15 Best Clipper VST Plugins 2024


If you’re looking to increase the loudness of your mix, there are basically two tools for the job – limiters and clippers. What’s handy about today’s tools, though, is that many of them are hybrid limiters and clippers, which lets you perform two jobs with just one VST plugin.

Whether it’s mixing or mastering, boosting the loudness of a mix or adding some aggression to a track, there is a tool matched to intent.

In this guide, we look at the best clipper VST plugins.

Big Clipper by Boz Digital Labs – Best Overall

Big Clipper by Boz Digital Labs – Best Overall

Boz Digital Labs’ Big Clipper is a hybrid limiter-clipper, along with controls to blend both effects.

The main advantage of using a clipper is that your reverb and compressors start to sound more natural, especially with subtler settings. The problem is that, with most clippers, your mixes can start to fall apart with extreme settings. So, finding that elusive balance is typically what’s most troublesome about clippers.

Boz Digital Labs went to work on Big Clipper to solve that problem. They wanted to create a clipper you could push to its limits without your mixes falling apart. Of course, you can still use it with subtle settings too.

As for clipper / limiter blending, Big Clipper offers four settings – two crossover modes, a blend mode, and a serial mode. Tapping into different flavors is as simple as exploring the different blending modes.

Also onboard is the frequency sensitivity section, which masquerades as an otherwise ordinary looking EQ.

But these controls will adjust the clipper’s sensitivity to different frequencies. Whether it’s turning down the sensitive in the low end, or clearing up the lower end distortion, you’ve got the controls to be able to take charge of the effect.

Big Clipper is an excellent tool for beefing up your low end and giving it more presence in your mix.

This combination of tools makes Big Clipper our best overall selection.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

NEVO by SoundSpot – Best Premium Option

NEVO by SoundSpot – Best Premium Option

SoundSpot describes NEVO as a “monster clipper,” the reason for which, should become apparent as we explore its feature set.

This easy-to-use effect is a 16-band soft clipper combined with a single-band hard clipper. It also comes with several coloration settings, transient shaper, and clip wall limiter. The signal flow has been prearranged but optimized for ideal results.

Now for an overview of the controls and what they do.

The first is Drive, which will give you everything from a light tape drive to a hard tube drive depending on the setting.

Curve lets you control the intensity of the effect, from low (left) to high (right).

Smooth will boost the release of the 16 clipping bands while smoothing out the drive.

Crush is a bitcrusher effect. Breach lets you control the transients you want to pass through the clipper, and it has an impact on your Crush setting as well.

Soften is like Smooth, but it only affects a single band of the hard clipper.

The Colouration control provides three variations – WARM, TRANSPARENT, and BRIGHT.

Transient Emphasis is just like it sounds. You can control three types of transients (LOW, MID, HIGH).

The Clip Wall control is your final brickwall limiter.

To top it all off, you’ve got the central display for visual feedback. This display offers a visual representation of what you’re doing to your sound as you’re tweaking the parameters.

This clipper comes with additional options for bitcrushing, saturation, and transient controls. No surprise it should be our best premium pick.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

TDR Limiter 6 GE by Tokyo Dawn Labs – Best Budget Option

TDR Limiter 6 GE by Tokyo Dawn Labs – Best Budget Option

Tokyo Dawn Labs has made a bit of a name for themselves in the domain of free and premium VST plugins alike.

While it might be a little older, TDR Limiter 6 GE is still used lovingly by plenty of producers and engineers, and a big reason for that is it isn’t just a limiter or clipper, but rather a limiter toolkit.

With the six onboard modules, you can apply it to gentle loudness control, all the way over to intense brick-wall limiting, and even creative mix bus crunching.

The six modules are comprised of a dynamics compressor, clipper, high-frequency limiter, peak limiter, output protection limiter, and true peak and EBU loudness meter.

The plugin features controls for each module, both fine-tuning and macro controls. You can also set the signal path. With this much control, TDR Limiter 6 GE makes is possible for you to boost the loudness of your mix while preserving its musicality and energy.

The true peak and EBU R128 compliant loudness metering section lets you monitor and check in on the signal’s dynamics, while the equal loudness bypass ensures that you aren’t tricked by the differences in loudness.

There are also a few presets onboard to get you started. Since this plugin can meet most of your basic limiting and clipping needs, and given its nominal price point, it’s unmistakably our best budget option.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Blue Cat’s Dynamics by Blue Cat Audio

Blue Cat’s Dynamics by Blue Cat Audio

Blue Cat’s Dynamics is a highly flexible all in one dynamics processor. This plugin can be used as a compressor, limiter, gate, expander, and waveshaper. You can even perform all operations at once.

The plugin features a two-thresholds system, which you can use to tweak the dynamics response. There’s also visual feedback to let you know what you’re doing to your audio.

Blue Cat’s Dynamics also comes with several filters to control which frequencies should be affected by the compression. The continuous VCA / Opto and Peak / RMS controls let you control the behavior of the envelope detection.

There are also some stereo features, including mid / side processing, multiple stereo-linking options, as well as the power to choose which channels are affected by the processor.

The built-in brick wall limiter and clipper protects the output while giving you control over the dynamic response, and there are three modes for external side chaining (external side chain input, MIDI control, automation lanes).

In total, Blue Cat’s Dynamics comes with compressor, gate, limiter, expander, and waveshaper function with a two-threshold system, continuous peak / RMS and Opto / VCA modes, peak envelope shape control, depth control, and dry / wet control for parallel compression, input, and side chain filters.

You also get stereo or mid-side processing with multiple channel-linking options, post brickwall limiter or clipper, real time display, up to 4x oversampling, multiple side chaining modes, configurable and skinnable user interface, full MIDI control, automation and MIDI output, smooth bypass, undo / redo, integrated presets manager, and more.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Infected Mushroom Pusher by Waves

Infected Mushroom Pusher by Waves

Created alongside electronic music duo Infected Mushroom, the Infected Mushroom Pusher was developed by Waves as a hybrid multiband sonic enhancer and limiter / clipper.

Whether it’s enhancing your sounds, boosting frequencies, or mastering full tracks of any style or genre, Infected Mushroom Pusher delivers.

This plugin features the following controls:

  • Low for enhancing your low frequencies. Great for kicks, bass, and any bass instrument.
  • Body, High for boosting the mid and high frequencies.
  • Magic works like an exciter, increasing the dynamics of all frequencies simultaneously. Ideal for drum groups or full mixes.
  • Stereo Image lets you increase the stereo image of a track, as you would expect – namely the high frequencies.
  • Push will push your mix with clipping or limiting. Great for mastering.

Learn more: Waves

UBERLOUD by Boom

UBERLOUD by Boom

Part clipper, part denoiser, Boom’s UBERLOUD has been designed to make your sounds go insanely loud.

Mixes can sometimes come out sounding a little weak, no matter how much tweaking you do with EQ, transient shapers, and other effects. Sometimes, a mix lacks glue, or cohesiveness, and some instruments or voices lack separation.

To increase the loudness of a track, generally you’ve got to distort and compress a track to the nth degree. Boom takes a different approach to loudness.

UBERLOUD features very simple operation. The clipper adds harmonics, and the denoiser will help suppress floor noise.

UBERLOUD comes with up to three bands, dial-in knob, as well as dynamic single and multi-band processing.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Maximal 3 by Venomode

Maximal 3 by Venomode

Venomode’s Maximal 3 is a loudness maximizer – an all in one true peak brickwall limiter, soft clipper, and broadcast standard loudness meter. This baby’s been designed to preserve the sonic quality of your track while boosting its overall loudness.

Maximal 3 can be pushed about as hard as you want, and you should never end up with an unusable mix. It can be used on mixes as well as busses and independent tracks, depending on what you’re looking to achieve.

The true peak limiter comes with four modes, as well as attack and release controls.

The variable soft clipping feature can be used to tame rampant peaks before the limiting stage, or more creatively to grace your tracks with added warmth. The adjustable curve gives you control over hard / soft clipping. As result, you can chop transients or add saturation to tracks and mixes.

The loudness metering section gives you readouts for LUFS and the true peak value of the signal (based on ITU-R BS.1770-4 specifications). The target loudness can also be set to anything you want – handy for those times you want to master for the EBU R128 standard.

Maximal 3 also offers up to 3x oversampling, which utilizes linear-phase resampling filters.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Impact by Surreal Machines

Impact by Surreal Machines

Surreal Machines’ Impact is a transient and dynamics shaper for drums, basses, loops, and more.

As a multi-channel processor, you’ve got access to one, two, or three bands. This gives you the option of adjusting frequency bands independently.

The processing chain also comes with four switchable styles of analog-modeled saturation, and a final processing section that features a clipper, limiter, and maximizer. So, as an all-in-one transient shaper, saturation, and compressor tool, Impact has a certain appeal.

This is a great tool for adding some presence and character to your tracks.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Dragon Fire by denise

Dragon Fire by denise

denise’s Dragon Fire is first and foremost a tonal compressor with Shape technology. It does have a transparent clipper function at the end of the signal chain, mind you, and that makes it a fascinating entry.

This technology was developed as an easy-to-use controller for your dynamics and compression. With a built-in equalizer and push-pull graph, it was designed to be easier and more powerful than a multi-band compressor. Basically, it lets you tune your compressor, whether saturation or envelope follower.

Its “Shape” features make many things possible, whether it’s a softer compression sound, interpolation between fast and slow releases, adaptive saturation based on gain reduction, or otherwise.

Dragon Fire, in total, comes with a push-pull graph, transparent clipper, classic mode for compressor (use it as a single band compressor), and various presets for guitar, bass, vocals, and drums.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

KSHMR Essentials by W. A. Production

KSHMR Essentials by W. A. Production

W. A. Production’s KSHMR Essentials is a multi-effect created by DJ and record producer KSHMR himself. This plugin puts his favorite signal chain at your fingertips, with each module featuring a single knob. It doesn’t get much easier than this!

Whether you don’t like creating effects chains or find the process grueling, this is one of those “instant win” buttons you might just fall in love with.

But one of the greatest things about it is its beautiful interface, as well as how well it’s organized. You’ve got selectable sections for bass, drums, kick, synths, and vocals. Each comes with slightly different parameters, so we’ll be offering an overview of each.

The bass section comes with eight modules – harmonics, fuzz, pressure, excite, sub, side cut, width, and compression.

The drums section features air, body, details, pressure, transients, tape saturation, width, and glue controls.

In the kick section, you’ll find sub, mid, air, transients, tape, pressure, compression, and width.

The synths section comes complete with body, presence, air, exciter, details, pressure, expand, and glue.

Finally, the vocals section includes gate, body, clarity, air, compression, pressure, spread, and glue.

The top of the interface has been reserved for visual feedback so you can see exactly how you’re modifying your audio material.

You’ll also notice the auto-gain and clipper controls, which let you drive the plugin hard while keeping your dynamics.

Its design and sections would suggest that this plugin is primarily for use with electronic music (e.g., you won’t find a “guitar” section), but it could be worth trying out on other material.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Distinct! by Kiive Audio

Distinct! by Kiive Audio

Kiive Audio’s Distinct! is primarily a saturation / distortion, with a built-in digital soft clipper mode. While it won’t appeal to anyone exclusively looking for limiter / clipper style VST plugins, if you want to be able to add warmth and crunch to a track while having access to clipper functionality, this one is well worth a look.

Distinct! is based on the Overstayer: Modular Channel “Distinct!” packs. With it, you can add saturation of different intensities to drums, vocals, mix busses, and more. It’s got some serious headroom in terms of the fuzzy intensity it can reach (which is not surprising when you consider it’s combining distortion with clipping).

The HF and LF knobs let you control the character and quality of your sound before the distortion stage.

You can also control the type of distortion you get using the mode buttons – ODD (third-order harmonics), EVEN (second-order harmonics), and DIGIT (digital soft clipper).

Distinct! is very easy to operate, with a seven-knob configuration – distort, HF, LF, HPF, SAT, input, and output. There are also buttons for mode (ODD, EVEN, DIGIT), and AUTO GAIN, ON/OFF.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

KNOCK by PLUGINS THAT KNOCK

KNOCK by PLUGINS THAT KNOCK

KNOCK was created to add punch to your drums. Developed alongside platinum producer and award-winning sound designer, DECAP, KNOCK features five controls to help you dial in the perfect drum sound.

Here’s an overview of the controls:

Punch is your transient shaper, which is perfect for adding punch to your drums. Saturate will add harmonic distortion with three modes – soft, medium, and hard. Sub detects the kick drum and will generate a sub-frequency tone, adding presence.

Air will add a smooth top end without added harshness (with vintage and clean modes). Clip is an adjustable hard / soft clipper, which lets you push your drums to the limit.

For beefing up your drums, this is a seriously powerful plugin.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Fundamental Bass by W. A. Production

Fundamental Bass by W. A. Production

W. A. Production doing what it does best, Fundamental Bass is another multi-effect for enhancing the low end of your tracks.

The typical challenge encountered with bass frequencies is they either throw out the balance of your mix or are compressed so heavily that they don’t have any life left in them at the end.

W. A. Production proposes Fundamental Bass as the solution. This plugin can help you tighten up the dynamics of your low end while keeping the needed mids and highs. There’s an adjustable frequency split feeding to two separate modules.

The low band comes with twin compressors and imaging adjustment, and the high band adds natural harmonics while keeping the movement lively.

Altogether, Fundamental Bass features low and high-frequency split, a low and high module, high and low pass filters, independent compression and split-stereo imaging, mix and balance, visual feedback, presets, tube style saturation and distortion, and a resizable user interface.

As for clipping? It’s included in the mix & balance section. There’s a master clipper that will smooth out the dynamics of the outgoing audio. This can be controlled with the output level slider.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Little Clipper by Boz Digital Labs

Little Clipper by Boz Digital Labs

It may not be as powerful or as highly rated as its big brother, Big Clipper, but Boz Digital Labs’ Little Clipper still brings with it some attitude as the essential little brother.

As the lightweight version of Big Clipper, Little Clipper is a streamlined plugin that lets you dial in the perfect amount of clipping quickly and easily. It even lest you get the right amount of soft or hard clipping, depending on what your track requires.

You can choose from stereo or mid / side, depending on the best configuration. You can even clip just the mid or side channels without affecting the other.

Overall, Little Clipper comes with hard / soft clipping, input gain and ceiling controls, mix knob, and multiple stereo configurations for clipping stereo busses.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

BSAClipper by Black Salt Audio

BSAClipper by Black Salt Audio

Black Salt Audio’s BSAClipper was designed as one of the most easy to use and streamlined clippers available, letting you perform the job in mere seconds. There are only two onboard controls, so finding that perfect “sweet spot” is a triviality at best.

In all, BSAClipper is made up of an input knob, clipper fader, and clipper meter. That’s it.

It’s not the highest rated plugin out there, but it’s also not all that expensive. For some very basic clipping functionality, it could be worth a look.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

What Should I Look For In A Clipper VST Plugin?

In this section, we will be covering several key factors that will help you decide on a plugin that’s right for you. The more choice, the harder it can sometimes be to decide.

Before we go any further with that, though, it’s worth pointing out that while every plugin in this guide features clipping functionality in some capacity, not all of them are strictly clippers.

The entries that have clipping as their main function are Little Clipper, Big Clipper, TDR Limiter 6 GE, Maximal 3, Impact, NEVO, Blue Cat’s Dynamics, UBERLOUD, BSAClipper, and Infected Mushroom Pusher.

Other plugins here are of the saturation / distortion, multi-effect, or effect chain variety. Does this make them unusable by comparison? No. They are all solid, highly rated tools, but you may not find much use in them if a clipper or limiter-clipper is all you’re looking for.

Beyond that, the following criteria are the main ones to consider when shopping for a clipper:

  • Sound quality
  • Mixing or mastering
  • Features
  • Budget

Let’s dive into each.

Sound Quality

Shopping for a clipper isn’t exactly easy business. In practice, unless pushed to the extremes, it can sometimes be hard to tell what a clipper is doing to a track or mix, even with the most detailed demonstrations and explanations.

In mixing, you aren’t always after extreme, intense results, of course. Whether it’s to make a vocal track “pop” in a mix or to maximize the loudness of a master, the main thing you need to be looking for is A) whether the clipper does the job its been designed to do, and B) it tangibly enhances the track.

Barring B, you want to make sure that C) the track doesn’t fall apart when you use the clipper on it.

Listening for those changes can test the ear, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience with mixing and mastering yet. That said, it should prove good practice for you, so don’t shy away from it.

We do need to remember that clippers are generally used to achieve a more aggressive sound. So, if you’re hearing saturation or distortion or harmonics, that’s not a bad thing. It’s basically what the clipper has been designed to do.

You should still listen for whether a clipper enhances a mix, or tends to destroy its cohesion, though, as you don’t want to end up with a product that basically does nothing to make your mixes better. That would be the most regrettable type of purchase.

What you must remember, though, is that a clipper will change the sound of the track, bus, or mix. What you must consider is whether it changes the sound in a way that benefits your mix.

Mixing Or Mastering?

How will you be using the clipper?

Clippers are great for mixing and mastering purposes alike. For adding an edge to any track, you need to hit with some serious impact, it’s well worth using a clipper on.

For these types of uses, a clipper that’s been built with mixing in mind, or a clipper that can handle both mixing and mastering applications is worth finding.

For adding to your entire mix, you may want to take advantage of a different type of clipper. The TDR Limiter 6 GE and Blue Cat’s Dynamics have practically been designed for this purpose.

Some experimentation is par for the course.

But you should be able to get a good sense which plugin would be good for what applications based on the video reviews and demos.

That said, it is a factor worth considering, because you might need two clippers to get the job done, not just one. And that means adding to your shopping list.

Features

Clippers are relatively simple tools. Essentially, they have been designed to slice off peaks and transients. This is how they boost the loudness of tracks.

You will find that most clippers aren’t exactly feature rich. It’s not like they come with reverb, EQ, compression, gating, de-essing, and other modules like a channel strip or multi-effect plugin. They may offer additional functionality in the form of limiting, compression, transient shaping, and saturation, mind you.

Of course, there are a few plugins in this guide that are more like multi-effects – KSHMR Essentials, KNOCK, and Fundamental Bass to name a few.

More features aren’t always better. It mostly comes down to what you need.

A plugin like KSHMR Essentials is great as an effects chain module, so it’s better suited to mixing than mastering, even with its clipping function. It’s also a better all-in-one tool than as a standalone clipper.

If a clipper is what you need, then stick to the main 10 described at the top of this section. If you want to go looking for other outside the box or more comprehensive solutions, then also look at the others available.

When it comes to clippers, sound quality will often trump features, though, so also keep that in mind as you’re shopping of the ideal plugin.

Budget

Premium clippers generally cost from about $25 to $180. Not too bad, but it is, after all, in the utility plugin category.

There probably aren’t too many situations in which you should find yourself needing to buy a bunch of clippers. You might get two or three, though, depending on what you need them for. The point is – even small purchases can add up fast.

So, use your budget as a filter and choose a solution that’s within your spending range. We don’t recommend going into debt under any circumstances. If you need something better, you can always save up for it.

For the most part, clippers are priced competitively, and you can get a good amount of clipper for relatively little money.

Wait, Isn’t Clipping Bad? Why Would I Want To Clip My Tracks?

Clipping generally isn’t good when we’re talking specifically about audio material you’ve already captured / recorded. But when used smartly after the fact, it can be a powerful, versatile tool for enhancing a mix.

Now, one of the biggest challenges early mixers and producers encounter is generally that their mixes simply aren’t loud enough. They may have balanced everything nicely, even created good separation for each instrument and voice, but still come up with a mix that isn’t exploding out of the speakers.

A little research will likely show that a limiter or clipper is what’s needed to push a mix to the next level, and so producers go out and download or purchase the best-looking plugin they can find…

Only to come up with mixes that come out sounding spongy, distorted, incoherent, unbalanced, spacey, other, or some combination thereof.

Well, there is a difference between limiters and clippers, not to mention their operation. Knowing this can save you much heartache.

Limiters are effectively extreme compressors that clamp down on your dynamic range. Compared to clipping, limiting will tend to sound cleaner and more natural.

Meanwhile, clipping takes strong peaks and transients and cuts them clear off (thus, clipping).

Both tools can help you achieve a louder sound, they just go about it in a different way.

Clipping distorts and colorizes your tracks and is generally great for acoustic and electronic drums, aggressive rap and rock vocals, basses, percussion, anything that needs more impact in a mix.

A limiter can boost energy, increase focus, or offer more evenness for a variety of track types, all in a relatively transparent way.

As with anything else, it’s important to use your ears to determine what works best for your mix, as this will vary from track to track. Clippers aren’t always more aggressive, and limiters aren’t always cleaner. It depends a lot on the effect.

So, again, while clippers may sacrifice some dynamic range to increase loudness, this also isn’t always the case.

Fundamentally, clippers are useful depending on the desired effect. They are useful at the mixing and mastering stages for boosting loudness, even adding some crunch.

Top Clipper VST Plugins, Final Thoughts

Even the best effects can sometimes suffer from poor operation. Sure, there are some plugins out there that are practical “no-brainers,” but most still require you to gain some competency in their use.

So, once you’ve downloaded and installed your chosen plugin(s), don’t forget to spend some time getting acquainted with it. This will increase your chances of being able to achieve the desired effect using the plugin.

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