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PSPaudioware PSP InfiniStrip Review

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Preamps, Filters, and Gates

My favorite preamp module is the Pre 80s, followed by the Pre 60s. Pre 80s is punchy and solid, while Pre 60s has a nice grit to it when pushed. My least favorite was the Pre 70s preamp (which seems to be Neve-inspired). Occasionally it would be the best choice on a source, but I usually landed on the Pre 80s, which resembles an SSL. Pre 80s sounded consistently best to me and is in my default preset, even though I really don’t care for SSL preamps in real life. I think it’s better to think of the preamps as general color types rather than looking at them as specific emulations.

Three dedicated filter types share a slot: lowpass and highpass filters with three slopes (Basic); the basic filters with a variable mid filter and five different slopes (Pro); and the Pro filter dedicated to controlling the sidechain (S.C.).

The Gate slot features a gate, expander, and ducker. All three modules contain extensive features and rival dedicated plug-ins. The special processor category contains the De-esser and De-hummer, the latter being great on noisy electric guitars. Both modules are feature-rich and get the job done with minimal fuss.

Compression

Now we get to where the InfiniStrip really shines. The compressor slot packs a lot of power and features in the Opto, FET, and VCA models. The attack and release times have a wide and useful range. The ratio goes from 1:1 up to 100:1 (infinity). While it will not expand with ratios less than 1:1 (use the Expander module for that), you can type in any ratio up to one decimal point, like 3.6:1, and two decimal points below 2, like 1.17:1. I can’t overstate how cool this is since you now have much greater ratio, attack, and release control over the Opto and FET compressors than normally available in other plug-ins that tend to more strictly emulate their hardware counterparts.

A Link button ties the left and right signals together for the sidechain detection, although it has no blend function for settings in between on and off. A sidechain HPF goes from 10Hz all the way up to 1 kHz. The typical threshold and makeup knobs, a mix knob, and excellent meters round out the compressor features.

These compressors all sound really fantastic and are very versatile. The insert modules can come in to play here because it is easy to string together two compressors to emulate, for instance, the classic signal path of a fast 1176 (FET) going into a slower LA-2A (Opto) for tracking vocals. And since InfiniStrip has practically no latency, you can record or monitor through this chain. I particularly love being able to use a really low ratio below 2:1 (1.25:1) with a fast attack and release, hitting it really hard and cranking the makeup gain to get a track to really sit in the mix.

Equalization

InfiniStrip’s EQ slot sports three modules, two of them based on existing PSP plug-ins. However, their designs have changed so that all three modules have very similar features to facilitate easy module-swapping. They differ mainly in the available filter and Q shapes. As the dedicated highpass and lowpass filters are covered in a separate module, the EQs give you four semiparametric bands, each band with a separate on/off switch. Each band has three Q settings and boost/cut amounts up to 18db. You can also type in specific values for the frequency and gain amount, which is another nice touch. This is a good time to remind you that, while the plug-in is zero latency, turning off any unused parameters and muting unneeded modules in the rack reduces the CPU hit per instance.

RetroQ and PreQursor are sonically similar to their standalone plug-in counterparts, although the feature sets have been modified for consistency between the three modules. However, my favorite ended up being the ChannelQ. I not only thought it sounded best in my particular uses, but I also preferred the layout of the concentric knobs to the frequency sliders in RetroQ and preQursor. A number of times I grabbed a frequency slider by mistake when intending to adjust the gain amount, as these seem graphically backwards to me.

Personally, I think the EQs are the least exciting bit about InfiniStrip. They are functionally good, but I also found myself going elsewhere for EQ much of the time as I worked on a couple rock tunes. This was especially true on the really important tracks, like lead vocals and acoustic guitars. For the record, I never really cottoned to any of PSP’s EQ plug-ins other than the occasional use of PSP E27, which many users love. If PSP were to offer a four-band version of E27 in the future, I would be much more inclined to grab InfiniStrip for a lead vocal track, as I feel all the other modules are world-class. That being said, I was able to quickly get some great acoustic drum, electric bass and electric guitar sounds in short order with InfiniStrip.

As with many plug-ins, flavor comes down to individual taste. Not to judge too quickly, I pulled up a completely different project that was a mix of trap and pop songs. In this setting, the ChannelQ sounded much more appropriate for the two female lead vocals, and I got a great sound within minutes. I also got a booming 808 and sub bass going thanks to a mix of ChannelQ and Pro filter.

Take It to the Limit

The limiter sections provide two flavors: Opto and VCA. Although the available settings are more basic than a lot of limiters today, they cover just about everything necessary in normal use for tracks and busses. The attack, release, ceiling, and output levels can be further controlled by the sidechain HP filter (also 10Hz to 1 kHz) and a Soft knee switch. The internal sidechain detection can be either linked or unlinked, again without the ability to blend between the two.

In practice, both limiters sound good. I could push them fairly hard before things got ugly, even though they’re at their best when they’re simply taming rowdy peaks; they’re not meant to be clippers. I wouldn’t necessarily use either on my 2-buss, but I think these are great for setting a maximum output for a specific track or buss, like at -6dB, to help keep levels in check. I especially like the Density preset. To get better performance you would have to turn to a more dedicated limiter plug-in.

Lastly, a Master Control module gives you a large output fader with peak and RMS metering either pre-fader or post-fader. A width control can collapse the rack to mono or expand the stereo image up to 200% (100% is unchanged). A Balance knob adjusts the positioning in the stereo field. It would make sense to leave the Master Control module in the final slot; however, you can also load a Master Control module into one of the two inserts and place it anywhere in the chain where you might want to see levels or have access to a fader.

Lessons Learned

What did I learn in my time with InfiniStrip? If you like—or need—to work fast, then InfiniStrip can be a welcome new friend in your inner plug-in circle. It is more functional than a typical channel strip, as you can easily have multiple EQs or compressors along with a number of other processors open in a single window. You can pretty much get it done at the channel level with InfiniStrip, and it will sound great.

InfiniStrip also has a “sound” to it that becomes noticeable as you use it on multiple tracks. If you gravitate towards SSL, Neve, or API channel strips and like the console-like effect of subtle saturation buildup across multiple tracks, then InfiniStrip gives you room to build up a palette. Swapping out modules while retaining the settings is a productivity booster.

I’d love to see InfiniStrip grow in the future with oversampling added, an E27-like EQ, and even a Vintage Warmer-type module. But that’s just me being greedy; InfiniStrip is already fantastic.

Website:pspaudioware.com

Supported platforms:Mac/Windows; AAX, AU, RTAS, VST, VST3

Price:$199

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