PSP Audioware has been producing vintage-inspired plugins since the earliest days of VST, and with eight EQs on its books, including the excellent Pultec-inspired NobleQ, it really does have something for everyone in the frequency-shaping department. MasterQ2 (VST/AU/RTAS/AAX) is a brand new version of PSP's very first EQ, building substantially on its many great features.
Everything you know and love from v1 is still here, of course: seven individually activated bands (two filters, two shelves and three parametrics) with very wide frequency ranges, global gain Range control (+/-0-150%) and a soft limiter on the output with seven modes, plus the optional FAT (Frequency Authentication Technique) double sampling mode, which delivers a more natural top-end response.
Version 2 introduces improved processing (80-bit floating point rather than 64) and broader EQ options. The frequency range now goes down to 12Hz for the low shelf, while the high cut stretches up to 40kHz - although the high shelf still tops out at 30kHz.
Like v1, the display scale goes up to 40kHz, and a frequency limit marker delineates settings that exceed the sample rate limit (it disappears at higher sample rates). The filters now include a third slope option (36dB/octave, on top of the existing 12 and 24dB settings), and higher maximum Q settings are available to the shelves and filters.
The shelving bands also see the addition of a peak mode, while all five main EQ bands have been upgraded with an analogue-style proportional Q option, and the three middle bands now have a Soft Peak (ie, flat top) option that smooths off the peak resonance without affecting the overall bell width.
Each band can be soloed, temporarily deactivating the other bands but playing the full frequency signal with just the soloed band(s) applied. Cmd/Ctrl-clicking a band activates Frequency Hunter mode, which solos that band's filtered output. There's also the new Linked Frequency Mode (see boxout below).
That's the essential EQ side of things covered, but MasterQ2 sees a few functional additions, too. The new Analog harmonics generator centres on a Character knob that influences the balance between odd and even harmonics. It operates on each EQ filter individually, so you need at least one band active to use it, and the more bands you're using, the more stages of saturation you get. It's pretty subtle, but nevertheless, it can add a little bite and fatness.
Also new are the limiter Routing and adjustable Ceiling (-18dB to +6dB) with optional automatic Makeup. Routing lets you specify which part of the signal goes into the limiter (full stereo, left, right, mono or sides), while the adjustable Ceiling makes it much easier to use.
Finally, the Stereo section gives control over the Width (0-200) and left/right Balance at the output, and the new channel routing option, rather oddly, lets you process just one component of the signal (mid, left, stereo, right or sides), leaving the rest untouched. Independent adjustment for paired components (left/right or mid/sides) would make more sense.
Our only other criticism is that the display's maximum gain range (+/-24dB) needs increasing to allow for extreme EQ settings, which currently disappear off screen. Aside from those niggles, MasterQ2 is a solid update to an already superb plugin - a gloriously powerful yet fabulously sweet EQ.