Robbert van der Helm Releases FREE Spectral Compressor


Developer Robbert van der Helm has released Spectral Compressor, a FREE compressor for Windows and Mac.

I’ll readily admit that I have too many compressors, as I’m sure everyone does at this point. Despite the plethora of dynamics processors in my plugin folder, there is always room for one more.

Spectral Compressor is something familiar but done in a very novel way for me, at least. It gets into the magic of spectral processing, which always comes across as audio sorcery.

The developer of Spectral Compressors blithely asks if anyone has ever wondered what a 16,384 band OTT would sound like. Spectral Compressor can be intensely aggressive, immediately crushing things into digital noise.

In smaller strokes, it does call to mind OTT. However, a spectral compressor offers much more control, letting you fine-tune how it compresses the audio every step of the way.

Despite its advanced control setup, Spectral Compressor has a fairly straightforward interface. You have a universal threshold with controls for the center frequency, slope, mode, and curve.

You also have global controls that dictate the window size, overlap, and the attack and release of the compressor envelope. After that, you can control the upward and downward compression of the plugin itself. This is handled with the use of independent ratios.

Spectral Compressor readily smashes things way down if you want, but it has some other interesting uses. You can feed it a sidechain signal to match the spectrums of both materials, effectively morphing it into a completely different sound.

It can also be more moderate in its use, taking a sedate approach to compression. Whatever your poison is when it comes to dynamic control, this is a fun tool to explore and use for sound design. It might not replace that drum bus compressor you love so much, but it has its merits.

Spectral Compressor is available for Windows, Linux, and macOS. You might run into permission errors with macOS, as I did when installing. However, that is easy enough to bypass. Nightly releases are available for all operating systems, with updates coming semi-frequently.

Download: Spectral Compressor (FREE)


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Liam is a producer, mixing engineer, and compressor aficionado. When not mixing, he can be found pretending to play guitar, as he has been doing for the last 20 years.


    • I was wondering the same thing. I believe that’s basically it too. The difference with a regular multiband seems to be that it has a lot of bands, but just one global threshold. In the case of this one, a very configurable threshold though, with curve and tilt. Smart:comp 2 does spectral compression too, but that one really only has one flat threshold, it just applies the compression differently over the spectrum. I’m tempted to call them easy-mode multiband compressors, but that would probably be oversimplifying it.

  1. lessismore74


    If you’re looking for an April Fools joke post, a new plugin that compresses your compressor vst folder would be timely.

  2. anyone having problems with the installation? downloaded the vst and rust, then when i run the command cargo ..

    “xtask bundle spectral_compressor –release”

    i get

    “error: no such command: `xtask`Did you mean `test`?”

    • The article fails to cover how to get to the correct download page, which unfortunately means people like yourself end up trying and failing to go through the build process (how developers create the binaries you’re used to installing, like .exe or .msi files).

      You can either use the link in the article to click the link for nightly builds, or click this link which will bring you to the same page:

      You’ll be presented with three options – just find the release for your OS, click the link to the right of it, extract the zip file, and go from there as you normally would.

      • Thanks so much for your help, i added the VST3 file to the VST3 folder on my mac, but still nothing works in Logic despite restarting etc. so I asssume it just doesn’t work on my laptop

  3. Thanks to Au5 people are finally learning about this amazing plugin. Who knows next time some big youtube producer will finally go into Cardinal so people can finally stop sleeping on it too.

    One thing this article hints but doesn’t go into is how versatile it is, with shaping the compressor line and the three modes it offers. I even think it’s as good a Vocoder as it is a Soothe-like.

  4. This is a poorly-written rush job of an article. The lead developer’s name is Robbert van der Helm, not the repository name “Nih-Plug”. NIH-plug is an open source audio plugin development framework that happens to bundle a nice collection of plugins in its repository, why would you fail to mention any of the other works listed right on the main page?

    In addition to that – this isn’t a “new release” by any stretch of the imagination, Robbert has been working on this for quite a while. You happened to see Au5’s recent video tutorial and conveniently failed to mention that bit of “inspiration” anywhere in your article. Seeing as that video was published just yesterday I can’t imagine you had any decent amount of time to test the software and form a meaningful opinion of it, and it really shows through your writing.

    • CoopMusic247


      Actually, I posted about it in a comment, which I did mention the dev properly and I cited Au5’s video. And my comment didn’t get approved it seems. I posted it right after seeing the video because I follow Au5 pretty closely on youtube.

      • Tomislav Zlatic


        Hi Coopmusic247, I checked the comment moderation log and haven’t noticed any comments from you. I’m sorry about the issue, it could be caused by a server error. Feel free to post the comment again or send it to me through the contact form.

    • CoopMusic247


      I tried commenting about having actually citing the dev and linked the Au5 video I saw when I posted about this in the comment section of another video but my comments keep getting deleted.

      • Unless you wrote something particularly nasty, your comments were not “deleted”. Any post containing links (YouTube or otherwise) or including any BPB authors’ names are kept temporarily hidden until a moderator can check through them. This is the way it’s been done for years.

    • Or, you could recognize that the author’s of BPB try their best to provide us poor bedroom producers with a fantastic resource, & it is not easy for them (amidst their own full-time production jobs) to stay on top of every new thing in the free plugin world.

      Just post the information that you did, which was missing from the article, but in a more constructive way. And i am thoroughly sure that a BPB editor (who have always cared about their community & actively engage with us) will come along & fix a few things in the article, once time permits them to.

      • My thoughts exactly. I will say though, after arriving here yesterday afternoon when there were only a handful of comments and seeing that a couple were so fired up, this did persuade me to go ahead and download (yet another) compressor. Very glad that I did – this thing is amazing. I feel like they should re-title it something other than compressor (even if that’s technically what it is). The things this baby can do are hardly comparable to your run-of-the-mill compressor.

        Anyway, I appreciate the additional voices in the comments but I do feel that commenters really need to take a breath and realize what an amazing service is being provided here – at no cost whatsoever. It’s easy to become jaded when spending a lot of time online, important to note to remind oneself that not everyone you interact with is after your credit card, your time, or an “epic online battle”. These are the good guys. Remember it!

    • Tomislav Zlatic


      Hi AZ, I’m sorry you didn’t like the article. As for the developer’s name, thank you for the correction. I updated the info in the article.

      A reader suggested the plugin to us via email (and we also got a recommendation in the comments section for the Softube VCA article), and we decided to feature it on the website because we thought many BPB readers would find it valuable (as I’m sure they do).

      Thank you for reading BPB, you and everyone else reading this! I’m doing my best to keep it the best website possible for bedroom producers, and I’m always happy to improve the articles based on readers’ suggestions.

      Also, I would appreciate it if we kept an overall positive tone in the comments section on BPB. We’re all going through tough times occasionally, so let’s make life a bit easier and better for fellow music producers who visit BPB by keeping things cool and cheerful.

      Thank you!

      • Hi Tomislav, I definitely didn’t mean for my comment to come across as mean spirited as I have been a semi-regular reader for some years, and have appreciated your efforts. I was blunt in my criticisms because I saw some easily avoidable mistakes throughout the article and it seemed quite rushed.

        I apologise to both you and WIlliam if my comment came across as offensive.

        • Tomislav Zlatic


          Hey AZ, no problem at all! Thanks again for your suggestions and for reading BPB. I’m always happy to hear any feedback.

          Sometimes (as in the past couple of days, for example) we have more stuff to write about than our small team of writers can handle without going into overload, so typos and small mistakes are to be expected occasionally. But it’s great when our readers step in to help us correct these. :)

  5. Stop with the Conspiracy in the comment section, guys.

    You know that everyting provided here is for you and for free, there is no need to start some conspiracy fairytales about this site.
    Of course for each plugin there have to be some sort of text for the blog entry, what would it look like if not?

    About the plugin itself,
    this is a monster of a compressor, you don’t even know what you got here. This compressor is able to to sidechain the exact detail, lets say if you want to have your vocals cut through the bass you take this compressor and let only the freq of the vocal cut the bass freq.
    This is high precision sidechaining.

  6. i know we all saw Au5’s video and that’s all well and good – it’s a great plugin – but what was the point of this article? you guys already reported on the entire bundle of open source nih-plugs a while ago, why just this one again? genuine question from an avid BPB reader

    • Tomislav Zlatic


      Hi Jamie, a reader suggested this plugin via email, and we decided to feature it so that more readers could learn about it. I wasn’t aware of Au5’s video, I’ll check it out now.

      UPDATE: Another reader also suggested the plugin in the comments section.

  7. Frits van Zanten


    I’m not that avid and I don’t watch Au5-videos (I even don’t know what that is) so I appreciate reading about this. I think you can’t exclude people not paying the maximum attention to BPB.

  8. Loving this tool. The issue is that it makes my DAW crash once in a while. Buggy but dope. Hope those bugs get fixed soon!!!! ♡

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