The latest release from de la Mancha plugins, sidearm, is a compressor with the power of a heavyweight boxer and the precision of a brain surgeon.
Sidearm is a very flexible compressor with many options to tweak the sidechain signal for very precise control. It can perform downwards, upwards and parallel compression and limiting, in peak or RMS flavours and with lookahead if you want it. But the sidechain control is where sidearm really gets to business. Whether you choose an internal sidechain or an external audio source, you can modify the sidechain audio with a multi-mode, adjustable-slope filter (up to 96 dB/octave) and adjust the mid/side, stereo balance and gain. You can also gate the control signal so it only kicks in above a certain level. This brings a level of control that will allow you to define exactly when the compressor kicks in, by isolating specific frequencies, stereo positions and volume levels in the sidechain. There is even a ‘sidechain listen’ option so you can hear what the compressor hears in the sidechain.
The usual demo version is available from the website and there is an introductory price offer of $20 until the end of March 2009, after which it goes up to $29 (so it’s not going to break your bank either way)
There is also an 8 page manual with the demo version, and I think it is a useful guide to getting the most out of sidearm. Although there are more than 20 presets that demonstrate the different capabilities, presets for a compressor are not straight forward. It really depends on your source audio and volume levels, so you should expect to tweak each preset before you will hear the full potential (otherwise you might find the settings don’t kick in on very quiet stuff or are TOO LOUD on already loud stuff).