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Review: GRIP Valve Drive Compressor by CFA-Sound

Review GRIP Compressor by CFA-Sound

CFA-Sound GRIP Review

In a world filled with plugin compressors, producers and engineers are always looking for something new and unique. For the last years, we’ve seen lots of plugin compressors that try to imitate the warmth and flaws of vintage, classic compressors (say LA-2A, 1176, Fairchild 660, etc, etc). Most of them do a really nice job and some not, but anyway, it’s getting hard to see something different in the plugin world.

That’s why I’m pretty excited with the GRIP compressor from CFA Sound, it’s kinda vintage, it’s kinda modern, it’s kinda dirty, it’s kinda clean, but, after using it on a bass guitar track, I can tell you this, it has lots of character! Let’s check it out!!


CFA-Sound GRIP Review
GRIP User Interface

When you fire it up, the GUI makes you think about vintage almost instantly, but that’s not necessarily true.

The GRIP has two main sections, a valve drive to the left, and a VCA, a pretty modern sounding compressor, to the right.

The VCA compressor, is pretty much your standard compressor, with fixed ratios from 1.5:1 to 20:1, so, it can act as a limiter using the higher ratio settings. Next, there are controls for attack and release times. ‘Attack’ can be set really fast (0.1ms), which can make it sound really modern, to more natural times like 30 ms (especially good for kicks, snares, or anything with lots of transients); release times are very standard, from 0.1 seconds to 2 seconds. Again, both attack and decay times are in fixed values.

Next there’s the threshold knob and a dry/wet blend knob, which is very useful for parallel compression, but also, to just use the valve drive section with no compression at all. Finally, there’s an output knob for make-up compensation (or some other wacky things you might wanna try in your gain stage chain?).

To the right is the gain reduction meter, which I should mention, it’s a great tool you shouldn’t overlook in any compressor.

To the left, you’ll find the valve drive section, which makes this plugin really interesting to me.

It’s modelled after two vintage german valves triode and pentode, and each of them sounds very different. you can add up to 24dB of drive, but, you also have an input level knob, so, you might just wanna add lots of drive, and lower the input so it doesn’t affect low end that much, or, just dial in a touch of drive with full input level. It depends on your taste basically.

There’s a BIAS knob here, and also a dry/wet, so you can have some parallel drive or no valve sounds at all hitting the VCA compressor.

How does it sound?

Well, before actually reading that valves were modelled after vintage german valves, my first thought was “it sounds very german”, but, with all the options available, this is a very versatile unit, which is intended to add lots of character to your tracks.

It sounds very warm, and despite having fixed ratios, attack and release times, it is very flexible due to its dry/wet knobs.

Without using the valves emulations, it can actually sound pretty clean, but, even so, it has some character, in a good musical way.

Both triode and pentode valves, sound very different, so it’s a matter of taste to see which suits you better.


In a world filled with vintage compressors emulations, this is a breeze of fresh air. It can sound pretty unique while adding lots of character and warmth to your tracks. You can use it on pretty much every track, but, to my taste, I like it a lot on bass guitar and vocals. It can surely add lots of character if you use it in the mix buss, but you gotta be sure that is what you want and that it suits the song you are working on.

I did try it with the mix I’m currently working on, and it didn’t work, it was just too much character, but, probably, in a more rock and roll oriented song, it should sound great! Anyway, it’s just a matter of experimentation and taste.

If you are looking for something new and different with lots of character, you should definitely try this compressor! I know I’ll be using it a lot, and it might just be my to-go compressor along with the LA-2A for bass and vocals.

More Details: GRIP

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CFA-Sound generously giveaway a free copy of their GRIP compressor plugin to one lucky ProducerSpot.com reader.

WinnerTo enter this giveaway, all you need to do is to leave a comment below. Optionally, you can subscribe to our newsletter to get more news, tutorials and more giveaways like this one.

We will pick a random winner on March 1 (2016).


The winner is: Dennis Lauritzen


You may also like to see: Best Free Compressor VST/AU Plugins

[author image=”https://www.producerspot.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/piggy-sounds-logo.jpg” ]Rafael Hofstadter is a recording and mixing engineer and sound designer with 10+ years experience in playing and programming synths, recording, mixing and producing pop/rock/folk albums. He also runs piggysounds.com.[/author]

44 thoughts on “Review: GRIP Valve Drive Compressor by CFA-Sound

  1. Datj says:

    Thanks for the review! Tried the demo. The tube/valve section is really warm and nice, especially when you keep the input down a little bit. Do miss a sidechain on the compressor. Any one else too? But seems pretty good just using it for warming up tracks and some mixes even.

  2. Yannis says:

    Thanks for the giveaway. And it does looks like an interesting processor. Although I am still not convinced about the use of fixed attack and release values.

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