Plug‑in pack: Mac/PC, all formats; TDM and Mac stand‑alone versions also available
Reviewed: PC VST version
We have already reviewed version 1.5.1 of the Hyperprism plug‑in pack in SOS August '98, and even at that stage it provided a huge range of 29 effects, from single delays and EQs, effects like chorus, flanging, and an effective 26‑band vocoder, right through to the excellent HyperVerb reverb. I've compared this closely with the Waves TrueVerb, TC Native Reverb, and the Cakewalk XFX3, and it can hold its head up with them all.
The latest version 1.5.5 adds three completely new effects to the arsenal: Harmonic Exciter, Bass Maximiser, and Tube/Tape Saturation. Visually, they all conform to the standard Hyperprism 'look', with a stack of horizontal sliders across the top, and beneath this a pair of vertical output‑level sliders and the famous Blue Window. This works rather like a software joystick — any of the slider controls can be allocated to either the horizontal or vertical direction, and you can then grab the 'handle' in the Blue Window for easy mouse control of multiple parameters.
The Harmonic Exciter works by generating new harmonics based on the existing signal, with the Crossover control selecting the frequency above which generation takes place. The Dynamics control lets you add harmonics to the whole signal at lower settings, or only to transients at higher ones. Harmonics and Spectral Balance adjust the amount and balance of harmonics compared with the original signal, and you can also choose either 'Odd and Even' or Odd harmonic generation. A choice of three quality levels determines the internal sample rate used — higher rates take more processor overhead, but result in fewer aliasing artefacts. In use, the Exciter certainly provided plenty of air and bite — it didn't bring out transient details quite as well as more expensive alternatives, but at an average price of £8.60 for each plug‑in who can grumble?
The Bass Maximiser again offers plenty of options: there are controls for Compression, Harmonics, Crossover, Low Cut, Resonance, and Mix. Much like MaxxBass from Waves, this generates additional harmonics over a selected bass frequency range, while compression increases the impression of bass without duly increasing overall level. It's easy to overdo things (this is also true of the Exciter) and restraint should be used, but once you get the hang of the controls it's possible to create a wide variety of results.
The Tube/Tape Saturation is simpler, with only two sliders (Warmth and Gain), along with four Saturation Types (Tape Type 1 & 2, and Tube Type 1 & 2) and three quality levels. It attempts to model the non‑linear transfer characteristics of both reel‑to‑reel tape machines and tube amps, and can produce a wide variety of different effects from subtle to harsh.
Hyperprism provides a huge range of plug‑ins in total, but they are a bit of a mixed bag. The three new additions work well, and the HyperVerb is excellent, but the selection of EQ plug‑ins is rather weak. In addition, although every Hyperprism plug‑in is fairly easy to use, they do look graphically basic by today's slick standards, and it would help a great deal if the front‑panel designs were optimised for each plug‑in. I do wish that the Blue Window could be resized or closed altogether (as it can on the Mac version), since as you can see by my screenshots the plug‑ins currently take up a huge amount of screen space when open. However, audio quality is really the most important issue, and at £276 Hyperprism easily provides the most comprehensive and best value‑for‑money bundle.