I love checking out plugins. Especially Compressors. The attack and release characteristics of compressors vary a lot from comp to comp, so it's good to know how a wide variety of compressors sound in a variety of situations. I run Snow Leopard, so this review is for the mac AU format.
I stumbled across DDMF and saw that they were 'pay what you want' for the license. Right away this sends alarm bells in you head saying 'it's probably not that good.' Nonetheless, I decided to check it out!
Good thing I did! NYCompressor is great! It yields the best results with the ratio somewhere between 1.10:1 and 2:1, but I've used it on guitars, drums and bass with higher ratios and got nice results as well. I really like how fine you can tune the knobs. At lower settings you can adjust it by 0.01 increments. Very nice!
It's not transparent, but it's got nice character. I wouldn't say it's dirty, but it almost is. That's the best way I can say it. This makes it enjoyable to use on drums or guitar. (I have yet to keep it on a vocal track, though)
The name lets you know right off the bat that it's able to do parallel compression (aka New York Compression). This is really useful to have built into a compressor, and I notice more and more plugins featuring it. Great!
The side chaining is handy and gives you a variety of options for filtering.
On instruments I couldn't be happier. Using it as a bus compressor is pretty good too. The default ratio is 1.56:1, which is a great starting point for this application. I find this compressor works the best with between 1 and 3 db of gain reduction as a bus compressor. After that, you can really tell that it's on the track. But then again, bus compressors should only really be used as lightly as possible anyway.
I actually find the parallel compression of this plugin on the bus to just be alright. Not the best parallel comp for bus compression, but quite decent.
The availability of very fast attack time is nice if you want to do some compressor style limiting. Again, in this field, it was very good, but not great.
One thing that is unique to this compressor, as far as I can tell, is its attack curve. It's very laid back. Most compressors jump down really fast, then gently bring the gain down for 2nd half of the specified attack time. NYComp gently brings the gain down evenly, so transients come through very nicely, and don't feel jumpy.
There are a couple of downsides however.
First, the meters often freeze, which is frustrating at times.
Second, there is no indication on the website (and no reply by email) about what is technically happening inside the plugin. For instance, oversampling is especially important in preventing aliasing distortion in compressor plugins. There is no option for this, and I don't know if it happens automatically. Also, we have no idea what the internal resolution of the plugin is. These are things that would probably prevent someone from wanting to use this plugin in a very important project.
Third, you can't click the GUI to bring it's window to the front. Weird. Probably not that big of a deal, but when you're working hard, it kind of interrupts the workflow.
Fourth, no lookahead feature. This could be implemented with the sidechain, but I find that to be a headache at best. If I want lookahead, I usually use another compressor with the feature already built in.
Other than that, I would like to say that I use NYCompressor often. I have a UAD card, and I use the compressors on that a lot, but still go to NYCompressor a lot. That should speak for itself.
Bottom Line: Great as a track compressor, would be within the first 3 I try as a submix/bus compressor. Parallel compression is easy to do. Fast attack times are handy. Not the best, but pretty darn good. Slightly unsettling lack of statement on internal resolution.
The Real Bottom Line: Almost for sure better than your DAW's stock compressor. At least it's different. At $20, you can't go wrong.
EDIT: NYCompressor is now $20. Unbelievable deal! Don't be a snob and not buy it just because it's cheap.
EDIT: I have analyzed NYComp using a FFT spectum analyzer, using typical sine wave manipulation techniques. There doesn't appear to be any harmonic distortion due to low processing resolution. Also, the character seems to come from diminishing even order harmonic generation during heavy compression. Since this only happens to a very slight degree (~ -60db of 2nd harmonic in 4 db of compression) it does create a nice, musical thickening of the sound. Comparing this to much more expensive plugins, I have determined little difference in terms of aliasing distortion or excessive harmonic generation during heavy compression.
If you would like to see what a terrible compressor looks like, try putting a sine wave through the AUDynamicsProcessor to about 4 db compression with an FFT...you'll see what I mean. ;) Do the same with any 'expensive' plugin. Then Try NYC