PSP Audioware plugins review: PianoVerb, Springbox, Echo, HertzRider 2, 2445, and 285

PSP Audioware isn’t as well known as Moog, Eventide or FabFilter, but that doesn’t mean the company has second grade effects and mix/master plugins.

PSP Audioware pitched me for my interest to review some of their plugins. I showed interest in two, but they sent me six. What they all have in common is skeuomorphic interfaces. If you’re looking for flashy spectrum scopes and “dashboards”, then these plugins are not for you.

The PSP plugins I tested were laid out with a logical workflow, which makes using them a no-brainer. Another plus is that they all come with a decent user guide — some even with block diagrams. All have pristine audio quality at the end of the processing chain, totally lacking artefacts.

The plugins

The PSP 2445 EMT is a reverb based on hardware reverbs manufactured in the eighties (EMT 244 and 245). PSP Audioware has converted them into digital equivalents, adding several controls of their own and the ability to switch between the two or use them both. The reverb I got from this plugin sounds good, but for soundscapes you will want something that is capable of more massive effects.

PSP 285 is a semi-modular delay machine with nearly 400 factory presets and it’s superb. The interface supports an intuitive workflow, from left to right, with the stereo (or mid-side) delay engines, complete with manual sample rate change that you can modulate, passing through the modulation (LFO/ENV) section, two filters, the gate and ducker section, drive/volume section and reverb.

The results can be anything from stunningly realistic to a completely synthetic sound, with the plugin encouraging endless experimentation to discover effects you didn’t know were possible. When used as a realistic delay machine, PSP 285 has a sound signature that is very pleasing which is at least partly due to a 64-bit floating point signal path that is maintained throughout the entire plugin, with sample rates of up to 384kHz supported. The excellent ducking option allows you to automatically dampen the effect temporarily and keeps the mix clean.

Contrary to what I thought the PSP Echo plugin would be good for before I tried it out, it’s appealing in a limited number of scenarios. It essentially mimics a tape delay. It does allow you to create some nice “special effects” from days gone by, but contrary to PSP285 combined with PSP 2445 or another high-end reverb, this one’s interface is downright confusing if you don’t know how tape recorders worked.

PSP Springbox comes with a small number of controls and the plugin does one single thing: it offers two settings for a reverb that sounds as if the audio has been recorded inside a metallic box of sorts. It works with “strings” which give it a springy echo. This type of reverb is often built into guitar amps as it responds well to varying input transients. As with the PSP Echo plugin, I think this one isn’t very useful for anything but music production.

PSP PianoVerb is a free plugin you’ll receive after registering for an account. It’s inspired by the internals of a piano, and contrary to what you’d think, it’s usable in a good number of scenarios. When used with a so-so piano recording or sample, it lets you easily change the sound into something that sounds bigger and better. Used with instrument or voice recordings, you can create interesting effects. It has few controls, but it has many uses which include film music and soundscape design.

If you want to mimic an “unstable” or “whining” sound, PSP HertzRider 2 is your best bet. This plugin has two huge non-linear frequency shift knobs, an intuitive frequency shifting display and seven generous knobs for setting LFO, rate, depth, spread, envelope follower, mix and output. Beneath those are tiny knobs for phase, threshold and 10 to 4000ms attack/release. You can synchronise the frequency shifts with the DAW’s tempo or use it in free mode for rates ranging from 0.1Hz to 10Hz. Using the envelope follower in combination with the threshold and attack/release controls is enough to start shifting, either by side-chaining another track or self-referring.

It lets you create subtle effects but also bizarre sounds easily, so it’s perfect for both music and soundscape design.

The verdict

Despite the company having artists like Alan Meyerson (Inception, The Dark Knight…) and Emily Lazar (Training Day, American Psycho…) using their plugins, they aren’t as often mentioned on audio engineering forums and subreddits.

That’s a pity, because every PSP plugin I tested performed great. Some effects weren’t capable of massive sonic changes, but often these were the ones that mimic obsolete hardware. They all gave brilliant and clean results, and that’s largely due to the developers not cutting corners, instead using the highest sample rate and bit depth where possible.

For post-production — music and soundscape design — all of the tested plugins are usable, with PSP 2445 EMT ($149) being less attractive for soundscape design. PSP 285 ($149) is my all-time favourite because it allows for perfect control and the results can range from the subtle to the massive. For anything from whining or “wobbling” effects to over the top screaming, PSP HertzRider 2 ($69) is a great addition to your toolbox. PSP Echo ($99) is in my opinion the least usable.


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