Review: Baby Audio IHNY-2

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Review: Baby Audio IHNY-2

baby audio ihny-2
Words by Andy Lloyd-Russell

Baby Audio | Enquire for pricing

In such a fiercely competitive landscape, plugin companies are up against it in 2022. Whether it be creating faithful algorithmic representations of famed and favoured analogue hardware or immensely complex processors aimed at combatting the most strenuous of audio tasks, it’s sardines out there in audio plugin land. 

I first came across Baby Audio a few years back with the release of their first plugin, the I Heart NY parallel compressor. Straight off the bat, the name caught people’s attention, being a dedicated parallel dynamics processor with a cheeky tip of the hat to where this particular dynamics process found a lot of specific use, ala New York. Cool, now there was a no nonsense plugin designed for a specific purpose with some powerful processing under the hood. Fast forward to 2022, Baby Audio has released a new version of I Heart NY – IHNY-2. A freshly updated take on an already vibey plugin. 

Check out more gear reviews here.

Fresh face

Firstly, the user interface of the Baby Audio IHNY-2 is lush, striking a fine balance of sci-fi aesthetic, which is fun and intuitive to use. It’s clear the Baby Audio team has put in a lot of work and attention to detail into this area of their plugins, and for this particular plugin, is a big improvement on the GUI of IHNY v1. 

The mixer section of IHNY-2 couldn’t be simpler to use. It looks great and the visual feedback it gives is both interactive and informative. The mixer operates in a simple XY (or horizontal and vertical) axis configuration, with the vertical controlling the wet/dry blend and the horizontal the intensity of the compression. Being able to move your signal around in this area allows for very quick auditioning of source material, as well as detailed, fine tuning of the simplest controls of the compressor. 

The AGR (Adjusted Gain Reduction) feedback on the left side of the mixer gives immediate visual feedback of the amount of gain reduction that’s happening, and the immediacy of this as you move around the mixer is awesome. This paired with the expanding and contracting visuals of the mixer is pretty enthralling.  

The auto gain slider is convenient, and as many would know or have experienced, auto gain in compressor plugins can be a little hit and miss, quite often more of a miss. What I like about having the slider is that it gives you the flexibility of dialling this in to taste rather than just on/off. 

The other more “nuts and bolts” features located at the top of the plugin include oversampling modes (1, 2, and 4) with 1 being the lightest on CPU, solo – which monitors just the wet signal, tool tips –  for explanations of the plugin parameters, save as default – allowing users to save the current settings as the default when opening the plugin, a pretty handy option, as well as being able to reset to default, resize the plugin window. 

Tweaking for days

The part of IHNY-2 which brings about the biggest changes to its predecessor is the tweak section. Clicking on this opens up a drop down panel at the bottom of the plugin with parameters for attack and release, ratio, punch, harmonics, shape, tilt, and lo and hi preserve. 

While several of these controls are somewhat ‘standard’ or expected controls in a modern day compressor, being able to really delve into specific tonal and dynamic shaping takes IHNY-2 a step further – having these types of controls placed in the one plugin is really nice, particularly given how easy the controls are to use. This again is testament to the Baby Audio take on the user interface and overall styling of the plugin – slick, sophisticated, and damn near impossible not to use oh so intuitively. 

In the mix

Pulling up IHNY-2 in a session, I inserted it into several elements including drums, bass, and vocals. I was particularly eager to see how it would interact with some live drums and upon dropping it on the drum buss, IHNY-2 immediately got to work. With some quick adjustments on the mixer and the auto gain slider, I was able to get the drums sitting in a spot surprisingly quickly. Then with some further finessing in the tweak panel, things really came alive, bringing power, clarity, and control to the drums in the track. 

Just on the kick drum, IHNY-2 worked pretty nicely too, especially when exploring the punch, harmonics, shape, and lo and hi preserve parameters. This made for far more detailed control of the kick drum without the need for a heap of additional plugins or parallel processing paths via additional routing in the session. 

The tonal characteristics of IHNY-2 worked nicely for the bass track in this session, immediately parking it where it needed to be and giving it some additional character which I was into. Being able to have the compressor set quite aggressively then dialling in the desired balance between wet and dry signals so quickly on the mixer was very gratifying. 

The mixer’s visual feedback I found particularly useful when working on vocals, giving a really interesting and unique way of visually gauging attack and release times, not to mention the obvious gain reduction. A bit more exciting than the typical meter, but equally as informative.

Packing the punch

Parallel compression is by no means anything new, but IHNY-2 certainly brings a new approach to an age-old technique. The seriously updated user interface, wealth of additional controls, and overall ease of use makes for a plug that is lots of fun to use. And as for the sound, this thing packs a serious punch and vibe! With the ability to go from super subtle to outright obliteration, the Baby Audio IHNY-2 covers a lot of dynamic processing ground, with a few extra tasty treats thrown in for good measure. 

Head to Baby Audio for more information.