Wow. This seems to be the operative word for this compressor. We are trying one out at Studio G Brooklyn right now. Wow. This compressor is the ultimate expression of "tube comp" in my opinion. This "instrument" was built with the utmost care and standards that are uncompromising-rather than to meet a price point. This compressor is what tube compression is all about. Electro-Harmonix (in their unbelievably thorough documentation for this unit) states, "Through our years as the world's leading manufacturer of vacuum tubes (used by every leading audiophile and musical instrument company), as well as our 30-plus years as the world leader in quality and creative instruments (used on countless recordings and performances) that it is the components that are the foundation of quality sound. When each component is critical, there are no second best choices. We use the best." Pretty amazing ethic, and it pays off in the application of this beautiful compressor. I have used or owned almost all the tube classics, like the original LA-2A, RCA BA6A, Collins limiters, Gates Sta-Level, and Fairchild family of comps/limiters. The NY-2A moved into the 'hood all these classics live in, as the annoying nouveau riche neighbor that came along much later, and still holds its own against the old guard. It does this amazingly well, and it keeps making pals with its ability to change hats for the right occasion.

The NY-2A accomplishes this feat with an amazing eight-tube (!!!) signal path (four for each channel), and a key function unique to this unit: the ability to switch between the characteristics common to three types of "beloved" gain reduction methods-all in the optical family-and exhibiting time-constant response times naturally inherent to the three methods. From the documentation: "The LED opto-coupler has the fastest attack time (about 10 ms) and a flat frequency response. It can be saturated so that some bite can be added if desired. The Incandescent Lamp opto-coupler has the slowest attack time and also has a little kink in the response. By switching in the 'attack' selector, this can be slowed down a bit more. It responds slower to higher frequency signals than the LED, thus adding some brightness to the result. It is difficult to saturate and very clean, unless intentionally overdriven. Finally the Electro- Luminescent Panel opto-coupler has an interesting frequency dependent characteristic. EL lamps change color with frequency. Photocells have a range of sensitivities, but most peak in the yellow range. Most EL lamps go from yellow-green at low frequencies (30-60 Hz) to blue (300- 600 Hz) to purple (2 to 20 kHz). Additionally, EL lamps produce less light at low frequencies, more in the middle, and most at the top, until the capacitance of the lamp lowers the impedance to a short at about 80 Khz. This creates a natural de-essing circuit that compresses high frequecies more than low."

All this adds up to an amazing, amazing compressor of the utmost quality. With the list rumored to be $2900, this compressor is an absolute steal! If you are in the market for something destined to live alongside all the tube classics of yesteryear-with amazing sound quality and the ability to be used on everything, every session- this comp will serve you for many years to come. If you consider yourself an audio engineer, the subtleties of this compressor's existence and operation will let you know that you have found a tool that makes your job a little easier and gives you better results at the end of the session. For that, Electro-Harmonix, I thank you. (

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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