn’t there also a thread running in the background for every non-ilok plugin that has their very own copy-protection? (I’m not implying it’s true, I’m really asking, because I surely don’t know).
      What’s the reason people don’t like the use internet connection?
      And what are the major negative implications of writing deep into the system? You mean the Registry or more than that?
      Sorry for nagging you with the questions, I’m a beginner and I also value system security.

  9. Ok – to all who say no to Ilok. It’s not a big deal in terms of keeping your licences in safe place.
    It’s the same like Waves , Arturia or Native Instruments. It just keeps certain licence type in one handy program.
    I have over 50 plugins running on Ilok/Pace system with no problem at all and to be honest it runs sometimes on systems where other plugins don’t (like windows xp and old macosx lion) .
    Once it even helped when one of my drives went down and had to do list of plugins to reinstall (at last on pace/ilok the list was already made so had to only redirect to previous setup and viola).

  10. Activation fails!
    I tried two different types. Fist normal install and starting the daw, quastion for activation will pop up, type in the serial, login to the ilok online and i have to put an ilok usb Stick in.

    Second try, open the ilok license manager and activate the plugin there. Now open the daw and now the plugin will show in the activation process that a license will exist; exist for this computer, but if I click on next the same thing will happen, it asks for where it should put the license; only on an ilok usb stick.

Leave A Reply