Plugs made in Poland
It seems that in our country we can create something apart from just computer games, educational programs and tools for breaking into data-security systems. At last we have VST plug-ins made by a Polish company, albeit with an English name: Professional Sound Projects. It is interesting that the name plug-in is used by the people from PSP as 'plugin' instead of its Polish equivalent 'wtyczka'. But they have the right to do so as they are pioneers ...
PSP offers plug-ins such as MixBass, MixSaturator and a StereoPack set.
PseudoStereo - this plug-in enables the conversion of a monophonic signal into a stereophonic one (by means of a 'clever' filter), which might, for example, be useful for restoring old recordings. It can also work miracles with percussion recorded in mono, without any unpleasant side-effects.
StereoEnhancer - a device similar to the PseudoStereo, but it serves to process and enrich the stereophonic signal. Unlike various other plug-ins of this kind (for example: Realizer, Mixciter), it allows spectacular effects without 'killing' the dynamics and quality of the sound.
StereoController - is for correcting errors in the stereophony; it allows not only the reversal of phases, or the ordinary setting of the balance between channels, but also correction of the signal at the extreme ends of the stereo panorama without distorting the 'middle' or vice versa.
StereoAnalizer - a very useful device for the visualization of stereo sound parameters. Among other things, it allows a constant check on whether we have overproduced the work by using other plug-ins of the StereoPack set.
There are two other plug-ins in the MixPack set (MixTreble and MixPressor plug-ins are in preparation):
MixSaturator - it emulates the process of saturation of sound made by tape recorders and valve amplifiers, and also digital clipping which appears when the signal in the analog-to-digital converter is, for example, overdriven. Besides this, it offers an additional increase and analog warming of the bass as well as a slight compression of treble frequencies.
MixBass - it is a bass-frequency processor (works within a range up to 600 Hz) which allows the bass to be boosted and gives it an analog character through appropriate compression and the addition of harmonics. The 'soft-clip' system has been also included, which prevents digital overdrive when the signal level is too high; additionally, it allows an increase in volume without a loss in sound quality.
The majority of similar signal processors usually only allow monitoring of the strength of a given algorithm, which is not always sufficient. For example, plug-ins for widening the stereo panorama, for enriching the signal with additional harmonic frequencies or for obtaining the pseudostereophonic effect in monophonic material and equipped only with a 'more-less'-type potentiometer are usually good just for playing around (read as: 'multimedia uses') or are effective ways of giving the sound engineer a headache. However, when using the PSP programs, thanks to the precise and advanced control system, it was possible to obtain fairly good results even with - it would seem - hopeless material. For those who do not like 'twiddling knobs' and would rather be guided, there are a number of presets which are adapted for different stages of production (mixing, mastering) or for various instruments. What is interesting is that there are no presets for the processing of vocals, but universal solutions in this case are particularly difficult to find.
In the case of most of the PSP devices, you will have to read the manual because it is difficult to guess the purpose of many parameters, and some of them (for example, 'threshold' in MixBass) operate differently from what we might expect. Another surprise is that the description of each plug-in is available both in English and Polish, and includes detailed explanations as well as useful comments and tips.
An important feature of these programs is also the good visualization of what is 'happening' to the signal at a given moment, which often helps in picking up things we are unable to hear. MixBass and MixSaturator contain easily-read 'analog' indicators of the VU overdrive. The tools from the StereoPack set are equipped with a range of useful meters - after all, it is quite easy to overlook (or more precisely 'overhear') something when dealing with stereophony and signal phases.
If one was tempted to compare the plug-ins presented here to other packages with a similar purpose, it could safely be said that they are as good as the majority, and are quite clearly superior to many known products. Of vital importance is the fact that Polish plug-ins are competitive in price (SP costs 100 zloty, MB and MS - 120 zloty each).
A small disadvantage which we came across was the distortion of the signal in the form of 'cracks' and clicks which appear when changing the settings - mainly of the bass-frequency filter - made while processing is in progress. In some cases it may disable the registration and automatization of the changes made. However, such effects as saturation or boosting the bass are usually recorded with a set level - without any messing around ...
To end with, a completely unexpected bonus. Apart from the previously mentioned tools, the company offers one more VST plug-in - for free! It is not an effect, meter, instrument or sound module but - this time a first not only in Poland but also in the world - a VST game! PSP Flight is a very nice gadget which you can enjoy when, after several hours of work, you can no longer really hear what is going on and have no strength to leave the computer ...