Antress VST Plugins – I Love Them!

Brandon Drury —  December 5, 2007

Recently I’ve been mixing quite a bit. I’ve had some projects that were put on hold that have been brought up from the dead, so to speak. I just found Antress plugins maybe 2 weeks ago and they have been getting HEAVY use on my mixes. Well, as heavy as I can go with them. Some of their plugins will chew right through a CPU. In fact, when I first tried them out, I went nuts on a drum kit with compressors and Eqs. I ran out of CPU power on my AMD Athlon 64 2800. Admittedly, this is not exactly a cutting edge computer, but I do have to say that Antress plugins dramatically more CPU power than the Waves plugins I typically use.

Before we get started, I want to say flat out that I DO NOT care about emulations. I have no idea what a real Neve EQ really sounds like as I’ve only played around with one a single time (although it was pretty damn awesome!!). The real deal Eqs have this way of changing the tone without sounding like you put EQ on it. Plugins have conventionally had this tone where they just added stuff to the track, but really didn’t fix what was in the track. It’s hard to explain. You know how those Boss bass distortion pedals sound? They keep the low end fairly clean but add a bunch of fizz to the high end. That’s kind of what my experience has been with most EQ plugins and NOT what the hardware Eqs I’ve played with from API and Neve sounded like.

Luckily, plugins are improving. The Antress people have included quite a few Neve channel strips in their arsenal. I have to admit that these plugins do have an extra something to them when compared to the Waves stuff that I’m used to. Generally speaking, you won’t catch me boosting much with Waves stuff and if I do it’s usually only a few DB. The Antress Neve stuff is different. I just twist the knobs and it ends up sounding great. I’ve found that I can dial in more click in a metal kick drum with the Antress stuff than I can with the Waves plugins without sounding “weird”. It just sounds more “right” with the Antress stuff.

With that said, I don’t use EQ that much anyway except for getting stuff to fit together in a dense mix. So I really haven’t used the Antress EQ stuff that often. When I have, I’ve been very pleased.

The Antress package comes with numerous compressors. There are probably 10 different compressors in there. Overall, I can’t say that any of them really blew my mind. They did have more “attitude” than the Waves stuff I’m used to. I thought to myself “Alright! Attitude! I’ll same my room mics in DFH Superior and see what happens”. Well, I was a little disappointed. While the compressors do have attitude, I couldn’t find one compressor that was fast enough for my room mic tastes. All of them accentuated that initial click sound in the beginning of the transient. This is useful in some situations, but it was not what I was looking for when crushing my room mics. For all I know, there is no hardware compressor that can do that. I don’t care. After mixing with Waves plugins for years and years, I’ve grown to like the sound of zero attack in my room mics.

With that said, there are have been two compressor type plugins that have really stood out to me and they make my mixes better! The first is the Antress Painkiller. It is very simple. It has a gain knob and a threshold knob (or something to that effect). I appears to be a limiter, but it is just a tad slow, which works out great on drums. I’ve been using it on my drum bus and on my parallel compression bus. I’ll get VERY aggressive on the parallel compression bus but then got quite a bit lighter on the drum bus. I love the fact that there are only 2 knobs. It’s my nature to twist all knobs and really experiment. This is a curse and a blessing. Fortunately, great products like this allow me to get the tones I want without screwing anything up. It’s hard enough to set 2 knobs to sound right, let alone 10. You can hear this in my member’s only, Electric Guitar Mic Shootout.

The other compressor that I’ve been very excited about it is the Manley clone. Again, I have no idea what a real Manley compressor sounds like, but I LOVE this thing on the 2 bus. The Manley adds a bit of crunch to everything even when used subtly. I’m not exactly sure what it is doing or how it is doing it, but I like it. I’ve been using it set fast. I have to be very careful when using too fast of a release time on the 2bus because this can distort the low end. (If the Wavelength of the frequency is larger than the release time of the compressor, distortion can occur).

I tried out every compressor on my distorted electric guitar bus of a rock band I recorded live at Echo Echo Studios. I was looking for a little “grind” or a little “harmonic content”. I was looking for a little “liveliness”. So, I tried out each compressor to knock down 3dB off my electric guitars and then boost them back up so that I could A/B them with uncompressed electric guitars. In this particular application, only 2 of the compressors did anything cooler than the Waves Rcomp. The Antress tube compressor had just a touch of extra something to the track. The Antress Manley clone also added just a little “crunch” just like it did on the 2bus. However, I guess I was getting towards the end of the mix, because both the Manley clone and the tube compressor pushed my CPU over the edge. I went back to the Rcomp and was fine. The extra something in the Antress tube compressor plugin wasn’t worth the CPU troubles in this particular case.

At the competitive price of FREE, the Antress plugins are a hell of a value. I’d recommend them to anyone who wants to try out some new plugins. I’ve been in “new plugins” mode for a while now. The Waves plugins are typically nice and clean, but maybe a little to Switzerlandish to me. (aka neutral). I’m looking for plugins that have more bad settings in them. (The power to destroy is also the power to create in the audio world).

I’m not sure if the Antress plugins are the Holy Grail, but they are certainly a step in the right direction. The fact that some of the plugins chew up so much CPU usage is kind of a real world problem that makes the plugins less useful to me today. However, if upgrading a PC will result in better sounds, maybe this is a good path to take. Then again, maybe something like the Focusrite Liquidmix or UAD-1 cards would get me to where I want to go easier. If nothing else, the Antress plugins have illustrated that an upgrade in plugins can get me closer to the goal.

Antress plugins have made it easier to make my clients happy. I wish the same could be said for all the expensive gear I’ve purchased.

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.

19 responses to Antress VST Plugins – I Love Them!

  1. Glad they worked out. I like the VS-ME on vox, too – it has a way of making them “jump” out of the mix without actually being louder…

  2. Hey Brandon,

    After your reviews on Cubase I decided to go with version 4.1 and I have to say, it’s truly awesome!!! Thanks! As for Antress, it looks and sounds pretty impressive but I’m not sure how to add VST Plugins into Cubase so they will be functional, and, is it possible to have them appear on the file menu? Do you know? You probably do but I’ve just not had time to browse the site thouroughly as a new user since I have 3 businesses to run. Thank you in advance for your reply.


  3. TheSilentDrummer December 6, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    Haha, nice Switzerland joke (took me a second to get it…). I’ll have to check out these plugins. Soudns like there might be something useful in there.

  4. Hello,

    Thank you for your thorough lay out of a seemingly awesome product. Where can I find these? Is there a web site for download? Thank you again!


  5. It appears the site is down. I’ll keep everyone updated if I hear anything new.

  6. TheSilentDrummer January 30, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    There is a new site.

  7. Something strange happened there !?!
    The link redirects to a SSL-page…
    Where is Antress ???
    Did they sue him, just because he used a few bitmaps of knobs and he had to give up his homepages ?
    The Plugs are extremely great, but just need some minor tweaks in graphic behaviour and settings-recall in Energy-XT.
    Hoping very much for an update…

  8. Nice article!
    Did you campare Antress with Waves Api or SLL packages?

  9. No, I’ve never used the Waves API and Waves SSL plugins, unfortunately. I’ve been wanting to. I’ve just never gotten around to it. Hopefully they are easier on the CPU than the Antress stuff.


  10. I’ve been testing a demo of the API Waves stuff and they are much easier on the CPU. I really like the Waves API 2500 compressor and it the 550 EQs. I REALLY like the equalizers!

    I’m not sure what is going on with Antress, but there is a new link with all the plugins available here:

  11. All of these sound terrible, and several have visual bugs. Sure, free yadda yadda, but time is money and these things are a waste of time.

  12. Yes, I think the Antress is great too

  13. hi folks,

    my name is chris and i am a pro-level mixing engineer with big name credits, i ahve been working professionally for about 6 years now..(you can find me on as sleeper1400 if your in a jam)

    ive been around a while in the digital realm, ive used them all.

    there are the best plug ins i have ever used as a whole.

    the dbx 160 (the emulated one i used on a funkadelic record)
    was stunning. the neve strips are very good.
    there were so many, i couldnt keep up.

    they all sounded as good or better that their competitors, and when you mix in free..well that changes everything.

    their distressor could use a touch of work, but since its the only plug in on the market, im not complaining. it sounds good anyway.

    the manley was also very good.

    just to gripe a little, it would be nice if they had manuals for each device, and better names for the plugs.
    when you have a 3 column page of VD_FM the stuff gets a little confusing.

    hreat work gentlman. keep fighting the good fight!!!!


  14. I did not think the vst”s were better than the waves. I have a lot of waves . Yea the ssl 400 is great for tracks. I use the V-series more than the SSL.
    The SSL is cleaner cutting, The V-series has that old time vintage warmer sound, I usually use the v -series eq. great for everything.

    Did you ever try the L-316 waves mastering plug in. You mentioned loud, Well this will totally fatten up your sound a lot. I will admit ,when i have to totally finish a radio jingle, or even a song that is not getting mastered by mastering co, then i know all i can do is to use that waves L-316. I am not saying that it can but i did on few , all depends every time,

    I have A_B few mixes, L316 vrs a real mastering studio, Sometimes i like the waves BEtter, And that is just a plug in. Well it is almost the size of the entire screen but it does eat some cpu power but really not that bad,But then it comes down to outboard pcs as well.

  15. I came cross these vst’s while searching for free mastering vts’s. I must say I like them alot, and of course you cant beat free! this weekend I am going through many free mastering plug-ins I have downloaded and by far these are the best. I use Abelton 7, Sonar 7 and Cubase AI. I am getting Pro Tools 8 next week. Now I am not saying that I wont get any Waves or McDSP plug-ins, and I dont have any Waves or McDSP plug-ins to compare! But I can say the Antress do give me the sound I am looking for. I do have a very hign end PC so I have open several of the plug-ins just to bench mark there performance and so far I have not had any issues yet! Way to go Antress!!!

  16. I’ve been mixing with cubase now for about four years and recently discovered antress’s range of free plugins. The dyna killer 1176 compressor emulation blew me away when i put it on the lead vocal of one of my mixes. I’ve got quite a few waves plugins and by comparison they sound pretty average. The fact that you can download about 30 or so of the antress plugins for free is even more amazing. There are lots of costly plugins out there claiming to be the best and stating they’ve been used on countless hit records, however many of them are very dissapointing.

  17. guys, seriously. the antress plugs were literally meant to be a joke and an experiment. the experiment was to make the g.u.i. of these plugs really nice, but use basic synth edit modules (known for sounding terrible). the thought was that if a plug-in looked great, users would love them no matter what they sounded like.

  18. I like the Antress Stuff two, it sounds good, i dont think that antress only is an experiment and OK if that is true, so i have a good sound for free.

    I have seen that Antress has posted the SynthEdit projects on his webpage, and also he has posted additional modules two.

    Thinking Antress is a very niche deal, you can test it without risk, because it is free ….

  19. It’s really good package. No jokes. I’ve been comparing these to Waves SSL 4000 serie and… well, compressors/EQ sound different, but don’t go mad – Antress plug-ins are for FREE. Some of the comments are simply malicious (from malicious people, no offence). If someone is creating stricte electronic music look for Elektrostudio VSTi’s. Free of charge as well. When you put a low-pass filter on them (8-10kHz, depends on a taste) they’re sounding like true f**g analogues. Regards boys and girls.