PSP from Poland reacted upon our
call to audio software suppliers to send in news and product descriptions.
I must be very honest with you: I had never heard of this software
producer. May be very stupid of me, being in this business for quit
some time now, but that's the truth.
Normally, we all mostly focus on the market squares in the USA,
Israel and Germany, as most of the bigger and serious plug-in developers
seem to reside in these three countries. But it appears that in
countries like Poland, from where you hardly will expect professional
audio plug-ins, at least some guys know what they are talking about
when it comes to good level audio production plug-ins.
Let me introduce you to PSP's MixPack and StereoPack. We hooked
these VST plugs into the VST folder of Cubase, used these plugs
during a realtime production session: audio files for a multimedia
CD ROM production. Which requires somewhat otherwise oriented audio
skills than producing a regular audio CD. Let's see how the Polish
VST plugs will survive in this multimedia jungle.
PSP MixBass is specially meant
for producing a punchy like analog bass sound, so the description
of the developers says. It uses both a low-frequency compression
algorithm and a "bottom end harmonics generator". The
first one seems to fit very well audio situations, where acoustic
bass instruments should get a little boost, without loosing the
acoustic character. The second one is more suited for synthetic
bass and percussion loops. This combined use of technique makes
MixBass a plug, meeting most bass post production requirements.
A third built in algorithm- "the pseudo-analog clipping"-
prevents the occurrence of digital distortion when bass sounds get
too loud or prominent. Good and usefull plug. If we considered this
plug a car, we would describe this one as a better middle class
car. Somewhat limited in its "ceiling
range", but good enough for regular production work.
The PSP MixPressor is a nifty
combination of compression, bass sound influence, pumping killer
(the well know pumping type sound when compression was not done
properly), peak limiter, saturator, and de-esser. Designed to be
mainly a compressor, the other functionalitites were made so "strong"
that MixPressor appears to us as a multifunctional plug. Which it
is not, PSP says.
In other words: being a compressor in the first place, it seems
to do several jobs at the same time, which sounds good if you're
in a hurry with your audio production: it saves time. But: it gives
you less control over the several functionality's compared to the
use of a different plug per functionality. MixPressor does it job
very well and is to my opinion best suited for situations where
not much time can be spent on a production. As happened to be the
case with the CD production we tested PSP in. MixPressor did the
required job OK. In a more demanding production however, MixPressor
can hit its limitations, and we would prefer a set of separated
plugs to get more enhanced control. Nevertheless: MixPressor is
worth buying and can save you some money when your requirements
are not extremely high. Very nifty: it's combined meters for monitoring
peak, VU level before and after compression, and main gain reduction.
Didn't see that before. It gives you complete view in just one blink
of the eye. Smart thinking, good.
The MixSaturator brings back the
good old days of saturated analogue sound, which is (was?) so typical
for tape. An analog saturation simulation algorithm that uses one
of seven possible ways to bring back the good old sound back to
life. A bass frequency processing algorithm brings back the warm
sound of bass, so typical for vinyl records and cassette tapes.
What I like about this plug is that it fades away the cold atmosphere,
mostly present in digital recordings, and adds some warmth to the
sound. I know more plugs that can do this job, in that sense MixSaturator
is not unique. But it goes for this plug too: a good, comfortable
and affordable "middle class car".
is able to remove hiss of undesired reverberation with the treble
frequencies. At least that is what we did it during the test. Another
trick is making frequencies, that lack of presence or seem to disappear
under the surrounding frequencies, more lively and up to level.
On their website, the developers write: "The operation of the
plug-in has been tested on various phonic material such as single
instrumental and vocal tracks, percussion loops and ready mixes.
In most cases, the corrective action of the chosen and appropriately
applied sections resulted in a decided improvement in the dynamics,
sharpness, clarity and spatiality of the processed material. Creative
use of the plug-in resulted in completely new sounds". A bit
too loud marketing talk, as far as I am concerned. MixTreble does
its job well, but I know of other single purpose plugs that do these
jobs better and which give the user more parameter freedom. PSP
says here: "It's true that all of
it's algorithms have simple control, but most of them have enough
control/features then any analog unit contain. For instance dynamic
allows realy great s/n ratio improvement without killing the sound
especialy when used on tracks. MixTreble also contains transient
which is rather innovative and can add shine to many tracks especialy
acoustic instruments and drums/percussion."
OK, I didn't say the plug is bad, it's good. But I know of better
ones. And: I don't want to produce new sounds, I just want to bring
recordings to the best possible professional level. But over all:
if used well, MixTreble can do wonders to less sparkling recordings.
And: if you really want to create new sounds, this one is for you.
The StereoPack brings you several
functions in the stereo manipulation area.
Does what the name says: produce pseudo stereo from e.g. a mono
file, or a stereo file which stereo width is very small. Works fine.
Somewhat limited in range, compared to other more expensive plugs,
but not much.
All things you do to your audio
and that effects the stereo image in any way can be monitored through
the StereoAnalyzer. To be frank: I hardly ever use these kind of
visuals. I trust on my ears and peak/VU level meters. But for those
who really want to "see" what they are doing, this one
The StereoController gives you
the possibility to widen of narrow a stereo image, and center or
de-center the stereo image. Again: it does what it has to do. A
simple and useful plug.
The StereoEnhancer "blows
up thin stereo to fatter stereo", if you get what I mean. Beside
the width, also the frequency that should be widened can be influenced.
This gives you more control then most of the other plugs I know.
This way, the production of unwanted artifacts can be reduced to
a very nifty level. Very good.
Both MixPack and StereoPack are no super high players, but they
aren't bad either. PSP choose to combine functionality's into one
plug, where other manufacturers produce separate plugs for each
function. By doing this, PSP gives the end user very good control
as all can be seen in one eye wink (the combined meters). Very good.
But: combining very important functions into one plug also means
somewhat limited control over quality. Compare it with an instant
picture camera, and a high level professional one. With the instant
camera you can make very good pictures if used with care, but the
high end camera will produce better quality in the end (when used
well of course: give an amateur the high end camera and the result
will be bad anyway ;-). Does this nonqualify the PSP plugs? Certainly
not. The 22Khz sounds we delivered for the multimedia CD-ROM production
were accepted by the customer as "very good". Best proof
of the good quality of PSP's product. But remember: you will buy
a good middle class car, not an "audio Porsche".
I give both overall packages a 7
out of 10.
A special 8
goes to MixPressor for it's combined meters. A seperate 8
for the StereoEnhacer as well. Graphics: good layout, though I personally
like the metaphor of the fader (StereoPack) better then for the
knob (MixPack), but that is a matter of personal taste and should
not influence your decision to buy or not.
Pricing and downloads are available on the producers website:
All reviews in AudioMac.net are written by Peter
J. Bloemendaal. All rights reserved.
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