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PSP InfiniStrip

PSP InfiniStrip

Want to combine the freedom to choose EQs and compressors with the convenience of a single plug‑in? PSP may have the answer...

Channel strip plug‑ins often include a preamp emulation, a compressor and an EQ, and that's pretty much what you see when you first instantiate InfiniStrip. But a few offer many more options, and this is one such plug‑in: it comes with an almost bewildering choice of modules, most of which have been newly developed, though there are also a few based on PSP's range of single plug‑ins. The user can instantiate up to nine modules in the rack at any one time and arrange them in any order, with the signal always flowing from left to right; you can set up some fairly sophisticated processing this way. PSP are keen to point out that it's possible to track through InfiniStrip without adding anything to your system latency, which I have to say is pretty impressive considering the sound quality on offer here. InfiniStrip supports mono and stereo operation, and comes in AAX, Audio Units, VST, VST3 and RTAS (remember that?) formats. Protection is via an iLok account, but you don't need a physical iLok dongle; you can choose to authorise it to a specific computer.

Multi-coloured Swap Shop

There are 22 modules in total, and these include Preamps, Filters, Compressors, Equalisers, Limiters and other Dynamic modules. The last category covers expansion, ducking and gating. There's also a Control module (an output module with metering, balance and stereo width adjustment) and two Special modules, a de-esser and a 50/60Hz hum remover. As well as the seven module-type-specific rack slots, there are two insert slots. These can host any module type, including those you've already deployed elsewhere, should you fancy a double dose of something. Where relevant, modules have independent side-chain inputs and include side-chain filtering — the rack's external side-chain input feeds all those modules set to external side-chain mode. There are around 150 factory presets to get you started, and presets for the individual modules too.

A compact two-slot view allows you to see a single module in the GUI.A compact two-slot view allows you to see a single module in the GUI.When you first open it up, the rack houses an '80s Preamp, high- and low-cut Basic Filters, the FET Pressor and the ChannelQ equaliser. Selecting Full view reveals all nine slots, while Resizable view allows you to see only the rack slots that are occupied, and a Mini view mode displays just two slots, the first hosting buttons for each of the installed modules, and the second showing the currently selected module or the Control module. This is particularly useful if you want to use only one InfiniStrip processor along with other plug‑ins in your DAW. Arrow buttons at the top left of each module allow you to step through the alternatives in that category, and to put things in a different order, you just drag them. Below each module are buttons for Mute (bypass), Solo, scExt (DAW side-chain) and Mon (side-chain listen) as well as three-colour LEDs showing signal in and out levels. There's also a presets window below each module, and a master bypass button is located to the right of the rack that takes everything out of circuit. If an individual module is bypassed, its panel goes dark to remind you that it is inactive.

The five Preamps include one that offers simple clean gain. Three others model valves, discrete/transformer and discrete/transformerless circuitry, while a 12-bit, non-linear ADC preamp offers some early digital-era 'dirt'. Each preamp includes an Auto button to activate Automated Gain Adjustment (AGA) mode. This resets the gain knob so that the level never exceeds the reference level as set by the Reference control.

There are three Filter types: Basic Filters, with variable-frequency low- and high-pass filters with a choice of three slopes; Pro Filters, which is similar but with an added mid filter; and, lastly, a dedicated Side-chain Filter, with a choice of mid filter shapes, again bounded by high- and low-cut sections.

The rack includes a main bus and a side-chain bus, and it has a single side-chain input. When individual modules are not set to external side-chain mode (scExt), the module's side-chain is sourced from main signal bus, but when set to scExt the module's side-chain input is fed from the rack's external side-chain input signal. If the rack's external source is set to 'none' but one or more modules are set to scExt, then those modules' side-chain input is derived from the main signal bus but processed by the side-chain filter module (if one is inserted and active).

It's possible to track through InfiniStrip without adding anything to your system latency, which is pretty impressive considering the sound quality.

Under Dynamics, we have the aforementioned Gate, Expander and Ducker, all of which again include onboard side-chain filtering plus external side-chain capability. In the Compressor section are three newly developed Opto, FET and VCA-style compressors, again with side-chain access and side-chain filters. Usefully, you can change any module for another of the same type and any common parameters will stay where you left them, so you won't waste much time tweaking their default settings. The EQ section offers the new four-band Channel Q plus a couple of tweaked-up old friends, in the guise of the PreQursor (three bell filters) and the vintage-flavoured, four-band RetroQ, which has switchable Qs and slopes rather than being fully variable. Post-EQ gain controls are fitted to all three EQs to compensate for any level changes.

There are also two analogue-style limiters with adjustable attack and release times: one VCA and one Opto, based on existing PSP designs. The de-esser, which is fully tunable, and the de-hummer are both new designs, as is the master Control module. The de-hummer can take out odd or even harmonics as well as the fundamental, and it works well as long as the hum pollution isn't excessive.

Strip Sliding Away

A gentle application of the VCA compressor set to a low ratio plus a hint of EQ and limiting may be all you need to master a track, while the choice of compressor types provides plenty of flexibility when it comes to processing individual sources. Note, however, that the limiters on offer here are not 'brick-wall' types — so following InfiniStrip with your own brick-wall limiter might be the safest mastering option.

The GUI can be also be expanded to reveal all the slots or only the currently populated ones.The GUI can be also be expanded to reveal all the slots or only the currently populated ones.

The various bass presets aptly demonstrate the variety of treatments possible, ranging from soft blues bass to aggressive funk, all from the same bass guitar track. Similarly, drum parts can be given depth and density or be lifted out to be more assertive and punchy. Of course, the preset designers don't know what recording level or gain structure you are working at, so you may still need to tweak the threshold levels for any dynamics processors to achieve the desired results. Having said that, the Auto gain function in the preamp modules can help in keeping levels consistent.

I tracked a few bass guitar parts with the plug‑in running and perceived no increase in latency, so it seems the no-added-latency claims are justified. Indeed, the no-added-latency capability bodes well should you want to use InfiniStrip in a live-performance application. The preamp emulations definitely add their own subtle flavour, which becomes more pronounced as you push them harder. It's also worth mentioning that I wasn't initially sure why a 12-bit emulation was included — it's not a bit-crusher effect — but it turned out to have a very useful character that adds a different kind of density to a part. (You can dial in more converter noise if you really want to!)

One For All?

I've been an admirer of what PSP have been able to achieve in a native format ever since the original Vintage Warmer, but they've come a long way since then. They've genuinely earned their reputation for creating plug‑ins that exude an analogue-like sense of warmth and smoothness, and this surprisingly versatile rack will only add to it. I really like the fact that instead of modelling specific hardware gear, as many developers do, PSP have focused on delivering a versatile musical toolkit that offers useful functionality and a broad range of sonic characters, from vintage-flavoured to modern. They've chosen module types able to cover most styles and they certainly haven't skimped on features or sound quality. Furthermore, despite the compact 500-series rack-panel styling of the module GUIs, the controls don't feel crowded.

At first glance, you might think the price a little high for a single plug‑in, especially if you missed the introductory discount, but in reality you're getting a suite of 22 high-quality plug‑ins, plus a very practical rack system for combining them within a single insert slot in your DAW. InfiniStrip could well provide all the dynamics and EQ processing you'll ever need, which actually makes it quite a bargain — though I suspect we'll see more modules added to it in the future.

Alternatives

The major native players offering such versatile analogue-modelling channel strips are probably Waves, IK Multimedia, McDSP, Slate, and Arturia but also check out the excellent Sonnox range if you don't feel the need to gaze upon lovingly recreated analogue style panels.

Pros

  • PSP's characteristic analogue-style sound.
  • Easy to use.
  • Big choice of module types and characters.
  • Flexible routing.

Cons

  • None — though a brick-wall limiter would be a useful addition.

Summary

PSP have put together an enviable collection of modules in an intuitive virtual rack format. The InfiniStrip configuration has been optimised for tracking, but the quality on offer here means it's equally valuable at the mixing stage, and it can also do a good job of home mastering.

information

$199

PSP Audioware +48 601 96 31 73

contact@pspaudioware.com

www.pspaudioware.com

$199.

PSP Audioware +48 601 96 31 73.

contact@pspaudioware.com

www.pspaudioware.com

Published June 2020