PSPaudioware PSP oldTimer (Mac/Win)

Here's a riddle: What has multiple personalities yet is uncomplicated and sounds rich but is a pauper's best friend? The answer is the superb PSP oldTimer
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PSP oldTimer''s intuitive interface belies its ability to produce a stunning variety of sounds.

Here's a riddle: What has multiple personalities yet is uncomplicated and sounds rich but is a pauper's best friend? The answer is the superb PSP oldTimer compressor plug-in. Costing only $99 (and even less for existing PSPaudioware customers), oldTimer offers an idiot-proof interface and a surprising variety of compression curves reminiscent of vintage analog hardware models.

PSP oldTimer comes in three flavors: AU (Mac), VST (Mac/Win) and RTAS (Mac/Win). I used Version 1.1.6 of the AU version in MOTU Digital Performer 6.02 on an 8-core 2.8GHz Mac Pro running Mac OS 10.5.4.


PSP oldTimer is so easy to use, you hardly need to be awake to produce outstanding sounds. A three-way switch engages (Valve mode) or bypasses (Clear mode) convincing tube-circuitry emulation (compression is active in either mode) or deactivates all processing (Off). The Ratio control ranges from 1.2:1 to 10:1, with lower ratios also providing a gentler knee to the compression curve.

Although attack and release times are heavily program-dependent, you can alter both simultaneously by adjusting the Time control. Low settings (0 to 3) produce fast attack and release, perfect for squashing drum tracks. Midpoint settings (4 to 7) are slower and remind me of the way opto and Vari-Mu compressors act. For long values useful in leveling, set the Time control between 8 and 10.

As you turn up oldTimer's Compression control, the threshold is lowered and compression depth increases. A VU-style gain-reduction meter aids your adjustments. Adjust the makeup gain in 0.5dB steps (up to 30 dB) using the Output control.

You can store presets and recall them from your hard disk. That said, there is currently no way to permanently store custom settings in the GUI's default preset bank.

Internal processing is 64-bit floating, and both 32- and 64-bit floating-point audio input — at sampling rates up to 192 kHz — are supported. In plain English: oldTimer is an extremely high-resolution plug-in.


Although oldTimer isn't modeled on any specific piece of gear, its widely varying compression curves reminded me of vintage favorites at different settings.

Switching oldTimer to Valve mode, 4:1 ratio and a midpoint (5) Time setting, I cranked the Compression control for 12 dB of gain reduction on a lead vocal track. Set thus, oldTimer sounded similar to my Teletronix LA-2A in how it transparently made the vocal sit perfectly in the mix (although the timbre was different). Clear mode produced a subtly more open and detailed sound that was stunning on stereo-miked strummed acoustic guitar; oldTimer deftly leveled the widely dynamic performance to create an in-your-face sound. By lowering the Time control to between 0 and 0.5 on the same track, I got a hyperventilating sound close to that of a cranked SSL Buss Compressor. At such extreme settings on this instrument, oldTimer produced slight distortion but nevertheless sounded terrific.

PSP oldTimer sounded absolutely phenomenal on room mics for drums, rivaling or surpassing my other favorite processors (both plug-ins and analog hardware) for this application. Set to Clear mode, 4:1 ratio and the fastest attack and release times, 9 dB of gain reduction produced an explosive sound (see Web Clip 1).

A slightly slower Time setting and 12 dB of gain reduction clamped down hard on a bass guitar track immediately following the finger-plucks' attacks. Soloing the track, it sounded somewhat tappy, but folded into a dense mix the unsoloed track's percussives were masked. What endured was a beautiful sustain that made the bass sound louder and fuller. Much lighter compression and a Time setting of 10 subtly leveled the same bass track, making it sound a tad more pillowy. For both applications, the Valve setting was my favorite. Valve mode also subtly warmed up glassy percussives on a slowhand Strat track.


PSP oldTimer is a friend to more than just individual tracks. The plug-in also sounded outstanding used as a 2-bus compressor. A 1.5:1 ratio, with Time set to 4 and 2 dB of gain reduction on peaks transparently provided wonderful glue and added volume to an entire mix.

Are you getting the idea that oldTimer is a versatile compressor? Combine its chameleon-like dynamics processing with its beautifully voiced emulation of high-end tube circuitry, and you can only conclude oldTimer is a classic in the making. At the rock-bottom price of less than one Benjamin Franklin bill, the verdict is obvious: PSP oldTimer offers the best value of any compressor plug-in on the market.

Overall rating (1 through 5): 5