If you are looking to expand your compressor collection then you will have no doubt come across 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. 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.
Let's start off by looking at the interface, since that is often the biggest factor in a plugin's ease-of-use. As you can see above, it all revolves around the plugin's central "compress" control. For many users and for quick jobs, this is all you need. Embraced on each side by gain reduction and output meters to give visual feedback, it could be a plugin by itself. Basic use only really needs the occasional tweak of the input in addition, to ensure that the optimum input volume is feeding in. Setting the input correctly of course is made easy by little lights which show if the signal is too low/high, or just right.
Beneath the main knob are attack and release controls, or for those who get easily spooked by a compressor's interface, three presets which work as excellent all rounders. These presets, gentle, punch, and slam, will suit the user and are so accurate to their names, it's normally just as good to use them unless you want complete control.
Straddling the centre panel on the left and right, are the rest of the controls. To the left, you will see the aforementioned input trim, a detector High-Pass to prevent the bass falsely triggering the compressor, sidechain controls, and a saturation adding section. The saturation ranges from mild, through moderate, to hot, selectable via the switch below the saturation knob. When cranking the saturation, rich harmonics turn into raw grit, good enough to run a guitar channel through, instead of an amp simulator.
On the right, you will see the character knob, this works with the low and high end, switchable between Fat, Warm, and Bright settings, and works to smooth and sculpt the frequencies coming out. This control is perfect in conjunction with the saturation and is even worth using by itself if you need to add in a bit of character without compressing the signal.
The compressor can be run in stereo link, dual mono, and Mid-Side modes, meaning that it can be used for numerous applications. Whether you just need to remove some transients, or go as far as crushing the sides of the mix to create a different feel of space, Supercharger GT has you covered.
I have saved the best bit until last, while most compressor plugins have a dedicated Dry/Wet control, the absolute power that all the rest of the controls bring, combined with being able to parallel compress the sound makes this plugin my absolute favourite compressor on the market today. Supercharger GT has the absolute fullest range of sound and works well on every sound I run it through. It's tube emulation means that a full, warm character seeps out of anything leaving it's output.
If you want an indicator of how great this plugin is to use, it was only when I realised that I should include the presets in this review that I went to check them out. The simplicity is so great, that even my normal leaning to a preset for a quick fix disappeared and it has taken me until now to actually have a play with them. All-in-all the presets are good, but so is controlling it yourself, whether you know your way around a compressor or not you will find no hurdles in improving your mix.