PSP Audioware preQursor2 – Filter Fantastic
Welcome back to StudioWise, this week we’re looking at a fairly simple but characterful EQ plugin from PSP Audioware, the Polish developer responsible for some of the most respected filter and saturation plugins on the market. This offering certainly includes an impressive lineage.
In a very crowded market space, a brand new developer releasing yet another vintage EQ plugin could be financial suicide. Fortunately, PSP Audioware has the backing of a fantastic product catalogue, great support team and a small legion of loyal customers, so while there might be plenty of similar devices you can purchase, there’s some to be said for keeping it in the family.
So far I have loved everything PSP Audioware has released so I’m excited to check this nifty little EQ plugin out, let’s crank up the DAW.
PSP preQursor2 is a 4-band fully parametric EQ with sweepable hi-pass, stepped frequency selectors, analogue emulation, output saturation and complex M/S stereo processing.
The slick-looking blue/grey GUI interface features large retro-style bakelite knobs, with sliders and buttons filling up the rest of the available real estate. Its a busy space but it doesn’t feel overcrowded or difficult to manipulate. The plugin is not modelled on any hardware device in particular, opting to just provide ‘musical’ analogue style results of its own making.
A good selection of factory presets is included with a cool A/B comparison checker present on other PSP Audioware devices. The installation was fast with no dramas, the VST showing up no problems in Reaper, Studio One and Reason immediately.
PSP preQursor2 is a neat little package containing so quite complex operations and a few nifty tricks up its sleeve.
Going through the basics, the standard filter bands have a non-linear, or ‘progressive Q’ bell curves with a 15db +/- sweep. A ‘Q’ button for engaging a tighter bandwidth and a stepped horizontal selector for filter frequency. The sweep is very broad, you’ll not be wanting to perform surgical corrections here.
The Low-frequency filter has your typical 30, 60 or 120hz choices, whereas the high has 10, 16 and a slightly weird 25k(!!) boost or cut. 25k is way out there in the canine audible territory, but I was a little relieved I could clearly hear the results when testing, so my ears aren’t totally shot after all these years in the studio.
Strangely, you can select frequencies between the marked position on the sliders, so on the LF filter it’s marked 30, 60 and 120, but you actually get 30, 42, 60, 85 and 120. All of the band selectors do this, with some head-scratching filter choices like 285k, 443, 1.94k and 5.56k.
Overall there’s not much to say in regard to the operation of the EQ, it works exactly as you would expect, the 15db sweep feels about right, not too soft or aggressive. Being an analogue modelled effect, there is sure to be some degree of cross-modulation between the bell curves, but nothing detectable on my source material. Everything is silky smooth and predictable.
I’m not hearing a huge amount of character to the sound. It’s nice, but there’s not much harmonic distortion or analogue float in any of the bands, even at full 15db boost. The device is very hard to distort or overdrive, even though the output LED flashes with even minor boosts, particularly with midrange boosts. Pushing all four filters to the max will overdrive the output, but not harsh or cutting. It doesn’t quite have that Neve creaminess, more a soft, fluffy-fatness….if you get my drift.
Engaging the output saturation is another story, however. Placed after the master output, this is one of the nicest saturation effects I’ve heard. It’s very twitchy, only needing a slight tweak on the output gain to notice the effect, anything over 5db or so puts you right in the red-hot tube stage. I’ve never been a fan of this kind of effect, but it certainly sounds really cool.
The analogue dial works to add drive to the modelled input transformer, preamp and saturation for each of the filters. In theory, it’s meant to emulate an analogue mixing console, presumably the harmonic distortion and channel crosstalk, similar to Brainworx BX_Console. In use, I struggled to hear major influences on the tracks. A handy group option is included which allows the analogue control on all such grouped instances on your mix to be controlled by a single device. Again, to simulate how a larger mixing console would work.
For such a featured device, the DSP requirements are very low, almost nothing on a single instance, popping up to around 5-7% for a 10 instance project.
Overall, a very nice sounding and low resource demanding plugin, a great combination for daily use.
I very much like the global group control for the analogue control, its a shame this doesn’t extend further to cover saturation and some of the other controls. It’s hard not to compare this to Brainworx BX_Console offerings, even though this came way before that. This doesn’t have the full channel strip offerings, but the most important EQ controls are where it really counts, and because of the at this is a much easier, cheaper and less CPU taxing option. I would also argue in the filters are preferable over the SSL sound, but that’s just me.
At $69USD, this is solid value and worth just picking up just to add another excellent tool to your arsenal. As a daily go-to this might be a little too characteristic for everyone’s taste, but most perfect if you’re a fan of early Neve 1076-era hardware.
There are many similar EQ VST plugins available, but at this price offering so much character and features, and also belonging to a larger family of excellent plugins from PSP Audioware, keeping everything under one roof preserves continuity and supports the developer, preQuurser2 will become an important tool in a much larger collective of excellent plugins from them.