MSW1 By SoundSpot Is FREE @ Pluginboutique! ($29 Regular Price)

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The MSW1 plugin by SoundSpot is a straight forward “one-knob” type approach to stereo imaging, available as a VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin for PC and Mac based host applications. The plugin (normally priced at $29) is available as a free download via Pluginboutique until December 31st this year.

For those unfamiliar, stereo imaging involves the manipulation of differences between the left and right channels of an input signal. It differs from, say, a doubling plugin which actually creates timing and pitch differences of a mono signal. Stereo imagers like this one typically require the input signal to be stereo, or else they will not function correctly. There needs to already be differences between L and R for the algorithm to do its work.

On the MSW1, there are only two controls: the slider that controls the stereo width and a bypass button that is conveniently positioned right below the slider for easy A/B. The main controller slides right to 100% for an increase in the stereo field and left for a decrease in the stereo field with mono occurring at -100%. There is a helpful color bar that wraps around the circular display as you increase the stereo width.

This plug-in is not the first stereo imager on the market, so I tested it against the S1 by Waves. Fairly imperceptible differences between the two when the stereo width is at maximum. The only difference I noticed was that the S1 increased the gain of the output signal by several dB and the MSW1 decreased the output signal by about 1 dB. This is easily compensated for, but worth mentioning since louder sounds typically sound “better” to the untrained ear while A/B-ing.

Although limited in its features, the MSW1 does the job quite well and fits most applications for stereo imaging. Weighing in at less than 600 KB it’s a good choice for those who are careful with their RAM memory usage. If you already have a suitable imager such as the S1, there is no real reason to buy this plugin. If you don’t have one yet, seeing that it is a free plug-in from Pluginboutique (for a limited time), you may want to grab it now!

MSW1 is available for free download via Pluginboutique ($29 standard price, 32-bit & 64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows & Mac OS).

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About The Author

Ben Bishop is a music producer based out of Nashville, TN. He works with many local artists in the pop/indie world and has a recording studio in East Nashville.

7 Comments

  1. How does this one compare to A1StereoControl? Do you know? Except for the added features in A1, is it a different solution/algorithm for the stereo expansion?
    Great site, thanks & Happy Holidays!

    • Hello, greetings from Bucharest, been a long time reader of this blog and now I have something to say:

      Downloaded Soundspot’s widener the other day and saw this problem raised by @Jesper. It happens I already have A1, so I decided to put them to an A-B test.

      I use VSTHost on WinXP 32-bit, so I made a chain of the following:

      Sequencer: Nova3 (by Tonecarver) – Hybrid synth :ASET-2121 (free 2-voice version, by Guenther Hager – RIP) – Compressor Dynamic Equalizer: Nova67P (by vladgsound) (ouch! not to confuse them) – widening-saturation thingie: RescueMk2* (Variety of Sound) – Reverb (rgc:audio Reverb – via VB’s FFX4 cuz it’s DirectX X) ) –

      – and here comes the parallel part of the setup: two instances of HOFA’s 4U+ BlindTest: the free version offers up to 3 instances that you can connect in parallel so you can ABX through them, therefore max. 3 different plugins at once. I loaded 2 instances, both their inputs tied to the aforementioned chain and their outputs, first to MSW (Soundspot), the other to A1StereoControl –

      *(this thing is just for making some stereo image to the virtual instrument, it doesnt add too much width when using the big wideners, no worries. Actually it’s a subtle & very interesting comb filter :) …)

      (hope I haven’t lost you) – Since only one of the clones of the ABX plug is active, and the switch between them, through the GUI, is glitch-free, we can tie no problem both chain ends (or tracks, since HOFA assumes major DAW users, YMMV) to the {Out} placeholder.

      How to compare our heroes: well I wanted to check their output at their extreme settings, widest and mono, respectively. In MSW1 the width scale is from -100% which is mono to 100% fully extended with 0% normal stereo (unchanged signal), A1’s range reads from 0% as mono to 100% (normal stereo) to 200% (extended).
      So I used some patches I already made for the seq-synth-etc setup, that result in playing various quasi random tunes, and A-Bed the wideners. Interesting…

      – At fully extended stereo, the first (and to me, the only) striking difference is that the A1 sounds louder than the MSW1, by 3-4 dB. Go to A1 and click Expert Mode, this will show the part that does mid-side processing and by default it has “fix Mid level” checked, my guess this is thought for mixing/mastering, so that you don’t loose the sound from center; check “bind M/S levels” et voila! if you A-B again you won’t notice any more sensible differences.*
      – At the mono positions, another interesting thing: you will find A1 sounds quieter with “bind M/S levels”; switch to fixed mid and it’s again the same sound as MSW1.

      In conclusion, it appears that MSW has a complex algorithm, probably some auto switch in M/S processing, that one cannot toy with, since all you have is one knob, the actual widener. On the other hand, look at A1StereoControl, it’s a kind of Swissarmy knife for placing tracks or the mix in the stereo field. It requires some patience and skill.

      *(actually I also watched closely a goniometer/correlator, namely the free Flux StereoTool, chained right before the output, and I can tell that both plugins, as tested by me these days, “look” and measure excellent, if your instrument/track/mix is phase issues-free without these wideners, so it will remain with any of them!)

      So, personally I think I could be satisfied with Soundspot’s MSW. I’d be tempted to favor it, if my mix didn’t have level issues (no limiter used here, yet…) – why? just noticed it sounds a tad more pleasant than A1StereoControl… So it might as well also worth the money? Go get it while it’s free, you only have to register with PluginBoutique and no, you don’t have to give them your phone number, the checkout will be happy without.

      Please spatialize responsibly, compress little and mix realistically. :)
      … whew.
      Wish you all a creative 2017.

      • Tomislav Zlatic on

        Hi, Jesper. And wow, thanks for sharing such an in-depth comparison of MSW1 and A1StereoControl! I still haven’t had the time to play around with the MSW1, but it seems to be a one knob plugin done right, judging by your review. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

      • Thanks for publishing my report, I’m enthusiastic, I will be more succint in the future! I need to correct myself: when comparing in the mono positions, A1Stereocontrol actually sounds LOUDER with “bind M/S levels” and switching this option brings the output down to the same level as that of MSW1.

      • Guilherme Radel on

        Such an awesome response. Props to going to this depth and explaining all of this in detail man!