Audioware MixPack Review - Version 1.7
Based in Poland, PSP
Audioware produces a range of fine sounding plug-ins that has been well received
in both the audio press and by studio owners all over the world. As the name
would suggest, MixPack is a collection of plug-ins designed for use on
individual tracks; their excellent audio quality makes them highly suitable for
mastering too. The four plug-ins in the pack are:
MixBass - MixSaturator -
MixPressor - MixTreble
VST, DX and RTAS plug-ins
are included in the PC version.
Copy protection is
sensibly based on the registered user’s name and allotted serial number; a
system I much prefer over the restrictive practices of certain other companies.
Mac OS X version in HTDM and RTAS format require an iLok for copy protection.
As its name implies,
MixBass is a dedicated bass processor/compressor working on the lower end of the
spectrum to produce rich deep analogue sounds with both character and
The Tune knob in the left
hand Input section may be used to tune the target frequency in the range of 20
to 600Hz. The circular meter in the Compress section indicates how much gain has
been applied to the processed signal; dependant on the green threshold setting
below. There is no compression ratio control. Ratio is fixed at 2:1, however
this doesn’t at all limit the ‘earth shaking’ possibilities of this
The Tone section Colour
and Bass controls affect saturation of the processed bass frequencies, adding
both odd and even harmonics.
The Output section
Saturation button switches a soft-clipping limiter in and out. The red LED below
indicates signals when three or more continuous samples have reached or exceeded
0dBFS. A rotary Gain knob is provided to regulate output level. Below the Gain
control, a Mix slider may be used to blend the wet and dry signals.
The 21 presets provided
range from subtle psychoacoustic bass enhancement to extreme distortion. MixBass
is a very capable plug-in and great for all bass and drum sounds. It can provide
that much sought after analogue warmth and deep big bottom end.
Of course, as with all
bass processors, full range monitoring with extended bass response is really an
essential requirement. Not only can over enhanced bass eat into valuable
headroom, but there is also the danger of creating mixes with excessive bass
that will not translate well on other systems. A spectrum analyser may also be
employed for visual checking the bass end, but nothing really beats hearing and
feeling the bass through full range monitors.
Designed to emulate the
saturation effects of tape and valves, MixSaturator is capable of compressing
and adding both warmth and sparkle to individual tracks or a whole mix.
The left hand Drive
control… I mean the Drive control on the left varies the amount of signal fed
into the process. An Input rotary knob is also provided to balance the input
level. The next three knobs: Freq, Warmth and Adjust affect the bass end of the
spectrum and can be switched in or out of circuit with the illuminated Bass
button above. The Treble button directly below the right hand meter does the
same for the three rotary treble controls below; not surprisingly, these affect
the treble end of the spectrum. The central Process button may be used to bypass
the plug-in and, unlike the integral Logic Bypass button, leaves the meters
The central meter’s dual
needles indicate peak (red) and average (black) signal levels and +14 is equal
to 0dBFS. The Pre and Post buttons have three functions: monitoring the input
signal, output signal and if neither button is lit, the metres then indicate
On the far right, the
Shape control offers seven different saturation levels that include three
different settings for both valve and tape and also a digital setting. With the
Shape slider at its minimum, shape is turned off. As with all plug-ins in the
pack, a mix slider is also provided for adjusting the wet/dry relationship.
MixSaturator’s 31 presets provide some excellent settings for everything from vocals to whole mixes and give insight into what this plug-in is capable of.
MixPressor emulates the
characteristics of optical and valve based compressors and includes facilities
for both de-essing and limiting.
On the left, the input
knob may be used to cut or boost the input level. Although there is no ratio
control, the Compress slider above adjusts the amount of compression. Below the
left hand meter, the DEL button activates a delay that reduces attack peaks. The
SCL button (see below) is used in conjunction with the Freq and Q knobs located
underneath. Next are the compressor’s control knobs: Attack, Hold, Release and
Make-up gain. Both the Attack and Release knobs each have three modes: fast and
slow automatic, and manual. Turning the Make-up rotary knob fully counter
clockwise switches to automatic make up gain; all other positions facilitate
variable manual level adjustment.
Above the compressor
controls are three buttons: Process (bypass), RMS, Limiter. The RMS button
switches the compressor between peak and RMS sensing. RMS is more appropriate
for vocals, whilst Peak is better suited to signals with high transients such as
cymbals. The Limiter has three settings: OFF, SAT, LIM. Lim is a standard 0dBFS
limiter whilst PSP describe SAT as a ‘limiter-saturator’ function; this can
add ‘grunge’ or distortion to the signal.
Above the right hand side
Mix and Output controls, the Slope slider changes between soft and hard knee
operation and various levels in between.
Again, a mix slider is
also provided for adjusting the wet/dry relationship to achieve ‘parallel
The three needles indicate
peak level (red) average (black) and the shorter blue needle shows compressor
gain reduction. Pre and Post buttons are provided to set and monitor both input
and output levels. The red lights below the needles indicate signals exceeding
0dBFS and also if the limiter is being overdriven.
SCL - de-essing and
The SCL button switches
the plug-in to Side Chain Listen mode. The Freq and Q rotary knobs may then be
used to home in on the frequency to be de-essed. Alternatively, with Freq
settings of around 500Hz and Q values of between 0 and 0.3, the SCL mode can
also reduce the effects of bass drum pumping the compressor. If desired it is
also very easy to achieve a pumping sound. A rough guide to the appropriate
settings to achieve pumping is: set an Attack of around 30ms, Release of about
350ms and a Q of below 0.20. Then switch both the DEL and RMS buttons off, set
the Compress slider somewhere above 50% and adjust the Hold control to taste.
Before setting the Compress slider at or near maximum, it’s advisable to have
the limiter switched on and/or turn the Make-up gain control so that it’s no
longer on auto make-up.
MixPressor is supplied with 37 presets and, as ever, they are a great basis for understanding just what this plug-in is capable of. It also includes settings that simulate some well know classic compressors.
The final plug-in,
MixTreble, consists of four independently switched sections for processing and
enhancing the treble content of individual tracks or complete mixes, and also
designed to remove unwanted hiss, this section may also be used to reduce the
high frequency content of a reverberant signal – this can be very useful for
rescuing tracks with overdone reverb. The Threshold slider sets the level at
which the reduction takes place. The Attenuation knob adjusts the level of
attenuation. The Speed knob adjusts the filter’s speed of operation; settings
are dependant on the material being treated. Settings over 50% are recommended
for sounds with a slow attack, and under 50% for sounds with high transients
such as cymbals. Of course these are only recommendations; other settings may be
used to produce special effects.
This section may be used
to revitalise squashed and softened transients, or to generally increase the
overall brightness of a track. Increasing the Adjust slider boosts the signal
and the three rotary knobs tune the effect. An extremely wide range of
treatments can be produced ranging from subtle enhancement to ear piercing high
frequencies that are quite possibly dangerous to dogs and bats!
The enhancer may be used
to increase the width of stereo material and works by adjusting phase. The Filt
Slope knob adjusts the filter’s slope between 0 and 6dB. It is quite possible
with the enhance knob to severely adversely affect mono compatibility. The
centrally located Over Enhanced red light gives some warning of this but
regularly checking with the mixer’s mono button will show if you are getting
unacceptable levels of cancellation. If you aren’t using a mixer with mono
button, then a goniometer or phase correlation meter is useful for a visual
check. PSP also offer their recently updated ‘StereoPack’ plug-in that
provides a phase correlation meter (and stereo enhancement tools) for the very
reasonable sum of $49 / £28 / €41
This is an exciter type
circuit that generates odd and even harmonics for body and improved clarity and
definition. The Frequency slider may be adjusted to tune between 500 and 16kHz
and the three central knobs adjust: Q, Drive and First Out. Depending on program
material, the First Out knob may be used to remove the fundamental frequency
leaving the harmonics for processing.
The final output section
houses a SAT switch used to switch in the 0dB soft limiter and, lower down, the
familiar peak level red light and below that the rotary level control knob.
A collection of 38 well
tailored presets is included, again a useful starting point for fine tuning and
exploring the plug-in’s capabilities.
With double precision 64
bit floating point internal signal processing, all the MixPack plug-ins sound
excellent whether used on individual tracks or inserted on the final mix. All
MixPack controls may be reset to their defaults by holding Ctrl and left
clicking; each plug-in also sports a mix control to blend the processed and dry
One very small area of
concern is that adjusting some (but not all) MixPack controls introduces slight
audible distortion or ‘zipper’ noise. The noise can be a little
disconcerting when adjusting the MixBass Tune control knob but it is not
recorded; provided of course you don’t attempt to automate the controls via
the host. PSP are aware of the issue and hopefully will be addressing it in a
future update. As a point of reference, some of Logic’s own plug-ins also
respond in the same way so it is by no means unusual.
I’ve been using MixPack
for several years (since version 1.5) and the new colour scheme and other
improvements in version 1.7 definitely enhance what was an already great
collection of plug-ins. Also new in version 1.7 is support for sample rates up
to 192kHz. MixPack certainly sounds impressive. Try out the demos and prepare to
Version 1.8.4 is
available but the release notes say:
“Due to the fact that
this new 1.8.4 version of the PSP MixPack doesn't include serious processing
changes prior to v.1.7.0 we strongly recommend not to install this new version
on machines where v.1.7.0 performs correctly.
However we recommend to
install those plug-ins when multi format support is required and compatibility
to the latest versions of audio applications is a priority.
Please note that this new
version will not run correctly in projects where old plug-ins where used.”
Superb audio quality
Four Separate plug-ins
Well designed presets
Simple implementation of
Great value for money
Some controls introduce
MixPack is a very useful
collection of plug-ins that not only sound great but can also add the warmth and
clarity often associated with esoteric and expensive analogue outboard.
Considering the sound quality and the fact that there are four separate plug-ins
included in the price, MixPack is a bargain not to be missed.
$149 / £85 / €124
Windows 98 or later
VST, DirectX or RTAS
compatible host application
256 MB RAM
Pentium III 600 MHz
High Color S-VGA, 1024x768
MacOS X v 10.1 or later
VST, AudioUnit and RTAS
compatible host application
VST or MAS compatible host
256 MB RAM memory settings
G3 300 Mhz
High Color S-VGA, 1024x768
©Tim Rainey 2006 (First published in Greek in the magazine Sound Maker)
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Last updated: 2 January 2010
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