Xfer Records OTT Plugin Review


OTT plugin by Xfer Records is one of the most popular free VST plugins and has been for some time. It’s particularly popular with electronic music producers, some of whom wouldn’t even consider making music without it now.

With that in mind, this won’t be a blast from the past like our recent CamelCrusher review. But it’s a chance to look at the history of OTT, highlight its core functions, and maybe convince some newcomers to try it out.

What is OTT?

OTT is a multiband compression preset inside Ableton’s native Multiband Dynamics section. OTT, or “over-the-top” compression, is common in EDM, Dubstep, and most genres within electronic music production.

Ableton is the DAW of choice for many electronic producers. Luckily, for non-Ableton users, Xfer Records decided to recreate the much-loved preset in a standalone plugin and offer it for free.

It’s a multiband up/down compressor; as the name suggests, it’s not the most subtle effect. OTT aggressively squeezes the dynamic range into virtual oblivion (kind of).

What does OTT do?

In short, OTT splits the frequency spectrum into three bands (lows, mids, and highs) and applies downward and upward compression to each.

You can set the amount of compression applied and the lower/upper thresholds (per band) that define when the compression kicks in. Each band has independent output control, so you can adjust the balance to suit.

While that doesn’t sound too over the top in contrast to standard downward compression, you aren’t just applying gain reduction when the signal exceeds the upper threshold. The plugin’s simultaneous upward and downward compression squeezes the dynamic range from both ends, creating a more aggressive effect.

By forcing everything into a compact range, you are trading dynamics for a bigger, fatter, and more in-your-face sound.

Such harsh dynamic processing is not the way to maintain a natural/organic/emotive feel. However, it’s incredibly impactful on synth bass, leads, pads, strings, drums, and more within the electronic realm.

Why go over the top?

You don’t need the OTT VST plugin to over-compress, but one of the cool things about this plugin is that the upward compression can bring out things in the lower frequencies that would otherwise be inaudible. You can end up with interesting textures that alter the sound significantly.

Another cool thing is that it doesn’t slam the mids so hard that you lose all sense of detail. You aren’t left with a sound completely lacking character despite a lack of dynamics.

How good is the OTT plugin?

If we focus on its most popular use cases in EDM, it’s hard to argue it’s anything other than excellent because so many top electronic producers depend on it.

Addmitinley, I’m not an Ableton user, but the common opinion seems to be that the plugin mimics the original preset very well, albeit with slightly different controls.

The resizable and recently refreshed GUI has just a handful of simple controls. Beyond setting the amount of compression, thresholds, and the level (per band), you have Depth (Dry/Wet), Time (Attack/Release), and In/Out Gain.

The graphic display for each band is where you set the thresholds; it shows the signal before and after compression.

Although I said it’s not a subtle effect, and I threw words like aggressive and oblivion around, you can lower the depth and take a more cautious approach. However, for me, that’s not where OTT shines; if you use it, you should go all out! Just be mindful not to use it in areas where dynamics are vital.

If you want up/down compression with a more surgical approach, check out Fuse Compressor from Minimal Audio.

I like the simplicity of OTT, and while I wasn’t there at the start with Ableton, I can say I’m down with OTT.

OTT is available in AU, VST, VST3, and AAX formats for macOS and Windows.

Download: OTT (FREE)


Share this article. ♥️

About Author

Avatar photo

James is a musician and writer from Scotland. An avid synth fan, sound designer, and coffee drinker. Sometimes found wandering around Europe with an MPC in hand.


  1. Not a big fan of OTT, feels like cheating. It’s for those folks who can’t get into compression.
    I know, mostly its used for it’s aggressive charackter but there is also a majority who use it as a quike way to compress.
    In my opinion, compression overall is its own area and should be learned like you learn notes or music theory.

    • Rutger // Bombario


      Agree. I personally use as little compression as possible. With electronic music, it is also not often necessary at all. There is already little dynamics and you can correct volume differences with velocity. The music should breathe and not be completely flattened.

    • @Mangler I hear what you are saying and you have a point, but i think at times we are guilty of being a little too audiophile about these things.
      OTT can be very subtle too, when used in parallel.
      Ultimately, as long the outcome is as you intended, it doesnt really matter how get there.

      Peace & respect.

      • Gwugluud Barcher


        As an amateur home studio owner who records 1 and 1/2- chord garage/trash rock songs for kicks and laughs, I’m sure I lack the common sense of “real” producers, lol. Compression makes whatever sound I’m applying it to sound very “happening” and interesting. Those are my “bad habits”, compression (especially VSTs which purport to imitate 50s/60s tube compressors) and clippers and subtle distorters which emphasize upper mids, such as free “Nasty” (forgot which dev), which help a lot on getting vocals to stand out.

    • DBS Ninja Mode


      I just use XTT by Vinai instead since I got it bundled with FL, sounds cleaner due to less phasing issues, has a mix knob & 5 bands with more controls. And yea I tend to use regular multiband compressors when desired but I really like how XTT sounds

    • Cheating?
      There’s no room for relationship there’s just room to hit it
      How many brothers out there know just what I’m getting at
      Who think it’s wrong cause I was splitting and co-hitting that
      Well if you do, that’s OTT and you’re not down with it

    • just because one tool is easier than another or because one tool trivializes a concept (which OTT doesn’t even do), doesn’t mean the musician who uses it is cheating. tools were coded and published to be used as tools you can utilize in different ways to get your desired result

      moreover, ott doesn’t even trivialize compression as a whole. it’s damn near impossible to get a natural or “normal” compression style from ott. if you want to mix well, even in edm, you need to know how to use a stock compressor well too

  2. Since the article mentions EDM a zillion times, I’m curious.
    Who out here is using it in a non-EDM setting? Grindcore? Trap? Industrial? …Folk?

    • Death metal. Mixing my band’s EP I was getting so frustrated with the toms (live drums). Just for a laugh I put OTT on the tom buss, dialed the depth back to about 15%, and there it was! Perfect tom sound!

  3. It’s a great plugin for the lucky dip approach. Gives those cheesy synth oneshots a new life with resampling etc . Im using it for sound design and ambient film score type soundscapes. You can make huge Brahhmmm sounds. Quietly recorded strings put through tape and then through OTT brings out the hiss and texture. Make a cello / bass sound like a drone etc…
    Of course it’s great for EDM but experimentation in other genres is good fun.

  4. CoopMusic247


    I think it really shines on pulling all the basses together in dubstep specifically. I’ll have 12 different variations cut together to make a single bass and I’ll want it to just be solid. This works really well for that.

  5. I don’t really like OTT. I’m using XTT by Vinai. I’ve got it for free when I’ve purchased Fruity Loops Producer Edition last year. Great deal!

    Btw guys: Spire is 50% off on Plugin Boutique.

    • OTT isn’t an effect. It’s a meme. It’s used for a good laugh by people stuck making carbon copy 2010s-style complextro/dubstep copypasta

  6. In my day we didn’t have cheap tricks like OTT that so many cheaters use. The band gathered ‘round the ol’ microphone, and if somebody was too loud, they took a step back, or if they were too quiet they stepped forward and hollered more. If your bouzoukis or lutes weren’t cutting through the mix, you hit the strings harder, or you blew your flute harder. Simple. Kids these days and their plug-it-ins.

    • This would work even better if you stood a guy on a box in front of everyone, with maybe a stick in his hand, and wearing some kind of fancy jacket with tails on it. Then he could point the stick at people that aren’t doing it right. That would be awesome.

  7. I agree with those who use it as an effect. It is not really suitable for dynamics management, i think. It’s fashionable today to spoil the sound excitingly. That’s what OTT is for.

Leave A Reply