Designed and coded by Credland Audio for Plugin Boutique, StereoSavage amalgamates a number of useful processes in one VST/AU/AAX plugin, including stereoising of mono signals, widening of stereo signals, and LFO modulation of pan and other parameters.
Upon launching it for the first time, you're treated to a quick guided tour of the GUI – a nice touch that lets you get started without even opening the manual.
Although it's a multipurpose effect, StereoSavage's headline act is the main Effect section, which artificially widens a mono input using one of three different techniques.
The Eventide-inspired Vox is mainly intended for use on vocals, although any sound is fair game.
It subtly detunes the left and right channels by up to one semitone (adjusted in cents, with your choice of which pitches up and which pitches down) and applies random timing discrepancies between them on a percentage scale capped by 'Loose' at one end and 'Tight' at the other.
Delay mode simply holds back one channel in time by up to 40ms, and proves particularly effective on drums, guitars and non-sustained synths. The third mode, Expand, generates a spray of early reflections (very short delays), adjustable for 'room size' from small and tight to very wide.
There's also a Warm setting for taking the edge off, if required, by blunting the high frequencies.
Between them, the three Effect modes present an impressive range of stereoising treatments, from wonderfully natural sounding to overtly processed. The FX Mix knob is, of course, a crucial factor in all of this, as you'll generally want to keep the dry signal in the mix.
Time to adjust
The Stereo Adjust section uses mid/side-related trickery to enable panning of the central content of a stereo signal (whether that's the initial input or the output of the Effect section) using the Rotation knob – just the thing for repositioning reverb-drenched sounds without knocking their ambience off balance, and even, to a limited extent, shifting vocals and instrumentation around within full mixes.
Alongside that, the Width control simply balances the mid and side signals, while the Pan knob does what you'd expect and can be placed Pre or post Width, adding extra emphasis to LFO-generated auto- panning in Pre mode.
A thoughtful inclusion is the Bass Bypass function. This brings a high-pass filter into play, keeping everything below the cutoff frequency (which spans 50Hz-8kHz) unprocessed, thus maintaining the central positioning of low-end material.
It also includes a Gain knob for adjusting the level of the unprocessed bass in relation to the processed signal.
At the bottom left, the Input Routing panel facilitates independent muting and phase inversion of the Left and Right channels, and offers a choice of regular Stereo, Mono Summing and Swap LR modes; while goniometer and level meters give excellent visual feedback on all your stereo tweakings.
StereoSavage is a neatly packaged stereo manipulation toolbox that packs a lot of functionality into its small frame. It can sound amazingly natural, bringing mix-ready width to vocals, guitars and others, but it also responds well to being pushed hard and LFO-modulated for more out-there effects. A plugin you'll turn to again and again.