When digital audio workstations were in their infancy, third-party plug-ins were scarce. Even more rare were ones that sounded good. But in those early years, Poland’s PSPaudioware released a masterpiece: The PSP VintageWarmer [Tape Op #29] combined compression and analog emulation to make computer audio less sterile. Widely regarded as one of the first “must-have” plug-ins, professionals still rely on (the updated) PSP VintageWarmer2 all these years later. So, if PSPaudioware releases something significant, I pay attention.

The PSP InfiniStrip is the in the box software equivalent of having as many 500 Series modules as your computer can handle. Included (as of this writing) are 25 processing units covering eight categories: preamps, filters, gate/expander/ ducker, compressors, equalizers, limiters, control, and special.

Each instance of PSP InfiniStrip is a self-contained virtual nine-slot rack. However, there are some rules about loading. Seven of the slots are assigned by processing group – and only that group. Each processor type gets to load one module. Modules are restricted to certain slot types. For example, only EQ modules can use the equalizer slot. This may seem restrictive, but modules can be in any order desired. Need a limiter first and a preamp last? No problem. The remaining two slots are called Flexible insert slots and can host any modules. Want three preamps in the chain? Use the preamp slot and two flexible insert slots. If you still require a more complex order, instantiate another PSP InfiniStrip and build any desired path.

PSPaudioware also made provisions that speed up workflow. Intelligent parameter matching means you can swap different compressors or EQs to find a preferred color and flavor, as basic effect parameters carry over during these changes. Each module has individual sidechain support, mono or stereo processing (based on track), and flexible view modes to accommodate screen resolutions and workflows.

I expected a plug-in claiming this much power would come with long latency and significant latency processing requirements. But somehow, PSPaudioware claims that the PSP InfiniStrip has “zero-latency processing.” I can attest that this plug-in eats up minimal CPU resources. Rapid parameter changes, patch loading, and module rearranging never crashed my system. Audio engineers often say, “Good, fast, cheap – pick two” [Tape Op #87]. But for plug-in reviews, we say “DSP, latency, stability – pick one.” I have no idea how PSPaudioware writes such efficient, hearty code, but I’m not going to complain.

I spent the majority of my evaluation working with individual modules. I kept going back to the FET Pressor (compressor module) for the unmistakable, tight smack it could provide. I was happy to see the PreQursor EQ module (a version of the PSP preQursor [Tape Op #70] redesigned explicitly for implementation in the PSP InfiniStrip). I confess, I often leaned on the Opto Lim (limiter module) for its round, buttery vibe. Combined with the S.C. (sidechain) Filters, PSP InfiniStrip dynamics units are more powerful than many of their hardware inspirations.

I enlisted the help of producer/mixer Greg Gordon to put the PSP InfiniStrip through some tests with large track count mixes. Regarding audio quality, flexibility, and usage, PSP InfiniStrip surpassed other plug-ins for multiple reasons. First, the inclusion of a Drive control at each stage is crucial. Having the ability to adjust or bypass the Drive on each module allows PSP InfiniStrip to mimic the gain staging abilities of a large-scale console. You can drive a signal without adding noise, using the clean Gain module. Conversely, other modules can be pushed to saturate a chain. Most hardware is not this flexible.

From a workflow standpoint, the PSP InfiniStrip can hasten mixing. The audition features facilitate rapid decisions without undue fuss. The intelligent parameter matching feature is a massive efficiency feature. No need to configure different candidates; you can A/B different styles and eras of Pre/EQ/Comp – with the same settings – just by toggling among permutations. PSP InfiniStrip’s ability to change module order in real-time on the fly is an excellent feature (try moving that fast with a TT patchbay). Finally, meaningful comparison tools are among the long list of impressive features in the PSP InfiniStrip. Dialing in awesome sounds quickly can translate to less ear fatigue, allowing for more time to focus on showcase elements – and clients are getting reference mixes sooner rather than later. The PSP InfiniStrip is one plug-in that substantively improves workflow.

In a perfect world, other vendors would create modules compatible with the PSP InfiniStrip engine. Engineers could buy them like real-world 500 Series modules. Sure, that’s unlikely, and with the included processors someone could confidently mix an album using only the PSP InfiniStrip. (Wish list: I would also want PSPaudioware’s authorized 2445 EMT reverb, but that’s another review for another time). Rest assured, the PSP InfiniStrip is not some marketing gimmick to sell old plug-ins with a new interface – this is a significant development in workflow, flexibility, and sound sculpting. Efficient DSP use, low latency, and great sound – PSPaudioware brings it all with the PSP InfiniStrip. Seriously, go try this software now. Purchase includes a license for three locations.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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