Living under a metaphorical rock would not have prevented most recordists from encountering the ubiquitous PSP Vintage Warmer plug-in. Launched in 2002 it was this release that catapulted Polish plug-in designers PSP into the limelight. However PSP has released dozens of packages since. With a current roster of 37 plug-ins available from its website PSP has much to offer and has undoubtedly come along in leaps and bounds. PSP has recently brought to the table two new releases — the PSP 2445 reverb and the PSP E27 EQ.
The PSP 2445 is a reverb plug-in that was inspired by the classic EMT 244 and 245 models and the intent is to offer up some authentic early digital reverb. The EMT 244 was conceived as a less complex version of the iconic EMT 250. While the 244 and 245 didn't sport the crazy looks of the 250 they do hold a unique charm of their own. The plug-in faithfully represents the classic white rack unit with brightly coloured knobs and a few useful digital additions.
PSP has included a selector that allows toggling between the two engines, the 244, 245 or both. This knob is modelled on the fuse holder that sits in the same position on the hardware version, a nice aesthetic touch. Other enhancements include the grey input level knob, which proves quite useful as it allows the plug-in to emulate input distortion. While this overdriven sound is not particularly pleasant it is useful for certain effects. With a trim range of up to +12dB it is possible to drive into the plug-in quite hard if you so desire.
PSP 2445 plugin
The Delay section has a design similar to the 245 — remember the 244 didn't offer a predelay function. A green knob for Delay time offers predelays from 0ms to 84ms in the same increments as the original unit and this was actually quite enjoyable to use. In an age of increasing levels of fine control on plug-ins it was nice to have a limited number of options. The yellow Reflections control adds early reflections and is particularly useful for achieving tight room sounds.
The EMTs offered stepped reverb time control ranging from 0.2 to 4.5 seconds, in the form of the large central red knob. However PSP has extended this range to cover 5.0 seconds. Conveniently the centre position of 2.0 seconds has been left so users of the hardware will not be thrown. PSP has also included a hidden flap that offers output channel routing options for the two engines, modulation and limited EQ control. This is essentially a mono input unit, panning and routing are more of a colour choice than a spacial representation but a Balance control is included here also.
In a mix the 2445 is nothing short of brilliant, it really evokes the sounds of classic records ranging from the late 70s onwards. It deals well with being used as a longer reverb but is particularly excellent for its short room type sounds, though not particularly realistic they sound excellent. While it does ship with an extensive list of presets you will likely find yourself grabbing for the virtual controls. It is easy to achieve great sounds in part due to the limited options that are available to you. It sits well in a mix for snares, vocals and guitars but with the modelling of the 18kHz, 16-bit convertors you might not want it as the only reverb on a mix. One thing to watch for is the input level creeping up into distortion, but even when that happens the plug-in has a certain low bandwidth charm. Unlike the EMT 250 there don't seem to be many other EMT 244/245 plug-ins on the market, so PSP has found a niche here and at US$129 it is almost half the price of competing EMT 250 plug-in models.
PSP E27 plugin
The PSP E27 plug-in is a result of a link-up with boutique hardware manufacturer Avedis Audio. Avedis Audio evolved into manufacturing from a repair company and now predominantly builds 500 series units. The E27 module is a 500 series parametric equaliser with three bands. Avedis prides itself on high headroom, transformer coupled I-O and discrete circuit design. While the 500 series unit retails at $1300 per channel, the PSP plug-in version will set you back $149.
Initially the plug-in GUI presents a set of two 500 series E27 units in a lunchbox-type rack, with additional functions and indicators down the right-hand side. PSP charmingly calls the 500 series a 'Launchbox', it features handles, screws and a few other graphical treats, including the Avedis and PSP logos. The E27 modules mirror the look of the hardware, black panels with a column of three dual-concentric pots, based on the red machined aluminium knobs of the original. The knobs control boost and cut of each frequency band, very much in the style of a Neve or API EQ. The gain controls are continuous pots as opposed to the stepped silver frequency selection rings that surround them. The high-frequency parameter ranges from 6.8kHz to 28kHz, mid from 680Hz to 5.6kHz and bass from 33Hz to 550Hz. So there is not an awful lot of crossover in terms of frequency bands compared to other EQ modules but a little more than an API 550A for instance.
There are buttons for low shelf, high shelf and In (bypass). Annoyingly the low shelf only functions at frequencies from 63Hz-300Hz, keeping this limitation of the hardware seems rather arbitrary. The plug-in offers L/R and M/S mode as well as a host of monitoring and per-channel bypass options. One of the standout features is the PA11, a preamp channel that pops up next to each EQ. The Drive knob offers some fantastic creamy, smooth gain. There are also bypass options for the transformer and active filter distortion modelling. A 28K button enhances high end and might appeal to users who like the Maag 'air' type filter.
Because I am not familiar with Avedis Audio modules and they are not standard issue in studios yet, it is difficult to estimate the accuracy of the PSP plug-in version. Taken as a product in its own right it fares well. Although a little more processor-hungry than some other EQ models of similar style it does have a nice clarity and is essentially a stereo EQ so is relevant in bus processing as well as on every channel.
The option to disable the transformer and active filter distortion definitely leads to a more versatile system allowing several levels of colouration to be applied. As a general tool the E27 is quite intuitive. The Variable-Q of the equalisation implements a tighter bandwidth as gain is pushed more on a given band, similar to many hardware EQ units, so the plug-in feels natural and fast to use. There are some cheaper EQ options available, yet against the big brand plug-in developers the E27 is still competitively priced. Of course, the E27 does more than just EQ it adds a little drive, non-linearity and sheen and it is definitely worth testing the free demo.