Vocal Compressor Pedal – Best Vocal Compression Processors 2018

What are Vocal Compressor Pedals?

Vocal compression is an effect used to limit the dynamics of a vocal take, this can be both in a studio environment or live on-stage. However, singers who want to have vocal compression for on-stage performances will want a solution which is 100% reliable, since there’s only one chance to get the performance right! That’s where vocal compressor pedals come into usage.

Vocal compressor pedals offer singers the ability to activate the vocal compression without the need for a complex setup, such as a laptop/computer, which is running a compressor program, which could freeze or crash at any given time. Instead, the singer can have a small piece of hardware, the vocal compression pedal, which is situated directly in front of the singer on-stage and can be activated and de-activated with the touch of a button.

 

Best Vocal Compressor Pedals for Vocals

There is a range of multifunctional vocal effects pedals available that provide vocal compression which you can find here; however, there aren’t many pedals with the compression effect as it’s singular functionality. Additionally, there are also vocal compressor processing units (usually rack-mountable and lacking foot pedal functionality) which can be used for both live and studio vocal compression… Therefore, this article has been split into three different sections:

Singular-Function Footpedal Vocal Compressor Pedals
Singular-Function Vocal Compressor Units for Live & Studio compression
Multi-Functional Vocal Compression processors

Singular-Function Foot Pedal Vocal Compressors

  • TC Electronic Singles VoiceTone T1 Vocal Effects Processor – (4.2 / 5) – Specifically designed for vocal compression
  • T-Rex NEOCOMP Compressor Pedal – (4.1 / 5) – Designed for Guitar, Bass and Vocals

Singular-Function Vocal Compressor Units for Live & Studio compression

  • ART Pro-VLA II Two Channel Vactrol-based Compressor – (5 / 5) (#1 Amazon best seller compression unit)
  • dbx 166xs Compressor/Limiter/Gate  – (4.4 / 5)
  • dbx 266XS Compressor/Gate – (4.4 / 5)
  • FMR RNC 1773 Compressor Unit – (4.7 / 5)
  • FMR Audio RNLA 7239 Really Nice Levelling Amplifier Stereo Compressor – (4.7 / 5)
  • Warm Audio WA76 Discrete Compressor – (3.7 / 5)

Multi-Functional Vocal Compression processors

The following effects pedals have built-in compression effects and foot-pedal functionality. These processors also have a range of other effects that are available to the user, so if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, these processors are for you.

  • TC Helicon Voice Live Play Vocal Effects Processor (4.4 / 5)
  • TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3 – (4.6 / 5)
  • TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3 Extreme Vocal Effects Processor – (4.8 / 5)
So now that you’ve seen the processors, let’s get into taking a look at them one-by-one!

TC Electronic Singles VoiceTone T1 (4.2 / 5)

The T1 is part of the VoiceTone Singles series and offers singers a single-button stompbox with ‘Adaptive Tone Technology’, allowing singers to easily control Vocal Compression, Gating, De-essing and EQ all with the control knobs on the front of the processor.

Main Features/Benefits

  • Simple to use vocal compression pedal, with on-off stompbox functionality
  • Studio quality microphone preamp with 48v Phantom Power
  • Easily adjusted Shape, Compressor, De-essing and Warmth settings
  • On/Off Integration with  TC-Helicon MP-75 and MP-76 microphone for remote control wherever you go on-stage.
  • Connects to computer/laptop for downloadable updates.

Disadvantages

  • Inability to save presets, therefore any modifications to these presets must be done via the on-pedal filter knobs.

TC Electronic Singles VoiceTone T1

Who is this pedal perfect for

This TC Helicon T1 vocal compression unit is perfect for any singer looking for a singular functioning effects pedal. This pedal’s primary function is to help a singer control vocal dynamics and tone. The processor is ideal for use in practices and live performances. We would recommend this to a hobbyist singer/songwriter/musician.

 

T-Rex NEOCOMP Compressor Pedal (4.1 / 5) designed for Guitar, Bass and Vocals

The T-Rex Neo Compressor Pedal is suitable for Guitar, Bass and for Vocals. It provides users with up to 9:1 compression, attack, release and gain controls meaning that it can provide anything from a light, breezy compression, up to full, heavy squashing of the signal. This drop in volume can be made up by the pedal’s Gain knob.

Main Features/Benefits

  • Simple to use stompbox
  • Ability for the singer to further refine the compressed sound with attack, release knobs.
  • Additional gain knob to increase the compressed signal volume
  • Extremely small in size, so it won’t take up additional space on your pedalboard.

Disadvantages

  • Not primarily designed with vocal compression in mind

Who is this pedal perfect for

This pedal is for the musician who wants the ability to use their compressor pedal on vocals, guitar and bass. Truly suited for the musician as opposed to the singer.

 

ART Pro-VLA II Two Channel Vactrol-based Compressor  (5 / 5) (#1 Amazon bestseller and Our Editor’s Recommendation)

The ART Pro-VLA II Compressor processor & levelling amplifier is the perfect rack-mountable solution for Live and Studio use, and is incredibly versatile, being able to be used on any instrument with beautiful sonic detail.

With it’s tube compression circuitry, it really gives a warm natural sound to the vocals, and acoustic guitar [refer to the demo video below].

We have been particularly impressed by this processor, with the compression really adding to the overall sound of the vocals, without taking away the naturality of the vocal line.

Main Features/Benefits

  • Optoelectronic design circuitry (as opposed to VCA) means more compression can be used with a much more natural sounding output signal
  • Features a 12AT7 vacuum tube in the gain stage which gives the output a warm sounding output
  • Incredibly versatile, being able to apply compression/dynamic levelling to any instrument in any scenario (both live and studio)
  • Diverse compression ratio, from 2:1 to 20:1
  • 2 x XLR inputs & 2 x 1/4″ inputs
  • 2 x XLR outputs, 2 x 1/4″ outputs

Disadvantages

  • Not a stompbox, therefore compression will be active throughout performance (but will variate based on the input signal)

Who is this pedal perfect for

This processor is the perfect solution for the serious singer/musician/engineer, looking for high-quality compression that can be used in both the recording studio and live (stage) environment.

 

dbx 166xs Compressor/Limiter/Gate  – (4.4 / 5)

The dbx 166xs compression unit, limiter and gate is another processor designed for multiple uses; This processor is suitable for integration with vocals, guitar, bass, drums, etc and oozes high quality due to it’s patented ‘overeasy compression technology’.

This processor is versatile in its use and can be utilized within any environment, whether you’re running a live stage performance or an isolated studio recording.

Main Features/Benefits

  • New gate timing algorithms ensure the smoothest release characteristics
  • Separate precision LED displays for gain reduction, compression threshold and gate threshold allow quick, accurate setup
  • Stereo or dual-mono operation
  • Balanced inputs and outputs on 1/4″ TRS and XLR connectors
  • Side Chain insert
  • Classic dbx® “Auto” mode

Disadvantages

  • Not a stompbox, therefore compression will be active throughout the performance (but will variate based on the input signal)

Who is this pedal perfect for

Again, this processor is the perfect solution for the serious singer/musician/engineer, looking for high-quality compression that can be used in both the recording studio and live (stage) environment.

 

dbx 266XS Compressor/Gate (4.4 / 5)

The dbx 266xs compression unit, limiter and gate is another processor designed for multiple uses; Similar to the 166xs, this processor is suitable for integration with vocals, guitar, bass, drums, etc but does not have a limiter, or in other words, does not have as high maximum compression threshold as the 166xs.

Similar to the 166xs, this processor is versatile in its use and can be utilized within any environment, whether you’re running a live stage performance or an isolated studio recording.

Main Features/Benefits

  • New gate timing algorithms ensure the smoothest release characteristics
  • Separate precision LED displays for gain reduction, compression threshold and gate threshold allow quick, accurate setup
  • Stereo or dual-mono operation
  • Balanced inputs and outputs on 1/4″ TRS and XLR connectors
  • Side Chain insert
  • Classic dbx® “Auto” mode

Disadvantages

  • Not a stompbox, therefore compression will be active throughout the performance (but will variate based on the input signal)

Who is this pedal perfect for

Again, this processor is the perfect solution for the serious singer/musician/engineer, looking for high-quality compression that can be used in both the recording studio and live (stage) environment. However, for anyone looking for hard compression (limiting), I would recommend the ART Pro-VLA II or 166xs instead.

 

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