Parallel Compression Explained & How Baby Audio’s New ‘I Heart NY’ Plugin Makes It Dead Easy

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Parallel compression is a great way to add a lot of compression without sounding like you’ve added a lot of compression. Duplicate a track, compress one, don’t compress the other. The idea is to crush the hell out of the track, and subtly blend that compressed signal with the dry signal to add body and presence without destroying transients or overall dynamics.

Although most commonly used on drums, parallel compression works great on just about anything from lead vocals to synth pads. Like parallel parking, it seems simple enough in principle, but it’s easy to screw up.

If you want to do things the traditional way with hardware, you might check out the UA LA-2A Compressor

This technique became known as New York Style compression due to its immense popularity in that area and New York engineers in their New York studios with all their gear at their disposal could probably nail this effect blindfolded with their monitors off. But where does that leave the rest of us without fancy midtown NY studios full of vintage gear, let alone decades of professional mixing experience. Fortunately, the folks over Baby Audio have packed everything you need into a super simple, super affordable plugin named ‘I HEART NY’.

Given this plugin is built specifically for parallel compression, all the more intricate parameters have been set for you, leaving just a single knob labelled ‘spank’. This deceptively simple dial is actually doing a lot of work under the hood, but it all equates to ‘overall compression amount’. A central slider labelled ‘Parallel Signal’ is where the compressed signal is introduced. Unlike a traditional wet/dry compressor, the dry signal is not attenuated. New York style compression typically involves two channels and this approach is just like increasing the level of the second ‘compressed’ track. We are really dealing with two combined tracks here, so the output knob can be used to attenuate the overall output. Alternatively, a solo mode can be activated which mutes the dry signal for use as a standard insert compressor.

At the end of the  day, I HEART NY sounds fantastic. Parallel compression is an addictive mix technique for breathing life into almost anything without destroying its soul, and being able to achieve these results via a single plugin means you’ll end up using this plugin all the time. Add it to a drum track to quickly inject energy into your mix, or throw it onto a guitar bus for more sustain and automate the parallel signal to make the chorus pop.

For $29 USD this is a pretty sweet steal, but if you’re not convinced, try out the free demo and let us know what you think in the comments! Happy mixing. Get all the info via the website here.

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