by Steve Cunningham
Some of the most interesting audio software comes from out-of-the-way places. For example, Waves Ltd. produces a complete line of highly popular plug-in processors from their headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel. This month’s collection of audio processors hails from Jozefoslaw, Poland, home of PSP Audioware. When an opportunity arose to snap up PSP’s VintageWarmer at a hefty discount, I bit on it. While I was there I decided the check out a couple of their other plugs as well.
PSP Audioware’s Nitro is their newest device, a multi-mode filter plug-in that is capable of mondo sound mangle-age. VintageWarmer is a software compressor/limiter with sound and saturation characteristics that strive to model analog tape, and PSP42 is an accurate model of one of my favorite delays, the Lexicon model 42. All are available in multiple formats including DirectX, RTAS, VST, and Audio Units, and run on most versions of Windows as well as Mac OSX and OS9. Let’s run ‘em through their paces.
The Nitro filter plug has a feature set that suggests some serious processing possibilities. Essentially Nitro provides four modules called Operators, each of which can be assigned one of eighteen filter and effects types. The Operators include three types of two-pole state-variable filters (low-pass, bandpass, and high-pass), bi-quad filters (low-pass, bandpass, high-pass, and notch), fat Moog-style filters, a comb filter and several phasers, stereo width/balance effects, saturation, lo-fi, panning and delay effects.
Clicking on the LIB tab of the virtual LCD display in the center gets you to the preset library, which is organized into three banks of 64 presets each. These will keep you busy for quite awhile, as they run the gamut from well behaved to completely out-of-control. There are very few duds in the library, which is a good thing, since getting down into the programming guts of Nitro is not for the feint of heart. This processor is deep.
The configuration tab on the LCD lets you route audio through the four Operators in a number of ways, with gain adjustment at each stage. There are also a number of useful routing presets. In addition to the filters, the audio signal can be modulated through two LFOs, an envelope detector and an ADSR envelope. Nitro’s functions can be clock-based or sync’ed to a tempo within your host application. Two knobs are available for each operator, and their function changes according to the filter or effect assigned to that knob. The fake Power switch acts as a master bypass for Nitro.
Stepping through the presets and experimenting with the controls, it is clear that Nitro is capable of making some impressive transformations to an otherwise dull and lifeless sound. Whether you want lo-fi grunge, wheezy metallic noises, filter sweeps or just some irrational movement through the stereo field, Nitro goes from subtle to extreme, so pay attention to your tweeters lest you fry ‘em.
The various tabs on the central LCD provide access to more detailed editing functions, and this is where things get complex. It’s not difficult to find your sound making a sharp left when you meant it to take a right, but that’s why they’re called presets — just use ‘em. Nevertheless, if your sweepers or stagers are getting stale, Nitro will definitely pump them up.
Of course, all this processing does come at a price. On my Pro Tools rig I found each instance of Nitro consumed something less than 10 percent on the CPU meter. Given the quality of the results, however, I think this is actually a pretty good result.
Download a demo copy from the PSP website, and you’ll get a good feel for it and whether its right for you. The demo version interrupts the processing every 15 seconds and some editing functions are unavailable, but you’ll get the basic vibe.