Compressors can be subtle, transparent, and clean. If you want that, most DAWs have a perfectly suitable candidate. Let’s assume you have access to one of them and are now looking for something more beefy. This is where you might look towards Supercharger GT by Native Instruments.
Coming in at $99 on the company’s website and also bundled in with Komplete Ultimate, it is the upgraded version of NI’s Supercharger compressor ($49). Claiming to be “rich tube compression”, it also doubles up as a fantastic overdrive plugin which is sure to add “chunk” to your drums and basslines. It has automatic make-up gain meaning that as you change the setting, you get an accurate representation of the dynamic change, and don’t have to worry about tweaking the output gain with each alteration.
One of the hardest parts of understanding compression is the fairly in-depth knowledge of thresholds and ratios which you need to master to use it correctly. Add in extra controls for the time domain, and you have a fairly complicated bit of gear that frightens the beginner producers.
Supercharger GT rids itself of that complexity and focuses around a single central “compress” control.
Even the Attack and Decay knobs are redundant for most users, thanks to a handy selection of Gentle, Punch, and Slam presets meaning you don’t have to spend time dialling anything in yourself.
Straddling the main central interface are the secondary controls. The features which turn this from your quick compressor tool to a centrepiece in your mix.
On the left, you have a Saturation knob which has three modes, Mild, Moderate, and Hot.
I will let you in on a secret, the mild one alone gives insanely warm tones, all the way to a hard grit at full. You can imagine just how full-on the higher levels can therefore go. This is a fantastic control, especially for the kick drums and basslines in electronic music
If you want a plugin that can single-handedly turn your subline into a harmonic-rich weight, audible on most speakers, this is the section to pay attention to.
The other side lends itself to the plugin’s overall versatility for all applications. Obviously for a juicy low-end you want to use the Fat setting (cranking the knob is not necessary here). It has two other settings which are great for fixing issues with other sounds. I quite like adding the Bright preset to drums and synths, but it also lends itself to basslines which need a little more on top.
The warm setting works wonders on vocals and more clean instrument sounds, again, basslines which are already “phat” may actually benefit from a bit of the warm preset so you don’t overpower your mix with too much extreme low.