Wide for a small sum
The Polish PSP company offers a VST plug-in package (PC and Mac versions), the PSP StereoPack, for an extraordinarily good price.
Four plug-ins for a total of $24 sounds like a poor joke and begs the question: Are they any good? My answer is, without going into details: Yes, they certainly are!
The package consists of the PseudoStereo, StereoEnhancer, StereoController, and StereoAnalyzer plug-ins, whose names reflect their uses well.
The PseudoStereo converts the mono signal at the input of the plug-in into a pseudo-stereo signal by splitting the input signal in both channels, depending on the frequency. The StereoEnhancer, which is a typical enhancer, allows the widening or narrowing of the stereo base, depending on requirements.The StereoController is used for correcting stereophonic errors. This plug-in makes it possible to remove basic errors such as reverse signal phase or crossed channels. It can also be used for introducing subtle changes in the stereo image such as changes in the channel balance without changing the setting of central instruments.
Wider does not necessarily mean better. In order to avoid problems with mono compatibility, all three plug-ins have channel correlation and channel balance indicators. The oscilloscope, which functions as a stereo goniometer, offered by the StereoAnalyzer is better for visual control of the stereo image. It has additional functions such as the HOLD option, which allows the path of the beam to be held, the possibility of manual or automatic control of the operating signal level, left and right channel meters, middle (M) and side (S) signal meters with mean and peak indications, as well as the numerical values of the held peak level.
Although the documentation claims that the minimum system requirements are G3 with a 300MHz processor, when we used our G4/400, only 20% of the processor was in use, with 24 different plug-ins turned on as insertion effects. The positive feature of these plug-ins is the user's interface without unnecessary details, but with a clear structure and great clarity. The options and settings of the controls and indicators are easy to understand, which makes intuitive work possible.
The PseudoStereo and StereoEnhancer are not necessarily regarded as typical studio effects. However, they might be very useful in processing mono samples of drums, guitars and electric pianos. The StereoEnhancer is also useful with single tracks and whole mixes. The StereoController, for its function of reversing phases alone, is a very useful tool. Only the lack of a playback facility is a minor drawback. The StereoAnalyzer, which provides a very good visual control of the stereo image, is a tool you simply can't do without, because even the professionals come across phase problems during sound mixing, which result in mono-incompatible recordings. Because of the slow freshening of the image, it is difficult to compare the StereoAnalyzer to specialist equipment, but we should bear in mind that such devices are extremely expensive and it is really difficult to get more out of them.
There are competitive products by other companies on the market, which offer more or less similar possibilities to the StereoPack, for example, the S1 or the PS22 by the Waves company. However, they are in a much higher price range.
The relation of the price to the efficiency of PSP StereoPack is above average. The price outweighs all of the drawbacks. You have to congratulate PSP on their first product and wait impatiently for the results of the tests on the next package - the PSP MixPack.
Issue 12; December 2000; p.100