PSP NobleQ and NobleQex Plug-Ins Review

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The PSP NobleQ (top) and NobleQex (bottom) plug-ins add vastly expanded capabilities to a classic passive-equalizer design.

The PSP NobleQ and NobleQex plug-ins are based loosely on the vintage Pultec EQP-1A passive analog equalizer. Because passive equalizers use separate boost and cut controls, they require a little more thought and effort than, say, parametric filters to perform equalization tasks—but it''s worth it. With this type of design, simultaneously boosting heavily and cutting moderately at the same bass-frequency selector setting creates a “bass-shift” response: The lower-bass band is boosted, while frequencies in the adjacent higher band are cut. The result is a big bottom end without the mud. A similar approach can be used for high frequencies: Boost the highest highs while cutting lower highs to produce a silvery tone and jettison any fatiguing edge.

The EQP-1A''s downside is it offers only broad tonal shaping and a very limited number of fixed frequencies to adjust. NobleQ provides a lot more (dozens of) high and low frequencies to choose from. It also includes an adjustable high-pass filter and valve-saturation algorithm (emulating tube circuitry). The companion NobleQex plug-in includes all of the NobleQ''s features and more: It adds a quasi-parametric midrange band and a shift control that moves the low-cut filter''s corner frequency as much as an octave higher or lower. (Even when shifted an octave lower, the corner frequency remains above that for the low-boost filter, thus retaining the bass-shift effect.) Neither NobleQ nor NobleQex can do notch or bandpass filtering.

Both plug-ins sounded especially flattering on bass instruments. Using NobleQ on a kick drum track to simultaneously boost and cut 20Hz while also boosting around 8.5kHz, the result sounded phenomenal: rounder, punchier and more meaty.

The more full-featured NobleQex came in handy when equalizing midrange-centric tracks. I could fill out a slightly thin and nasal lead vocal beautifully by applying very mild boost at 420Hz with the midrange peak filter while simultaneously boosting and cutting at the 130Hz setting. Lowering the shift control for the low-cut filter a couple clicks moderated the bass boost closer to 130Hz, producing a clearer sound. Cutting at 3.5kHz squelched the singer''s honk. Boosting generously above roughly 12.5kHz lent a silvery sheen.

I got similarly great sounds on piano and electric guitar. On all tracks, I could craft tones that alternately evinced solid-state and vintage tube circuitry. Both plug-ins (especially NobleQ) demanded very little CPU resources. Incredibly, NobleQ and NobleQex together cost only $69. That''s what I call a huge bargain.

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Click on the Product Summary box above to view the PSP NobleQ and NobleQez Plug-Ins product page.